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Defining Success in Your Home School

What does it mean to succeed? What does it mean to be successful and how do you measure success in your home school?

Do you measure success by how much your children accomplished today, this week, this month? It’s still early in the traditional school year. Do you feel ahead of the game, right on track, behind?

Do you issue grades as a benchmark of success? Maybe grades help you assess a child’s progress in a particular area, or you’re required by your state to keep them.

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Here’s a big one for those of us with older children with college in sight. Is acceptance to a college, especially a well-regarded one, a mark of success (or failure) on your child’s homeschool career, or do you feel it’s more of a commentary on your success (or failure) as a homeschool parent? After all, I’ve been asked this question more than once: “Why did you decide to homeschool? What about college?”

I’m posing these questions to our readers, because I have been asking them lately of myself. The institutionalized learning that we’ve rejected by opting out of the school system also applies to higher learning. A college education is no longer a guarantee of financial success, in fact, a case could be made that traditional, Industrial Age education is dead in all its forms, including college.

What ramifications does this have for our way of thinking, steeped in the belief that a college education defines whether or not our children have made it safely to adulthood and have the tools they need to become financially independent? If our homeschooled kids don’t make it to college, have we failed them academically and socially? How will they otherwise learn to function in the world and become self-sustaining and self-supporting?

The answer lies in our personal definition of success. In our culture, success usually means keeping up with the Joneses Facebook Page (just remember, Facebook shows faces not lives!). Homes, cars, vacations, elaborate parties–it’s a lot to measure up to.

While there’s nothing wrong with financial success (in fact I advocate it), success as a human being is far more complex than an individual’s net worth. Many homeschool graduates end up starting their own businesses because they don’t find traditional paths to be appealing. And why should we expect anything less? We’ve helped them take a non-traditional path in the early years, it should come as no surprise if they choose to stay on that path. Success also encompasses feelings of satisfaction, personal accomplishment, attaining and setting new goals, relationships with others, giving back to the community, being a good friend, son, daughter, neighbor. We can value and model all of these things within our families and in our home schools.

To quote Charlotte Mason:

“The question is not—how much does the youth know when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? And about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? And, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

Having said all this, it’s likely my children will choose college (more and more colleges accept homeschoolers with open arms), but we still have a few years until those decisions are made. However, I need to be ever mindful that if one of my children does not choose college, I hope it will be a reflection of their ability to make wise choices for themselves and not follow a prescribed path simply because others have done it. I can hear the voices in my head now–of family and friends who don’t homeschool, “See, homeschool doesn’t prepare a child for college!” Those voices are my problem, and I can’t make them my kids’.

Do your kids, especially your high school age children, see college in their futures? Are you worried if they will be prepared? What do you do to alleviate those fears? If they don’t choose college, will you be ok with it?

Leave us a comment; we’d love to know what you think!

Angela (28 Posts)

Angela is co-founder of Mosaic Freeschool and a homeschooling mom to two never-been-to school kids. Born in Southern California and raised on the East Coast, Angela had a bit of an unconventional education, but did not consider homeschooling seriously until her first child was born. Believing that young children learn best from those that love them most, Angela and her husband John chose homeschooling for their two boys. She is dedicated to the advancement of alternative education choices, creating the web-site Raising Autodidacts in 2011 to further explore the idea of fostering the self-taught individual. In June of 2013, she started an instructional writing service called Gathering Ink .


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Homeschooling With the End in Sight

My oldest child is in the 7th grade this year. It’s now April, and we are wrapping up this school year and thinking about 8th grade. Which makes my mama’s heart pitter-patter with anxiety over what’s just around the corner: HIGH SCHOOL. I just can’t believe my little six-pound baby girl is even remotely old enough to be going into high school.

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While we do know and interact with many homeschoolers in our area, the bulk of our family and close friends do not choose home education. So when you say the words “high school” to them, it means something altogether different than it does to our family. They ask us all sorts of questions about homeschooling through high school:

How on earth will you teach chemistry and calculus?

What about AP classes? Don’t you want your child to get ahead for college?

Doesn’t your daughter want to play sports? 

and my favorite….

