Week One we chatted about our hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead.
Week Two saw us talking about how we school.
Week Three our focus was on resources for the year ahead.
This year we are transitioning into much more serious work. My eldest has entered his final three years of home schooling and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit freaked out by that for various reasons.
He and I have chatted at length about the future ahead. We've both agreed that ensuring he has a strong educational base to leave here with is of the utmost importance to all of us.
That's not to say that we've spent the past ten years of our home ed experience sitting around twiddling our thumbs because we certainly haven't. We've simply done things differently over the years to what we are doing today.
"Today is about more structure, more focus and more accountability on both of our parts."
Is this an easy transition for us?
No, it isn't. I'm tired already and we aren't even halfway through our first term. I am already checking the calendar for our next school break and he is most definitely feeling the added pressure.
But we are simply forming new habits and doing so takes time, hard work, diligence and perseverance. New habits are not formed over night.
Would we have found this easier if we'd been doing what I guess could be called a more standard model of homeschooling over the years? Without a doubt I believe so yes, as it would simply be a natural progression. Do I wish I could go back and change how we have done things over the past ten years. Without a doubt, NO!
I wholeheartedly embrace the notion that children need play and lots of it, even when they are teens. They need loads of time to tend to themselves, to be bored, to explore, to seek out their own interests and to simply just be. Most often the way to achieve this is by lots of unstructured learning and bucket loads of down time. All of which we have experienced over the years.
I also feel we are finding this much harder simply because we are coming off the back of a very haphazard year.
Now don't get me wrong, I do not believe in any way that I have placed to high expectations on either myself or my tenth grader. I know some of you showed concerns when I shared our resource list, but I will come back to how we are using those resources in another post.
He is still doing far less 'sit down at a desk' academic type work than some of this other home schooled and public schooled peers. Granted he's also doing more than others too. But this is not about what anyone else is doing. It is only about him.
Through our entire homeschooling period one of the most important things to me has been one of 'enjoying life'. That really has been of our big driving forces in home schooling. To not be bound by school terms, school rules, school work and everything else that goes along with attending regular school. We are free to do as we please and simply live life on our terms, not one dictated to us by the institution that is school.
I always said that as a home school family if the kids get to a stage where they don't have enough time to simply enjoy themselves then they might as well be in school. Sitting at home on their own completing school work all day every day is no fun for anyone. At least if they were at a high school they would get to talk to other teens.
I have always vowed that our home school would never become like that and so we find ourselves in that tricky place of transitioning.
Of ensuring we keep the wonder, the fun and the excitement alive. Ensuring there is plenty of 'play time' and time for friends, yet making certain that the academics are not being left behind.
Whilst it is still only early days in the year some of the things we have done to help us ease into our new routine is - - >
A thorough weekly check list for the tenth grader. This gives him the freedom to work on what he chooses, but by having a full week's overview he can easily see what he may be favouring and what subjects he isn't getting in enough of.
Using this though is going to take some work. Whilst we've tried checklists over the years, they've never been something we've stuck with so it will take work and even then I can't be sure it is something we will continue with.
The checklist is not only for him though it also helps me to see where he is at and I use the info on the checklist to plug everything in to a private blog he and I have.
The blog is our primary record keeping tool. I am currently adding in every thing he does in his day onto the blog. This means being diligent in snapping photo's, keeping up with everything he is doing, scanning documents and then adding all of this to a post each week.
I must admit though I am really loving being able to open the blog and see what he's accomplished. In previous years there was a little part of me that wondered how much we were actually doing and now I know because it is right there in front of me.
We also need to start a portfolio of sorts, but as yet I don't really know how we will go about that. For now I think at the end of the first term we will go through what has been completed and decide what is worthy to go into the "high school years portfolio". That one needs some more thinking on though.
The other challenge for us is that we still have two younger kids in the house and so we find ourselves in the position of having two kids that have completed their structured work and are off doing things of their own interest whilst the tenth grader is still going at it with his work. That also means that for me I am still 'switched on' for a much longer period in my day than what I have been in the past.
Being certain that we have a serious focus whilst work is being completed, that we are keeping track of work that has been completed in an adequate fashion and also adding in more assignment based explorations is challenging. I also know that the accomplishments at the end of the week are great.
The other factor is he currently doesn't have a direction he is working towards. Now that is totally fine my be and him, but it does leave us in a situation of not really knowing what is going to be important or not. And so for this year at least we are exploring what we can, ensuring we have a wide enough, yet deep enough coverage in the subject areas for him.
As always, plans change, we will always remain very fluid and at any given time if his direction changes then everything he is doing will no doubt change to suit that. These next few years are all about meeting him where he is at and constantly reassessing what we are doing on a daily basis. Actually as I type that I realise that that part of home school is no different.
So for now this is where we are at. A place of forming new habits as we both enter what is new territory for us.
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