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Finishing ~ Homeschooling thru High School


Homeschooling ~
is not something that I talk about a lot on the blog
but it's certainly a foundation in our family.
This year marks our fourteenth year in our homeschooling journey.
I can't believe it ~ 14!  That makes me feel old.

For homeschool parents, these are the finishing years:
 as we round the corner and see the finish line,
as we finish and fine tune attributes in our children's lives
and we finally send them out into the world
praying that we have given them a strong foundation.


I've been asked to do a post specifically on homeschooling in high school.  Until now, I have felt ill equipped to give advice or encouragement on the subject but with one in college, one finishing his senior year, and the youngest rounding the corner with the first glimpses of that finish line, I find that I do have some things to say about the course that we find ourselves on.  

Some of you may know our oldest has gone on to college although he still lives at home. I don't think he will ever leave.  Yes, I'm still putting food out for him!  ;)  He has an associates degree now (graduated with top honors) and is pursuing a bachelors in Bio-Chem at a local Christian university.  Sounds impressive.  Honestly, I don't know where he got his brains.  I can't believe his academic success had that much to do with my teaching.  I think it had everything to do with him being able to explore options for his future while still in high school.  I think it had to do with him focusing his energy on what he loved rather than what classes he was required to take. I think it had to do with the closeness of the family and his willingness to let us guide him (although not always so willingly).  Trust me, homeschooling our oldest son from K-12 was trial and error!  It all ended up OK, though.  I think it always does when the heart is in the right place.  And where is that place?  Wanting your child to succeed in all aspects of life more than anyone else in this world.

Now we find ourselves on the brink of another son graduating.  His path through high school has been different.  The focus has been on different subjects and life skills, tailored specifically to him and his dreams.  This last semester is being spent as a working student for Horsemanship & English Riding.  For him, everything is geared around the horse.  After getting the required subject out of the way, he is now studying equine anatomy,  classical horsemanship, and jump course design.  He studies videos, journals about what he learns and writes down his own thoughts as well.  And that is when he is not riding! Part of his work study is now in Florida as he finds out what it's like to be fully immersed in the sport of Eventing for a 6 week period of time.  Homeschooling helped make that happen.

Our youngest's path is different even still with focus on English and Composition. Homeschool can be as individual as the students themselves. Truly, that is what I love about homeschooling through high school!


So how do we do it?
  1. We plan.
Each year my husband and I sit down and talk about what is best for each of the boys regarding their education.  We have always done this. It's important to be on the same team in this because you see, we homeschool our children.  I make choices about specific curriculum and subjects but we look at the bigger picture together.  Will they attend a homeschool co-op?  Which one?  What character traits do they need to develop in their lives? Which activities are best for them?  This year, we climbed in the truck for a four hour trip together and took the opportunity to talk about school.  Honestly I thought one of our boys would do one thing and when we were finished talking, it was obvious that was not the right path for him.  So, it's important to discuss and plan... together.
    
    2.  We know when to let someone else teach.

I don't try to teach Trigonometry or Chemistry.  It's just not going to happen!  I'll happily tackle Art History, Literature or Home Economics.  Seriously, I should have had girls!  God knew what he was doing though.  Anyway, while homeschooling through high school, we find classes or private tutoring that have qualified teachers for the subjects at hand.  In our metropolitan area, there are many choices.

    3.  We stick with what works.

Over the years, we have found curriculum that works for our boys.  When we started homeschooling over a decade ago, there were only 4-5 choices.  Now there are countless programs to fit every need or learning style.  The problem can be switching from this to that and then pretty soon, there is no flow in the learning process.  Overall, we have stuck with popular choices and they have worked well for us.  We used Sonlight all through elementary school.  Now we have moved on to IEW Writing & Composition, Apologia Science, and Math U See just to name a few.  The homeschool co-op uses these in their teaching program and that helps me fill the gaps with the hard subjects.

    4.  Test often.

This was one thing that we did not do with our oldest but is something I am convinced must be done now.  If your student is going on to college, they must be able to test well.  Not only will they need to excel on tests for subject matter but they will need good scores on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT.  We never "taught to the test" because it went against what I believed about learning in general.  However, to some degree I believe it must be done now.  Many colleges are not accepting homeschool diplomas or transcripts and only admitting homeschool students on their test scores alone.  For those schools, scholarship money is decided the same way.  It's a hard thing to accept when your student has worked so hard to get A's in high school classes and the college doesn't want to even see them because they don't trust the grade.  With the number of homeschool students entering their universities, you can't blame them.  The standardized tests are the only way to measure them against public and private school students.  So, test.  Test often.

    5.  Help them find their passion.

Truly, the BEST thing about homeschooling through high school is helping your child discover the gifts and talents that God has given them for use in life.  We have made it a point to find out what interests them and let them pursue those interests as part of their schooling.  No matter what those things have been, we have worked them into their school program.  Just a few things that our boys have done: shadowing doctors& vets, working at horsemanship, learning to weld, business & accounting, mock trial, construction science.  In a way, we have adapted our homeschooling in high school to be similar to what you would do in college.  The first few years are filled with core classes that everyone takes.  The next years are more specialized toward their specific field of study or interest.  It's helping our boys figure out the big question: "What do I want to be when I grow up?"

   6.  Trust

Lastly, trust that God will direct your student.  He has made them unique and their path of homeschooling through high school should be unique as well.  God is able to help you mold and shape your child through their individualized studies to successfully follow after Him as they pursue their future.  So TRUST... and keep schooling even through high school.  You are almost at the finish line.

7 comments:

  1. I love this post....I love your blog. We too are a homeschooling family. I have two daughters. My oldest graduated in 2012. She went on to one of our career colleges and graduated this past June. She works at our hospital here. My youngest will graduate next year (2016). God has been so good to us and guided our schooling journey so faithfully. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Have a wonderful weekend...
    Sherri

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sherri. Blessings on your girls.

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  2. I have also graduated one and have two years left with my youngest. This is my 17th year of teaching my kids at home and it's truly been one of the biggest blessings in our lives.

    Great post!

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  3. So glad to see your success. I have to admit that my earlier experience locally with homeschooling people was not too impressive, but the more recent exposure is much better. My kids are in a very small school district, probably one of the smallest in the state, and there are pluses and minuses to this... I don't know that we would have succeeded as a homeschool family, but that's part of the key- to know what will work in your family. I work outside the home, but always part time with a lot of flexibility... Best to you and yours...

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  4. Thank you for doing what you do! I have 2 little bitty ones and we plan to homeschool. I get a little anxious when I think about educating our children and you have helped soothe some of my concerns with this.

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  5. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this wealth of wisdom with us! Can you tell us what ages/grades you started with a co-op or outside classes? Our oldest is 10 years old now and it is starting to get a bit more chanllenging. We are not presently doing any type of outside classes, but am wondering if that would help in several areas?!

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    Replies
    1. Sarah, we started co-ops around Junior High age. For each boy it was a little different. At first it was just for specific subjects like English and Science and we worked into more as they each progressed. Our youngest has taken all class in a co-op or private tutoring all through high school. This is his last year and will transition into concurrent at a university next year. Hope this helps! Blessings in your homeschool journey.

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