Monday, January 28, 2013

The good stuff

Responding to Whitman's Song of Myself.

I love teaching kids to read. Watching the cracking of the elusive code of written language is nothing short of awe-inspiring, whether the process takes two weeks or two years. I delight in seeing those lights come on in a child's mind and truthfully, I can't imagine handing that blessing over to anyone else, no matter how qualified the teacher's union insists they are.

For years, I thought that this would be the highlight of homeschooling-- that nothing would touch the excitement of those first baby steps into the academic world.

I was wrong.

For all of its pressures, for all of its outside expectations, homeschooling high school is where it's at.

Like most of us, I felt a lump in my throat as I contemplated tackling upper level subjects with my kids. I really wasn't sure how to reconcile the high school education I had had with the one I dreamed of for my children. I was daunted by the prospect of "missing something." Could I really teach physics after all? And the idea of somehow inadvertently costing my child his or her future career through my own mistake or miscalculation, well ... let's just say I lost sleep over the idea more than once.

What we've found, however, has been that those fears have faded into the background and been replaced by a rhythm of learning, growing, and relating that I never expected. Halfway through her tenth grade year, Jo has matured into a young lady who largely owns her education, who sets goals, and who seeks out the knowledge she needs when she needs it. No, not everything catches her fancy (the required state history component of her credits is boring her to tears), but she shrugs it off and counts it as a necessary evil as she budgets her time for the things that do matter to her: music theory, reading another book from the selections relating to our current history study, French, poring over the prerequisite materials for the doula class she'll be taking this fall. 

Her enthusiasm for learning is contagious, and the depth at which material is studied at this level is, to be honest, so much more fulfilling for the homeschool mom presenting it or even just walking alongside. For example, this year Jo has been tackling a course in American Literature that I wrote for her. Finally! I am introducing my daughter to Scout and Boo, to Huck, to Hester. We are laughing about James Fenimore Cooper's schoolboy antics, mourning Poe's sad family connections, and wishing Hemingway had never picked up the shotgun. Together. 

This, I've decided, is the second phase of amazing in homeschooling. Just as poignant as reading lessons, just as satisfying as sweet Bible stories with felt camels and stones, just as beautiful as the tearful goodbye we bade Charlotte as Wilbur left the fair. I am forever grateful that we have this time together to dig deep and talk. I didn't see the blessing of this season coming, but here it is, and I, for one, am happy to embrace it.


Michelle said...

Awesome! I'm so glad high school has turned out to be so rewarding. I am a licensed elementary teacher, and I would be intimidated at the prospect of high school. My comfort is that there are DVD and satellite homeschool options out there for those subjects that freak me out. Enjoy the ride!

Anonymous said...

I am happy to have found your blog (through Pinterest, actually.) I am also a homeschooling mom of three, currently with one high school student. My fourteen year old daughter has always learned at home, I always expected that as the high school years approached she would be interested attending school away from home, but that has not been the case. I completely concur, it's fun getting into the "good stuff!" I enjoy your perspective as a homeschool mom of a highschooler, it seems most of the connections out there are being made between parents of younger children and new homeschoolers. We recently moved to a new state and have found a wonderful homeschool group, however my daughter is older than the rest of the children by several years. This has been frustrating as she is enjoying every other aspect of school at home, but is missing out on relationships with similar aged peers and that is worrisome to me. She is a well-adjusted and socially comfortable young adult, and has great relationships at home and with other adults and younger children but I feel that friendship with other girls her age is critical at this phase. Thanks for sharing your experience, I am going to keep reading!