As the school year ends, my mind always turns to planning next year. I used to plan for next year in February, but when I finally figured out that I wanted to chuck the baby out with the bath water every February, I decided that might not be the best time to make decisions for our family. Now I plan during the summer.
We are past the point of reinventing the wheel every year. I’ve done that, and it never made much difference for us. I get more out of small changes I make along the way. To use a swimming example, it serves me better to work on improving their breaststroke kick than to stop swimming altogether and take up shot put instead.
You can find our “curriculum” choices in the pages at the top, labeled by school year. Most of what is there are our book lists. You’ll see we use Singapore for math and Rosetta Stone (plus a grammar supplement I haven’t found yet—any ideas?) for Spanish. We have done many different things for science. My littles do Explode the Code, copywork, and dictation. Other than that, we read.
Jonah is beginning high school this year. This has invited a new level of scrutiny I wasn’t expecting. Even the skeptics had reconciled themselves to my homeschooling my children in the younger grades. How badly, really, could I mess them up? High school has a different significance to people.
The funny thing is the specificity of the fears that have been expressed to me. No one has asked me about how I will provide a broad, varied curriculum with good adult role models. Instead, they have asked:
- What about Prom?
- How will he march in a graduation?
- What about his transcript?
- How will you teach science/calculus/writing (whatever subject is most fearsome to the person in questions)?
The answer: I don’t know yet.
My friend Christine used to say “Everyone’s mom makes the best meatloaf.” She didn’t mean that all meatloaves are the same, or even that all meatloaf is excellent. She meant that everyone prefers their own mom’s meatloaf because it was they grew up with. I suspect that it is the same with high school.
Clearly not everyone had a great high school experience. My own was a mixed bag. I took three choirs and jazz band during my senior year because I had run out of AP classes. On the up side, I learned a lot of great music. My brother had a close group of friends who played bridge together during their free time. On the down side, he was teased and tormented by the “in” crowd.
My oldest son’s high school experience isn’t going to meet all his grandparents’ expectations. It will have gaps. Maybe (gasp) there won’t be a Prom. It is likely that his transcript will have several book lists attached to it. I don’t know yet where he will march in “graduation.” I have some ideas about how to give him a varied experience with work opportunities, strong academics, good adult role models, and time to spend with his friends.
My hope is that in the mix of good and not-so-good, he will find his way. And that when he’s done, he can look back and own it like he owns my meatloaf: not perfect, but ours.