Saturday, May 26, 2012

High School: Home School, Public, or Private School

Many homeschoolers reach the high school years and throw in the homeschooling towel. There are many legitimate reasons, and not all of them are wrong. There are also many reasons TO homeschool. I really don't want to take a position on that either way, because I think it is a very individual choice. Individual for each family...and within the family too. Each child needs to be considered carefully and the determination lies in what is best for that child.

My kids #'s2&3 are/were extremely social and extroverted ...wanted to be in with the in crowd...craved peer attention They are also athletic ( unlike either of us:tongue_smilie:). Honestly, dd did very well being home schooled. We had her busy, busy, busy. I made opportunities for her to be social. Had lots of kids here...all.the.time!! Games, facials, movies, swim meet sleep overs, You name it....we did it. She volunteered, worked at a nursery school, life guarded, became a swim coach etc.

Now, ds.....him I should have sent to school. He NEEDED to be there.....but I didn't listen to my gut....I listened to my guilt. We did manage to make homeschooling work...and he did end up in a good place, but I think he really should have had a year or 2 at public or private school for his own head....IOW, he had big time grass is greener syndrome, which made him sullen, and very difficult to teach. I will not ever do that again!! He was not miserable, and did many social things all through high school. I put 70,000 miles on my van in 1 year for goodness sake! His personality craves people....

If you decide to continue homeschooling....and I think it can be a great decision:D....certain things I would consider doing for my son a bit differently.

1. A job. A boy needs a job. Mowing lawns, hauling groceries....washing windows....I don't care what he does, but he needs to do!!! He can start his own business if he can't get a job...advertise and work his butt off to get it off the ground. It is even better if he ends up hiring someone else too! What an experience for him in entrepenuership.

2. An outside class with peers or adults. Something he doesn't know a lot about yet. Photography, business principles, a new instrument, etc. In addition to the things he likes. My son was a swimmer. We were at the pool 5 nights a week and all weekend long during meet season. He loved every.single.minute! My son took classes in HVAC, became a certified oil burner tech at 17 ( took the adult class and aced it!). My other son is EPA certified to work on A/C since her was 16. He took guitar lessons, went to the gym regularly etc.

3. Online high school or college classes that happen in real time....with real people...preferably through skype, where they can interact. Ds LOVED these classes, and is still "friends" with many of the kids he encountered. They have even met up in NYC after they turned 18....and had a blast together!

4. If you decide to homeschool through high school, don't keep yourself boxed in by homeschoolers. They can be an odd bunch....not like us!:D
I have found the groups around here to be so exclusionary! Both the secular and Christian groups have their own agendas....and those agendas have hurt WAY too many young people and new homeschooling parents. Enter with caution. Groups are fun when they have a real goal. Not a just let's get together because we are doing this one particular different thing. " LOOK AT US, WE ARE DIFFERENT!!!". YUCK!!!!!!! Join a book group, a running group, a biking group, a physics group, a music group, a take care of the elderly group....but run like hell from an unfocused....LOOK AT US GROUP. They tend to peck to death their own flock.

5. Homeschooling high school is both wonderful and awful. I will never stop questioning every book we study, every group we join, every step we take....but, if I did stop, I would not be doing a good job. I need to take the needs of MY child and somehow turn them into clear cut goals and then implement them. It is MUCH MORE DIFFICULT than plopping them on the bus....even when you think that is the best step. It would have been much easier for ME and for my ds if I would have just signed him up at the PS. The battle between us would have been over....and he would have had to deal with things himself. That is NOT necessarily a bad thing. For my one ds, it may have turned out to be the best thing. Not so much for my dds....or my 2nd ds. Each child is an individual and their needs have to be considered separately. However, don't think the school will give a flying flip over your individual child's needs. They just have too many individuals.

Socialization does not necessarily happen at the doors of the yellow bus. As a matter of fact, that place is often the gateway to bullying, ostracization, peer pressure, and just an unhealthy situation. Not always....but often enough. Consider where your kid resides of the food chain. Older ds is a networker, a schmoozed, a hand shaker.....he would have been BIG MAN ON CAMPUS. Ds # 2 would have been on anti-depressants first semester.

Oh, last bit of advice for now...if youbdecide to homeschool....make clear cut goals before you start your courses. this is what you have to do for an A, this for a B....if youbfail, this is the consequence. If you can plan an exam or an outside evaluation of some sort ( science fair, mythology or Latin exam, SAT2, CLEP exam, big family party with a presentation) it will help your child make goals and meet them. It won't seem like a bunch of senseless busywork that you are inflicting on your child for the sheer pleasure of it. Those wrap ups at the end are REALLY important! Just like dance recitals, or the play at the end of a gazillion rehearsals....some concrete way of marking progress and making a bIg to-do about it is really important.

Hope some of this helps someone....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Becoming Goal Oriented: Just What are we Trying to Accomplish Here: Math

Ok... I may not be the voice of math reason:001_smile:...but I have had a few kids who were not exactly....hmmmmmmmm.......mathy.

What are your goals? What are your child's goals? Is she headed to a STEM field?? Is he artsy? Is she musical or a dancer? Does he love history or literature??

Math is one of those subjects which, in my opinion, is not a hill to die on....but also not a hill to give up easily. IOW, carefully consider this child. Does this child need to finish calculus before college? Does this child want to study higher sciences? If yes...then get that child aboard....and other subjects may need to suffer for that child's needs.

Does the child need to complete just Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry?? Then a different path and pace may be required.

Is the child a late Math bloomer?? I was....Do you feel it is better to cover algorithms, or concepts? Does the child have number sense? Does the child think abstractly yet? Does the child cringe when the math books come out?

Sometimes, we need to take a BIG step back in order to go forward...Have the foundational skills been completely mastered? If not, where are the gaps??

Honestly, I think Mamma needs to evaluate goals and skill levels and move forward from there. I do not necessarily feel a particular program is at fault. I have used many of the programs suggested in homeschooling circles over the past 18 years....and quite honestly, I am underwhelmed. I think if someone had told me 18 years ago to consider the would have saved me biggo buckos and probably a good amount of my hair.

Ok...nuts and bolts advice.

--keep lessons short! Work to the point of learning, but NOT frustration. 2 shorter lessons may yield much more than 1 long one.

--don't be afraid to skip problems in the book that your child has mastered. Every once in a while...throw one in there as review. Most books review so much, it makes the kid crazy!!!

--when you hit a brick wall...either try a different book, approach...or come back later. Learn a different new skill and come back later. Some things can't be treated like that (fraction rules for one thing....).

--math is some homes is central to their schooling. In others, math is required but not central. Remember YOUR goals. Re-evaluate where you are often. Let your child see their goals...and expand them if they want.

Math should not be a battle. It should not turn into a war either. Yes, it can be hard...but we do hard things:D. It also doesn't need to take precedence over every other subject...even though for some homeschoolers, it does. Just saying....for one of my children, Art took center stage for high school. That child is a professional artist. SHE GETS PAID for her design work...not her math skills. she gets paid WELL!

For another one of my children health studies/biology/ rescue certifications was central. She did much more math and science than older dd. They both graduated from college with high honors.

They both needed to learn to read, write and do enough math to keep their checkbook, figure out expenses and do well in the college classes they needed to succeed in the degree field.

The GOAL. That is what we need to keep in mind.