Here on the blog, I love to share, not only our family’s life homeschooling, but “our life” collectively as homeschoolers. That is why I regularly post interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you! I hope you will be encouraged by reading How We Homeschool High School: Interview With Annie.
Hi, my name is Annie. My best friend, Jeff, has been the love of my life for over 20 amazing years. With 3 girls and two boys (ages 12-19), we have enjoyed all kinds of family homeschooling adventures, fails, and triumphs. We raised our family while working overseas until the infamous year of 2020. Without many options for English speaking schools in the country we lived in, we determined that the homeschooling journey would be whatever we make it. What a joy it has been to teach our own children! We have relished the discoveries made together in times of travel and also while cozy at home.
First Graduate This Year
Being 16 when we came back to the United States permanently, our oldest daughter admits that the High School years for her and her sisters (15 and 13 at the time), were especially “interesting” to say the least. Last spring, the faces of the entire family beamed with pride as we celebrated with her during her graduation ceremony.
My heart burst with gratitude and awe, considering all that God had done over the last 18 years. He gave us what we needed to help her reach what seemed like an impossible milestone. This once struggling eight-year old’s honest and hard to hear words of, “I hate reading and I don’t want to learn!!” slowly yet drastically changed somewhere along the way. As we learn more from our mistakes than our seemingly brilliant ideas, we have watched God be our true rock and source of wisdom in bringing up each of our kids.
We are still in the thick of learning new lessons with our next two High School girls, a junior and sophomore this school year. We have transitioned from exclusively homeschooling to adding in some online classes and a few courses available at our local homeschool Co Op.
How did you prepare for the high school years?
Being intentional has not been my favorite thing to do. Since the little years, it has meant setting a few days aside of our precious summer break to plan the next school year (this does not count finding and buying the books, ha!), meeting with Jeff to go over my scribbly papers and “fun” ideas together, and getting serious about goals. We wanted to take aim at each child’s school needs as well as their character.
We did this yearly when the kids were growing up, sometimes also during Christmas break if we felt changes were necessary (usually in the area of character building). Besides that, it was very helpful to start planning for the four years of High School around 5th or 6th grade, at least very tentatively.
We had to ask questions like,
“Is ________ great at math?
“Does the pace need to pick up a bit if he loves _________so much and wants to take those classes soon that will enable him to be the______ that he says he wants to be?!”
This exact situation came up with our son. At the end of 6th grade, he realized that, in order to be an amazing Master Builder at Legoland, he would need to finish two math courses in 7th grade instead of one to move on towards harder courses before college.
He may not end up choosing that career, but saying, “Yes! Way to think ahead. Let’s go for it!” and,” How can we break it down over the weeks?” showed him that his interests are valid and his hard work will not be wasted.
From the earliest ages, loving learning, living in wonder about the world around us, and being exceptional at reading have turned out to be some of the best foundational tools that our children needed to build towards becoming independent learners. The High School years have been surprisingly less involved for me as a teacher as my girl’s courses have become more independently planned and conquered. Their interests and our intentional goals have driven them along for the most part.
What are some ways that you tried to keep a big picture focus?
School is just one facet of life. It’s only part of the road that we are on. Again, being intentional as far as character goes had to start with our own personal convictions and move to a real calendar event as a couple. Mapping out to allow God to spark change in our kid’s hearts has been something we wanted to focus on.
Living in locations overseas where we daily experienced how poverty was indescribably the reality for most people around us and corruption was expected, we wanted our children to learn compassion and integrity, among other things. We prayed for our neighbors by name in our morning Bible times together and still do. Asking God, “What do you want today?” is much easier said than done.
Having a set schedule is key, yet keeping a schedule with prayerfully open hands to interruptions is where I have struggled and grown the most. God has been good to help us have wisdom to choose which friendships, outreach, and service projects to do together as He leads.
Incomparably deep are the lessons we have learned in choosing to be uncomfortable sometimes for the sake of the gospel and asking God for help in loving others beyond feeling like it. How faithful God has been to help us “catch up” with the schedules as we trust Him. As situations come, our responses in front of our kids, we pray, will be ones of faith in Him alone. We pray that he will soften our children’s hearts to serve and glorify him with their lives.
In what ways have the relationships changed with your high schoolers?
Our boys are not in this stage quite yet, but with three girls close together in age, I am convinced that hormones are real. Ugly crying is inevitable and late-night talks sometimes come on Tuesdays at 11. I remember the woes of being 15 years old and it gives me compassion for these humans that have a lot going on inside and out. Playing the vital parent roles when they were little, our jobs have gradually started to morph somewhat into friend/parent-coaches as they walk (sometimes trudge) along on through the High School years. Lessons learned when I stayed out of the way (even though I really wanted to nag my child about it) are rough, but almost always end up better in the long run.
Being able to talk together is a gift to protect. This has taken some maintenance over time to get down to what is on their hearts. Be interested in their interests. Help them deal with each other in healthy ways. This means that we try to spend time with each child often, having conversations while looking into their eyes, with our phones put away. As they ready themselves for the wide world after High School, we long to be part of their lives in a big way.
What about the technical stuff?
All families have different objectives and different methods to reach them. But what is it that shapes our own life values? What drives our decisions? How does that translate into what we hope for our kids as they reach adulthood and raise their own families? Over the years, we were convicted to keep asking ourselves, “Is this coming from hearts that are focused on God or focused on ourselves?”
To be sure, the goals that we have as parents are sometimes vastly different than those of our kids. Though our hearts have grown in this during these High School years, we sought to keep asking them the most important questions.
“What ways can God direct your life right now?”
“What are some ways God has gifted you?”
Then we followed by asking,
“Do you have hopes to go to college?”
“What about taking dual credits?”
“Are you interested in going to technical school?”
“Do you have time to get a job during High School?”
We initially did this by printing out a paper to map out a four-year plan in 8th grade with each child. Using pencil to write in ideas, explain credits, and talk about our state regulations for High School, we tried to keep a balance between the interests of the child and the reality of course requirements as we solidly sketched out 9th grade. The planning sheet for 12th grade remained fairly empty at first but our messy questions marks and switched plans were eventually all filled out by 11th grade.
These yearly planning sessions became a trio of discussion and encouragement. Setting those end goals together, then counting back to our child’s current grade, has helped us to see the reality of what we are spending time on right now. Some kids get a little squirrelly talking about this so far in advance. It is not easy to talk about futures when teenagers feel they barely know themselves yet, but if college is in their sights, then looking at the requirements together is a must. Invaluable and wise, older homeschool moms and dads are resources that have much to glean from over coffee or a family meal.
Homeschooling High School
The High School homeschool experience will look different for everyone, but it is certainly not as grueling as we always imagined. The profits of learning even more together, being proactive in planning, discipling through the ups and downs, and helping our children reach the goals that we set together have been abundant and life-changing for all of us.
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Annie’s Favorite Books
Managers of Their Homes by Steve and Teri Maxwell
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jancovic
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell
Third Culture Kids: A Gift to Care For by Ulrika Ernvik
You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy
The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise
Annie’s Favorite Curriculum Websites
All About Learning– All About Reading and All About Spelling
Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa
Fix It! Grammar by Andrew Pudewa
The Potter’s School– Online courses for homeschoolers
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Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!