Violet turns 12 soon, which means she and I both have access to the world of teens. (I recognize that 12 is not a teen year, but for whatever reason a lot of homeschool teen opportunities start at 12.) Because she is pretty fully into high school level work, that “teen years” stuff means my conscience is poking and prodding me with thoughts of transcripts, college admissions, AP scores, and all the rest.
So I’ve begun to dig into that world. I’m on a homeschool-to-college e-mail list, I’ve attended a session on dual enrollment classes (college classes that can be taken for both college and high school credit), I’ve looked at the content of AP exams, and I’ve started to consider what exactly “must” be done to get a Minnesota diploma.
I have not enjoyed it, but it took me a while to figure out why. As I mulled it over, I realized that academically there was not a lot to worry about. She likes academic subjects, and our biggest problem is choosing a curriculum (from multiple options), or choosing to use no curriculum. So many interesting paths to follow!
Something clicked as I was reading a book about AP prep for U.S. History, with its long lists of names and dates and places that I had no memory of and no particular need to know: this is not why we homeschool.
I don’t mean that we’ll never study U.S. History again, or even that we won’t look at what AP exams might fit each girl’s areas of greatest interest, just to provide that documentation that smoothes the path to post-homeschool opportunities.
What I mean is that we do not homeschool to replicate school at home, and the longer we homeschool, the more important and obvious that becomes. We homeschool for other reasons:
1. To enjoy each other’s company.
2. To allow each of us — yes, even parents sometimes! — to explore interests and passions that school did not leave time for.
3. To preserve our individuality — yes, even the parents sometimes! No, I don’t believe the necessary end result of a traditional brick-and-mortar school education is identical drones, but I have experienced for myself a wider variety of life possibilities since entering the homeschool community. Sometimes that challenges me, and I like it. (Sidenote: that’s going to be my only “I am not trying to draw unflattering comparisons with families who choose to school traditionally” moment — from now on, you’ll just have to assume that. If reading pro-homeschool things pushes your buttons, you don’t have to read. It won’t offend me.)
4. To follow the ebbs and flows of our interests and energies. Yes, part of our daily life is doing stuff we don’t want to do when we don’t want to do it, and that is a skill and habit worth developing. As an adult, however, I have been surprised by how often people express a belief that adulthood consists of just that, and only that. No! Responsibility isn’t just doing things you don’t want to do. A more adult version of responsibility is taking responsibility for making a life in which you can do things you want to do, rather than blaming the system, or the man, or your parents, or “life” for stopping you.
5. To enjoy each other’s company.
We are snowed in today — someone forgot to tell the sky that spring has arrived — and still Victoria, closing in on 8, is making bunny ears for everything with a head. I have some on my desk, and I have found several perched on dolls. (Only 1 month til Easter!) Violet is wearing hers while she chats with friends from her cancelled co-op classes online. I enjoy that very much, and I especially enjoy hearing my husband laugh to himself after she has dropped off another pair of ears in his office.
It is a slower-paced, joyful — maddening, questioning — way to live, and I am not ready to give it up, especially not at this amazing, joyful, maddening, questioning adolescent time of life. I’m putting my bunny ears back on and sticking to the rabbit trails.