I never (and I mean I NEVER) had any intention of ever teaching my children in high school. When we started in kindergarten I was just taking it year by year and to be honest…I am shocked that 10 years later that we are still doing school together.
At the end of last school year Jack was asking a lot more about high school and for the first time really showing interest in doing something besides homeschooling. After nine years of doing school together I have to tell you that I have become a bit of an education snob and I have loved the rich literature, history, writing, discussions, travels and freedom that we have had with homeschooling and I didn’t see anything that was standing out as amazing in the world of high school in our area. We were also not going to spend $25,000 a year for a private high school. About 11 months ago we were told about a brand new super creative academy that was going to be starting at one of our local public high schools. We went to the meetings and Jack and Kelly were sold immediately. Everything that they were saying sounded amazing but even though I was getting burned out and I didn’t think the whole high school homeschooling thing was for me…my heart was breaking a bit. I was having a very hard time imagining our family not together in the same way. So as Kelly and Jack were pretty much high fivin’ each other…I had tears and it would take me a few weeks to have peace about the decision.
I eventually had enormous peace about the new program and was excited for Jack and his new experiences. He was going to be a part of the school orchestra and for a boy that has played piano for nine years this was an awesome opportunity. We were also really looking forward to seeing (and a bit scared) how he would do transitioning into traditional school after only being homeschooled (except for his once a week enrichment school). Would he be behind? Right on track? Ahead? We didn’t know. We knew he had always tested ahead of his age/grade in state testing but this would tell us more than the testing had.
We knew with a brand new program that there would be growing pains and adjustments that would need to be made along the way. Kelly and I had concerns about the structure and accountability right away but had promised Jack and ourselves that no decisions would be made until Christmas break. Towards the end of the semester we knew for sure that academically it was not enough for Jack and he was struggling with a lack of deadlines and no definite schedule. Because Jack had been such a huge decision maker in going to high school we knew he needed to be a huge part in the decision making to come back home. We prayed and just asked the Lord to guide Jack’s heart about his education. We waited.
Towards the end of the semester Jack came to us and shared his heart in ways that without going to high school we wouldn’t have learned so many things about ourselves, how we did school and each other. I have to admit that I am not sure I would have had the maturity to admit what he was about to share with us at his age. He let us know that he was having a blast hanging out with friends all day but didn’t think he was learning and thought he needed to come home to catch up. He felt like he had wasted a semester and worried if we didn’t leave now that he was worried the academy wouldn’t make enough changes over the following semester to put the academics on track. He let us know that he was concerned that if he didn’t leave the academy that he didn’t believe that he would be ready for college (keep in mind this kid has never talked about college before now). He went on to say that he knew I had been worn out with homeschooling and he was tired of it too. He thought this was a wake up call for both of us. This was showing us that we both hadn’t realized that how we had been doing school was working. I knew that my attitude and actions had shown my children that I was tired and ready to pass over the responsibility of being in charge of their education. It was the first time in a long time that I was realizing that even though all forms of education will have gaps that we were doing an excellent job even in the midst of our tired hearts. These discussions with Jack were bringing me back to my love of education, connecting with my children through homeschooling and feeling deep down that it was such an honor to teach them…not a burden as I had been feeling that last year. Going to high school did all of this for us.
Keep in mind that our experience with high school could have also gone completely differently and we could have all absolutely loved it! That would have been incredible too. I think sometimes that homeschooling families are afraid of what to do next after middle school and I just wanted to take a few moments to tell you that stepping out and trying new things will reveal what is right for your family. There is nothing to be afraid of. You WILL know and there are things that you will learn about your children and yourself that you may never know if you don’t try.
There are so many ways that trying high school has done for our family but some of the best take aways have been that my son is no longer a little boy. I needed that separation to see the man he is becoming. Even though his education is now back at home he is still a part of an enrichment school and he goes three times a week to the orchestra at the same high school. We have all loved this and it still keeps him connected to new friends and the school. Finally we saw that even in the midst of all of our imperfections that we were doing a great job. My heart really needed to know that. I have so many high expectations on myself of how and what I want our children to learn and to know that even though I wasn’t accomplishing everything I wanted (just like all teachers)…our education was rich. Thank you high school for gently showing us what was working for our family.
You can hear more about my story with homeschooling in the online class Learning Well: an essentials course to homeschooling. This course is being taught by Alicia Hutchinson and has many extra guests that will be sharing their experiences and advice. I wish I had had something like this online course so many years ago and I am honored to offer it on my creative network.
This course is for the curious, the beginner, the family that needs to be inspired all over again and the schooling parent that wants to supplement their children’s education. This course is also for the homeschooler wondering how to educate more than one child, what comes after elementary school and the family that wants a supportive network to hold you up in the day to day.
TODAY (March 31, 2015) is the LAST day for early registration for this course! You will be lavished by Alicia and the rich content that this course has to offer.
To read more about the course or to register follow THIS link.
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