WHAT ABOUT THE PROM?????  (Why does everyone who lives in non-homeschool-land want to know what we will do about the prom? I just don’t get it. But that’s another post for another day)

Most of the time I smile and take their questions in stride. I know they’re just genuinely curious. And I like to help educate the public about all things homeschool. But really, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t get what all the fuss is about. I just don’t stress about homeschooling high school because I know my kids are not your traditional kind of students. Don’t pass out on me,  but I’m already preparing myself for the possibility that none of my children will go to college in the traditional sense.

It’s not that they can’t go to college. It’s that they probably won’t choose the typical collegiate path.

My oldest child; she’s a creative thinker. She likes photography, art, drama, and all things artsy. She loves volunteer work and is extremely sensitive. She is very smart and could easily hack college. I just don’t think she will choose that path. I’m totally okay with that. (Well, not okay with telling her grandparents that, quite yet.) I see her doing something either creative or doing something to serve others. I don’t see her sitting in college classes or going to a big university. If she does choose college, I think she will be the kind of student who lives at home and takes classes here and there at the local universities or community college.

My middle child, she’s the one with the physical disability. She is an average student, but has to work very hard to get where she needs to be academically. She has a tremendous work ethic and a spunky spirit and I believe it will suit her well. Like her sister, I just don’t see traditional college being “her thing.” I see her doing something entrepreneurial with her life…or perhaps she will choose ministerial or missionary work, as she has talent for both.

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My son, who is a severe dyslexic, abhors all things about traditional learning. He’s still convinced he’s going to be a professional ball player of some sort (he’s just nine years old), but his dad and I know he will probably choose a trade to work in and do something with his hands. I don’t shirk this and it certainly does not embarrass me. When the time is right, we will work with him to pick a trade and build his skills accordingly.

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I titled this post: Homeschooling With the End in Sight - and that was for good reason. For us as homeschoolers, we need to really think about the end result. Where are we going with this home education adventure? What is the desired end result?

For some of us, we will not choose to home educate forever, and that’s okay. Each family picks their own path. Others of us have kids that *do* want the traditional college experience.  And knowing that you must be prepared to navigate the waters of the SAT, ACT, FAFSA and other acronyms related to college! Some of us have multiple children that will do completely different things and we have to learn what feels like ALL of it.

Have grace with yourself. Spend some time in quiet reflection thinking about your homeschooling efforts and what the end result needs to be for your kids and your family. By all means, talk to your kids and see what their thoughts are. (My middle daughter has recently informed me she would like to be a part-time writer and a part-time checkout girl at the local grocery store. Okay!)

Whatever happens, know that you are equipped to give your kids the very best in home education, no matter what path they choose in the end.

Photo Credits: Lindsey Cox

 

Lindsey (8 Posts)


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Motivating the College Bound Teenager

Using college visit to motivate unschooled teenager

Since we made the full jump into Unschooling, one of my biggest fears has been – how do I motivate them to success?

As I considered this question, I realized that they are very motivated to do those things which interest them – it is just my goals for them that they are not motivated to achieve.

But, what if they have college aspirations? (Although I fully believe that college is not the only path to success.) How can I help them see that there are some things that just need to be covered in order to attend college – even if it is not necessarily something that thrills them?

The answer came a few weeks ago when I took my 13-year-old to her first choice college’s visitation day. And, yes, we got a few strange looks about having a 13-year-old there so early, but if she is planning on dual enrollment, that only leave 2 years to prepare.

Before this trip, the idea of college was very abstract; she really didn’t know what happened there or what to expect. But, after being there – seeing the class rooms, hearing about the classes, talking to other students and professors – lit a fire in her that all the talking (ie lecturing) from me could never have accomplished. She is now very motivated to do what is necessary to be able to learn all these new things that this particular college offers.

For this to work, I think that it is necessary that the chosen college offers classes (and a lot of them) in their areas of passion. For my daughter, that passion is art, so an art school was able to inspire her. (As a matter of fact, she came home bursting to create and immediately started a new drawing.) We wouldn’t have had the same success had we gone to a primarily business or technological school. So, it’s necessary to tailor this approach to your teen – and, who knows your teen better than you do?

How old were your children/teens when you first took them to visit a college campus? How did it affect them? What age are you planning on making your first visit? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Gidget (22 Posts)


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***3 FREE Complete Drawing Lessons from the SEE THE LIGHT 9 DVD/36 lesson ART CLASS curriculum that is used by many homeschooling families. Recommended for ages 6 + + http://www.seethelightshine.com/free-lessons/***