Ten Years of Homeschooling – Completed! (8 More to go…)

 

This has been the scene in my dining room for about two weeks now. I have been writing the end-of-year reports that the local school district requires, and collecting work samples from each child to send in for approval. Supposedly, Massachusetts is one of the most highly regulated homeschool states (anyone surprised?), but I don’t mind letting them know what we’re up to. It also gives me a thorough and concise record of what each child accomplished each year.

This year’s reports have been a bit more difficult, in that Kory just completed his 9th grade year, so I needed to begin his high school transcript. That’s actually what all those papers and books are above. I spent about three days recording ALL math assignment and test grades, government quiz and project grades, Latin quiz and test grades….etc, to come up with actual number grades in each of 10 subjects. Then they had to be converted to a 4 point scale, and then averaged for an overall GPA for the year. Then all of this was entered into a form via AcademicRecords.net which keeps the information stored over the course of his four years of high school for a fee of $15 per year. There is also a section of the site which creates a student resume’ for the year listing all achievements, community service, sports, clubs, seminars, conferences, etc.

I love this photo. First of all, I can’t believe that 10 years ago Kory was learning to read through Saxon Phonics, and here he’s reading a wonderful piece of American Literature. Also, the baseball pants he’s wearing indicate that this photo was taken AFTER baseball practice (or a game) one evening, which means he is choosing to read AFTER the technical school day is over. And, you can also see that he is near the end of the book. He enjoyed this book so much that he wanted to pick it up again in the evening and find out what happens to Scout and Jem Finch after their school play and after their Dad’s trial.

Kory read over 25 pieces of great American Literature this year – either in novel, short story or poetry form, and was required to write an essay on each as assigned in the Classical Conversations program we participated in this year. And this was only one of 7 courses during the semester. It was a very rigorous year for him (and me!), and I am SO proud of the excellent work he did. (Other courses were: Composition, Algebra 2, Latin 1, Physical Science, Debate, Drama, Economics, Government, and Philosophy.)

And here he is participating in one of 3 debates for his debate class. He is being cross-examined on the topic of genetically modified foods. He was on the Negative side of this debate, arguing that the U.S. should not abandon the GMO practice.

And here he is in Physical Science class working on one in a series of water property experiments. How many drops of water can we get to fit on one penny? (Special thanks to Dan M. who supplied us with many more ideas and tools for these experiments than our book even suggested!)
Cooper had a great year of school this year as well. You may remember this post in which he achieved the title of Memory Master in his Foundations class. This kid can memorize anything and in an eerily short amount of time. This is Coop working on a lesson in his Saxon Math book. He definitely has a love-hate relationship with math – and Saxon Math especially. It is a challenging curriculum in that it never drops a concept learned. You never have a set of problems in which you only perform long division, but rather, if long division is the new concept learned, you will have several practice problems in this concept area, but the rest of your 30 problems for the day will encompass many other previously learned concepts. It keeps you current, and doesn’t leave much room for forgetting. Coop is great at computation, but he doesn’t especially like to THINK through steps. If the answer is not attainable within a few seconds and all in his head, well then forget it! He can actually compute things MUCH faster than me, but REALLY dislikes word problems that require writing down steps. We’ve been working on this for about 8 years now….and we are still working on it. But give the boy a writing assignment or something to memorize, and he’s 100%!
And Kayla is just a perfect combination of her brother’s individual school temperaments. She loves precision, and works slowly, but accurately. She is overly concerned about misspellings , and her math exercises look like they were computer-generated – perfect alignment. She absolutely loves her Essentials of the English Language Class, diagramming sentences, and writing essays via the Institute for Excellence in writing seminar and workbook. The past few days she’s been working on a Rick Riordan inspired story. She requested that we go to the library and check out mythology books. But not Greek or Roman mythology – because Rick Riordan already used THAT idea. No, she wanted African and Celtic Myths to pattern HER story after. And you know the little Mr. Paper Clip icon in Microsoft Word? The one who knocks on the computer screen to let you know how you could improve something or punctuate or spell correctly? Well, she’s constantly telling me about some new grammar or punctuation rule he’s taught her as she writes her story! Oh my. I think she might be ready to read Strunk and White. Maybe that could be our next read-aloud!?! (Because Mama enjoys practicing the grammar and punctuation rules, too – and could use some refreshers.) Speaking of, I absolutely relished getting down from the attic a 10th grade Grammar and Composition Curriculum curriculum I bought at a school closing last year. Looking forward to helping Kory refine his writing skills next year.
Oh, what a journey this has been. I think it is the most difficult and yet the most rewarding task upon which I have ever embarked. I have cried tears of joy over the thrill of a seeing a skill mastered (Kayla is reading!), or tears of emotion over the vibrant characters and their sagas in a classic novel (Will Faithful really die in Vanity Fair?). I have thrown pencils and books across the room in frustration (sad, but true), but I have also gotten on my knees with each child and together prayed prayers of brokenness and begged for mercy, protection, and transformation in these precious lives and hearts.

In the two years leading up to this one, because Kory was approaching high school age, Robert and I prayed together for direction concerning whether or not to continue homeschooling through high school. And to be honest, I think I was sort of hoping the answer would be to send him to public school. This homeschooling road is NOT and easy road, and I think I was hoping to be done with at least one of three! But, in very obvious ways, after each season of serious prayer on the matter, the Lord brought person after person into our path who encouraged us to continue – whether it be the young Ph.D. student at church who had been homeschooled through her high school years, and who, over coffee, enumerated the reasons she was SO thankful her mom had continued to homeschool her through high school (that would be you, Carla), or the parent who had lost the heart of their child to negative peer influence and teen culture after having their heart for so many years at home. This happened to us over and over, and the Lord’s desire for us was made clear.

So, I praise the Lord for His sustaining strength these last ten years. And I praise Him for the awesome privilege it has been to know and disciple my children daily, and even moment by moment because of their nearness. I thank Him for the freedom it allows us – to teach them in the way we think is best, and what we think is important and godly.

(And the kids would praise Him for not having to awaken to an alarm, or get out of their pj’s in below freezing temps, for getting to do school in front of the fire or on the trampoline, for continuing to have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack well into their high school years, and for oftentimes traveling to Texas and visiting cousins for the whole month of January!)

Praying now for endurance and refreshed vision for the next 8 years!

3 thoughts on “Ten Years of Homeschooling – Completed! (8 More to go…)”

  1. Mel you're a better writer than I remember. I started the sentence "Special thanks to Dan M. …" and was certain it would end "… for the penny." Also if Kayla is learning grammar from Mr. Paperclip, you might double-check because my (probably older version) is wrong so often that he's turned off.

  2. I'm beginning to get a little nervous now that our son is turning five…I've been preparing myself for homeschooling. But, the road ahead feels very uncertain. Thanks for going ahead and paving a road and being honest through it. I glean A LOT from what you write! Thank you!

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