As I pinch myself, we made it through. With our oldest in HIGH SCHOOL now (audible gasp), this past school year was a real experiment. I honestly never thought I would homeschool high school – it just seemed to be a natural point of exit, as if what we were doing was not “real school.” However, we have found the opposite to be true. What could be more “real” than deep learning, in a real world setting, with hands-on adventures as our rubric? We are embracing the concept of big-picture learning and running with it.
Make no mistake: I am grateful to have my daughter’s successful freshman year of high school in the rear-view mirror. I was excited for the challenge of it – nervous, but well-prepared. I can now see clearly our path for continuing to homeschool through high school. For a myriad of reasons, we are confidently proceeding forward with our plans to homeschool 10th grade and, if we so choose, beyond.
“Big Picture learning cannot be standardized…” – Ken Robinson
Moving forward. Now is time for the daunting task of choosing curriculums for 8th and 10th grades. Choosing what to study is in part dictated by state standards and college admission requirements. But I also factor in where we intend to go this year and what interests the kids. Tie this all up in a bundle, add in sports, driver’s ed, community service, and our upcoming school year starts to take shape.
How do we know what to do? Homeschooling generally works by imagining where we want to be, and work backwards from there. I try to ascertain where my kids want to be in (five?) years and we work together to create a path towards that goal. Then I throw in Poetry, Latin, Piano and a few other annoyances just to keep it real. Both our kids are college-bound, so that fact alone helps to define our curriculum structure.
Our school is also influenced by some wonderfully creative, brilliant, thoughtful and experienced mamas whom I may never meet in person, though cherish as homeschool sisters. Year round, I participate in several “professional development” courses and webinars, and they intensify over the summer. There is always something to learn when it comes to teaching kids at home – mostly because teens are always changing, their interests and skills are evolving and our relationships are sometimes being tested. I depend on other homeschool moms to find new ideas for teaching, record-keeping, scheduling, or just for reminding me about what is important and what is not. I value their blogs and newsletters as a source of camaraderie and bonding as we all navigate similar but different paths. As we all know, home-schools are like snow-flakes: No two are alike.
“Not everything important is measurable, and not everything measurable is important.” – Elliot Eisner
I read a lot of books on alternative education. Sharing these resources is one way I hope to give back to this community that has grown with and held me up over these past years (see lists below).
Our kids are thoughtful, socially spirited, athletic teenagers and we travel most of the school year. Our particular homeschool is greatly shaped by these elements. An over-arching principle of our school is having a foundational trust in the process. We plan with diligence, but allow for flexibility and change. We are open to meandering and welcome the unexpected to fall in our path.
Baseball is important to Oliver. So we bring a glove, bat and weighted ball wherever we go – even to remote islands in the Bahamas. There is always room for gear or supplies when they relate to your child’s passion.
If you are considering homeschooling:
- Mis-trust your instincts to play it safe. Try something new and make it your own.
- Start small. Try one semester and see how you do.
- Begin by encouraging your kids interests. Find out what they are about and then mingle what they love with your state requirements. Add in some subjects they would never choose, just to see what happens.
- Trust the process.
- Find your community. Be diligent about homeschool records.
- Be curious! Allow your learning path to wind and bend.
- Meditate. Teach your kids to meditate, too.
- Sports sports sports. Don’t forget the sports.
- Don’t worry. Even when some days are clouded over with dense, dark fog. You can’t be in charge of every single thing. You do not have all the answers. Let your days flow naturally.
- Love your kids, enjoy them, respect them.
- Relax. Your kids are amazing humans. Give them some air to thrive.
What I don’t do:
- Don’t try to be a school-at-home, which is NOT THE SAME as home-school. Don’t compare yourself to what is happening up the street.
- Take other perfect homeschool moms’ Instagram pictures with a grain of salt. I know I post some amazing photos, but posting a great photo does not mean all our days are amazing. Some days are just, normal. Most days are not Insta-gram worthy. I don’t post photos of my empty fridge, pile of shoes by the front door or videos of my kids (or my) math melt-downs.
- It’s OK to worry (because, you will). But I encourage you to RELAX. Enjoy your kids, watch them evolve, learn with them and from them and encourage them to become their true selves.
- As a rule, I don’t ask our kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But instead, “Who do you want to be?” and more importantly, “Who are you now?”
When your kid is passionate about something, embrace it! (Go SOX, Go VIKINGS)
“Sometimes, getting away from school is the best thing that can happen to a great mind.” – Ken Robinson
Some books on or related to education I have read and appreciate:
Creative Schools by Ken Robinson, PhD
The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart
The Well- Trained Mind: A guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
You, Your Child and School: Navigate your way to the Best Education by Ken Robinson, PhD
Into the Magic Shop by James R Doty
Sail Cowabunga by Janis Couvreux
Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett
Voyaging with Kids by Behan Gifford
Nurture the Wow by Danya Ruttenberg
Blogs or Podcasts I read/watch/admire:
Podcast: Cait and Kara (The Homeschool Sisters Podcast)
Yogi-Triathlete Podcasts: https://www.yogitriathlete.com
Michael Gervais Podcasts: https://findingmastery.net
Lisa Renee on Medium
Sailing Totem: https://www.sailingtotem.com
Websites or FB pages I visit or subscribe to:
The Home Scholar: https://www.homehighschoolhelp.com
Kindred Collective: https://www.kindredhomeschool.com
Eclectic Homeschooling (FB)
Not Before 7: https://maryhannawilson.com