If I were to Homeschool today I would change:
1–Continue to do Bible study with my Highschool Students
Though we did continue to do Bible Study I feel that I moved to independent Bible Study too quickly. Once I had less kids in a discussion group (the older two moved on) then it was harder to carry a discussion style study. My intention was always to do Bible study with my kids – to dig into God’s word together, and to teach them how to do that for themselves. And we did do that for a long time, but as the older two finished, and the younger two grew more independent in their studies I gave them independent Bible study – which wasn’t a bad thing – I just think we lost something as a family when we stopped having these times together. If I was to do it over I’d keep Bible study going with my highschool students even a little longer than I did..
2–Instigate family devotions as my students moved into independent Bible study
There does come a time when it is time to move on from something even as good as family Bible study. So my next plan would be that when they moved into independent Bible study I would pick up on the Family Devotions so we had that time together talking about God’s word. Because we spent a considerable amount of time in the Bible in our day to day study plan, and the kids had their personal devotions (most of the time) we rarely had Family Devotion time. It really doesn’t matter what you call focus times – but I think we could have picked up a 10-15 minute time where we shared God’s word and prayed together at either the beginning or end of the day. The important thing is that you keep talking about God’s word – and I think we maintained the individual relationship with God, but not so much the corporate. If I was to do it over I’d make sure we kept a corporate (family) aspect of daily worship.
3–Maintain character education as a family discipleship not education
When our children were young we did character education as a ‘lesson’ as well as woven into our every day. Our lessons taught us what a particular character trait looked like, and then we would practice it in our day to day living. We would take a month to focus on each trait. When my older two were in middle to upper highschool I moved them to studying Character by themselves. This was a mistake. I made it an education topic rather than a heart subject with life experiences. Though they talked to me about what they were learning, and how they were challenged it really became more academic than life changing. So if I was to do it over, I’d make sure that talking about character remained a discipleship issue, one that was about living life together.
Read more: How to Really Teach your Kids Character (hint: You’ll need more than a lesson plan)
4–Learn hobbies and skills even if I’m outside my comfort zone
One of the key principles that we followed was giving plenty of time to my kids for them to pursue hobbies and develop their talents. This was easy with the girls – they wanted to learn music so I found a music teacher, other than that they wanted to learn to cook, sew, computer skills, business skills and art. I could support them in that – I was comfortable in those things. I was comfortable with Joshua’s direction too – reading, talking, philosphy, history, writing, his creative pursuit was railway modelling and though I had no idea, it was something that I could find resources for him and help him along the way. Daniel though wanted to pursue more hands on, and traditional boy things – working in the workshop, farming worms, go-carts, fixing things, making things. I baulked at these things. I gave resources but he really needed my involvement to get him kickstarted (his learning style). So I regret that I didn’t get in there and get my hands dirty with him. So if I was doing it over, I would push myself outside of my comfort zone to help with these ‘boy’ things.
5–Minimise Lifestyle happenings to interrupt Highschool Students
The mantra that gave me confidence for many years was – Homeschooling isn’t our lifestyle, our lifestyle is our homeschool; meaning that what happens in our life gives learning/education experiences to our kids. My blog name: Live life with your kids – has the same thought behind it. I didn’t want to get so taken up with book work that we didn’t make the most of the lessons that are learnt by living life together. But looking back I see that what was a learning opportunity in primary school moved to a distraction in upper highschool. So somewhere in between there I should have made a switch. The switch isn’t to focus on book-learning, but to see that the older kids had a path that they needed to pursue in order to be all that they were created to be, and sometimes they didn’t have to get involved in what the family was doing. So if I was doing it over, I would be more discerning with what lifestyle opportunities I would involve my upper highschool students in – if it was of benefit to them, then it would be better than study and they should join in. But if it is not consistent with their goals and passions, then maybe they need to stay on track with their plans.
