Archive for the ‘Highschool’ category

The In-Between and the Afterward

December 15, 2014

When my youngest brothers graduate from high school in two and a half years, they aren’t getting a graduation party.  They weren’t keen on the idea anyway, not being social butterflies or party people, but we had a better idea.  Instead, my mother is having a retirement party.

Someone recently asked her what she will do when she’s no longer overseeing their education.  The suggestion was that she might quickly become involved in homeschooling again – her grandchildren.  I was also part of the conversation, and I quickly assured the inquirers that I am planning to homeschool my own children, thank you.  That’s my responsibility and privilege; one which I have no intention of giving up.

This period between being homeschooled and the time when I can begin being the homeschool mom myself is an interesting in-between.  My mother has switched from educator to mentor for me, with the transition lines being very blurry on occasion but nevertheless present.  I am looking forward to homeschooling my children, even though I’m also a bit intimidated because I had such a great mom myself.  I keep thinking that I’ll never be as good as she was/is.  The point, however, is not that I’m as good as she is, but that I do the best I can, and I am trying to keep that in mind.

While my mom won’t be homeschooling my children, I do hope that she and my father can be involved to some extent.  I know of other families in which the children have benefited from taking a subject or two from a grandparent with expertise.  I want my children to know both sets of grandparents well, to respect who they are, and to love spending time with them.  That’s easier to do with my own parents right now, as we live in the same town versus my in-laws, who live 3 hours away.  I intend to give both sets of grandparents their chance to love my children despite any difficulties with time and proximity.

By now, you’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to go back and answer the initial question about my mother.  What is she going to do after she retires from active homeschooling.  I may have given away part of my answer just now.  She may retire from active homeschooling, but I believe she will remain a willing resource for new homeschooling moms like I hope to be in the not too distant future.  She has a library of materials I hope to borrow when my children become ready for them, and I know she will lend them to others as she feels led in the meantime.  She also has many insights into homeschooling approaches and techniques which I hope to discuss as I am making decisions someday.

Yes, we’ve suggested that she write a book about homeschooling.  She says all the books she would write have basically already been written, so that is probably unlikely.  Not impossible, however!  We joke that she may finally have time to finish all those sewing projects that she has had in the plans but never had the time to make.  We’ll see whether she finds enough other things to keep her busy.  Other things like caring for my grandparents, teaching one of our church’s ladies’ Bible studies, and helping my youngest siblings with their projects, studies, and other endeavors.

There is indeed a life after homeschooling, just as there is one in-between.  Both have a great opportunity for serving and blessing others.  We’re both enjoying the stages of life we find ourselves in right now, and looking forward to the next.  In the Lord’s perfect time, we will find out His will for the next stages of our lives, and I know because He planned them, that they will be amazing!

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An Average Scholar

August 23, 2014

Do you ever feel like you’re just an average scholar? Like no subject seems stronger than another? Maybe you get good grades, maybe you don’t, or maybe you don’t care because you already know what you’re good at, and it’s not academics. Or maybe you’re like me.

I got good grades in most subjects, certainly by the time high school crept up on me. At the same time, I didn’t have a particular affinity for any of the subjects. I liked music and art, but I couldn’t imagine doing either professionally (wasn’t that good, just enjoyed them).  I wasn’t interested in pursuing science, math, or history.  English either, although I was getting pretty good at writing by the time I graduated high school.

So when I looked for something to major in for college, I felt as if I’d struck out.  It’s not like anyone offers a degree in Homeschooling!  And I already had most of the credits I thought necessary for that one after helping homeschool myself and four younger siblings . . . But anyway, I couldn’t figure out what I was suited for that I wanted to study.

Do you feel like your dream job is elusive?  Like you’re not sure where to fit in?  That was me for a year or more in high school.

I had settled on a General Studies degree, and yes, it was settling.  My favorite thing was books, but they only offer Library Science as a Master’s degree, which I didn’t figure I’d want to go for once finished with a Bachelor’s degree.  So I had something at least, even if it was settling for second best.

