"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The 8th Grade Panic

I know many others (including myself) who are experiencing something I call the 8th Grade Panic!
If you homeschool and have children approaching high school,  you realize that it is approaching quickly and you worry that because you homeschool, there might be gaps in their education.  Bearing just wrote about this in a post called Deficits in the Homeschool where she answered a commenter's questions about gaps in education.  Bearing summed it up nicely:
I know it's a bit cliché to recast a deficit as an opportunity -- but in the case of the homeschool it strikes me as really true.  We are preparing these young people for life as a human being in the world.  The world is full of barriers, and human beings are full of deficits.  Learning to come up against them, and either work our way around them or live, constrained, with acceptance and humility, is a good thing.

I know, while I had great opportunities in high school, I didn't take advantage of them.  I had gaps of my own.  I should have taken Grammar and Biology, but I was allowed to take American Lit and Ecology instead.   Am I a worse person for it? I don't think so.  I dissected more things in my elective Anatomy and Physiology class than I ever would have in Biology.  And, I really did (and do) believe that reading good literature helps develop an understanding of Grammar.  I have no regrets for the choices I made in High School, but that is because they were my choice.  Bearing was right on that, too:
 Anyway, my thought is that as you are approaching eighth grade and the start of high school, it is time to have a frank discussion:  What does the young person want to learn?  What external requirements must be met?   What can the homeschool provide?  What are its strengths and weaknesses?  How can the strengths be channeled best, and the weaknesses compensated for?  What resources does the homeschool have which remain untapped?  Where can the parent and the young person work together to bring them to fruition? 
Whatever your approach, please take your kids' opinion into consideration and take it to prayer.  Yes, I know your kid's education is your job.  But, one thing we know about motivation is that if you want a kid to participate in anything, they have to have buy-in, especially at that age.  And, it's important to be honest- honest about what you can do and what is realistic. This year, I realized that I cannot have as large a co-school teaching load.  Next year, I can only teach one class and that will be Latin.  This year, I teach Latin 3x a week, two Earth Science classes, a Composition class and a Religion class.  It's not that my older kids are suffering.  They are getting a ton of my attention. My younger kids are getting the short end of the stick on this. My sweet eight year old daughter has been relegated to watching the little kids while I teach and that is not fair to her, two times a day, four days a week.  (Don't tell her, but she's getting a big thank you at the end of the school year!  Summer school! No, just kidding.)  But it also means I can't necessarily help them when they are stuck on something. 

I have at least five friends experiencing 8th Grade Panic this year, besides myself.  What is so fascinating to me is the different paths those friends are taking when we have always seemed to be on similar paths, used the same curriculum.  One family has decided to send their daughter to a wonderful Catholic Classical High School affiliated with a great Catholic Church in our area.  Another has opted to take a very laid back approach, following TJEd advocator Andrew Pudewa's advice to continue homeschooling, perhaps adding in PSEO in the last two years.  Another mom is looking at on-line options to keep herself and her daughter accountable, though they are both two of the most accountable people I know.  Another family is enrolling their kids in Seton for high school.  Yet another is still on the fence,  carefully looking at all her options. 

I happen to be one of those people, too.   I have been researching.  I know what my kids and I would like to see on their high school transcript, but finding a good fit seems impossible some days. That is leading me down a different path than many of my friends and it makes me a little sad.  But that is the way it goes.  How to handle high school is just as personal a decision as choosing to home school.  What I do suggest is that you not go it alone.  Ask others you know who've done high school at home.  Attend seminars in your area about homeschooling through high school.  I know there are several in this area this Spring.  Check out the high school co-ops.  Find a friend to Skype with on a topic or class.   It seems now the solution for me is to look to those who have gone before me on this path, get their advice but in the end I need to figure out my own path.