Thursday, July 23, 2015

Homeschooling My New High Schooler

Behind every great kid is a mom who's pretty sure she's messing it up. ~Unknown

For the last year, I have felt stuck while many people around us were having positive changes in their lives...and this was going on while I was dealing with feeling older by the month, obviously due to my old cat, Jamie. I felt frustrated and stuck in many ways, but the physical tiredness and aching also worked against me in taking on anything of much significance. Since April, homeschooling was even too much effort. I was gearing up for May, but then...well, that is a story for another post.

Homeschooling, to my daughter's joy, just was not happening, although I was working on homeschool preparation on some mornings. Because we usually homeschool year around with no defined start and stop school periods going at whatever pace that works for each subject, most of the prepared curricula we use, like for Latin, Koine Greek and vocabulary, is staggered. So, we may be starting a new book in Greek, be in the middle of the one in Latin, and just started a new one in vocabulary. Each of these subjects needs planning and has preparation items I make: I print out flash cards for the languages and now also make the vocabulary flash cards ones online at Quizlet because it is such a versatile program and it creates quizzes too.

Since I abhor dry, boring textbooks for the most part, especially for history, I have been creating our curriculum using various resources. I usually do it in chunks of time periods and I have to say that it is quite an undertaking, but when I have it together it is really great, tailored well for my daughter. So, history has well-planned assignments when I finally have them done. We are trying to squeeze in a wonderful civics program also, a textbook but written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers and interesting. Although it is targeted for middle school, I can tell you that it is more in depth than what public school high school students are learning.

I explained all this so you would understand what happened in April. When subjects are loosely staggered and not well planned, it apparently is possible that many of them can end within three weeks of each other. Eek! History, Latin, Greek, and vocabulary ended and I had nothing prepared! Some was started but not finished. Also, I have my plans in a program called Homeschool Tracker as well as the records of work done and grading for all the subjects, except when I get behind with my record keeping and--yes, I am also behind...again.

After much prayer, we will be continuing with the Home Study Center for just two 9th grade classes: Physical Science and Algebra 1 Part 2. She made all A's on her report card except for Technology in the first semester, she was one point shy of the A, but her average was an A for Engineering and Technology. However, this year the only other class that would fit in our schedule would be Engineering and even though she scored quite high in it last year--a surprise to her--she did not enjoy it so much that she really wanted to take the class this year.

The Home Study Center loses a number of students going into the high school years. Most of the boys in my daughter's class last year will not be returning, probably in favor of accredited private or public schools. Sad because the program at the Home Study Center is excellent. In some ways too excellent: it is very time consuming and makes it difficult for us to get my homeschooling in. Also, my daughter and I both wrestle with priorities between their assignments and mine weekly. I looked into some other homeschool schools, but some only allow full time students taking all their core classes and most are two days a week, deal breakers for me.

There is one that is on Tuesdays not far from her current school called Timothy Ministries. They have no requirements about number of classes or what kind. It is a bit more affordable, especially the science class because they do not have the cost of an expedition tagged on it. They also have a wide variety of classes, core subjects, of course, but mostly electives, including violin. The downside is every class for all grades is on Tuesday, which means many of the classes overlap each other.

My current dilemma with the Home Study Center is not the classes--we have everything set as to schedules with her piano lesson in between her algebra and science classes on Monday--it is with a program that they call Serving Leaders. This year, the Princess was invited to be a Training Serving Leader (TSL). This is really an amazing program! Servant Leaders do many things like help in the classes and take notes for students that are absent, because being homeschoolers our schedules need flexibility and many of the families travel. TSL's meeting on Monday nights from 5:30 to 7:30 and then they are required to also help with the elementary classes and/or clubs, which means we have to go a second day. It is a big commitment in other ways for the parents also.

The Serving Leader program earns up to six high school credits on its own if the child is in the program all four years. It also teaches the teenagers to pray aloud over other students, give encouraging words in their critique of a student's presentation performance, and look for ways to be helpful with a servant's heart. There is no church program I have ever seen that instills this in teenagers as well as their program. They also create their own plays and have their own praise and worship band for performances on the science expeditions.

If we lived within 15 minutes of the school, there would be no question...even 35 minutes could work, but being over an hour away.... Another family, whose daughter has the same name as my daughter and the Princess called the girl her twin the first day of school two year ago when they met, because they both are artistic, love the same things, and have long brunette hair, live half way between us and the school on the route I take. They offered to help me out so I would not have to drive the whole way in on a second day, or pick her up after the TSL meeting, if I have to go home to take care of the dog when my husband is working out of town (which is most of the time). She understands because her husband has the same type of job. However, they also are not sure that they can work in the TSL requirements within their own schedule and they have a younger daughter (with the same Biblical name as our dog) that is a student there on Fridays being homeschooled also. It would not work for them well, unless her oldest is there on Fridays the same time as their younger one.

They have been praying about the situation for themselves because the younger one did not get as far in her studies as they hoped this year because of the commitments required to the Home Study Center just for the classes and her older daughter only took the science class last year. The mother is just terribly torn over the I have been. If we do it, homeschooling will really only take place three days a week and even then it will be a squeeze, because Tuesday mornings are going to be a drag for the both of us, particularly if my husband is away. On the day she would be helping with a class for at least an hour an a half which we cannot pick...well, that is three hours with unproductive travel time alone because my daughter can get motion sickness when trying to read; we listen to CDs on history and audio books but she would rather read the book. So besides the mileage and gas, we are talking 4½ hours for that alone and not much time between that and daily piano practice to homeschool. It really would put a serious hole in my lesson planning. Besides the other family and I need our daughters be be coordinated to assist with the the same class or the same times for us to help each other out and the policy is we do not get to choose the classes.

So, TSL may not be feasible at all for us. I would be fine with that. My daughter said she would be fine with it either way. I am just not so sure she will feel the same when school starts and the TSL students talk about what they are doing and she is not included. On the other hand, having more freedom with our schedule, she could spend more time with her "twin" who already seems to have a servant leader's heart.

Sometimes I wish God would give a shout rather than use His quiet voice when I have a dilemma like this.

~ My Lord, I am seeking your guidance. Please make it known clearly to me. ~


  1. I know. Music was always our downfall & it always pushed everything else aside. In the end Cait is the best of what a homeschool education should look like: self~motivated, self~directed, self~learning, disciplined, reliable, flexible... Honestly, the academics will take care of themselves & can be done any time in life. For other things the season is now or it will never come again. What does Jesus say?


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.