(Ok, maybe five months.)
This is the amount of time this homeschool mom has to officially “step back” from homeschooling my oldest.
Three months until she graduates. Five months until she turns 18.
Then, the countdown begins again, with my youngest starting high school next year.
It seems this is a season of letting go and learning to step back. In many ways it has been easier (and I have been more graceful) than anticipated, but in other ways it is just plain HARD.
Homeschool Senior Year
*An aside: I must say that homeschooling has allowed us to stay somewhat out of the fray of the college admissions mania. I wish I could shout from the rooftops to some of these kids, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be!”.
After you see the inflated costs of college (hello - just calculate the amount they spend on all of the mail you receive in your child’s junior and senior year!), the ridiculous hoops a child must jump through for entry, and the irrelevance of standardized tests, it makes you want to run the other way. I am convinced there is a school for every child, and I am also convinced that you do NOT need to jump through all the hoops. We’re not, and so far it is working out just fine.
Go back to your original goals for homeschooling and apply those to college. Our prayer is for our children to love God and others, use their gifts to the best of their abilities, and honor others above themselves. So much of the college application and acceptance process is teaching our children to make themselves stand out - to do anything and everything to EXCEL. The message is largely on self.
I don’t know about you, but that isn’t a message I want to give my children.
(Had to get that off my chest. Moving on…)
I was recounting to a good friend how this year has just naturally progressed towards high school graduation and getting ready for college.
Most days I barely see my daughter. She is working, taking a few classes, spending time with friends, going to the gym, and keeping up with her special needs volunteer work.
I receive the occasional text such as “What’s for dinner?” and “Do you think dad could gas up my car?”. For the most part I’m very confident she is ready to LAUNCH. (She will have to figure out dinner and the gas situation on her own next year, though.)
This fills me with a lot of relief and pride, but also a sense of emptiness and sadness. Our house will be extremely quiet next year, and my resident fashion advisor will be a couple of hours away. I’m sure it will be a time of adjustment for all of us.
A few things I have learned during her senior year:
Anna is taking the Chemistry and Psychology prep courses for the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) tests. It would be marvelous if she could CLEP out of those two courses in college. We were able to download which CLEP tests her university accepts. This is a fabulous way for homeschoolers to earn college credit!
Many people told me AP classes were a waste of time. Others had great things to say about them. Anna took two AP courses last year. The Language and Composition class was excellent and she scored well enough on the exam to earn college credit. The European History course was difficult and boring - we weren’t as impressed with this teacher or course. The AP test is one of the hardest of them all. Her score wasn’t high enough to exempt her from that credit.
Giving her a lighter load in her senior year has helped her transition to the “real world” a bit better.
She has more time for work, managing her own schedule, and she’s actually having some fun right now instead of being extremely stressed and suffering from senioritis. It is also giving her the time to make mistakes and learn how to recover from them while under our roof.
Freedom to pursue leadership roles.
Anna has been given a leadership role within our church’s special needs ministry - she has routinely been leading their Sunday School class on her own (and doing a beautiful job). She has also been playing guitar for my children’s choir, and I’ve been letting her take over with them a little bit, too. All of this prepares her for a career in special education (which, by the way, she declared as her major just last week - we’ll see how that plays out in the next few years.)
Welcome to College has been required reading in our house.
It’s good stuff. Trust me. (We know the author very well. He’s an amazing apologist, teacher, and parent.)
We have to let our children make their own decisions!
There are quite a few decisions my husband and I have not agreed with, but when you are the parent of a strong-willed almost adult you realize they need to make their own decisions - because if you force your own decision upon them it will just end badly. We can see bumps in the road (some of the potholes, actually), but she needs to traverse the road herself to learn the life lessons. I think this is one of the hardest parts of parenting at this stage.
Homeschool Senior Year - How I am Preparing
I already have more time on my hands than I used to. Don’t misunderstand me - there is still plenty to do around here (and I still have one more at home!), but this stepping back in the senior year naturally allows mom to have more time.
When my children are both out of the house I don’t want to be left wringing my hands with no interests of my own. I also don’t want to find myself married to someone I haven’t known for the past few years. Know what I mean?
Date Your Spouse
I love having more time with my husband. We’ve been intentional about spending time together - time that doesn’t involve our children. We love our children to pieces, but I think we’re also looking forward to the next phase of life as well!
Cultivate a Hobby
You know how I love to read. It’s been a true escape for me. I even started a separate Instagram account to keep track of the books I’ve read and connect with our #bookish folks. Fun!
Find friends OUTSIDE of Homeschool
This one is hard to do, but I feel like it’s so valuable. I joined a book club this year and none of the ladies in the book club homeschool their children. We are of varying ages. When we get together we talk about a variety of different things. This once a month meeting has been great for me. It gives me a peek at life outside of homeschool!
I gave up my job as a teacher when I had my children. Over the years I have slowly dipped my toes back in the water. This past year, especially, my curriculum, SQUILT Music Appreciation, has grown by leaps and bounds. I work sometimes 30 hours/week, and I could definitely work more. As my children grow and leave the house I will be able to devote more time to the business.
I went back to teaching children’s choir at our church this year, which brings me such joy. I would also like to start some other type of volunteer work next year. - maybe with underprivileged children in our community.
I know it’s cliche, but it is so true. It all goes by in the blink of an eye.
It seems like just yesterday we abandoned the idea of traditional school in favor of homeschooling.
Here we are, approaching the end of the road, and I can honestly say it has been the most difficult, joyful, rewarding journey I have ever been on.
We’ve come so far I can’t even imagine what life would have looked like had I sent my children to school each day. I would have missed so much of their lives. Everything would be so different.
I’m immensely thankful for the blessing of homeschool.