Our homeschool goal for our children (in educational terms) is for them to be life long learners, where they continue, regardless of their circumstances, to inquire and discover, to think wisdom (practical applications of knowing Jesus) and to encourage others to do the same.
For them to be life long learners they need to be able to learn without me in the background – to be independent learners. Here are some of the changes that have happened in our house as we transition from dependent learners to independent learners. Many of the learning tools remained the same – we just tweaked them for homeschool highschool years.
Our goal for our children is to be self-disciplined, to be governed by a desire for what is right, springing from their own heart. It is really important that we look at discipline from a relationship perspective when children are pre-teen to early teen and onwards. If we don’t have a heart to heart relationship with our children by this stage this needs to be our priority – no school work comes close to the importance of our relationship with our children and their inner heart.
By the time the children are getting towards their teens the discipline that previously was seen as “boundaries” set and monitored by the parents begins to become the young adults responsibility. Setting goals, monitoring progress, asking for help etc becomes their responsibility (and depends on their self discipline)
Writing Wisdom not Knowledge
Ideas are the foundation of education. I want my children to be writing about ideas, not just retelling information they have gleaned. My children, older and younger constantly talk about what they read. With the older children our discussions head towards the principles behind situations or the character traits a person has displayed or not. These are ideas; these are the things that will build our children’s inner self.
Moving away from Oral Narrations
An apsect of this transition is that Narrations move from oral to written and from retell to original thought as the children get older. This is a gradual shift. I have taught my children that writing is just their words on paper so if it helps to talk it out first that is what we do before we go and write – regardless of what age. The writing assignments for my older students reflect this need for ideas, for wisdom as well as for knowledge.
Lots of talking
Talking is an important skill on its own (not just as a precursor to writing). We need to be able to express our thoughts to others in conversation. We need the skills of talking passionately without being overbearing. We need the skills to listen to other people’s passions. In our home we talk and talk and talk about things. To be honest, this aspect increases as the children get older!
Reading living books
Oh this has not changed!! When the children are confident, independent readers who can glean wisdom from what they read (not just knowledge) they take on their own reading list for learning. We do have reading aloud sessions in our home with our main effort being at dinner time – I read while the rest of the family eat dessert. I choose a book that hopefully the whole family will enjoy – the book isn’t chosen for educational purposes but for memory making. But the things we have learnt…!
For those students who were more hands on we focused less on on unit studies and books and more on hands on learning/projects. A project for a highschool student includes the planning, researching and execution so it involves many of the more ‘academic’ studies though from a practical perspective.
Many of the projects that the kids took on, were very similar, if not the same, to lifestyle learning when they were younger. The only difference is that now, in highschool, they may work on the project by themselves, instead of as a family project – and most often it is connected to a personal goal or interest. Some of their projects have been publishing a book, running a small business, creating art / commissioned pieces, renovating bedrooms, preparing for kids clubs, performing in local dramas.
We also started to use more online courses – Udemy being our favourite for technology and business orientated skills. Photography, movie making, drawing, using productivity apps, photoshop, hand-lettering, mixed media art – there are courses available for anything!
As these transitions happen I constantly revise where my children are at on the Scope and Sequence for Discipleship Homeschool and make my decisions accordingly. This way we are truly working towards our goals.