This past week my social media feeds have been inundated with those classic back-to-school snaps. Some in brand-new uniforms and that wide-grin-excitement that accompanies the idea of a new year of adventure, while others are not so enthused with the idea of back-to-school life. Some of my school-children-friends I am thrilled for, some I prayer for because of their personal struggles with school life.
This past week is our first official week of school in Queensland, and traditionally while many of our friends and family head to their first week of school, our family head off camping.
This year we headed back to one of our favourite places along the Sunshine Coast coastline. Great Sandy National Park. We sleep, we walk, we swim, we surf, we read. We watch the sunrise, the sunset, and the stars. We spot turtles, dolphins, and fish. This is my favourite way to celebrate the beginning of a new year of home education (aka not-back-to-school).
By the time these first weeks roll around our planning is completed and our books have trickled in over the summer holidays and slowly fill their places on our bookshelf. This first week is the time to simply dive in, and open our new books and new plans to begin putting the idea into practice. We experiment with different ways to interact with, share, and respond to our books. For any workbooks or textbooks in use, we figure out our study-pace in order to reach a particular goal by the end of the term, or the year. Hopefully by the second or third week we usually figure out the daily plan and work amount that sets us up with a suitable rhythm for our family life.
My youngest daughter will soon be 16 and is entering her final two years of homeschooling. At this point in our homeschooling life I tend to take these final two years as a block and my planning encompasses possibilities for both years. We consider personal hobby and lifestyle goals, habits that need work as they prepare for adulthood, Bible study tools and Christian living study guides, vocational interests, and further study/training paths and what we might need to work on to give them the best start at the beginning of their adult life.
The process of working out the goals and resources for these areas includes research on my part (based upon a series of conversations with my teen regarding interests, study goals, and vocational plans), presenting options to my teens as they choose from those selections, and then putting together a schedule to give an outline to our week. Then we roll up our sleeves and go to work.
One big aim in these final years is independence and self-discipline in the area of study. Independence and self-discipline in the area of lifestyle is something we focus on more fully after our official homeschooling years have finished. With regards to study, however, my teens hold responsibility for completing their work independently and in a timely fashion. I help with guidance, review, and project direction. This has worked really well with my first two daughters, my third daughter works best with someone working alongside her, so my challenge this year will be to recognise that trait in her personality and support it, while giving opportunity for practiced independence and self-discipline - which she will need in adulthood.
These final years reveal our most practical goals in life and learning. We cook, we clean, we study, we schedule, we work, we enjoy hobbies and time out with friends. Underpinning this very practical focus is growth in wisdom and virtue as my teens are guided towards greater independence in habit, thinking, relationships, work, and study.
Forward we go!