This semester my daughter is entering the backside of her junior year in high school.
Way back in 2006 when my little girl was seven, I took on homeschooling in a year-by-year basis, never once imagining that at seventeen she would still be learning at home, working an internship at a law firm, and attending classes in a community college!
Education is still my passion, much to her chagrin. Looking back, I see it’s been hard for me to remove my teacher hat and just be mom. The biggest drawback of homeschooling is that sometimes a girl just wants her mom, not her teacher. If I could go back and relive these precious days, I would take better care to be a mom first and a teacher second.
Many new homeschoolers are confused about which curriculums are the “best” for their kids. All I have to say is…none of them. No packaged curriculum that you can buy will 100% fit the needs of your kids. It’ll be your job to tweak whatever you do use. This tweaking will likely look different for each of your kids…although only having one, I can only speak about my experience with her!
We began with Sonlight, which I highly recommend. I loved the literature-rich environment. But take the assignments lightly. They pack more into the curriculum than we were ever able to finish, and that’s ok. It still contains more literature than anything the public schools offer!
When Classical Conversations made its way into our area, we jumped in with both feet and made the switch. If you are looking for a weekly friend group with something educational (and not time-wasting), then CC is probably for you! Classical education was an eye-opener for me. We used the Foundations Program for 5th-6th grades, Challenge A for the first semester of 7th grade, Challenge B for 8th grade and Challenge 1 for 9th grade. The Challenge program was so rich that my now-high school junior almost has enough credits to graduate a year early!
In 9th grade, my daughter joined a speech and debate league, the NCFCA, where she competed in Team Policy Debate. For her sophomore year, we turned the debate work into her main schooling. If you are a “unit study” kind of teacher, you’ll like debate, because students are forced by the nature of competition to delve deeply into one topic for an entire year. The first year she learned everything you could possibly imagine about the federal court system. The second year she learned all about the relations of the United States with the Middle East — that year, we counted debate as history, debate, and research writing credits on her transcript.
Then the summer between her sophomore and junior years, my daughter began taking dual credit courses at our local community college. These classes count for both high school and college credit. Last semester she took two courses, this spring she’s taking only one course (as the competition season in debate ramps up in the spring), but next school year the plan is for her to take a full 12 hours at the community college.
Last semester my daughter also began an internship at a law firm. She’s learning many skills there, including how to use complicated copy machines (oh, how I remember those days!), the difference between different visas, how to file paperwork with the federal government, writing cover letters, transcribing client letters, researching legal questions, and co-writing articles for scholarly publication. This experience will also go on her transcript.
My daughter’s education experience has not followed the traditional trajectory, but it has fit HER, and I pray that as we finish strong she will go on to learn the skills she will need to get out there and change her part of the world, for the better! Loving her neighbor, having compassion and acting on it for the poor, the sick, the marginalized…that is the legacy of homeschooling. I am so thankful we’ve been given the freedom to let her fly!