Joshua started university studies a month ago. Though he has been an independent student for many years this change from homeschooling to university has affected the family.
Just before he signed up for his first course we managed to clean out the hobby room (which was really a junk room) and make room for a desk and computer for him. We still have some sorting and decluttering issues in there but it is a place for him to study. Up till this point he has always studied in amongst the family though this was getting harder for him as he had to study proper while the other kids were often doing hands on type projects or listening to a read aloud which he found distracting. The time had come for him to move into his own study space. I have noticed though that he doesnt shut himself away totally as there are many times he keeps the door slightly open. Though we try to respect his need for focus there are times that we need his help; it is good to see that he will lay his study and thoughts aside to help out his siblings or mother!
Organisation has never been a strong point for Josh. We have worked on different aspects over the years and once again, just before he started Uni we discussed in depth his diary system. We set up a Control Journal which is a reference point for all his admin papers for uni courses and homeschooling (as he is still studying some Math, Latin and Biblical Worldview). As he has started to understand the demands of his uni course he has tweaked this system. It appears he needs a system that gives him everything at a glance so he has printed his assignment schedule and stuck it on the wall. Not quite the way I would like my room (as I still scrap in there) decorated but it works for him. I think we could have tackled this organisational issue stronger during the homeschool years. I dont think he understood the why of the system I tried to get him to use and therefore he was very half-hearted about it, neither was it tailored to his personal style and needs.
Essay writing is another aspect that he has a steep learning curve with. During homeschooling I took the perspective that I wanted him to have thoughts worth writing and to not be afraid of writing thoughts on paper. He does both these things well. The thing Ive noticed with the work he is doing is that he has limited understanding of the structure to an essay. I am not surprised at this because I found it hard to set an essay question for him and allowed him to write on topics he was interested in without any particular purpose (thesis). But I believe strongly that he has the ability to learn this structure easily now that there is a reason for learning it. I also believe that having thoughts and being able to express them on paper is foundational for what good is knowing structure if you have nothing to fill it!
Over the last few years Joshua has been studying world view / apologetics and I am so glad that he has. These studies have prepared him well for the attacks on personal beliefs and identity. I must admit I was surprised to see how strongly humanistic and post-modern the lectures have been. There has been no subtlety, nothing gradual it has been full on challenge to what you believe and who you believe you are. We need to prepare our young people to think philosophically, to understand the affects of our beliefs on every aspect of their life whether they go to university or not, even more so if they do.
When we started homeschooling our one hope was that even though we knew our friends would not agree with us we prayed that they would find a way to support us as friends. And they did. The very exciting thing is that now Joshua is doing university at home, via external studies, we find ourselves in the same situation. Not everyone will agree with our decision, but we pray that they will be able to support Josh anyway. And that is exactly what has happened. A man in our church has studied what Josh is planning to study and he has offered to tutor Josh especially on his essay assignments. What a blessing. He has given Josh far more than a critique on his essay, he has given him tips and understandings that would never have entered my mind. One thing that we pray for is that this man will be joined by others who will discuss things and challenge Josh as he pursues his studies.
So generally speaking I am really happy with this first month a milestone for sure. I am also challenged with the idea that this doesnt mark the end of our time with Josh it is just a change. It also doesnt mark the success of our homeschooling our success or lack thereof is dependent on more than entry to university though I am not really sure when one does see the results of homeschooling I think it is like parenting it is an eternal thing. University will never measure the eternal impact our son Josh will have on this world.