That’s when I started to write my scholarship essay.

My father’s company offered a scholarship which would cover most of the cost of the online school to which I was applying.  It required an essay, in which I needed to convince the readers of why they should help pay for my education.  In writing that essay, I realized that I liked helping people.  I made the assertion that they would be benefiting more than just me by helping me pay for college.  That I was interested in helping people around me, and they would really be benefiting the whole community.

As I was planning and writing, someone finally suggested, “why not study helping people?!”  That’s when I started looking into degrees in Human Services.

I ended up building a degree that incorporated human services, human development, and communication courses, all of which were meant to support each other in helping me prepare for a job in the field, as well as preparing me for the rest of my life where I would continue to help people, watch them grow, and communicate with them.

Four years later I walked across the stage with a huge smile on my face, happy with my choice and my direction.  I like to feel as if I’ve helped someone, whether it be simply holding the door for a mother with little ones, or showing someone how to use Excell’s many features.  I’m not a wizard at any one thing, but I have experience in a variety of things, and am very willing to pitch in.

To go back to my question, my dream job was never all that elusive.  I knew I wanted to be a homeschool mom, but I also knew that there needed to be something between college and that!  My dilemma was in what God wanted me to do with the between years.  I’m glad He directed my steps so that I wrote that essay.  I found something that I enjoyed doing, and through writing about it, I figured out how to turn it into something I could study and then practice.  My subsequent work in a couple of non-profits was very rewarding.

Having now left the workforce, hopefully for good, I’m not inclined to say any of it was wasted.  I grew through the requirements of the jobs I’ve held, and through the friends I made among my coworkers.  I’m happy to be home now, but the journey here makes me appreciate it more.

Your journey will look different.  Have you considered what you like to do in your choice of  a career path, rather than just what you’re good at?

I Am a Homeschooler

October 16, 2012

Some would think that since I graduated five years ago and am not yet a full fledged 2nd generation homeschooler, I shouldn’t say that I am a homeschooler.  Many would have said “was homeschooled” instead.  Me, I stick with my “am.”

You see, homeschooling wasn’t just an educational option for us.  Homeschooling was and still is our lifestyle.  Although I am through formal schooling, including college which I did online from home, I still have a learning mentality and because I am still living at home, I am participating in homeschooling if only by being a reference for younger siblings.

Besides, I have every desire to become that 2nd generation homeschooler and bless my children with the same lifestyle that blessed me.  I realize that I’m not the only one with a say in that decision, but that’s beside the point.  God has fitted me to be a homeschooling mom in some very specific ways, and He knows exactly what He’s doing by preparing me for it, so I’m trusting to His timing for the rest.

I’ve often wondered where I would be if I had not been homeschooled.  People will ask, as one did recently, whether I felt that I missed out on things by being at home.  I first said no, and then qualified it – I did miss out, but only on things that I wanted to, such as peer pressure and bullying.  I got a wonderful education without all the negatives that the public school system has by virtue of sticking a whole bunch of kids the same age together and expecting one or two teachers to teach them what they need to know.  For that year.

Looking back over the years, I’m pretty sure that I would have foundered in the public school system.  I was a quiet, shy kid who enjoyed books, but who often had trouble talking about what she read.  I was the kid who took a little more time to work out mathematical things and would have been frustrated had not my mother given me the space to make mistakes and understand the concepts without always getting every problem correct the first time.  I was the kid who enjoyed drawing but wasn’t especially good at it as a child.  I was the kid who liked to learn about the way the world worked, but who wasn’t initially very scientific about it.  I was the kid who loved history, but who had a difficult time remembering all the dates involved.

Because my mom was able not only to take the time to work through difficulties, but also to tailor my studies to my personal interests in some places and my strengths in others, I ended up a very good student by the time I was in high school.  I fell in love with Algebra (which I still use every once in awhile, for those of you who think it’s not relevant to anybody not in the math or science realm).  I learned to express what I read in my own words as well as to express my own thoughts both in the written and spoken word.  I pursued drawing, acrylic painting, and several crafts which give me a wonderful release and are avenues for my creative juices (especially around Christmas time!).  I enjoyed Chemistry in highschool, which I never would have guessed, and I liked genetics well enough to take it as a course in college after fullfilling my science requirement with the Biology CLEP exam.  I eventually learned the essential dates through perserverance, but more importantly, I learned the grand sequence of history as well as the prominent characters within time periods, whereby gaining more from biography than I ever could from memorizing a list of dates.

