Friday, July 13, 2012

You Find What Works and You Do It, Part II

Part 1 is here.

Today I'm taking a look at this question:

"What did you think high school would look like for your oldest and how that has become a reality?"

I'm not sure I had any idea what high school would look like. (I apparently once told my daughters, "We'll deal with that when we get to it.") But that lines up neatly with not really knowing what my life will look like from one year to the next. I like to make plans, but I'm always open to the changes that I know life will throw our way.  And I know that living a deliberate life can certainly be compatible with flexibility and surprises.

What we did know was that we wanted to consider the following as Anne headed into high school:
  • Anne's strengths and interests
  • Her goals (personal, spiritual, educational, vocational) 
  • Her gaps/areas of complete disinterest/weaker areas
  • My strengths as a teacher 
  • Atticus' strengths as a teacher 
  • Outside resources (such as job shadowing or community college classes) 
  • What an education means, what it is for: in high school, in college
  • The reasons we started homeschooling in the first place 

Atticus adds: "As Robert Frost said, we must have 'the courage to start with insufficient knowledge.'"

And so, with insufficient knowledge, we started.

What we knew:

Reading and discussion have always been at the center of education in our house, so (as I always have) I made booklists:
  • books I love
  • books Atticus loves
  • books Anne loves
  • books Anne will love once she reads them
  • books everyone should read
  • books no one should have to read but everyone does
  • books about history
  • books about our faith
  • books about science
  • books about culture
  • books about art
  • biographies
  • poetry
  • Shakespeare
  • books that defy categorization

I knew I wanted Anne to start keeping her own list -- she kept track of everything she read (which was very helpful down the road at transcript time.)

I knew that we would write (and we've had a weekly writing group with friends since Anne's sophomore year.)

I knew that we would probably use some stuff from The Teaching Company. (Budget note: you can often buy these on sale, or find used copies that are very inexpensive.)*

I knew that we would make use of a math curriculum (because I don't unschool Algebra well. I'm too busy hating advanced math to live it/learn it joyfully and my daughters inherited the anti-math gene from me).

I knew that I would continue making use of Living is Learning Guides -- for ideas, checklists, and resources.

I knew that we would use the community college* (via the early enrollment program), especially for foreign language classes.

I knew that I would be grateful for homeschoolers who blazed the trail and inspired me.

I knew that I would read books about homeschooling through high school. My list:  College Prep Homeschooling, Homeschooling the Teen Years, Homeschooling: A Family's Journey,  Homeschooling Through High School.  I can't say any single book is the book to get but I did take away helpful bits and pieces from each of these. (These days, I would add A Little Way of Homeschooling, but not my chapter -- I didn't have high schoolers when I wrote that, but other contributors did.)

I knew that I would take notes and keep records. I have always kept lots of notes on what we do, no matter how off-the-beaten-school-track it seems.


That's what we knew going in. And my half-formed vision did come into focus, did become the reality. I had a vague idea that high school would be a continuation of the ways in which we've always approached education at our house. For the most part it was, with various periods of panic, doubt, terror, or fatigue. Punctuated with happiness and delight, and saturated in gratitude that we kept going. 

I still have insufficient knowledge, and I'm still tweaking the process -- I'm guessing I won't have this whole high school thing perfected until sometime after Ramona's graduation. Too late for my own girls, but then I can pass my sufficient knowledge on to my daughters, in case they homeschool their offspring. Then they can say, "Mom, everything you did is old and out of date! This is insufficient knowledge!" 

And I'll say, "Yes! It is! Now go read some Robert Frost to your children."

* We ended up using Teaching Company courses for some American history, neurobiology, and math. Anne took courses at the community college and did a great job with Spanish I and II.

Part III is here.
Part IV is here


penelope said...

Thank you for sharing this! I've homeschooled one all the way through and now have one working at the 9th grade level, and another coming up swiftly alongside .... I always appreciate catching glimpses of how homeschooling older kids works for different families :-)

Karen Edmisten said...

I love to hear from others, too, Ellie -- it's helpful to hear how others have handled things.