Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Homeschooled High Schoolers : Grown Up

I wrote this in Aug 2012, in response to a question about homeschool families feeling inadequate to homeschool in high school. Even after 21 years, I still have moments (days/weeks) of self-doubt, and this has been one of those weeks. This was good for me to revisit.


I am starting my 18th year of homeschooling and have graduated 4 of my 5 children from our homeschool. My oldest graduated from NC State, entered the US Army as an officer and served 2 tours of duty in Iraq.

 He has just returned from Kuwait and is now getting out of the military and looking for a civilian job. His Army buddies jokingly say that the fact he was homeschooled "explains a lot", but they also acknowledge that he is the most responsible, the most driven and also the best cook of them all. My next 2 graduated from Appalachian State University, my daughter summa cum laude in 2010 and my son this past May. She has traveled to Ethiopia, Uganda, and Haiti doing missions work, interned for a Christian non-profit in TN, and spent the summer working as Production Editor at a Christian summer camp in Michigan. 

My son just got hired by a computer IT company in Cary and is planning to get engaged soon.( shhh ) My 4th child took a year off after graduation to work, finish up some loose ends academically and to decide what she wanted to do next, and we'll be moving her into her dorm at ECU next weekend. It is an exciting, bittersweet, stressful, exhilarating time of life, parenting all these grown ups!

My youngest is starting his 9th grade year, and we are considering but haven't yet decided on a 5-year-high-school-plan for him. That's just one of the many ways that we as homeschoolers can be flexible in our approach to high school. He hates to read - it exhausts him - but he is smart, a very good athlete, a sharp wit, and a wonderful, responsible kid with lots of friends. 

I still read aloud to him a good bit, and try to spread his reading and writing assignments out and use video and audio materials as much as I can. That's another way I can take advantage of the flexibility I have as a homeschooler. We are in a Tapestry of Grace co-op that meets once a week, and this year he'll do a science enrichment class and possibly a public speaking class or foreign language as well as guitar lessons and basketball training outside of the home. These help fill his need to be around other kids - since he is now an "only child" at home - and also help him be accountable to someone besides me, because I really am a very laid back, lenient teacher. Also, I don't get excited about science like I get excited about history, literature, philosophy, and art. I don't put him in these activities because "he won't get into college if I don't"!! I know better. We do it because it gives him a rich variety of experiences, and THAT is why I homeschool. You have the FREEDOM to decide what is best for your child. We all need to encourage one another and protect that freedom. You don't have to homeschool the way I homeschool. But I do want you to know that you don't have to follow the way of Institutional schools either, unless you want to. You might want to investigate the Hebrew model of education versus the Greek model. It is interesting to think about. 

I have to say that the trend you mention isn't really new. I have known homeschool parents who followed the "traditional school model" to the letter, and those who have crafted a free-flowing, out-of-the-box education for their children, and guess what? Kids from both types of families have done fine! Do some homeschooled kids falter? Yes. Is it because their parents failed to cross some "t" or dot some "i"? Or is it because they weren't allowed the freedom to follow their own star? No. I wish I could tell you that if you do X, Y, and Z your kids will succeed in life, but there is no guaranteed method, and there is no guaranteed outcome! Each of our children has their own choices to make in life. We homeschool because we believe it is right and the best we can do for our children. I homeschool because I believe it is what God wants me to do, and I am being OBEDIENT to follow that calling, as faithfully as I know how. But boy, do I spend a lot of time on my knees praying for grace to fill in the gaps and my failures. Ultimately, I believe that God blesses our heart, our desire to do the best we can, our willingness to learn and be teachable. Our children don't succeed because we are "super homeschoolers" who found the magic curriculum, or because we put them in the right enrichment classes with exceptional teachers! 

Be sure to look at the Big Picture. If there was one thing that I would say was the MOST important thing in homeschooling a high schooler, I would say it is RELATIONSHIP. Put your best efforts into that area, as well as CHARACTER, SERVICE, and KNOWLEDGE. I wrote a blog post about this earlier in the year - you can read it here, if you are interested.  There are numerous books, websites, workshops, etc that can teach you how to devise a high school plan, create a transcript, apply for scholarships, etc. Do your research. Bathe it all in prayer. Love your children fiercely. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

*** It is now 2015 and we have been homeschooling for 21 years.  My youngest is 17 and a junior/senior. (depends which of us you talk to)  This is his 4th year of high school, but he will continue for a 5th. We have been able to stretch out his academics and give him plenty of time to hang out with friends and to spend plenty of time on basketball, as well as explore guitar, pottery, and his latest interest... bowling! We are in the process of registering him for his first community college course.  My younger daughter transferred to Appalachian State after one year at ECU, and will be graduating from college this spring with a degree in Child Development.  Middle son is now married and worked in IT for a little over a year. After getting laid off due to "downsizing", he decided to follow his entrepreneurial heart and started his own very successful business as an Amazon seller. My older daughter worked at Samaritan's Purse for a year and a half and now is an office manager at Appalachian State University. She does photo shoots on the side, is a volunteer coordinator for Wine to Water, and is mentor coordinator for the college ministry at her church. In other words, she is a busy lady. And oldest son got a job working as a 3rd shift production line manager at a bottling plant in Asheville, and is now working in supply chain management.  
They are all awesome people.  

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