I also overcame the shyness.  Mostly.  I have a feeling that in a public school setting, I would have been the mousy little girl who got picked on, while my studies would have suffered from that and from not being able to ask the questions I needed answered in order to thrive.  I probably would also have picked up a few bad habits from the other children.  You rarely learn how to grow up from your peers – you learn that from those older than yourself by several years or from adults.

All of this is why I am a homeschooler.

Scientifically Speaking

March 17, 2012

I realize I haven’t posted much in the way of homeschooling reflections lately, so here’s a long overdue post with some reminiscing.  One of the things I loved about homeschooling was that a kid who wasn’t particularly inclined toward most of the standard subjects was still able to do well in almost all of them.  Yep, personal experience!

Science was never one of my favorite subjects, but did that mean I didn’t take it seriously?  Hardly!

Science was where I learned what made rainbows, where trees came from, why ice cubes float, and how fossils form.  Science is exciting, though some may tell you otherwise.  I sometimes agreed with them when faced with a lesson in Physics, but I truly enjoyed Chemistry (okay, that’s largely because I loved the curriculum from Beginnings Publishing!), and I had fun in Biology (despite not being enamored of that curriculum – Apologia) because I liked investigating the concepts.

We used mostly library books for science until I got to high school.  In 9th grade I did a general science covering Biology, Chemistry, and Physics: Dr. Dobbins’ Rainbow.  Dr. Dobbins made the argument that science is taught backwards in the schools.  Usually students learn biology, then chemistry, then physics.  But the concepts actually build on each other moving from physics to chemistry to biology.  The reasoning behind the way schools teach science?  High school freshmen haven’t had enough math to handle physics yet.  Biology doesn’t require all the math, so it’s a good one to start with from that stand point.

I rather think Dr. Dobbins is right, and these subjects ought to be taught in the reverse order.  Still, after doing his general science, I proceeded to do Apologia’s Biology (fairly average as science texts go, which is dry).  I already liked biology, which was good, because the text would not have inspired me.  At least it didn’t totally kill my enjoyment of the subject.

In my Junior year, I was back to Dobbins’ material, doing his Spectrum Chemistry.  I loved it.  Dobbins makes the most complicated subject sound easy enough to understand, and that is half the battle.  Once you think you can understand something, it becomes easier to understand it.  If you go in thinking it’s too hard, you won’t be as likely to comprehend even the simplest part of something.  I rarely use the concepts I learned in Chemistry, but I still look back on that year with fond memories of dissolving packing peanuts and of washing all our beakers etc. in distilled water after every usage.  Of course, there’s another reason why I may have liked Chemistry.  I got to do it with 3G, who always liked science better than I did and understood it quicker.  There’s a reason he’s going into Electrical Engineering while my degree is in Human Services . . .

Since I had no plan to study anything scientific, many might have thought that I would skip Physics.  That’s not the way I saw it, nor the way my parents taught me.  I had no real interest in Physics myself, but I wanted to take the course for another reason.  I am going to be a homeschool mom one of these years, and with the genes in my family, the chances that at least one of my children is scientifically minded are pretty high.  Thus, I’ll probably be teaching Physics at some point, and I wanted to have some background with the material.  I know many homeschooling mothers will turn high school math and science courses over to their husbands, and I may yet do so, but I wanted to be able to answer simple questions and keep up with my students to some extent.  My mother sometimes referred questions to my dad, but in our case, my mom is a math and computer science major, while Dad is a mechanical engineer.  When Mom would get to the point where she couldn’t explain something any better, she’d refer my brother to Dad.  Notice I say my brother.  I usually didn’t ask the intensive questions!