Read more: The Purpose of Highschool Years
6–Invested in and Taught new Technologies
I was very intentional in keeping my kids skills current with the developing technologies – especially computer and internet skills. But was slow in picking up computer coding, robotics and 3D technologies. This is slightly connected with the idea of stepping outside of my comfort zone with interests outside of my understanding – but I think it is important to see ahead of what we already know, see where education trends are going and give our kids the best that we can afford. I was inclined to invest in things that we understood (computers, cameras, sewing machine) rather than a 3D printer for example. Admittedly, they are expensive – but it is something that I feel that maybe I could have done better. So if I was to homeschool again, I would keep myself educated on what new fields of study is being taught in schools and do my best to provide tools and experiences where we could.
Read more: Let other People Enhance your Homeschool
7–Drop standard Year 11 and Year 12 unless heading to University
I’m very strong that University isn’t the next thing for every student. In schools Year 11 and 12 are all about preparing you for university. I think it should be broader than that. In fact, if a student isn’t planning on going to university I think we should reconsider year 11 and 12 and give it a complete overhaul. If I was doing homeschool again, I would drop General Knowledge subjects (History, Geography, Science) unless those subjects were useful for their adult education goals. Instead I would have my senior highschool students pursue the skills they need to qualify for the area they want to work in; this may mean starting their adult education in these years. Another aspect I would do differently is for the students planning on going to university – I would sign them up for bridging courses in English and Math so that they had a headstart on their entry process.
Read more: Learning doesn’t Stop after Graduation
8–Buy office chairs for my highschool students –
This is may be odd thing to have in this list – but as I look at the things that we did once our kids finished homeschool – and started adult education, this is one of the things I wished we did earlier. Once they started with adult education we set an office up in their bedroom, instead of studying in the family area – and I am happy with that decision, but the benefit of buying them a good office seat for their posture – we should have done that a lot earlier. Posture is so important for students, especially if they spend any time on a computer. So if I was doing it over, I’d buy office chairs right from the start.
9–Encourage community social sports for highschool students
Another regret that I have is that life got so busy that we didn’t make time for the kids to join community social sports – they did that as young adults of their own motivation. And though that isn’t a bad thing, in fact, I’m very pleased that they did this – but it also highlights a little regret that I didn’t encourage them (by giving my time to drive them etc) to community social sports more. This would have given them a link to the broader community, something that would have been helpful as they moved into being young adults.
10–Move to project based learning in middle highschool
Jessica did more project based learning in her senior highschool than the other kids – and I think it is an excellent way for our non-university-driven students to learn. To me when a student takes on a project they take ownership of getting that finished, which means they have to not only learn each aspect, but plan the project from beginning to end. These skills are vital for adult living – and if I was doing homeschooling again, I would give each of my highschool students at least one project to complete each year.
A final thought about doing Homeschool again:
Though I list these things as details or mindsets that I would change I don’t ponder on these very much. Overall our kids had a great education, they have moved into adult life and adult education well. Each one continues to grow in all areas of life – and they face life with responsibility and joy.
Whenever we look back we have to be able to remember these two keys
- We did the best we could with what we had at the time
- Understand ‘Why’ we did what we did back then
Life changes – and homeschooling resources and opportunities has seen an incredible change over 20 years. Whenever I review anything – whether it is for a week, month, year – or in this case 20 years – it has to be for the purpose of going forward. You set goals, you review, and you revise and you go forward – that has always been my mindset. Since I’m not going forward with more homeschooling, I hope you can ponder the lessons I’ve reflected on, and decided if anything fits the situations you are in today and the direction you want to take your family tomorrow. Some will be good ideas for your family, some won’t.
And let me encourage you to regularly reflect on what is working, and what isn’t working and be brave enough to make the changes that you need to.
Over to you:
What is one thing you either wished you had changed, or might change now?
or you may be interested in another homeschool mum’s story: Homeschool Regrets: What I’d go back and Change