Baby Steps in Learning – one step forward … two steps back!

Do you ever feel like you aren’t making any progress? It has definitely crossed my mind more than a few times lately.

I often wonder – if my children were at school, would they have progressed successfully, or been left behind? This is not something I can answer with any certainty. It is quite possible that a good teacher and the discipline of a classroom may have brought Big Sister successfully through her current math troubles with less frustration. Perhaps my kindergartener would be able to read.

We’ve resorted to taking baby steps and even going backwards these days. I’ve been finding far too many math errors in our daily work to justify going on to the next lesson. We’ve put our math curriculum on hold and taken a giant step backwards instead of carrying on. We have been repeating the same practice lessons over and over again. How long do you hold a child back without progress before letting them move forward and hoping it irons itself out in the end? I don’t know, but I am thankful that I’ve been by her side noticing her struggles and trying to find ways to work through them with her.

Little Sister and I have been taking baby steps in phonics – tiny, 5 minute lessons. Progress is slow or none at all, but still we carry on. I know many who would say to drop it and pick it up “when she is ready”, and as much as I agree that you can’t teach a child a skill if he isn’t developmentally ready for it, I reject the notion that every time a child protests, cries or is unsuccessful it is because they aren’t ready. I have a child that will exhibit “signs of unreadiness” over the suggestion that she wear socks, pick up her toys, or brush her teeth. We will carry on happily or under protest, but carry on we shall.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so the saying goes!

What do you do when your child’s learning seems to be at a standstill or they are struggling? Do you ramp up your instruction or take a step back?

Classically Homeschooling


  1. Leanne September 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    This is such a tricky question! Sometimes it makes sense to step back and others as you said it makes sense to press on. I guess I decide based on my instincts. I can usually tell if the push-back I’m getting is a bad attitude or genuine unreadiness.

    There have been times in our math where I have left the particular skill we’ve been working on and come back to it a year later and it really has fallen into place with no additional struggles.

    Other times, I make them do it and they get it right away once they drop the whining!

    1. Learning Mama September 25, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      The whining! It must be the biggest hurdle of all in our homeschool 🙂

  2. annette @ a net in time September 25, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I move on to something else AFTER i read the lesson through. Then I say “that’s enough for today let’s let that percolate for a day”.

    and you know what… after letting it set for a spell… the learning comes easier next time. 🙂

  3. Sara September 26, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I think teaching kids is 2 steps forward and 1 step back. It seems like we’ll progress well for a time, then need to stop and review. My kids have never progressed smoothly. Our best times are when, like you, I focus on babysteps rather than sprints. 🙂

    1. Learning Mama September 26, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Our first few years of homeschooling really were sprints. Easy peasy and full of success. We are really working hard these days – and celebrating the smallest successes!

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