My older two finished their homeschooling years kind of accidentally – all of a sudden they were done. Joshua started his external University course with the intention of that being part time, but before I knew it these studies filled his study time. Apparently he was done with homeschooling. Jessica was much the same – all of a sudden we decided she needed to move on. It seems a bit strange, especially since intentionality has been a key idea for us – but life happens!
The Highschool years are very much about defining the talents and passions of our kids and giving them the skills to excel in those areas.
- Joshua wanted to go to University and loved history, politics and worldviews. In his last few years he studied these things from a Christian perspective – that is looking at how beliefs affect society and Biblical principles in law, science, art, medicine, and social environs etc.
- Jessica said she had no desire to go to University, she was a practical person and she enjoyed writing so her activities involved business, publishing, helping others, and creative pursuits, along with a well-rounded study course of history, math, writing, literature. She also studied worldview, but more from discussions than reading.
So here I am with child #3 – in year 12 – one year to go.
How am I going to fit it all in?
- Know the priorities for this individual child. Only by reducing and focusing on what is important will we meet our goals. Allowing other things – subjects that may traditionally be studied, or subjects that other kids around us are studying – can detract from achieving our own goals. We have chosen to take an individualised education road; I need to finish on this road as well. Now is not the time to start conforming to other people’s methods.
- Focus on their talents, passions and interests and develop the skills necessary to be successful in those areas. We can only make decisions based on the information we have at hand now. We don’t know what will interest our kids in a few years’ time. That is okay. We need to give them the skills for the things that we do see, and we need to give them the ability to continue learning for the things that they grow into. At the moment we see Art in Naomi, but she is also interested in nursing, so is keeping up with her science studies, whereas, Jessica, at this stage, dropped science and focused on other practical projects.
- Remember, if they are lifelong learners, what they don’t learn this year, they’ll learn in years to come. This means that there really is no end to our children’s education. What doesn’t happen now will happen later if there is a need or purpose for it. This is the nature of being a life-long learner. We need to make sure we don’t put an artificial cap or unnecessary rush on their learning, just because their homeschool years are over.
Our focus, as the parent, needs to be how can I help my child be prepared for the next phase of their life?
We may need to make some changes:
- In our day – As my kids have grown older I have had to curtail interruptions and allow them to focus on study. I am more particular about the lifestyle opportunities that I allow to take them away from their studies. When the kids were young they learnt so much from lifestyle opportunities, now though, when they are older we have to be discerning as to what is really a learning opportunity and what is a distraction.
- In how often we get them to stop and help us – As our kids get older we may have to call on them less, giving them the freedom of extended periods of uninterrupted study time. This is a good discipline to put on ourselves, as it makes us ask the younger one to do something that maybe the older ones have always done. This is a good thing, as it makes us train the younger ones as we did the older ones.
- In how we use curriculum or resources – maybe as time draws to a close for our homeschooling we have to change how we are doing our lessons. Just this week I’ve released Naomi from notebooking her Art History book, instead she will complete a project at the end. This is so she can get through it quickly. The notebooking along the way, has served it’s purpose, now we have a different purpose – namely to finish this book, and to move onto a different subject. Not that we’ll be rushing every subject, but this is one she does need to move through quickly.
I think it is important though that as I come to terms with the idea that this is her last year homeschooling that I don’t put pressure on her to have it all sorted as to what she is going to do next year. She has the freedom to take as long as she needs to do these things well – if that takes an extra 6 months or an extra 12 months then that is okay. I think it is important to help our kids, who are on an individualised plan, to know that if you were just doing school, doing what you had to do to get out of there, then yes, you would want to be finished by a certain date. But if they are working towards a goal – a goal that they have set themselves – it doesn’t have to be contained to 12 years of education – it takes as long as it takes, and that is okay.
Just for the record (for myself, for Naomi, and for anyone interested) here are the priorities we have listed for Naomi for ending her homeschool years:
- Have some self-management skills well established
- Complete a study of Art History – and complete a project referencing Art through the years
- Learn digital art software: Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator
- Complete a worldview course – The Truth Project or similar
- Read 3 Classic Novels, and discuss character, plot and lessons to be learnt
- Continue with her Bible study, Math, Science, Writing, for as long as she is homeschooling
- Be ½ of the way through her Duke of Edinburgh Award (Gold)
- If she wants to go to University she’ll then need to complete a Uni-prep/bridging course (this will be started next year if that is what she chooses to do)
I don’t know if this can be done in one year or not – maybe, maybe not. But at the moment, these are the goals we are working towards.