Saturday, September 16, 2017

Home Education Fit for a Princess

We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people. -Diane Flynn Keith

I think all homeschooling parents start out with big dreams that their children with be absolutely beyond brilliant academically. We all look for the best of the best curricula and have a basic plan. Then comes maybe it all worked for the children, maybe some struggled a bit, and maybe what was working so well for one, or two, or three just did not work for others. It is then that parents realize that their plans, ideas, and dreams are not meshing with reality. I have only one child so I really need to get it right.

We had a serious set back two years ago when we felt we had no recourse but to pull the Princess out of the Learning Center within three months into her third year there due to situations going completely out of control. For one, she was not sleeping, had terrible anxiety, and was depressed. In part, that was because she became overwhelmed with her assignments and anxious about everything being on transcripts starting that year. Her science and math teachers did not tell us that she only handing in about half her assignments. Then to complicate an already concerning emotional state in the Princess, a very shy boy came into the picture, who had his own disturbing issues and was convinced he was in love with her, but took that to a very unhealthy level...with his mother enabling the whole thing. Even after we pulled her out of the school, where she was only taking two subjects, it took another six more months and a police report about him stalking her before the boy and his family finally stopped, though we had made repeated requests prior to that.

Although the Princess was improving with the pressure off from the school, I think it took another six months before she really relaxed and even longer for me. I felt it was far more important to have devotions and let her talk some things out than to keep to a strict assignment schedule most of last year. I began seeing more of those attributes I loved, that she had when she was younger, coming out. Last summer we switched from her from the Prentice Hall Algebra 1 textbook (made for schools), which she was over halfway through from the Learning Center, to Life of Fred Geometry. I did this because she always responded better to geometry and she learns math so randomly, so she has learned about algebra better from the geometry (insane to me, but works for her). I also have to say here that I really tried not to like Life of Fred, as the name just sounds idiotic to me and the story line is of a six year old math mega genius being a professor of KITTENS University...I mean, it just sounded too silly to be a serious math book. However, it is presented in story form to give a reason for the math. It is also a self teaching book and the Princess has been doing quite well with it.

Just as things were going in a better direction with the Princess, the Queen Mother fell last year...twice. The first time in June and the second time in December. Everything in our lives seem to take a back seat to working through the process of how much she would recover and where she would be living after rehabilitation and then trying to get her qualified for Medicaid. We homeschooled but not with the focus I was hoping we could have. I mean, we only bred our rabbits once last fall because everything in our lives was so up in the air. I am thankful to my Lord for the Florida house being sold so easily and quickly. That took so much off of us.


I went through all that to say that the last two years feels like we made very slow and halting progress in our homeschool. I had these plans, long ago, that the Princess would be taking a few college courses this year, her junior year, but now I feel that was not meant to be. So, I had some long talks with my Lord and my daughter and my husband and then myself. I needed to let go of some expectations and hopes to do what was best for the Princess, according to her desires and attributes. Even though she went to a STEM school for a couple of years and enjoyed it, she is not really a STEM type. She still knocks the sock off in language arts though!

One thing that is very different in her life than most kids her age is that she has been writing for a bi-monthly newsletter published by a local co-op health store about health related issues since she was fourteen. At first I helped her to understand how to write an article, as I have been doing that myself for about eighteen years for the same newsletter, but she now often submits her articles without giving me a chance to look them over and some are still being published, much depending on space and the worthiness of all the submitted articles from other writers.

Another thing is that while few, and by that I mean none of the friends she has, are working, not even one boy who is waiting to go to a trade school because he got his GED too late for the first semester. The schools are laying on homework so heavily that even all the piano teachers complaining how they are losing students because of it and not getting new ones. Highschoolers cannot really have a job and pass to the next grade these days. However, the Princess is playing piano usually two to three weekends a month and she has added taking on two young piano students, although the mother of one (also aunt to the other) has been sick so they have not yet started. The Princess has the benefit of using her talent to earn some money, improve her skills with the piano, and learn about being more self sufficient...and was that not my real goal in homeschooling all along?

With all things being considered, I also felt led to make a big change in science. I found a curriculum that integrates physics and chemistry without all the math. It will earn her two credits, but it is not as intense as the Bob Jones science book she was using at the Learning Center for nine grade. That usually had about 30 vocabulary words and six (usually more) major theorems per chapter that she was supposed to remember. I thought it was rather advanced and she was not moving through it very well. This new curriculum is lacking in labs, but I purchased extensive kits for chemistry and physics that was suggested when I called to inquire about the curriculum a bit more. We plan to do one of the labs each week. This curriculum is also written in more of a story form giving history about the discoverers and properties of the topics in a less textbook manner. She loves it!

What I have is a Classical literary child strong in languages and language arts, as she tests very high in grammar, reading comprehension, and writing structures. Heavily relying on living books, story-form books, was the method I began her teaching, so I am not surprised, but it was a bit challenging coming into high school level subjects to find curricula in the STEM world that would work well with her. At this point, it seems everyone is supposed to just get dry textbooks, as if the colors they can add now will make it more interesting rather than just being busy looking.

I updated my homeschool list of materials here on my blog and I added some of her activities and accomplishments because her piano and writing have not just stayed in the home. The little lady has been stepping out with her talents and that is really important to all of us. While she may not be the academic super star devouring and excelling in all subjects as I hoped she would, I have to remind myself one of the top reasons I was drawn to homeschooling and that to teach the child, not the subject, using the interests of the child and preparing her to be a self-disciplining, self-sufficient, responsible adult.

I have not been excited myself about homeschooling for over a year, until now. I feel that this direction is so very right for her and my Lord has told me this too.

Thank you, my Lord, for leading me to curricula that will work so well for my daughter and give her the time she needs to pursue her talents and interests.

1 comment:

  1. I think often our children are ready to move on before the *system* thinks they can & so they go round & round skills they have already mastered. Many already know the direction they want to excel in ~ I know Cait did

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