When I began homeschooling, I had to make sure every base was covered. I was efficient with everything else I did and homeschool was no exception.
All subjects were covered thoroughly. If one of my children looked ahead to a story in their reader and wanted to read it I cringed. It was out of order! And no, I did not let them. If an interest was sparked in a science lesson it killed me to think that we would spend too much time there because we needed to move on and make sure the book was completed. Things had to be done a certain way because I was afraid I would miss teaching them something very important! Not only that, but the loose ends were not giving me a sense of accomplishment. I like finished projects.
Well, 24 years later I am very different. That's because I have a bird's eye view with a few graduated kids under my belt. I now know that yes, there is something to be said for being thorough, but kids are very resilient and learn in so many ways.
Take history for example. There's only so much American History. And throughout the elementary school years a child will keep learning the same thing with more information added in the older grades. Same thing with science. So it isn't going to hurt to take a month and take out wonderfully illustrated library books, go on field trips, watch a documentary series, or create art projects that will reinforce a topic. For instance, if you are reading a chapter in 4th grade about the Solar System and your child shows interest in the planets or the stars, then by all means do not go onto the next chapter! Have fun exploring for a few weeks.
In our culture, it is difficult for us to vary from the way things are normally done. Education is pretty much out of textbooks and is quite appealing to children who love to read and take tests. But even these children will benefit from hands on learning. Even if your child is in public school, you have an important place in the education of your child. It's not all up to the school or the "professionals" as if you do not have the credentials. No one loves your child the way you do and you will be surprised how much you have to offer.
Don't fall into a rut. Life is full of wonder and excitement. Schoolwork doesn't have to be mundane. Kids are not meant to conform to one way of learning. Relax and let much of it happen quite naturally. Just like you didn't have to teach your little one how to put one step in front of the other to walk, or how to move his mouth to chew his food, there's a lot of learning that naturally happens even in academics. Your enthusiasm and a little guidance will get them started in the right direction. Don't miss out!