Graduating From Home School

This is a blog post written by my friend, Angela Jacobsen.  My kids are all still young so I wanted to give a perspective about homeschooling older children as well.

One topic that many people are confused about when it comes to homeschooling their children is making sure that the child/student has enough credit when it comes time to graduate and go to college.  Furthermore, exactly how does a homeschooled student have a graduation?   Does it look like a traditional graduation?  What about prom?  Prom has been one of the most important moments in a high school student’s life for many years.  Do they have to miss out?

I was just as confused as everyone else when I first started homeschooling.  My oldest was nearing his senior year and we wanted to be sure that he wouldn’t be losing any credit by homeschooling and would be prepared for college.  Through friends sharing their knowledge about their own experiences with homeschooling, I was able to get most of the information on the topics of my concern, quite easily.  There are numerous sites online regarding the subject of homeschooling.  Hundreds of moms share their experiences with homeschooling their children in order to make it easier on new moms who are starting on this adventure.  They are usually quite candid about their failures, as well as their successes.  On many of the sites, there are resources listed to help parents considering homeschooling connect with organizations that advocate for homeschooling.

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How to Make it Happen

When I first started homeschooling last fall, scheduling the day was my biggest challenge.  Parents ask me all of the time how I balance the teaching workload for three kids, cook meals for my family, keep all the laundry clean, and keep the house work done. My husband works for an IT service provider Birmingham AL so he is hardly ever available to help out. While scheduling all those things is the biggest challenge I face in homeschooling, it can run much more smoothly than some people would think!  

At the beginning of the school year, I develop a lesson plan for the year.  Of course, at times this plan may change, based on how my children, or students excel.  That’s the beauty of homeschooling really.  If a lesson plan needs to change because a student is not catching on as quickly, I can amend the plan and spend extra time on a subject with them and then move on.  Of course, I do this for each of my children as they range from 7 to 17 years old.

Every evening, I review my lesson plan for the next day.  I always schedule at least two extracurricular activities for the students each week.  So, Mondays will be full of basic studies, and then on Tuesday, we might go to the library, and then follow up with the kid’s sports practice and dance.  I’m always running across town for one child’s drop off and another one’s pickup.

I find that a steady schedule, as much as possible, really benefits my children.  They seem calmer and at more at ease when they know what to expect for their school day.  Of course, we have to rearrange things on our plan regularly.  But,  that in itself works so much better than the public school mandated lesson plan. 

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Outside the Classroom

Many folks ask how my homeschooled children get to participate in extra-curricular activities.  It’s really as easy as doing some research, making calls, and then plugging the activities into our day.  There are endless possibilities in the community for students, whether homeschooled or not, to connect with others and have access to the arts and athletics.  But for us, volunteering is really the greatest experience for our children.

At first, I didn’t expect the reaction from them after serving in our botanical garden’s CASA garden.  This garden is planted every spring by a group of Master Gardeners at our local botanical garden.  Its purpose is to help feed the elderly and home bound.  Although I personally enjoy gardening and raising food for our family, I expected the kids to complain about the heat and hard work, and to try to do as little as possible.  Boy, was I wrong!  They actually enjoyed learning about soil and planting food from the older gardeners.  The kids seemed mesmerized each time we volunteered by how much a plant had grown since our last visit. 

When It was harvest time, the kids became competitive and each would proclaim that he would bring in the biggest bounty in the shortest amount of time.  Communication and self-discipline were areas that I could see growth in the children.  I’ve always said that having a garden is like having two infant children in the home because of all the attention it takes.  However, for the right person, it’s something that ignites passion.  I’m teaching my children how important it is to know where their food comes from.  And, nothing is as rewarding as going out back to pick fresh herbs and veggies that are chemical free, to cook a meal.  The community garden is another way they can learn about growing their own family’s food in the future.

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