People love plans, formulas, labels and superficial studies. We love the pretty little packages we can buy and don't have to analyze because they are convenient. It's something we can buy and consume. If it doesn't work out we can blame who sold it to us. We don't have to take responsibility for not doing our due diligence if we don't want to. This is no different when it comes to education. We love to believe what we are told about what works and what doesn't. Have you stopped to notice that the favorable "evidence" in support of the status quo only points to economics and never includes any point of reference to feelings of long term personal fulfillment or happiness?
I have been trying to keep all of this in mind lately especially during my recent temporary moments of panic. My oldest homeschooling child is now fourteen! This declaration is something I am not taking lightly. It's hitting me in the same way I think it hits a lot of other homeschoolers. My son is officially a highschooler!!! I am starting to understand why some homeschoolers get scared and send their kids to high school.
I have had my days of panic and uncertainty before. Are the kids learning enough? Am I doing everything I can to help them reach their full potential? It's certainly harder to face these questions when all of the responsibility is on me. I can't point fingers at a school system or certain teachers. How many are brave enough to really, honestly take that responsibility whether their kids are in a school system or not?
My only educational point of reference is my own. I attended a private high school and had more intense classes with double the homework than I had in college. I also had to work part time; mostly for free in order to compensate for my high school tuition. I also look at the family histories that my husband and I have. Both sides are full of professional artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, lawyers and white-collar employees. How do I go from that history to this moment of uncharted territory for us? The beliefs that were instilled in me tell me that if the kids aren't well "trained" they will struggle and become victims of the system. It's hard to deprogram these messages when you are still surrounded by them.
I have heard very mixed results from those that have homeschooled through high school. The funny thing is I have heard just as mixed, if not worse, results from kids that went through the traditional route too. No matter which path you want to go, neither is a formula for guaranteed success.
I have written about this before in “What do you want to be when you grow up?” High school kids graduating with honors, speaking three languages and having full resumes of achievements are a dime a dozen. What aren’t very common are young adults who stand out because they have something that drives them and lights their direction. This is when I look at how many in our families haven’t felt fulfilled no matter what their paychecks were like.
One of the advantages of having a decent amount of adult life behind me is that I can also look at the life experiences of my friends and colleagues. I have over twenty years of real life examples right in front of me. Having the maturity to see the big picture of these people’s lives is a great advantage! Who is truly happy, who isn’t and most importantly why? Which ones had a mid-life crisis? How many of these people are still trying to “find” themselves? What can I do differently with my kids so they are set up for success and happiness in life?
What I do know is that I want my kids to be independent, fulfilled and always confident that they can take care of themselves no matter what twists and turns life has in store for them. I don’t want them living their life according to someone else’s formula, agenda, dogma or society’s expectations of them. What I want most for them is to keep in touch with who they are and what makes them happy.
So with renewed confidence I am approaching our new high school homeschooling journey. My son will be able to continue to follow the interests he is most passionate about, continue to build the strong friendships he has and always know that no matter what he chooses as his path in life, it is HIS path. Hopefully, with a continued awareness of motivations behind his academic and life decisions, I can continue to guide him to live a productive, creative, fun and satisfying life.
Photo credit - Dean Terry
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon or directly on my website. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.