Monday, 8 June 2015

“Getting to the Destination” — Part 4 of Transitioning Your Teen to HIgh-School-Level (Home)School

This is the fourth post in a series about transitioning your teens to high-school-level (home)school. In the other three parts, I have covered topics like routine, vision, and the underlying point that teens often need a different approach than younger children, if for the very reason that college entry starts to loom large in their lives.

In this part, I want to talk about the different approaches you can take to the academic part of your teen’s new level of home learning.

My advice here is built on two premises: 1) I am assuming that you are wanting to “up” your teen’s game to a higher level of learning, and 2) that you have some desire to achieve academic success in whatever form that may take.

The good news is that, as a homeschooler, you don’t have to model your child’s learning on the example given by schools. Whereas they are cloistering teens for up to 8 (or even more) hours a day, setting homework for two or more hours beyond that, and covering a range of disparate subjects and electives to fill the timetable, you can take a more targeted (and sane) approach to high school.

I have heard this personalized approach put in terms of a journey. If, for example, you wanted to travel to Dallas from New York, you wouldn’t really want to buy tickets to San Francisco, Miami, Mexico City, and another half-dozen destinations to boot. This is similar to the schools’ approach, but for home educators, it’s both a waste of time and probably money.

Instead, you focus on only the ways to get to Dallas. Do you walk, cycle, drive, take a bus, a train, or fly? Which route for a car? Which bus company? Which train station? They’re all legitimate approaches, but it’s likely that only one of them will be the most efficient for your situation.

There are many ways to reach your destination.

While this is not intended to be a post about state requirements (there are plenty of better places for this, such as the HSLDA site here: https://www.hslda.org/hs/default.asp), nor about how to get into this university or that college, we probably all agree that covering the basics will be a good idea: math, English, science, government, etc.

Assuming you want to cover a range of solid subjects, then there are only really two ways to approach them (if we’re staying with the journey metaphor): buying a direct ticket, or taking the scenic route!

Maybe you have already got the feeling from my earlier posts of this series that I’m rather no-nonsense, and so you might suspect that I’m going to advocate the direct route. However, that’s not the case at all.

Having come from a liberal arts education, I really can’t stand the thought of spending one’s precious learning years in dead/dry workbooks and textbooks, ticking off short answer questions and parroting back a stack of unrelated, uninteresting information.

That’s not education; that’s just informational bulimia, where it’s just all crammed in, and at the risk of sounding crude, it’s then just all barfed out. There’s no nutritional value for the mind in that kind of activity.





So, perhaps against my no-nonsense approach about education in general, I am definitely not a direct-ticket kind of person when it comes to learning. That’s not to say that I advocate the tickets to San Francisco and Miami and Mexico City when all you want to do is get to Dallas, but perhaps something more akin to breaking up the journey: sometimes walking, sometimes cycling, sometimes train or bike or car.

The question becomes how one puts into practice this theory of enjoying the education journey while staying focused, motivated, and ultimately, aiming for higher education.

Your route through education needn't be an obvious one!

Next time, I will give a selection of the current options for this kind of broad approach, but in the meantime, please don’t a) sign your child’s life away by exchanging school for an all-day online school; b) buy full-on, all-encompassing curriculum products that chain you to the desk (they should provide toothpicks to keep your eyes open!) or c) throw your hands up, abandoning all hope, and just letting your teen retreat into an electronic land of soporific entertainment.

There is an optimum way to navigate your teen’s (home)schooling, but you need facts and options, knowledge and wisdom, but there’s one thing you don’t need: the desire to do what’s best for your child, because I can tell you, you’ve already got that!

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