Monday, November 23, 2015

Smash, Cram, Smoosh. Fitting It All In as you Homeschool High School

This months topic in Homeschooling High School has to do with fitting it all in.
Great question. There is a LOT to high school= academics, volunteering, work, family, church, sports, camps, special interests. I've written about it a bit before- you can check out previous posts here:

How Do You Get It All Done
How to Keep It All Straight
Getting Things Done
Let's Get Organized
Creating Time

1) We set SMART goals for the kids and work consistently towards them. We stick with tried and true curriculum as much as possible (Apologia Science, anything by Memoria Press, etc) This saves us time and energy in learning new curricula and systems.

2)We don't do everything and we don't always get everything done.
 Our kids haven't played organized sports since moving to our acreage, more's the pity, because of availability and time costs.
 3) We realize that so much of what we DO do is seasonal. What we do in the winter is different than what we do in the summer. What we do in 9th grade is different than what we do in 10th, 11th, and 12th.
We choose academics and extra-curriculars that are much like the protein drink we consume- they might look a bit pricey at the front end, but extremely efficient in what they deliver, and we don't waste a lot of time and energy trying to back-fill what we are not getting by going with inferior products, goods and services. In other words we do a lot of front end load investment. If we can't afford something, we go all A.F. and improvise, adapt and over-come by creating something ourrselves (Co-ops), bringing programs to the area (TeenPact) bartering (blog posts/social media promotion in exchange for curriculum), investing in what's already here with out time and services (the local drama camps).

 What we get done.

Academics Every day. Every week. We've are part of Classical Conversations Challenge program this year- Challenge A and Challenge 1.
My kids are busy doing Latin, Math, Debate, Science with Labs, Literature/Composition, and Rhetoric. When the CC literature says that they recommend 1 hour a day of studying for each strand throughout the week, they are not kidding. We are doing every bit of that.

Faith Building  My kids are loving the sweet country church that we have been going to, the smallish and down to earth youth group(s). My kids also go to many church activities and events outside of that related to other groups we are involved with. This isn't regular, but they get lots of steeping in the Judeo-Christian tradition, including almost daily discussion from Biblical Archeology Review, First Things, Jerusalem Post, CJCUC. They both have their own devotions going on and have taken up the challenge to read the Bible completely through. We do lots of Comparative Religion studies as well, because religion is always front and center of why people do what they do and we talk about that daily.

Politcs my kids are pretty steeped in politics in this house-hold, read World Mag and others, and do their fair bit of campaigning and volunteering for political organizations.
Art- Music, Visual and Dance (ballroom, y'all). Gotta have art. They are my kids. We supply materials, room to create, paint, draw, feed-back, books and teachers/courses when we can find quality, skill building programs.
PE-personal work-outs, jaunts and visits to the gym.
Reading. You gotta breathe and read. Have to.

We don't do a lot of extras during the week, nor do we have a lot of distractions. My high schoolers, however, do several camps throughout the year.. It kind of goes along with the idea of "batching."
Batching and yet more Batching

They do TeenPact in the spring, and sometimes TeenPact Alumni events, like Back to DC or Survival in the fall. As a result of this, they often serve or campaign with various groups, like the Family Policy Council and Family Heritage Alliance.

The participate in a One Act Play festival every January, Drama Camp every June and Shakespeare Camp in July. Sometimes they participate in Poetry Outloud. It's a lot of theater, but the real benefit is public performance, memorizing a complete Shakespeare play every year, memorizing tons of great poetry and lots of fun with friends.

Jobs My high schoolers have also held odd jobs- most of them seasonal and ag related, although the ubiquitous barista work has appeared. Having regular work hours during the week tends to disrupt what we are doing, and again, because we live way out, and I work from home, leaving during the day takes up huge chunks of time, or messes up my work life.

So, how do we fit it all in?

Weekly Meeting -Weekly Goal Setting
The Day after CC community day the kids and I sit down with their Challenge guide and calendar and we divey up the week among the remaining 4 days. We add in church and any other activities, like odd jobs, ballroom dancing, etc. Setting goals, even when it is as simple as writing them down in a weekly planner, is one of the best steps I've found to actually accomplishing those goals.

Our Day-to-Day
 We usually knock through Math first and together. We usually do Latin together-ish, because we are often cross-referencing and utilizing each other to get the work done. We are all really enjoying Henle Latin this year. Though it is hard work, it is satisfying work and we are putting together pieces of the puzzle and finding great joy in it.

Other subjects, the kids do on their own. Cub does 90% of his work completely independently, but if we don't map it out on his planner together, he struggles with getting everything done and on -time.
The kids take breaks throughout the day to go outside, or do reading they've decided upon, but generally, during the week we are hitting the academics regularly and decidedly.

Often, the kids are doing some school work on Saturday as well. My kids are not the fastest hard workers, but they are thorough and committed to getting a good job done. Cub, especially, is a deliberate thinker, slow and steady, and accurate. If he doesn't have time to mull through an assignment or project, it really stresses him. This year, with the formal debates, and teams, we've schedule several couple hour times to meet with team mates. He is willing to put the time in on the week-end to get a good job done and be prepared for every community day.

Why Do We Focus So Much on Academics? 
Isn't one of the greatest joys about homeschooling the ability to NOT be tied down to formality, be delight directed, do what we want when we want. Why yes, yes it is. And we have chosen a classical method, pedagogy and curriculum for these specific reasons:

Classical Education teaches you how to think. 
Furthermore, Classical Education teaches you what to do; addressing 2 of the greatest needs in the world and in the church right now.

So, we do a lot of challenging, formal academics. And then my kids have time to do a lot of other things, like read, wander, wonder, create, build, play, work-out, chat with friends, do projects, etc.

Read more on How to Fit it ALL in while educating in the high school years:

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