This post has been a long while in the making ~ I've spent the last 6 weeks or so working my way through this e-book & am now ready to share my thoughts...but my goal is to stick to the content of the e-book as much as possible and not veer too much toward my own experiences as a homeschooling mother of 2 highschoolers. This may be a little hard for me, because I found myself relating to so many of the articles in this compilation that it may be hard for me to share about the book without sharing about myself.
I'll start with a brief overview of this e-book's content. The e-book is 122 pages long and is published by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It is a compilation of articles written by veteran homeschooling mothers who have A) graduated children from their homeschool B) are currently homeschooling high school students or C) both of the above. The introduction was written by Amanda Bennett (anyone who has ever used a unit study probably recognizes her name & if you don't know who she is you can find out at www.unitstudy.com. There are 13 articles written by women who have loads of experience, wisdom and encouragement to share on the topic of managing a high school at home. The epilogue is written by TOS's own Deborah Wuehler (if you haven't read any of her writings, you really need to - everything she writes blesses me). The e-book closes with a list of recommended resources and a resource list.
Let me say that there is no way I can mention every article in this e-book, and honestly, it's pretty tough for me to choose which ones to mention ~ I kept thinking "Oooh, this is my favorite article!" And then I would read further and think, "Now, this is my favorite for sure!" ETC. ETC. ETC. By the end of last page, I realized there was no way to have a "favorite". So many of the words written spoke to me right where I am in my homeschool journey; several things were shared that made me "remember when"; and the advice and counsel I gleaned the most encouragement from were about the things I have yet to face. This book is a real gem for the mother who has high school students in her homeschool. And if you are unsure about homeschooling all the way through 12th grade, this e-book is for you. I have a daughter finishing up her 9th grade year and a son who has completed his education at home and will spend all of next year taking dual enrollment classes at Friends University (www.friends.edu) ~ while that may make me a "seasoned pro" in some sense, I learned a whole lot by reading this book. It's a good read for all who teach the higher grade levels at home.
Now, on to the articles!!
Ladonna Beals shared a great reminder to evaluate all other books by the Bible (p.17). These are words we cannot hear often enough! Pay attention to what your children read, for school work and for pleasure. Talk about the content, compare it to the Bible, and decide to take God at His Word. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom - if we forget to impart that to our children, the rest of our time spent homeschooling is a wash. Ladonna also says, "Homeschool moms keep working and adjusting as needed to get the desired results." (p. 15) When I read that, I thought, "That's the story of my life! That is exactly what I do ~ sometimes daily!" I am blessed when I can relate to other homeschooling moms :)
Phyllis Sather's article was chock full of Bible verses. She really strengthened me with God's Word via her article! Phyllis offered a great reminder that there is no need to be intimidated by real life vs. homeschool - waiting rooms are a great place to practice your child's reading skills (albeit not your high school student - unless he was reading with his younger sibling). This could be applied in many ways - review some SAT questions while waiting, or bring a page of Algebra problems to work on. After all, since all your child's work is technically "home work", this could bring a nice change! She also offers a reminder that it can be hard to teach at home and be involved in too many outside activities. Continually work to maintain balance in this area.
Marcia Wilson's article reminded me of the importance of keeping up with the grading during the senior high years, even when it tends to be "squeezed out" by all the other things that need to be done. If you've read some of my previous posts then you already know I've struggled with grading quite a bit this year. I've made great improvements, however, and Marcia's words encouraged me to keep up with the "grade pile".
Kelly Rotenberry passed on a wonderful nugget of wisdom when she mentioned the "extra work" she had to do to keep her youngest interested and passionate about learning. This is something homeschool moms need to hear! There is a lot of work involved at the high school level - "extra work" describes these years perfectly! She closes her article by saying, "Make your expectations of them realistic..." Excellent advice!
In Lynn Foote's article on finishing well, she says, "It felt like our wiggle room had disappeared." I can relate to this sentiment! I remember the days of homeschooling with babies and toddlers...and the days of homeschooling in and around doctor's appointments and my husband's Army lifestyle...then there were the days of elementary and middle school, with field trips we could all enjoy and productive school days that seemed to be almost "easy"...and then came high school. The challenges are different then the baby and toddler days, but having children in 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 11th grade has kept me on my toes in any number of ways. Whether it's been driving a student to his classes at Friends (when he was 15 - now he drives himself) or getting them to early a.m. ice skating lessons (early a.m. as in between 5 and 6) to working on science labs and foreign language for mandatory state requirements, it's been tricky to keep my home up and running while I educated five children. It's a balancing act that I continue to work on day by day - high school can be all consuming, but it doesn't have to be the ONLY thing you do. The rest of your life, and your younger students, can thrive as you homeschool your high school age children. Beyond this, Lynn shares too much great wisdom and encouragement than I can quote here. This article is a must read for one about to begin high school at home, one in the middle of high school, or in the last days prior to graduation.
Laeatrice Lanier shares some advice about sending your student to dual enrollment college classes at a young age (her son tested into college during his sophomore year, just as my son did). She urges parents to pray long and hard about sending their child on to the college environment at an "early" age. I could not agree with her more! She also says, "Don't be afraid to change your course if God puts up a red flag." She's right! Don't fear where God is leading - rather, be concerned if you are afraid to follow Him!
In Donna Rees's article, she takes on the sometimes touch opinion that homeschooling is the "only" choice. She says that for her family, homeschooling was the best choice. I was blessed by Donna's wise choice of words and her encouragement for each family to seek out God's best for them. She mentions Daniel and Moses, both educated in places and by people who did not know the Lord God. She urges parents to diligently seek God's will for their children. On page 83 she writes about not condemning friends if they aren't led to homeschool through high school - and she takes us to Luke 6:37 where Jesus clearly tells us not to condemn others. We can be so quick to lump people in categories, and homeschoolers can push people away with our "my way or the highway" attitude about certain things. This article is a wonderful reminder that condemnation has no place in the body of Christ. While we may be "fruit inspectors" we are no one's judge and jury. Donna's quote, "The financial part was an opportunity to trust God." is 100% true. What a fabulous attitude regarding the expense of home educating through high school! She also shares that she was not as concerned about finishing high school at home as she was about what lay beyond high school. I completely understand what she means - we aren't in the least nervous about whether or not we will be able to finish...but we are a little curious about what is next for each of our children. I think it's natural to wonder, "What's next?" but it's unhealthy to fret and worry about it. I gleaned quite a lot from Donna's wisdom and found encouragement and hope to press on toward the finish line.
There are several more authors who contributed to this e-book, and I don't want to lengthen this post or "give away" any more of the treasure to be found by reading it for yourself. It's worth both the money to purchase and the time taken to read it - and you will probably read it more than once. This e-book is available for sale in The Schoolhouse Store www.theoldschoolhousestore.com. Check it out and pick up a copy - remember, e-books are instant downloads and The Schoolhouse Store allows 20 downloads for each e-book purchased, so you can save a copy to your desktop and your laptop and even access your account away from home and read it anywhere.
Happy High School Homeschooling!
Day 26 done :)
Jan L. Burt