I mentioned in my Small Success Post that we had made a huge decision in our homeschooling. I didn’t want to make that post very long, so I thought I’d take time to talk about what we decided in a new post.
Ever since my daughter’s ADD got to be too much for her and we made the decision to use medication to help her focus, high school has been one long catching-up activity. While I’ve always known she had it, she wasn’t officially diagnosed until halfway through the summer between ninth and tenth grades (when we were still trying to work on ninth grade work), and she didn’t start taking anything until nearly July. In late August, we started a new school year – or at least we thought we did. What we actually did was finish ninth grade work while starting some tenth grade work. Tenth grade wasn’t done by the next summer, and we spent all of last summer working on that, which still wasn’t done by the time our co-op started back up again this past fall. So my daughter has spent the past eight months trying to finish tenth grade while working on some courses at co-op for twelfth grade, as well as working on a couple of eleventh grade things. As her tenth grade courses were finished, we just started in on the corresponding eleventh grade courses.
All of this for a girl who has been working a grade ahead, anyway. Oh, yes. Didn’t I mention that her birthday is mid-October and she is only supposed to be finishing tenth grade at this point? Yeah, there’s that, too.
So as we have been getting closer to the end of the year, I finally offered a solution to the never-ending stress that homeschooling has become in our home:
Let’s take that extra year now. Let’s take the summer off and finish eleventh grade during the next school year instead of trying to push through to graduate next May. Let’s stop beating ourselves up over all the things we aren’t doing and aren’t getting done. Let’s stop killing ourselves all summer and feeling guilty for taking a day to go to the pool or taking a week to go on vacation without the books. Let’s step back, get past our pride, and take another year, which we desperately need if we are going to stay sane.
She resisted it at first, partly because if she graduated next year, she’d graduate with two friends. Part of it was also because she took pride in the fact that she was a year ahead of everyone else her age. She loved being able to say that she was ahead.
But the fact is that we weren’t really ahead any more. That first year of high school — the year without medication for her ADD — put us back a LOT. If we finished, it would be by a hair, and I think we’d be miserable if we tried it. I was willing to make it work for her if she really wanted me to. And that was her answer at first: I want to push through.
Then I told her she had a month to reconsider it. I started gearing up for a summer of full-time work, between theater camp, family vacations, and a Steubenville Youth Conference. I got advice from another mom at our co-op, and we started planning. I felt like I might be able to make it work.
Then I got a text message from her the other night: “I’m gonna to take the extra year.”
She was standing next to me when I saw it and picked it up. Nathan laughed and said, “Is there a reason you are texting this instead of talking to your mother?”
“I didn’t know how to say it out loud. I didn’t want to sound weird.”
She’d spent the day looking at her course load: Algebra, American History, American Literature, English, Religion 12, Religion 11 (we were double-dipping), Spanish, Driver’s Ed, and Logic (a half-year course that we’d barely touched yet.) She’d be done with Religion 12 soon, and we could finish Religion 11 later. Driver’s Ed is self-guided, and she can finish that in the next few weeks. She’s halfway finished with American History, mainly because she’s read the book before. But still. Look at that: it’s nine courses!
So the decision has been made. We’re going to work on finishing Algebra over the summer, she’ll work on Spanish over the summer, too. And that’s about it. We’ll stop work at the end of May and we’ll pick things up again in September. She won’t graduate with her friends, but she will graduate a little bit saner. It’s like a weight off my back, honestly. It took me a while to come to terms with it, myself, and I admire my daughter for doing that faster than I did.
Part of what makes homeschooling so good is that it helps match my children’s education with what they need, when they need it. They can work on their own levels on each subject. I can tailor their education to meet their needs. What we needed when my older daughter was reading and writing at 4 1/2 was to start school. And what we need now is another year.
And that’s okay.