Monday, February 22, 2016

Looking At High School Differently

We are quickly approaching the high school years.   I know a lot of people look at homeschooling high school with much fear and trepidation, and a great deal of that is brought on by trying to compete with the public school system.   To be honest, I've gotten sucked into that a bit as well. However, in recent weeks I've been rethinking my position somewhat.

Like all parents, I want my children to be well prepared to be successful in their career choices.  What I don't want is for my kids to get pigeonholed into a "career" that carries a stigma of success, while they are miserable in it.   I want them to be able to do what they love, and have peace knowing that it's ok.

There truly are some people who know from a very young age what they want to be when they grow up.  However, I think most teens, and even adults if they are honest, want to try life, experience a few things and then see what's a good fit.   Not everyone is bound for college or the white collar world.  Some people truly love working with their hands, getting dirty and coming home physically tired at the end of the day....and there's nothing shameful about that.
 While I do want my kids to have the best possible education, I don't want them wasting valuable years cramming math formula's into their brains and hating every minute of it, just to never need to use that information in real life.   I do want them to have opportunities that will broaden their knowledge base and open new doors.

I've been muddling this around in my head for the last few weeks.   I've been trying to decide if I want to follow the "force feed them higher education" route, or if I want to give them liberty to pursue passions, or at least minor interests without squelching their interest.   In my muddling, I stumbled across this interesting article about a law making it's way through the Virginia General Assembly.

Interestingly enough, back in high school (and yes it was public school) there was more than one path to success.   There was the "advanced diploma" path that included the higher maths, foreign language and chemistry with a lab.   Then there was the "standard diploma" which meant you took the regular classes (language arts, biology, basic math) and then you either went to vocational/technical school for a trade, or took shop, home economics and general studies.

Do you want to know a secret?  I've never had "higher math", not even pre-algebra.  Shocking right?   Instead, I took the business classes that were offered, including shorthand (gasp), typing, business math and the like.  For the six years following graduation I did various jobs, before deciding to go to business college.   I graduated the top of the class, landed a job with the largest civil engineering firm on the east coast, working my way up from receptionist to office administrator...and I loved it.

I say all that to say this, I don't know that at 12 or 13 my child (either of them) has the slightest clue about her future.  I certainly don't have it all figured out either.   What I do know, is that if  I equip her with the desire to learn and grow, and give her room to spread her wings she'll figure it out.  If I force feed her facts, formulas and figures and make her doubt her abilities, she'll flounder and settle for whatever life hands her.

That's not acceptable as far as I'm concerned.    What does that mean, and look like in reality?   I don't know, truthfully.  It may mean that we cram a lot of academics into 9th and 10th grade and then allow for more exploration in 11th and 12th.   It may mean the opposite, or perhaps it'll be more relaxed all four years?

I'll spend some time praying about it, and consulting with the husband, and perusing the options available.   My curriculum picks for the upcoming year may be a bit late this year.   Time will tell I guess.

What about you?   Are you in the more academically strenuous high school camp, or the more delight driven or do you land somewhere in the middle like me?

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

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  1. Wow, I really appreciate your perspective on this! We are into the high school years with my eldest, and have struggled with this very point. I fall in the middle somewhere myself, and my son seems to be totally uninterested in academics for their own sake. I think this was a timely read for me. Might be time to rethink things a bit.

    1. Glad I was able to give you some food for thought. This whole shaping and molding the next generation is hard work! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I got really caught up in the academics of it all--studying college admission requirements and wanting my daughter to be able to compete respectably with her peers. But we were both miserable. We've backed off in her 10th grade year, choosing to compromise between some required work that will expand her horizons and work that is just plain interesting to her. She probably won't be ready for a 4-year college at 18, but I'm realizing that's not the end of the world. :) I didn't keep her to an artificial grade timeline in elementary school, so why should I keep her to an artificial timeline for college and career?

  3. My oldest son is only turning 12 so we still have time and I struggle with this... I don't see him being academic and going to college (he's definitely a work with his hands kind of boy) but I don't want to just assume he's not going to go to college and leave him unprepared but I do think there is something to be said for allowing them to enjoy the time they have now and focusing on what they do want to know and learn rather than preparing for some future that may not ever come to be.

    1. It's hard trying to find the medium ground. I'm still waffling back and forth, on how much and when. Sigh.


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