Friday, March 28, 2014

Homeschooling a Junior and Senior

Homeschooling through high school...

The thought always scared the pants off me. Daunting. When my oldest started 9th grade, I latched on to every friend I had who had homeschooled all the way through high school. How do you keep up with credits? How many hours makes up a credit? How many maths? How many sciences? Did you teach all the courses? What about transcripts? When do you test? Where do you test? What qualifies as an elective? On and on and on and on...

Now, we are 8 weeks from my daughter's graduation. She has finished all her math curriculum for the year after spending a solid week doing nothing but math for 7 hours a day. She's set to be done with the rest of her work by the end of April. We've bought the prom dress. Yes, homeschoolers can have proms! We've paid the graduation fee. We've submitted the photos for the graduation slide show. We've got her transcript in order. We haven't had to do much with colleges yet because she's going overseas for a year. She's going as a missionary intern to Ireland and England. Instead of college visits and applications, we're working to raise support.

My oldest son is a junior this year. He wants to be an international commercial airline pilot. I've done a lot of googling and praying. I didn't even know where to start. Thankfully, God sends people into my life to help me. He's scheduled to take his first ACT in two weeks. In hindsight, I should have made him take it in February, to give him more opportunities to take it. He's been doing lots of ACT prep stuff, where, it was discovered, he had an enormous hole in education concerning English. We've been working hard in that area. We have a campus visit scheduled next week at his first choice school and hopefully will get to meet with the RUF director there.

My recommendation to anyone homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling or maybe wanting to homeschool in the future: don't halfway do it or give in to mediocrity. Don't kid yourself that there's always time to catch up. Do it well. Do it even when you don't want to do it. Push them just a little bit more that you want to. Do the hard stuff as well as the fun stuff. Be persistent. Resist the urge to hop from curriculum to curriculum during the school year. Some things are just NOT FUN.

My oldest daughter has always struggled in math. My oldest son has always struggled in writing. The only way they found any freedom, any victory, in those areas was for me to push them through with gentleness and patience. I endured tears and fits. I held them when they wanted to give up. I yelled at them when they need a metaphorical kick in the butt. And when it became too much for me, I passed them off to different teachers. My husband took over math duties and my English-teacher friend took over English duties this year. I have seen sooooo much improvement. It's okay to ask for help.

My other big piece of advice for homeschooling through high school is DO NOT ABDICATE YOUR ROLE. Teenagers are absolutely capable of independent study. They can listen to the DVD lectures and work the problems. They can finish their work. But you are still their teacher. Make them get up in the morning. Be the bad guy and make them turn off their phones. Check their work at the end of every day. You are still in charge. So many people move away from their teens during this time, reasoning that the teen knows what to do and is capable of doing it. BUT when it comes to education, you always need a teacher. They don't know how to stretch themselves. They don't know what they are capable of. It's our job as their teachers to push when they don't want to be pushed. Of course, we do it gently and lovingly, but we push nonetheless. They won't ever thank you for not pushing them. They will hold it against you.

Homeschooling through high school is hard work. It can be daunting, but it's very doable. I think it's the most rewarding part of the entire journey. I will do my best to document my successes and failures so you don't have to muddle through the way I've had to do.

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