Sunday, June 30, 2013

The 5-Year High School Plan

My youngest son will turn 15 this summer. He technically just completed 9th grade, but will actually do 9th grade again this year; or maybe he'll be in 10th grade and eventually he'll do 12th grade twice. Or we'll add on a grade 13, but that is harder to explain when people ask what grade you are in. You see, we have decided to do a 5-year plan for high school, which is a little on the unconventional side.
However, it really makes a lot of sense for us.

J has a late August birthday, putting him on the young end of his "grade-level".   Boys, especially, often are slower to launch into academic areas like reading and writing, so being young in a grade can be a developmental disadvantage. For some kids,like my son, readig and writing continue to challenge and cause struggles.  It hasn't been an issue up til now,  since as homeschoolers we have been free to adjust and individualize and adapt everything we did. But we utilize more outside classes in high school, and the work load increases greatly.  A 5-year plan allows us to spread the high school work out a little more, giving him more time on reading assignments and more time to develop his writing skills to the level he needs to be at before college.   For instance, we use Tapestry of Grace for history and literature, and it is a very reading-intensive program.  The curriculum is arranged by the week, but the amount of reading per week is compatible with a strong, fast reader.  Since J is a slow reader who needs time to digest, we will spend two weeks on every week of the TOG curriculum.  There is still plenty of content to fulfill a whole credit - we'll just have the chance really cover the material rather than skim it.

I just have to guard against my impulse to pack even more into high school, since we have that "extra year". Kind of defeats the purpose of spreading the work out.  But an extra year does give the opportunity to include additional things that you might not have time for otherwise.  hmmm,
 I just need to be a little creative....

Also, J is an athlete, and an extra year in high school will allow him even more time to build his skills and work on strength and conditioning.  He doesn't know right now if he wants to play at a college level, but he loves his high school athletic experience, and we can let him get as much out of that as he can.

So, in a nutshell, a 5-year high school plan gives the following advantages
  • time to build up weak academic areas
  • opportunity to include other areas of study that we might not have had time to include in 4 years
  • more time to devote to developing talents and interests, like athletics, music, dance, etc.
  • ability to spread academic work out to accommodate a job or travel
  • time to mature and grow in knowledge of our faith before leaving home
As homeschoolers here in NC, we have great freedom and flexibility in deciding our own curriculum and school plan, and setting our own graduation requirements and timeline.  We are not limited to following the same path as everyone else, and are free to think "outside the box". I love that. 
One down, four to go.


Friday, June 28, 2013

What Difference Does It Make?

Here is a post I wrote 2 years ago, about persevering even when it seems like it might not be making any difference.

I had dinner recently with two dear, old friends whom I haven't seen in a long time. We talked for hours about books, travel, grandchildren ( my friends are becoming grandmas!!!) , aging parents, marriage, work, and of course our kids. All homeschoolers, we spent a lot of time together when our children were younger, participating in group activities like band, sports, co-op classes, science fairs, etc. Both of these ladies have agonized over a child who has left the nest and strayed from the values of his family, making choices that have led to conflict, pain and heartache. I have other homeschool friends who have experienced similar things with a teenager or grown child. This has sometimes led to the question, "Why did I bother? What difference did it make for me to sacrifice so much, to invest so much time and thought and effort, to care so much? If homeschooling my child, keeping him away from all the negative influences in the schools, diligently teaching him about character and values as well as academics, didn't insure that he wouldn't make terrible choices later on - then what was the purpose?!"

 My response is that there are no guarantees in life. Being a homeschooler does not necessarily spare us or our children from pain, suffering, or conflict, any more than being a Christian does. So we cannot approach homeschooling with the idea that we are guaranteeing that our children won't rebel or succumb to temptation or be led astray. But we labor to build a strong foundation of grounded faith and loving family relationships to anchor our kids lives, and I don't believe those anchors let go completely, even when the ship seems to be drifting far off course! God has work to do in all of our hearts, parents and children both, and I think sometimes He gives parents situations in which to practice what we preach - forgiveness, humility, grace, courage, and trust would be a few. We are forced to run to Jesus and relinquish our dreams and desires for our children to Him, acknowledging that we do not have the power to save - only He does.

I have not faced the kind of heartache that some of my friends have with their children, but I do know what it is like to watch my children wrestle with worldly desires, struggle with their faith, and test the waters in areas I would rather they avoid completely. It is so hard as a parent of grown and nearly grown children to let them find their own way, yet still offer gentle guidance ( but not nagging! ) as an older and wiser sister-in-Christ!

What difference does it make?

A spiritual battle rages with growing fury for the hearts and minds of this next generation, and we Christians must be on our knees in prayer and also actively discipling our children (learning about and living like Christ together! ) EVERY DAY! We do this out of LOVE for our children and also obedience to the Savior who loves us! We are warriors in a cosmic battle, and even if our children make choices that we think are wrong, they will know that they have a mother who loves them and is fighting for their soul. We are planting seeds, others may water and cultivate them, but God alone will bring in the harvest in his own time. Don't lose heart.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.


MIA, But Coming Back

I am sorry that I have been MIA here. My son got married last weekend, and I will post some pictures and tell you about that in the next couple of days.
I am gearing up to reinvest some time here, because I really do have a lot to share. I want to devote more time here to talking about homeschooling, particularly homeschooling in high school and homeschool support groups. But I'll also be touching on life in general, which for me includes my Christian walk, parenting grown children, rediscovering my spouse (cuz the kids are mostly grown and guess what! he's still here!), investing in the lives of young people, cultivating friendships, baking cupcakes, and lots of other stuff. So, stay tuned. I'll be back very soon.

Still crazy after all these years. <3 p="">