As my children age, I blog about them less.
The reasons for this are two-fold: older children don't take quite as kindly to having their lives written about on their mother's blog, and the days of cute activities (that are fun for their mother to blog about) are diminishing rapidly.
Last year my daughter and I felt we had lost the WONDER in homeschool. She wasn't happy in her schooling and I had a persistent, nagging feeling I had sold out on her interest led learning bent. We left Classical Conversations after Challenge II and decided to forge our own path.
My son, however, after completing four years of Foundations and three years of Essentials, was ready and excited to continue into Challenge A.
The biggest lessons I have learned are these: we MUST listen to our homeschool mom hearts. We MUST listen to our high school children. Never forget why you began homeschooling, and never let a method or a program become an idol.
A Personal Update
As my children have grown, my life circumstances have changed. I guess this is the cycle of life. Sometimes I long for the days of having littles curled up on the couch with a read aloud - but then I also appreciate being able to send them both to activities now with my oldest driving and me being able to STAY HOME!
Life is funny.
My life has changed a lot in the past year. My children have made huge emotional and educational leaps. I know have two teens in the house. One of them is driving.
My mom passed away last summer and now I am in the midst of helping care for my dad. I've had to be gentle with myself as I grieve my mom - she was my best friend and biggest supporter and there is a huge hole in my life without her. My family is grieving, too. We've had a lot of tears, laughs, and good memories.
My music appreciation business is growing by leaps and bounds and I'm working nearly 30 hours a week. The SQUILT LIVE! lesson academy has given me something to sink my teeth into - and hopefully this is something I can continue to sink my teeth into when my children are grown and gone.
My husband and I are actively involved in building a new church. He's been the president of our church this year, and this takes up a lot of our family time.
God so graciously brought me to a place this year where my children are more independent and their schooling fits with our life perfectly. I have time to help them, but time to focus on other demands in my life as well.
Homeschooling doesn't take up time, it gives us time. It gives us the freedom and flexibility to meet life's demands and to rest easy knowing WE are educating our children.
11th Grade Homeschool Update
Our goal this year is to allow Anna to spend more time doing things she loves and to make her last years at home enjoyable and NOT tedious.
My largest difficulty with the Classical Conversations Challenge was the ambiguity when it came to feedback from the tutor. The tutor was NOT the teacher, and in our home that did not work well. My child needed a TEACHER - an authority on a specific subject to give her feedback and GRADES. This is what motivates my child - other children may not need that motivation, but for us it was key.
The Challenge program may work splendidly for some children, but my oldest isn't one of them.
It is also my personal feeling that subjects like Latin and Chemistry (just two examples) need a skilled expert to teach them. Yes, my child can learn from a book on her own and also through discussions in a group, but her learning style is one where she needed motivation and accountability from a teacher.
(Again, my opinion - everyone is different.)
I am thankful for the many valuable skills Anna learned in the Challenge program - public speaking, integration of subjects, placing God into EVERYTHING, and personal ownership of her education. Our time in Challenge served its place and I think stepping out when we did was wise.
11th Grade Curriculum:
Pre-Calculus - Mr. D Math (oh how we love Mr. D and his class format!)
AP English Language & Composition - HSLDA Academy
AP European History - Memoria Press Academy
Chemistry - local Classical School
Piano, Ukulele, & Guitar - private & group lessons
Volunteer Work - Special Needs ministry through our church
P.E. - YMCA gym membership
Anna has also been babysitting A LOT - she loves children and wants to work with them someday, so I feel this has been a great investment in her education.
Another beautiful addition to Anna's year has been a BIble study with a dear friend of mine who mentors high school girls. She has been using the book GraceLaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart to guide the girls through so many beautiful activities. Anna has been learning calligraphy, is being encouraged in the "ancient" practice of letter writing, and is just being encouraged on so many levels.
More and more I'm witnessing Anna taking time to be creative, and I believe letting her have control of her schedule and allowing her to branch out this year is allowing that to happen.
11th grade is a BIG YEAR, and I wanted it to be rigorous enough, yet allow space and time for my precious girl to develop at her own pace.
We are thankful for the freedom homeschool provides, especially in the high school years!
Oh, and we've been making some college visits, too - I'll keep you updated on that as it unfolds. I will tell you this: it's not as hard as I thought it was going to be to get a homeschooler into college!
7th Grade (Challenge A) Homeschool Update
One word sums up Challenge A so far.
My son's group has 11 children who are highly motivated and encourage each other on a weekly basis. These children are the closest of friends, and our families have now grown close as well. We also have a tutor who loves and encourages the children. She is committed to learning and excellence, and is also a good disciplinarian.
I've seen the motto of Challenge A, Personal Investment Builds Ownership, develop in each of the children in the past 15 weeks.
Our kids like to have fun, too - here they are at a recent English Country Dance practice and bonfire:
We've followed the Challenge A curriculum exactly. It is such a rich year, packed with A LOT of hard work and knowledge.
A few observations I have now that we are halfway through the year:
- The Latin presented in Foundations is ENOUGH to prepare a child to do well in Challenge.
- The Geography knowledge is incredible - and SO valuable.
- I can see my son beginning to organize his thoughts logically because of using The Lost Tools of Writing
- It is important to let your child fail a time or two - this is the only way they learn!
- A parent needs to be engaged! I've gotten an Audible subscription and listened to the literature books so I can discuss them with Grant. I've also tried to keep up with Latin.
- It is still important to let these kids be KIDS - I try to make time and space for my son to play LEGOS, play outside, draw, and do other things he loves. The work in Challenge could easily become an idol, and I'm trying to teach him to not let that happen.
On another note -- I think my son has grown nearly a foot this year. He is now the GIANT of his class and almost as tall as his dad (6 feet). I still give him hugs liberally each day, even though I have to stand on my tip toes to do it!
Our new puppy, Lucky, has also been a great addition to our homeschool!
All in all, I'm very pleased with this year. Homeschooling changes a lot when your children are older, and I am thankful for the abundant resources available to us both online and in person to help us educate our children in a manner that is appropriate for our own family.
THAT is a blessing.