Despite not pursuing a scientific field in college, I still took the Biology CLEP exam for my science credits, and I took a Genetics course because I enjoyed that subject when I encountered it previously.  So my science studies have already been useful in that way, and in conversations I continue to have with friends, scientifically minded or not, in which science plays a part.

I may not have been the most scientifically astute kid on the block (okay, so that’s a given with my brothers around), but I still enjoyed discovering the whys and wherefores of our natural world.  I encourage all you homeschoolers out there – stop saying science can be fun, and try saying science is fun!

To the students who aren’t likely to go into a remotely scientific field and therefore think science is a waste of time, think about how often it might be nice to understand what your scientifically minded friends are talking about, even if they have to put it in (to their mind) very basic terms.  And think about how interesting it will make your next walk in the park if you look at every tree and know how deep its roots must be.  And think about the times it will be useful to know the best place to put the fulcrum when you are trying to use a lever to lift something. And think how nice it would be to know why the river seems to be steaming in the middle of winter.  Just think!

Science isn’t just fun, it’s an exciting world to explore, especially for those of us who don’t have to memorize the Periodic Table but who can enjoy a hunt for the atomic number of Uranium for a crossword puzzle!

The Little Beggarman

September 28, 2011

I sang with my local homeschool choir for a semester during my sophomore year of highschool, and one of the songs we did was called “The Little Beggarman.”  It’s a fun Irish song, and we had a blast singing it.  But we didn’t sing it nearly as well as these guys . . .

When I grow up, I want to be…

January 31, 2011

I often wondered as a child just what I would be when I grew up.  I had plenty of grandiose ideas, plans, and air castles, but I knew that none of them would come true unless that’s what God wanted for me.  During the last years of homeschooling, I became a little more insistent on knowing what God wanted me to do, because I was trying to plan what to do about college and a job.  By highschool I knew that I eventually wanted to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, but of course, that dream wasn’t going to materialize the minute I finished school.  So I needed something to do while I was single and before I began raising my share of arrows for the Lord (Psalm 127).

The closer I got to the end of highschool, the more important it became for me to know what God had for me, and I was beginning to get impatient.  It was time to plan, but I did not have a direction.  While I was a decent student, I did not excel in any particular subject enough to feel like I wanted to pursue it as a career, but I wasn’t even certain that God had a husband and family in my future.

In the end, I decided that I would pursue a bachelor’s degree because if I got a job, that would help, and because as a homeschooling mom, it might be helpful (for instance, my mom can administer our standardized tests because she has her bachelor’s degree, whereas other homeschoolers have to make other arrangements; I couldn’t know for sure what the regulations would be by the time I began homeschooling, nor could I be sure of what state(s) I might be homeschooling in).  During the last part of my senior year, I finally understood that my dream of homeschooling would someday come true.  But I still did not want to be idle until that day arrived.

I chose to pursue college online.  This was because I knew I wanted to stay at home with my family.  I’m very family oriented, which I count as a good thing, so the idea of living on a campus away from everything and everyone I’d ever known scared the 18-year-old I was then.  Although I’ve since reached the point where I would feel more comfortable with that situation, I am very thankful that I made the decision to stay home and learn more from my mother during my college years.  I love being at home and involved in all the family’s activities.

Mom and I did some research into online colleges, but at the time they were few and far between.  I got course catalogs from a couple, but the listings didn’t interest me.  When Mom wrote to one college, mentioning that I was homeschooled, they responded that their program was not what I was looking for.  We agreed with them — if they weren’t going to be accepting, we weren’t going to waste our time on them.  Eventually we found Empire State College, which seemed like a good fit.

Empire State College allows students, I could almost say requires students, to formulate their own degree programs, so I knew going in that I could tailor my college education very much like we had tailored my homeschool education.  My mother had finally suggested that I study small business publications because I had enjoyed the graphic design elements in my computer science course during my junior year.  I decided that appealed to me, so I gave it as my tentative plan.  It was better than a simple Liberal Arts degree, which was the other choice!

