Grand Finale

Girls Looking in a Telesope,
via Wikimedia Commons

This is our final year of homeschooling. My daughter will finish her fourth year of high school in May 2016. My son completed his first year of college this past spring. I think I’m pretty much the same as any other empty nester to be– equal parts sad and excited and terrified for the future.

The landscape of homeschooling has changed dramatically over the past fifteen years.  When we started, complete curricula in a box were rare and online schools rarer still. Everybody belonged to a support group or three because we needed it, and not only for Friday meetups in the park. We worried about being out in public with our kids during school hours, and many of us had at least one conversation with concerned neighbors, truancy officials, the police.

I’ve been mostly silent here this last year because I was not entirely sure that much I have to say is relevant any longer. The books that we used have changed or gone out of print. The things that were hard to find or a struggle to navigate are all easy now. All the fads have changed. Does anyone still use Cuisenaire Rods or Wrap Ups? What about all those terrifyingly expensive language courses?

And then I remember that we didn’t use those things either. I was forever swimming against the popular stream in homeschooling. I wanted to raise up kids with superior reasoning skills, fluency in maths, language, and scientific reasoning. I wanted to make my kids’ childhoods magical and beautiful. I wanted them to be fierce, self-confident people who would help make this world a better place. You don’t need the latest math manipulative or the newest box curriculum for that.

The one thing that will never be in fashion and will never go out of style for homeschooling, and yet is the most important thing, is the desire to make learning happen for your kids. This isn’t public school. There are no failing grades. There is only trying different approaches until you find the ones that work for your family and your kids learning style. You can do it with my old books or those brand news ones. It’s the theory, not the materials, that win the day. So maybe I do still have something relevant to say about homeschooling.

You can do this. Keep your eye on the prize– helping your kids be the best they can be!

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