Obstacles or Advantages?
- Friday, January 25, 2008
When we're homeschooling young ones, we find ourselves juggling babies and toddlers, finger painting and potty training, kindergarteners and phonics. Then come middle graders and the challenges and joys of cursive, multiplication, lava-exploding volcanoes, and the Little House on the Prairie books. Throughout all we do with our kids during the early years, we hear plenty of feedback (some positive and some not!) on our homeschooling. It seems that everyone has an opinion on our educational choice, and many feel free to pass on their wisdom to us.
Most parents quickly learn that not all advice is equal. We may be occasionally stymied by an unusual question or flabbergasted by an audacious remark, but overall, we tend to take comments judiciously. We hear the person out to the end, take what is relevant and beneficial to heart, and simply let the rest go.
Another major issue we are forced to confront repeatedly during our parenting and homeschooling is that of comparing our children to others. Is our baby walking as soon as our friend's baby? Why doesn't our 3-year-old speak in complete and understandable sentences yet? Shouldn't our 6-year-old be reading as well as his 4-year-old cousin? Must fractions be taught in 5th grade, or can they wait until 6th grade? And what about Latin? Everybody else is studying Latin!
Fortunately, it isn't long before we realize that this type of thinking can easily lead us to frustration and even despair, with our children, ourselves, and yes, our homeschooling. So, being the smart people that we are, we tell ourselves to stop the comparing! For the most part, we manage this task well over the years, with just occasional slips along the way.
We gradually prove to ourselves what we have always believed: that our children truly do progress at their own pace and in their own fashion. We watch as they develop their individual strengths and passions, and we rejoice as we see them mature over the years. We track their weak areas. We strive to challenge them with methods that will best aid their overall spiritual, emotional, and academic growth.
As our young children approach the 12-year-old mark, we begin to feel rewarded for all of our efforts. Certainly, the kids aren't perfect, but we see how much they've achieved during their early years. We feel validated (perhaps even a bit proud?) in what we have accomplished together. We also might have the thought that no one would dare to question our homeschooling choice any longer. After all, look how well it has worked!
But wait... what's that? A big turn up ahead in the tunnel of homeschooling? Whoa... where did the light go? What is this anyway? I thought we were through the hard stuff. Hey, slow down! I'm not sure we're ready for this part of the trip!
Sorry, but there is definitely no slowing down now. It's true that we have reached the last segment of the homeschool journey, but this part can often be tricky, with many unexpected twists and turns, some difficult uphill tracks, and even a few thrilling but nerve-wracking downhill plunges.
As someone who has finished the homeschooling through high school process with two of my children already (and will soon have two more teens graduating), let me assure you that the final destination is worth every moment of the trip. You need not regret your decision to homeschool your teens all the way through high school. The rewards are many and wonderful.
However, you should set out on this journey well aware of the fact that you will be questioned. People will doubt you can do this job well. They will try to convince you to change your plans.
However, forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. If you are ready for the onslaught of subtle doubts and outright attacks, you and your students will be able to carry out your plans and reach your goals without taking a risky detour through institutional high school instead.
So what are the two biggest questions that will be thrown at you as you approach the high school years? More importantly, are they really the obstacles people say they are? Or are they actually advantages that will benefit your teens immensely?
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