Thursday, May 25, 2006

Homeschooling A High Schooler- The Beginning

I honestly never considered homeschooling my teenage son. He had always been in the public school system, liked it there socially, and wanted to stay there. When it came to learning though, he could have cared less and showed no interest at all.

For me, the very thought of trying to teach him with my limited education made me feel deer-caught-in-the-headlights sick. I just didn’t think I had the smarts to do it. It was something we didn’t discuss and we both figured that if things weren’t broke, then no need to try to “fix” them.

Then in November of last year we moved to another state and he had to enroll in a new school. We had to send him to a school considered one of the worst in our area and trying to get him registered was a complete nightmare! I often tell people that it would have been easier to have him run for Senate than it was to get into that school. You could only register on certain days and at certain times, they fought me over his transcripts even though I had prepared ahead of time and brought a copy from his previous school with me, and he wasn’t allowed to enroll until he had two immunizations that we hadn’t previously needed.

There were several reasons why this last issue was such a big deal. The biggest problem was that they wanted him to have both shots before he could start school, and at three to six weeks apart. This meant he would miss at least a month of school if we could get him in to someone immediately. As it turned out, no one could see him any sooner than four weeks. Meanwhile, my husband and I were trying to figure out when he could take Bret to get the vaccinations, because morally and religiously it was against my own personal beliefs. It was just not something I could do anymore. When the kids were little I was ignorant and didn’t know I had a choice when it came to vaccinating. Now I do.

As I was trying to figure out how to take care of everything, Bret came to me and said he would like to try homeschooling. In his opinion, the school wasn’t safe, he didn’t want to have to start all over again in another place, and the fact that our state ranks near the bottom in education bothered him quite a bit. He wanted to homeschool and give himself a shot at going to a good college. Inside I was both jumping for joy and having a nervous breakdown! How was I going to help him learn everything he needed to? What did I need for a high schooler? How do I do this without messing him up for life?

I researched every homeschool method out there for many weeks, hoping to find something that would be the perfect fit for Bret. Meanwhile, he was spending his new free time reading every book he could get his hands on. He has always loved reading, but he had never had as much time as he wanted to spend just relaxing and going through his books. The boy was reading a new book every two days and our library basket constantly stayed full. That’s when I realized that he had already found the perfect way for him to homeschool. Bret was finding his own interests and learning everything he could about them. All he needed from me was to provide him with the “tools” to continue learning. What a relief!

So now I am enjoying my new position as “teacher’s aide” and watching my son begin to love learning all over again. I still coach him at times and help him out with new subjects when he needs it but so far he is doing a great job of figuring out exactly what he needs.

The bright eyed little boy I once sent off to Kindergarten is back. The only difference is I don’t think he would let me hold his hand walking home nowadays.