Monday, November 12, 2012

Homeschool High School Carnival November 2012!

The Homeschool High School Carnival is up at Living without School!

The topic this month is:

Nurturing Independence in High School....  To what extent do your highschoolers collaborate in planning their studies, how do you encourage your highschoolers to take the reins of their education, what tools do you use and how is this input communicated?

JRR Tolkien, Rivendell

 Chari and I didn't get a chance to contribute this time.  I was traveling, and Chari has been working and shuttling kids around.

JRR Tolkien, map of Lonely Mountain
Besides, true story, I have never really fostered independence in my homeschool.    The kids that want to work on their own simply gravitate that way, and the others stay pretty connected.  In that way, it is a bit like that attachment parenting and extended nursing bit.  I try hard to stay close (keep in mind that I am a natural introvert and my tendency is to drift off to my room and ignore my loved ones; to resist this drift is a real act of love on my part; not that I am a martyr, I am always SO happy and feel so blessed, when I fight my natural tendency and spend the time to connect.  I am just saying it is something like Bilbo leaving his cozy hobbit hole to go on a grand adventure; worth it, but not always comfortable or easy!)

But when they seem ready to be more independent, I am not the type to cling to them.    Sometimes I question whether I don't do enough actively to make them seek out challenges; however, I have to trust that God will prompt me if it's really important.   I pray a lot. 

JRR Tolkien, Hobbiton
So far, my first, third and fourth got to the point where they didn't want much help.   First son just wanted direction (we used MODG syllabi) and he was off and running.  Third child (daughter) read a lot about college prep, read blogs of my homeschool-mom friends, and basically designed her own highschool homeschool experience, with occasional requests for guidance and help.   My fourth went to public high school but even before that, he was my earliest independent worker; he got up and zipped through his checklist to have it over with.

 My second was my "different learner" and during his high school years, every weekday morning, I made him some cocoa and toast, sat down next to him, read The Iliad or the Aeneid or Witness to Hope (bio of John Paull II)  to him, and then worked with him on German, Traditional Logic, and Math.  Then I wrote out a daily plan for him, mostly involving reading, with some writing assignments.

JRR Tolkien, Misty Mountains
At the time, I was a very busy mother, with my oldest applying to colleges and the younger ones all ages from toddler to teen.   I am SO glad I took this time every day and built a tradition of communication with this introverted, deep thinking, intense son of mine.  He remembers almost everything we ever read or talked about during these times.   And those are great memories.   We didn't just read Homer or read about Karol Wojtyla's experiences in Nazi and Communist Poland.  We SHARED them.   

We have just come back from visiting him up in Oregon where he is in college; he told me about his classes and I felt blessed by what a perceptive, mature and thoughtful soul this quiet child of mine is.   I feel like I could have been a better mother to all my kids, not excepting this one, but our daily study-time together was one of the areas where I feel like God was with us and I benefited as much as I feel my son did.

This kind of interaction through great books and ideas is my ideal; I only wish my energy and motivation level could always cooperate, or that we didn't sometimes get distracted with others things that don't turn out to be so enduring in the long term. 

 I will always remember the times I spent WITH my kids sharing in their learning; I can see how teaching independence is good, too, but I notice that all my three grown kids are pretty good about doing that independent thing now that they are out of the home.

Aren't the Tolkien pictures beautiful?  I am glad I thought of hunting for them.   Tolkien illustrations will always remind me of Brendan, and those earlier days of homeschooling are so intertwined with Tolkien's influence to me that I feel a little homesick when I look at them.    If you want to see more, take a look at the Tolkien Gateway.  


  1. Willa
    I do love the pics.

    Lots of food for thought here
    "This kind of interaction through great books and ideas is my ideal; I only wish my energy and motivation level could always cooperate, or that we didn't sometimes get distracted with others things that don't turn out to be so enduring in the long term. "
    This really jumped out at me! Our true memories are also of books read together, discussions had but then I'm also finding we do need to put in some hard work as well, so intrigued as to what wasn't so enduring? Oh for the happy medium

    1. Yes indeed Erin, where's the balance? I do think hard work is important. Actually I'm slightly frustrated right now because my present high-schooler isn't particularly studious (though smart and cooperative generally) so I feel like I have to produce a new key to unlock how to work with every new high schooler in my family ...nothing works the same twice!

      However I also notice the huge influence my input has on them even when they are old enough not to "need" me. So maybe this is just my take on how to nurture independence, then!


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