This first half of the year has been with our noses in our curriculum, making sure that my high schooler has everything she needs to attend a four year university. Also, my youngest has been diving into language arts, reading, math...you know all the subjects we are supposed to do. I've gotten very strict with her on learning more vocabulary and grammar. Both of my girls were writing papers every week. We were in a great routine with our heads in the books.
It has become a struggle and NO FUN! In the past we have always been so hands on. I have seen my girls LOVE to learn and learn pretty deep on certain subjects because they wanted to. I used to love how they would have more and more questions and look it up. I have seen them change their minds on what they want to be when they grow up. My youngest used to dream of being a marine biologists with her love of dolphins and sea creatures. When my oldest was younger, she wanted to be a volcanologist. Then a couple of years back she wanted to be a lawyer and then a gynecologist. Now this year she wants to be...a cosmetologist. Don't get me wrong. We need those. My sister-in-law is one of those. I really will support my daughter in whatever she wants to be when she grows up. I know she will be great at whatever it is. So my next point isn't about bashing cosmetologists. But you can see there was a major shift. We went from a doctor to a cosmetologist...and her reasoning was "I don't want to go to college. Why would I go anywhere that I have to keep doing more school?" This has been a trend for months and maybe even a year now. My high schooler lost her love of learning. She lost her passions. She has rejected "school".
Yes, this is my fault. I have been so caught up in the requirements of what high school credits she needs and making sure she can pass that ACT or SAT test. One of the main reasons we started homeschooling was that we were against the "standardized test" and now I am stuck teaching to a test so she can go to college. Does that not sound a bit hypocritical? So the reason she is now choosing cosmetologist is because she doesn't want to go to a university to do more studies. She has lost the motivation to learn as we have just been trying to get to the end of her textbooks and move through the subjects that we HAVE to do.
Maybe you remember that desire to learn when you kids were younger. I certainly do. They loved to learn and it was natural. They used to love looking up sign language to learn. They used to love trying to learn French because they were interested in Paris. If they found a new bug, they looked it up and learned about it. However, now because of high school requirements...we are skipping through the things they are passionate in just to get a credit. And now, my oldest rejects learning about anything. She doesn't want to do anything educational because school has been shoved down her so much. Sigh...it has made me sad. It has made me miss our younger days of homeschooling. I miss their excitement. I miss them wanting to watch YouTube videos of Black Widow Spiders, just because they kept learning something new and loving to learn about it. I miss them wanting to do science experiments because it was fun, not because they had to.
After talking to other homeschoolers and trying to figure out internally of what to do, we decided to watch a movie that was recommended called "Class Dismissed." You can find this on Amazon to rent as well for $2.99. It is EYE OPENING. Or at least it was for my husband and I. Even the kids paid attention the whole time. They even gave a lot of input after watching the movie.
My husband and I had some huge discussions. For my oldest daughter, we really have "quit school" with her until after Christmas. We wanted to give her some time, a break, to deschool. I honestly could use the same. I couldn't even go on a field trip without feeling behind and like we had to make the day up. We need to get out of the "school at home" mindset. I want her to find passions and interests again. This hasn't been an easy thing for us. Just in the first week of doing this, I found it terribly hard that my teen was spending a lot of time on YouTube. This is where the deschooling myself is needed. We've taken breaks before but I was worried on the first week. I literally cried myself to sleep, worrying about how we were going to do this. How was I going to trust that my daughter would come back to wanting to learn something? It takes a lot of trust. It's hard to take a step back and realize that your kids learn with life. They learn everywhere, even if they are watching YouTube.
We have and still continue to do a lot of research. We believe that we are going to lean toward child led learning in our homeschool. What does this look like? Here's an example. My teen has always been interested in the Holocaust. Yes, she knows about it. She knows quite a lot. So if she is interested in that, I literally want to be able to find a way to get "our high school subject requirements" from that topic. So I know that in biology she has to learn about genetics. So maybe we start with how Hitler wanted to make the perfect race of blonde hair and blue eyes and we dive deep into genetics. Maybe she wants to learn more about the country and language of Germany. Or maybe she learns about all the propaganda used or even the Jewish Religion. You may think of it almost like unit study, but the unit study will be based on her interest. She will choose what she wants to learn about. When they were younger, we used to do this very thing. My favorite was learning about dolphins. We learned about the types of dolphins, echolocation, what bodies of water dolphins were located in, and even spelling words that had "ph" in the words. Now that they are older, they would dive even deeper.
This isn't going to be easy at all. I have literally taken a scope and sequence of subjects because I still want to prepare her to know what she's supposed to know at the end of high school. I'm going to be keeping a log. I'm going to be checking off things...but they may not be in order and it may not be in one school year. I've always been one to piece a lot of our studies together before, so this will just be around their interest.
I plan to sit down with both of my girls after Christmas we keep an "interest inventory" and set personal learning goals for them. I will be asking them what they want to learn, what they want to do, maybe what they want to do next with a skill they already have learned, what do they think they NEED to learn.
|Ashlyn writing her novel |
|My teen wanted to stay at the stingray tank forever. She loved seeing them. One kept following her and coming back to her. This is what I want to see as we deschool. I waited forever to move on from this spot, because she was interested.|
We're relaxing. I think I'm the one that is having the control struggle the most. I came from a school system that told me the subjects I had to learn, when I had to do it, and what page to turn to. So this is hard to break out from. I know that we have schooled this way before...yes, when they were younger. We had fun. There's no reason we can't still have fun learning as they are older. For some reason, I let the stress of high school requirements get me there. I regret it.
Here are some more resources that I wanted to add to this blog post that I came across during my research:
These resources have to do with unschooling. I don't believe we are going to be what you would call a radical unschooler, but I do love the philosophy of unschooling.
I love how these websites answer so many questions and even seeing the evidence of this working. This was a path I considered and still want to lean toward in child led learning.