I am really feeling torn here. I've been sensing this coming for a long time. My 12 year old has been learning without school, following his own lead, from the beginning. There have been times when we did some structured academic stuff, but always at his own asking and with his full cooperation. He has taken a lot of classes that he has enjoyed and loved, but it's always been his own choosing, on things that he was currently interested in.
For the past, I would say almost two years, I have been sensing that he has wanted something more. Something more structured and academic. This has correlated with becoming closer friends with kids in public school and having less and less friends his age who homeschool. We used to have so many friends who homeschooled also, and now, he has ONE friend that he sees regularly that is his age and is homeschooled. He has a lot of friends, and he is very active in activities, but they ALL go to school. He has said in the past things like, maybe I'd like to try high school so that I will be prepared for college. But every time I ask him if he wants to keep homeschooling, or if like homeschooling, he has always said yet. Recently, he has been spending a lot of time with some of his public school friends, and I think seeing more of the social stuff and seeing things that they do, and I think he feels like he is missing out. And they have said to him that he should come to public school (the power of peers). And so now he says that he would like to go to school next year to see what it's like. I honestly don't think, well I know, that he really can't comprehend how different his life would be, and how he really gets to do so many things that he loves to do now, and have a pretty relaxed, enjoyable time doing all of it. So I am really torn. I want to continue to let him follow his lead but at the same time I feel like he needs something more, and has been asking for something more structured.
So he has set up a schedule where he will do certain subjects for a certain amount of time every day, starting at 9 am until 2 pm, with an hour for lunch. And now all of a sudden I feel like I am going from unschooling to Well-Trained Mind in one weekend. He wants to start on Monday and he has all the subjects lined up. I really want to give him what he needs, but I am feeling so unsure all over again. It's like I had such great confidence in homeschooling up to now, at the amazing process of learning, at how he knows everything and more that his friends do, and yet, he's never been to school, it has all been through a process that he was in control of all along. And now, I feel like I am treading in uncharted waters like a brand new homeschooler, unsure what to do with my child at 9:00 on Monday morning.
What I want to be sure that I don't do is to spend this time trying to convince him how great homeschooling is and why he shouldn't go to school. But of course, that's what I really want to do! So I will need to hold myself back in that regard.
Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Well, my 12-year-old blind-sided me this summer by telling me she wanted to go to school. Her BFF is a fellow unschooler and had expressed no interest in school, and she had just decided to audition for a fabulous youth choir which would conflict with Tuesday afternoon school (because it's out of town). She had seemed pretty comfortable as an unschooler and had not mentioned any desire to attend high school even though her sister had done some part-time school coursework from 10th grade on and her brother had decided to follow the same path.
We held conversations repeatedly throughout the summer and she was steadfast. This girl doesn't mess around with wishy-washy stuff. She doesn't let me in on her ponderings; she waits until she's decided and then tells me what's up. It was pretty clear she had taken into account all the considerations and made her choice. There were some logistical issues with her, as she's not a good fit for her age-grade, but we ended up talking to the school officials and working things out.
She started high school last month.
And ... well, she's not overly challenged, but it has opened her world up in new ways that are on balance good. There are some pretty neat teachers at her school, people with passions they love to share, and those are positive forces in her life. She's happy. I was listening to podcasts about "decision fatigue" and procrastination today and I think maybe that's part of what she was suffering from over the past couple of years. Unschooling is so wide open, with so many possibilities. As she had matured and become aware of the wealth of possibilities, but hadn't yet discovered a single over-riding passion to help drive her choices, meaning there was just too much to choose from. She was kind of aimless. School is has been a single decision she could make that has removed the need to decide what she's doing with herself every moment of every day. She likes the limitations it imposes. She likes the structure and predictability. Her particular school isn't overly structured or predictable: she's had five field trips so far, including two with multiple overnights, and all sorts of special days and cross-curricular multi-grade project-based endeavors. But it's just enough for her.
So I guess so far this is a success story. It's been no big deal. It's giving her what she wants. I'm not sure if that's at all reassuring for you.
Then there's my super-bright 8-year-old, who has decided that since her siblings are off attending school, she would like a school schedule at home. Like your ds she's set a daily schedule and wants to focus on bookish academics. It feels really odd to me, but I'm doing my best. I do find that I am continually trying to nudge her away from the bookwork towards, say, making soap or going on a hike rather than doing an hour on Unit 2.1 in the science textbook. I wouldn't be surprised if she tired of it after a while. I figure the more I keep consistently to her requested schedule, the more likely it is she'll decide she wants a bit more freedom. So I'm not being coercive, but I am reminding her that it's math time, and she should stop playing with the cat and come to the table.
I dunno. The flow of my days and my role as an unschooling mom to four kids has sure changed since last year! I'm rolling with it. So far so good.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Wow, high school at 12?? Tell me about the school, because that sounds like something on the alternative end. If we had anything closely resembling an alternative, I might feel differently. But here, for his age, we have public school and that is it. Public school, teaching to the SOLs, too many kids in a classroom, reward systems for reading books and behaving nicely in class, etc. So much of what you say above sounds like my son, and he would always seems to need structure and yet simultaneously be resisting it. I do think at this point he is ready and would benefit from something, but I am just not convinced that the public school here would be what he is thinking it would be. Something where he could do some classes and be around other kids his age who homeschool, I think that would be the perfect balance.
High school here is 8th through 12th grade, so she's actually registered in the customary age-grade (8th). She's young for grade (November birthday, December 31st cutoff). She's doing 9th grade science and math, which makes sense for her.
And it's a public school, the only school in our area. Underfunded, poor area, rural, a K-12 school that's been close to closing for years due to declining enrolment. But it's full of open-minded slightly-anti-establishment teaching staff and administration, people of a decidedly alternative mindset. We've been lucky, I suppose.
Is there any provision for part-time enrolment in your jurisdiction? That has worked very well for my older two kids.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
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