Have you ever wondered why there are so few blogs about homeschooling older children? I used to. Then my kids became tweens.
We’re still unschoolers, but the hands-on activities that used to make up our day are gradually being replaced by independent projects, reading and outside classes. And photos of tweens reading, watching YouTube or even quietly crafting aren’t quite the same as cute pics of little ones doing colourful science experiments and messy art projects.
Our homeschooling is just as much fun, but these days the enjoyment lies more in the conversations we have, the puzzles we ponder and the jokes we share.
Looking back over the first six years of homeschooling
Back in the anxious, early days when we started homeschooling I used to wonder how I’d cope with the pressure when my kids reached senior-school age (11, here in the UK). But now with one child near the end of her first senior-school year and the other just turned 11, I feel calmer and more confident than ever.
One of the reasons I feel so relaxed is that having spent the last six years alongside my children, I know them pretty well. I know how they learn, what interests them, what their quirks are and what inspires them. Of course Cordie and Jasper are still changing – now more than ever, perhaps – but thanks to our time together I have a much better understanding of who they are and how I can support them.
Time’s also given me perspective. Over each year that I’ve watched these two young people blossom, my faith in unschooling and in their ability to learn what they need grows stronger.
As homeschoolers we’ve always forged our own path. Whenever I’ve had a wobble and tried to steer us in a more schooly direction, my kids have made it clear they were having none of it. Like when they refused to follow any maths curriculum – which led us down the living maths route, something I’m truly appreciative of (at least in hindsight!).
Looking ahead to the teen years
Now we’re looking ahead to the teen years and exams, I’m so thankful for how we’ve done things.
All those ‘random’ science experiments really did both spark an interest in science and give my kids a solid grounding in chemistry and physics.
Living maths prepared them better than I could even have imagined for taking on trigonometry, algebra and geometry.
The poetry teatimes, read-alouds and audiobooks nurtured a deep love of literature.
And I recently realised that the reason it’s taken us five years to read three volumes of The Story of the World is because these days I can barely read a sentence without stimulating an intense debate about how such-and-such leader is repeating the mistakes of so-and-so who came before him, or how the Napoleonic Empire relates to the UK’s forthcoming referendum on whether to stay in Europe!
Last year was a huge turning point for me. I discovered that my son is twice-exceptional and that both my kids and I have the innate personality traits known as overexcitabilities, which explains why we’ve always found ourselves at the fringes of homeschooling communities. After years of feeling isolated I found my tribe and launched a new blog to help others find theirs, too.
Now, equipped with even better information about who my children are and how I can support their learning, I’m looking forward to the next stage of our us-schooling adventure.
What’s next on Navigating By Joy
Launching Laugh, Love, Learn has taken most of my blogging energy so far this year, but now it’s up and running I’d like to check back in here more regularly.
I’m so appreciative of the bloggers who continue to write about their teens’ learning. I may not be as creative and organised as my friends Sue and Claire but if I can even inspire one person to trust their instincts and keep on home-educating their kids in the way that feels right to them, it will be worth it!
Here are a few ideas for what I could write about:
- How living maths has worked out for us
- How Jasper (11) has taught himself to read, write and spell
- Cordie’s (12) passion for linguistics
- How Jasper’s learning chemistry
- How we’ve been learning foreign languages
- Our unschooling routine
- What each of my children is learning about
- My kids’ goals and dreams