Individual Educational Program or IEP is a term used in education, but is used almost exclusively with children with special needs. I think when you are planning how to teach and educate any child, an IEP is in order, because everyone has needs that are special, regardless of disability. Since school started this week at our house, I thought I’d share IEP’s for my kids. I have no idea what “real” IEP’s are or look like. It’s just an easy term for me to use.
As I’m deciding what to do for each child, I first, of course pray for them and me. “Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain.” is a big key here. I don’t have time to build in vain when it comes to my children. You get one childhood per child and then you’re done. No pressure or anything:). Really though, the pressure is not on us, it’s on the Lord–He’s to build the house, not us. He will teach our children. We just have to listen to what He wants and then do it. The listening involves time with the Lord and in the Word, learning about Him and what He values, praising Him and asking for His guidance.
So, once I’ve prayed for guidance for me, I start looking at my kids and who God has made them to be and what skills and talents He wants to develop in them. This is the individual part of the plan. Yes, for the most part, the subjects we study are non-negotiable. Everyone must learn to read, write and do math, just not all the same way. When I first started homeschooling, I would try to buy materials that were re-usable by multiple children so I could save money over time. I still do that, but I know it may not work. Some of my children learn best by writing things down; others learn better by listening and repeating back to me. of course that doesn’t mean only the children who like to or need to write things down learn handwriting and note taking, but the emphasis is different. My eldest daughter is a voracious reader, like I was at her age. We also have similar tastes in books. My next oldest child learned to read at about the same age, but the books off some of the book lists I used for my daughter simply didn’t hold his interest. He’s a different kid. He likes fiction, but not the same kind as my daughter, and he loves curling up with “The Way Things Work” and non-fiction books about bugs or electricity or things that are real. Once I figured that out and could help him choose books better, I could even find fiction books he liked better.
So, look at each of your children and learn them. Learn your kids. Observe them, interact with them, pay attention to them–what they say and do–and ask the Lord for insight into each child and how He’s made them special. Start a list of things about your child. It may come in handy when making your IEP. Here’s a list about my kids:
Happy Girl-loves to write and read fiction, enjoys painting, but likes to be instructed so she can get it to look “right,” math is not her favorite but sticks with it if encouraged well; is very responsible and a self motivated learner.
Scooter Man–doesn’t like to write down anything:), prefers orally answering questions; enjoys working with his hands otherwise–building with wood, legos, electric kits. Enjoys reading non fiction about nature and science; fiction he enjoys is adventuresome; does well with breaks to burn off energy; needs varied activities to keep him on task; is self motivated if the topic really interests him, otherwise needs me to be close by for gentle reminders to stay on task.
Blue Eyes-likes to write and color and dance. Enjoys reading girly books about pretty things. Willing to try new things and perseveres with whatever assignment I give. Needs encouragement to read books on her own.
Doodlebug–will pick up any book laying around that his siblings have been reading but hasn’t learned how to hold a pencil the right way; wants to learn just like the big kids.:)
As you can see, the lists get shorter with each child. I’ve lived with Happy Girl for 13 years and she is starting to develop more unique characteristics. Not that the younger ones are not unique, but educationally it can be easier to see sometimes in the older kids. Doodlebug doesn’t really have too many individual quirks to work with yet, he just wants to be included:). Since I will probably start him in kindergarten this fall, I’ll be watching as we work to learn more about how he learns and adjust accordingly.
Once I have made a list of my children’s characteristics I can make a plan for the coming year, what to study, how to study it, personal emphasis and goals for each child. As an example:
Happy Girl: make more of a priority to help her with piano. Move her to next level of Artistic Pursuits. Allow time to paint and write in her schedule. Start more kitchen responsibilities and teaching to cook (more than sous chef stage). Continue to move more responsibility for learning to her and away from me.
Scooter Man: Continue along the same path, making sure to give plenty of opportunity for hands on work–build a catapult for Medieval history, find books on knights and castles for him to read, as well as science in the Middle Ages. look for more ways to learn and review math facts. Continue to work on cursive and consider teaching him to type this year. Needs to work on perseverance on topics he does not enjoy as much. Would like to make sure he gets a chance to build a book case with Grandad this fall. Help him memorize the books of the Bible and with memory verses for Warriors of the Word at church. See if we can swing Upward Soccer again this fall.
Blue Eyes: Continue to learn to read better, gently encourage to read on her own. Enroll in Metro’s Pre-Ballet class. Give opportunities for art activities that are age appropriate and expose her to more forms of creative expression. Help her memorize the books of the Bible and memory verses for Children’s School of Worship.
Doodlebug: Encourage him to learn to play by himself; teach him to correctly hold a pencil and start learning to form letters and numbers. Continue to teach to read and find books he enjoys to read on his own. Include in lessons on history, geography, and science. Start learning some of the books of the Bible. Enroll in Children’s School of Worship’s Kinderpraise. Provide a rich learning environment of books and activities on many subjects to help him start to find his areas of interest (besides dinosaurs:).
This gives an overview of the year for my kids. It’s not very specific, but helps me when I’m choosing materials to stay on the mark and not get sidetracked. I’ll post our curriculum for each child soon.