Making the Highschool Journey - Part 1
- Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Marcia Somerville was ready to quit homeschooling. When her husband, Scott, came home from work one day, she met him at the door. "This is where we stop homeschooling," Marcia said.
"But, honey, I work for Home School Legal Defense Association!" he replied.
The Somervilles had started homeschooling their six children when the eldest reached school age. Marcia prepared an average of 150 lessons each week, an approach that worked when the children were in the lower grades. But when the two eldest began high school, Marcia felt she did not have the time to give them the excellent education she had envisioned, or that she herself had received at a prestigious liberal arts–based private high school.
Following Marcia's announcement, Scott and Marcia spent several weeks in thought and prayer, determined to find the best answer for their family regardless of what it meant for Scott's position as an HSLDA staff attorney. They talked with other parents who were homeschooling their high schoolers, including Elizabeth Smith, wife of HSLDA President Michael Smith. Elizabeth challenged them, "Who did God choose to be a role model for your children?" The Somervilles evaluated their goals and decided homeschooling was the educational option that met their criteria.
With their homeschooling priorities firmly in place, the Somervilles realized they would need a new approach to make it happen. For Marcia, that meant coming up with a master strategy that involved teaching unit studies. Each week, all the children would study the same subject on a level appropriate to their age. Once a week, they would come together as a group so Marcia could teach them and see how well the children were prepared to discuss the material they had learned. Later, Marcia taught a homeschool co-op using this unit study method and compiled it into a curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, which 3000 homeschooling parents now use. Today, after five of their six children have graduated from homeschool high school, Scott and Marcia use their experience to encourage other families.
Perhaps, like the Somervilles, you feel overwhelmed and discouraged, wondering if you really can homeschool through high school. Or maybe you stand at the other end of the spectrum--you're considering pulling your children out of a school and plunging into the new world of homeschooling. Regardless of your starting point, you want to do what's best for your child.
As you weigh the pros and cons, ask yourself, "Who did God choose to be the role model for my child?" You don't have to write your own curriculum to take advantage of the unsurpassed opportunity homeschooling offers to strengthen your relationship with your child and provide him with the best education possible. We hope the following responses to some common parental concerns will encourage you to take the road "less traveled."
Marcia Somerville is not the only homeschooling mom to have experienced feelings of inadequacy. One of the most frequent reasons given by HSLDA members who stop homeschooling is that they feel inadequate to proceed to high school instruction.
Elizabeth Smith, homeschooling mother and wife of HSLDA President Mike Smith, has "never met a parent who truly wanted to homeschool but was unable to do it." Dr. Brian Ray's 1997 study on homeschooling in America supports her statement. Ray found that parent's education background has no substantive effect on their children's homeschool academic performance. Home educated students' test scores remain between the 80th and 90th percentiles, whether their mothers have a college degree or did not complete high school."i
Although you may have qualms about teaching certain subjects, you don't have to be an expert in every subject your child takes--teachers in traditional schools are not. Figure out your strengths as an instructor, then supplement your child's homeschool program with other resources: try a unit study, use a self-taught course, or ask for advice or tutoring from someone with expertise in a certain subject. (Read "Choosing the right options" for more ideas on teaching unfamiliar subjects.)
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