Thursday, June 7, 2012

Home Sweet Homeschool

Sher composing

PJ, happy U.D. high school grad
So now there are three. Three homeschooled teens out of five total kiddos. Evan and PJ loved traditional high school, and thrived there. Indeed, had they asked to homeschool I cannot say if they—or I—would have survived the experience. Both boys were wont to procrastinate about assignments until zero hour (or beyond). When Evan was in fifth grade, he completely blew off a book report, a diorama affair involving shoeboxes, construction paper and glue. Not only did he not make his diorama, he didn’t even bother to read the book. To teach him a lesson, I marched him into class, empty-handed. His golden-hearted teacher, Mrs. Ulrich: “Now, Evan, you didn’t do the assignment so I can’t give you an A. But if you get it done you can certainly get a B+!” Yay! Lesson learned! Don’t bother following directions, you’ll always get a second chance! PJ was not much better, waiting till the very last minute most of the time. It was challenging enough mothering these two without attempting to teach them as well. 

Sheridan, Rosie and Julie were different. For a variety of reasons, when they were high school juniors they flew the Upper Dublin coop. Sher had music conservatory on his radar screen; to that end he was spending six hours a day composing and practicing—on top of a regular school schedule. Rosie was in Thailand as a junior, and returned to the States a different person—or at least, not a person thrilled by pep rallies and locker decorating. Julie was restless, dreaming of travel and work and more of an independent life. In each case, we agreed to pull them out of school for home education.

Julie in London
It’s been quite a ride. All three kids had a plan, and it just fell to Steve and me to get out of their way and let them go for it. Sheridan wrote some terrific papers and aced Algebra II. Rose took Astronomy at community college. Julie used her trips to London, Guatemala and Hawaii as inspiration for essays, photo journal and poetry. I feel silly accepting praise for teaching them—they really taught themselves. In addition, it was a total joy to have them around during the day. Julie and I have gotten some great walks in; Rose and I enjoyed coffee dates; I loved my sneak peeks at Sher’s new pieces.

Yesterday I accompanied Jules for her annual portfolio review. Her homeschool evaluator looked over all of her year’s work and pronounced it complete. Now it will go to the school district for another examination. Julie is bubbling over with plans for her senior year—a trip to Italy, Chemistry at community college, 25 books to read. If her experience is like her siblings', she’ll get into a good college with no problem.

However they’ve been schooled, they are on their way. Responding to learning in their own styles. One by one on the launch pad, eager to jump into the rest of their lives.

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