Then I began writing my applications.  My father’s employers offer a scholarship to children of employees, which was large enough to cover nearly all my expenses.  They wanted an essay which told why I deserved their money (okay, that’s not their words, but it’s the meaning anyway).  As I wrote and Mom helped edit, we finally realized that I was writing the essay about helping people.  I enjoyed going with my mother to help out the elderly ladies in our church, and anyone else who needed something done.

That scholarship essay helped define my entire degree.   I was able to plan my whole degree to prepare for a job in human services administration.  I included several courses on communications and on human development as well, which have complemented my major very well.  In the meantime,  through volunteering at a nursing home, homeless shelter, and senior day care facility, I have been able to find my niche in eldercare.  I really enjoy working with the elderly, so I was very excited when, just two weeks ago, the senior club decided to hire me.  It’s only a few hours a week, but it’s real experience and I welcomed the opportunity.

Now, I’m graduating this spring, and hopefully going to land a full-time job somewhere.  Does that mean I’ve lost my vision of being a homeschooling mom?  Not at all.  But I know full well that I am not ready to be a homeschooling mom.  I have to take a couple of other steps first!  In the mean time, I hope to glorify God through my work in eldercare (or a related branch of human services) as I wait for His timing.  My work in the human services field will ultimately prepare me to be very useful to my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I am learning the services that are available.  I won’t stop helping others when I get married any more than I’ve forgotten my dream of homeschooling just because I’ve gone ahead and gotten a college degree.

Helping others and homeschooling are two pieces of the puzzle that is my life, and I trust that God knows exactly where to put each piece, and when to put it in.  So long as He’s doing the driving, I’m just thankful to be along for the ride!  And ultimately, the goal is not to help others, or to homeschool.  My purpose here on earth and someday in heaven is to glorify God and fellowship with him.

When I grow up, I want to be more like Christ.

Dreaming of a Full Homeschool

January 25, 2011

I’ve been surprised in following Lea Ann’s “Ask the Grad” series on her blog to note how many of the graduates did not necessarily graduate with the intention of homeschooling their own children. Perhaps this is a function of the very human tendency to judge others by ourselves — I am personally excited about homeschooling my own children someday and have no doubt in my mind that this is my future.

I wondered for several years whether I would even get married, let alone have children (a topic for a future post), but during my last year of highschool, I began to be able to turn the problem over to God, where it belonged.  As I did that, I finally got a sense of contentment.   But I still didn’t know what God’s plan was, and it was affecting my plans for college and a career.  Then, as my family was preparing for our state’s homeschool convention, God gave me the reason to hope for my homeschool.

It hit me that God has been preparing me all my life to homeschool.  Besides the fact that I’ve been homeschooled myself, I also have the benefit of being my mother’s daughter.  You see, my mom is a great homeschooling resource.  She likes to help new homeschoolers explore the options, and since we’ve used almost every kind of curriculum out there (and what we haven’t used, Mom has at least investigated), she’s able to make pretty good recommendations based on what she knows of the children being homeschooled.

Yep, Mom doesn’t recommend a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum anymore than she uses it.  Although we have our favorite curricula in each subject, not every student will be able to benefit from them like we did.  And at the same time, Mom always tries to make sure that she’s not recommending curriculum that requires too much from the homeschooling parent, which is one key to helping the homeschool succeed!

I have been blessed to listen in on a lot of conversations in which Mom was able to help homeschoolers at several stages in the process, with children at various ages, find their way through the maze of choosing curriculum and setting up their homeschool.  It’s great to be able to help out with my own input as one of the children who experienced Mom’s homeschool — quite the advertisement!

Knowing that I have been prepared in such a way to be a homeschooling mom, it became very clear to me where I was headed.  I’m not trying to say that I’m going to automatically know exactly what I’m doing when it comes to homeschooling and going to do a better job of it than most people.  I’m only saying that I’ve been blessed with a lot of preparation that will help me to do my very best as a homeschooling mom, and I am excited about the prospect.

Most little girls want to grow up to be like mommy, and I’m no different!


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