This month’s Homeschool High School Carnival is hosted by Cherished Hearts at Home and some of us are chatting about: Finding our Stride.…Homeschoolers with highschoolers, particularly long term homeschoolers tend to find a groove. How has your family’s educational philosophy evolved over the years? Where do you find yourself in the highschool years?
We began our home education journey full of enthusiasm and ideals, certain we knew the way to ‘success’, however, we had some lessons to learn;) We were heavily influenced by the philosophies of Natural Learning (unschooling), Unit Study and Charlotte Mason, and whilst these served us in the younger years, though with varying degrees of success, by the highschool years it was apparent we needed to flex and accept changes.
Truthfully I was reluctant to change even when it was clearly apparent our eldest needed a different approach. Having all our children study the same topic was fun and interesting and frankly it was easier. Between juggling pregnancies, babies, toddlers and beginner readers it was in my best interest to keep their studies together. Looking back this was fine whilst the children were all under the age of eleven, but it wasn’t working for our eldest past that point. I found it so very hard to let go, to encourage Anna Maria to be independent in her studies, whilst I have always encouraged our children to make known their choices, I didn’t always listen with open ears, to allow Anna Maria a stronger voice, thus we struggled for the next couple of years. In hindsight I should have encouraged independence in grade six, instead I didn’t ‘let go’ until grade 8.
My ideals and teaching style didn’t always match up with Anna Maria’s learning style, for example she was keen to use some textbooks, yet they didn’t quite fit my philosophy. Ironically though, her search for textbooks was heavily influenced by her strong literature based years, she only wanted living textbooks, which are extremely hard to find. The academic facet of our home education is only an extension of our life and includes all the unexpected twists and lulls of our parenting journey. I had life lessons to learn and Anna Maria was once again our guinea pig and trail blazer, thus making it easier for her siblings. Today whilst I still struggle to maintain a rich literature base for our learning as when our oldest were younger, our literature studies are only an imitation of what we had. For a long time I mourned this loss and I believe this grief contributed to my years of burnout and the slow years of recovery.
Whilst the earlier years are about laying foundations, the high school years are a time to find and encourage passions (as well as assuring a general well rounded education, in case passions change). Currently all our highschoolers are boys, and each have their own learning styles and interests. One son is a strong audio learner, the other two easily adapt to any approach, two boys consume books, another is more selective in his reading choices. With resources more readily available via the internet, over the last few years we have been accessing online academies for much more of our learning. Literature, living books and textbooks also continue to play a part in our highschoolers education as well as some project based learning.
As we begin our new school year of 2013, we face a new challenge, with our oldest two boys in their final two years of study. Carpenter will be completing his formal education with us at the conclusion of 2013 and thus needs guidance in planning his study path and will need support as he determines his life direction in the months to come. Recently I was ‘thrown for a loop’ when Einstein informed us he is planning to graduate in 2014, therefore he is ‘skipping a grade’, so I have less time to ‘launch him’ than we planned. As his major focus will be the sciences and maths we are to embark on a steep new learning curve. Michelangelo will be in grade 8, and his major focus will be implementing strong study habits. To add to the mix we have two children of primary age, one in Grade 1, a preschooler and a toddler. Academics is only a small fraction of parenting highschoolers, an extension of our lives that includes teenagers with busy lives and a need for much conversation and support.
Despite the fact that over the years our family circumstances are always fluid; pregnancies, babies, toddlers, preschoolers, a continual shift of our mix of primary, highschool and graduates we have managed to find our stride, whilst the rhythm can be subject to small changes we have indeed hit a groove, this is indeed a good place to be at.