Saturday, May 8, 2010

Help, Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler

I was given the opportunity to review the e-book Help, Lord, I'm Getting Ready to Start Homeschooling My High Schooler published by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  This book is a collaboration of 15 different authors offering their perspective on their current and/or past journey through homeschooling high school. 

Most of us don't start a journey without having an idea of our final destination. Instead, we usually plan with the end in mind--taking the steps necessary to arrive successfully.  In homeschooling, we may not know exactly what the destination looks like but we know the direction we are heading--graduation.  And not just a graduating a child from school but graduating them from childhood into the responsibilities of adulthood. 

Although the title implies that this book is meant only for high school parents, I believe the audience is actually much broader.  I tend to be a linear thinker, assuming there is one, most obvious way to get from point A to point B.  When it comes to travelling, however, the most direct isn't always the most enjoyable. Sometimes the pit stops and detours provide the most joy and offer the most amazing discoveries.  When we started our homeschool journey 9 years ago, I wish I had had a resource like this book. Reading the stories of how a variety of families travelled the path I was just then beginning would have been so helpful. Many of the authors shared their reasons for homeschooling and how the Lord opened doors for them along the way while strengthening them and giving them wisdom to tackle difficulties. This is the kind of encouragement that any homeschooling mom can use--not just a parent of high schoolers.

After reading this book, my homeschool worldview expanded greatly.  The authors came from many walks of life, had varying sizes of families (from 2 kids up to 8), experienced a variety of hurdles (financial strains, loss of home to fire, dyslexia, reluctant learners, medical emergencies, relocations) and shared the ways the Lord helped meet each of their needs.  I learned about a wide range of learning experiences: through homeschool co-ops, dual credit for high school and college, CLEP testing, Charlotte Mason methods, online classes and apprenticeships.  Woven throughout the book was the importance of putting Christ first in any homeschool and learning to seek Him for wisdom and waiting patiently for his leading (often making a way there seemed to be no way).

Donna Rees mentioned that homeschooling for her family was "an annual decision and a daily provision."  They took one year at time asking for God's leading for the school year and then daily relied on his provision for strength and guidance.  She later encouraged moms to not be so focused on the end, that they failed to enjoy the journey, "when your children have crossed the finish line, you will miss the race."  That is hard to believe as I am living in the heat of the race, but I will try to heed her advice in my future laps around the track with my children.

Several moms shared the paths their children took after high school which was helpful as well. Some chose traditional college, others online college.  Some served in missions while others served their country in the military.  Some followed a path of a home business while others sought apprenticeships to learn to a trade. No matter the path after high school, many parents emphasized the learning of life skills: managing finances, cooking, laundry, as well as developing skills in Bible Study and service.

I am nearing the end of our first year of homeschooling high school. I can relate to the moms who admitted they often wanted to give up.  I cannot count the number of times in the last year that I wanted to just drop off my student at public school.  In the coming year, when I have those thoughts, I'm going to pull out this e-book to refresh me on my journey. To remind me that the struggle of the race is worth the effort, that God can provide wisdom and strength--"daily provision" as Mrs. Rees put it so well.  I have many ideas of things I learned from this book that I'd like to try and a renewed charge to commit our school and family first of all to the Lord and to seek Him first in every subject. 

The end of the book offers resources for further information. Many of the resources are available through The Old Schoolhouse Store. I'm not sure whether each author contributed to the resource list at the back but it would have been interesting to have a resource section after each chapter with the author's recommended list of books, websites and curriculum that they found most helpful along their particular journey.

This e-book would be very helpful to give a grandparent or relative who does not know much about homeschooling or who is questioning your decision to homeschool. It would also be a great gift for any parent contemplating homeschooling, discouraged in their homeschooling, or seeking ideas for post-high school opportunities. This is a marvelous travel guide for homeschooling high school.

This e-book is available for purchase from The Old Schoolhouse Store for $12.45. E-books are available as an immediate download. The layout of the e-book was very easy to read. It was very nicely formatted so that I could comfortably read one page at a time on one screen (no scrolling up and down to read). This is an excellent resource for the money. I felt as though I'd had a chance to sit and chat with some of the "great cloud of witnesses" that have run the homeschooling race ahead of me.


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