Seems like we are getting this question a lot lately. Yes, we are the crazy people still homeschooling our high school aged kids. Even us ~ the two parents who absolutely loved our high schools, excelled there, enjoyed probably too many extra-curricular activities and clubs, stayed out of trouble for the most part, went to dances and football games, and made dear, life-long friends. So why would we keep our own children from this supposedly wonderful experience? And how in the world does a mom and elementary education major teach trigonometry and chemistry?
The answers to the "why" question are really no different from the ones that compelled us to begin homeschooling in the first place:
1. We want to be the primary influence in the lives of our children, and have the freedom to impart our faith to them on a daily and even moment-by-moment basis.
2. Both the one-on-one tutorial teaching method as well as the independent study method are ideal educational atmospheres.
3. We want freedom to choose a classical approach, as well as quality literature and textbooks from which to educate and influence the hearts and minds of our children.
4. We prayed about it individually and together, and as best we could tell, it was what the Lord was leading us to do. (He sent all kinds of key people and specific encouragement our way, especially as we prayed about whether or not to keep homeschooling through the high school years. It just seemed like a VERY clear answer.)
The answer to the "how" question is, first of all, by the strength and grace of the Lord. Really. I could not do it otherwise. This is not an easy road, and there are many days on which the yellow school bus and eight hours to myself are VERY appealing. But second of all, having a schedule and good resources are key. Here is a peek into what Kory (age 16) does during his high school homeschool week:
We started making charts like this for Kory when he was in the Challenge I program of Classical Conversations. Actually, I started making ALL of my Challenge I students a chart like this, filled in with all of their assignments for the week, because they had a LOT of work to do, and as it was their first year of high school, they were having trouble keeping up. We kept up the tradition last year for Challenge II, and are using the same method this year ~ his junior year ~ even though Kory is not in a Classical Conversations program with other students this year. He and I sit down on Sunday nights and fill in all that needs to be accomplished in each subject for the week. Monday through Friday he works almost completely independent of me.
I stopped teaching Kory math after he completed Algebra I in 8th grade. Surprisingly, I made A's in Algebra I in high school, but then cried my way through Algebra II. It was not pretty. So, for the last two years, Kory has used CD-Roms that accompany the level of math on which he is currently working. He is able to hear an instructor teach through each lesson, and see the sample problems being worked out on the computer screen. If he gets stumped by a problem in his daily problem set, he is able to click on that particular problem, and see how it is solved. His Spanish course is taught in a similar way.
Chemistry (or any science, really) is also not a strength for this English minor mama, so Kory is taking a Chemistry course via M.I.T.'s Open Courseware program. You may be able to tell from these photos that this course is quite a challenge, but Kory does enjoy watching the lectures by a real M.I.T. professor. It's fast paced, though, and assumes some background in high school chemistry, so we may need to re-think his chemistry credit for the second semester. Angstroms, nanometers, and moles ~ oh my! Robert is trying to give him a bit of chemistry coaching during breakfast here.
Oh ~ and creating a high school transcript and student resume is made easy over at AcademicRecords.net. Plug in the course, the grade, and the extra curriculas and ~ voilá!
But what about socialization? This is the inevitable second, if not first question asked in regards to homeschooling ~ especially when you are homeschooling teens. Won't they be weird and socially awkward? And our family supposedly has two strikes against us in the socialization department, because not only do we homeschool our children, they are also "pastor's kids." Talk about a recipe for being a social misfit! It's almost a given, huh?
Actually, the "pastor's kid" thing has afforded my kids the opportunity for real service and full, meaningful participation in the church and community. Kory runs the PowerPoint slides for our worship band and his dad's sermon almost every Sunday. He participates in a weekly small group men's Bible study, has helped on occasion at a local homeless shelter, and even as I type, he is away at a retreat with other high school juniors who will be traveling to various overseas locations this coming February. His destination? Turkey. I am so thrilled that he has this opportunity.
Our local high school also allows homeschoolers to participate in their athletics program, so Kory has played both football and baseball over the last two years. Daily after-school practices, and away games that require hours on a school bus with other teenage boys is PLENTY of socialization in my mind. Once, upon discovering that Kory was a homeschooler, a baseball teammate commented, "Wait. You're homeschooled? Aren't you supposed to be socially awkward???"
Here's to breaking the stereotype!
Kory also attends a youth camp on a college campus every summer, where he usually manages to escape the "pastor's kid" label by failing to mention to his peers that it is his dad that is up there on stage every night. ;-)
He is required to earn a portion of the cost of his overseas trip, so he has been doing yard work all summer for a couple of local families, and he recently got a job working with the "non-Essential" (hee hee) kids of our local Classical Conversations program. They are the younger siblings of the kids in the Essentials program that happens from 1-3pm every Tuesday afternoon, and since moms are required to be in class with their students, Kory gets paid to assist another mom who teaches nature observation and physical fitness to these little guys for those two hours. Can you tell they are a handful? The great thing is that they absolutely LOVE having this "big boy" around.
Academics? Check. And he's mostly on his own ~ perfect college prep!
Socialization? Check. And that with peers, adults, young children, and a even a community in need.
The praise for all of this belongs to the Lord. The One who called us to this homeschool journey is also the One who leads and sustains us in it. He provides the wisdom. He provides the opportunities. He provides the strength. Even on the difficult days, of which there are many, I am grateful for the opportunity to be home with my kids in this capacity ~ now especially with my high-schoolers.