This school year homeschooling has looked DRASTICALLY different for our family. I am only teaching one child now and he's in HIGH SCHOOL. That means I only have 3 years left!!! 3 years to make our homeschool fun and full of learning for our youngest child!
This is so strange to consider after having four children in our homeschool for so many years. My oldest was in Kindergarten 20 years ago!!! And now two of our older children are in college and one has graduated from college, is married and gainfully employed. The years fly by!
My youngest is almost finished with his first year of high school. In a way, it is sad because it is an ending for me. But in other very important ways, it is just the beginning for him.
Special in the middle of ordinary
It is SO easy to let the days go by without making them special because there is only one child in our homeschool. I want to make the next four years as special for my youngest child as it was for my older three. It will not be the same because I won’t be including multiple kids any lessons or activities but it can still be AWESOME for him!
I've had to make the conscious decision to NOT coast these last four years. I need to put effort into tailoring the lessons to be exactly what my son needs. Lately, I’ve been brainstorming new ways that I can put a little extra in my planning so that it is fun, exciting and special for this last child who will go through our homeschool.
3 ways to make homeschool lessons special for the youngest
1. Shake it up and do things differently
In the past, we’ve had routines that included quiet time, group studying, structured and unstructured learning and weekly lessons outside the home. This year has felt so different with lessons just for one. My youngest is a very independent learner but change things up we have chosen to work a few modules in Biology together because the information wasn't sticking. That auditory interaction made a HUGE difference because his learning style leans that way.
It would be easy to be sad about all the changes in our routine but we are going to embrace it and use the time to do things that we’ve never done before (or not done often enough). My son has an interest in computer programming so we are investigating an online class for him since I have little knowledge in that area. Thankfully his brother who has his computer engineering degree can help us with that one!
This does several things.
-provides individualized learning in an area of interest
-provides interaction with a different teacher than “mom” which is a great thing to start doing in high school!
-provides “real” life learning as computers are everywhere
We are taking a field trip today to a homeschool curriculum fair so that we can look at some new ideas. It's a fun thing to do with older children. By involving them in the decision-making process as you look ahead to the next year it allows you to hear their thoughts. Sometimes it can get them on board with a subject that they might not be thrilled about.
2. Work together as a family to pick "field trips"
As my kids have gotten older we just haven’t done as many field trips. In high school, there is more book learning that is required and it is easy to skip the days where we go places away from home to learn. Plus a trip to the post office or pumpkin farm just doesn't hold the same appeal to a teen as it did a six-year-old. We need to do some trips that are more real life lessons for my teen. It is important to expose kids to what life involves when they are out on their own.
We had a discussion with our older kids to find out what they thought we should have done before they were out on their own and then talked with the youngest about what he wanted to learn this year.
Here's the list so far
- Bank--to set up an account
- Library--to do research on a paper. We might go to a local college or another town so it's not our familiar local library
- Mechanics--to get repairs done. Interacting with others about problems is a skill to have
- Others? What are your suggestions?
I’m also going to make sure that we include some fun trips to the ice cream store after normal errands or lessons. That always makes everyone happy!
3. Coop Time with other students
With no siblings home all day we need to plan social time. We meet with friends every week for Ultimate Frisbee (doubles as PE!) and Trail Life meetings. For biology, we have dissections to do so we will invite a few friends to come “enjoy” that experience with my son. Hubby has expertise in that area and does a great job teaching and keeping the chaos of the slicing and dicing of the deceased animal focused on learning. Biology daddy style is one of our kid's favorite things about high school.
We know that in high school our children is to experience instruction from "other" teachers each year. Before high school, we don't really do classes away from home except for piano lessons. To help the transition from home to college or working outside the home, we see some very positive benefits to taking classes from other “experts.” It also provides some social time with other students which our children all love!
I'm sure there are many other awesome ways to keep school "fun" and interesting when there is just one child at home. What are some of your ideas? I would love to hear what other creative methods you have used to make the youngest child in a homeschool have a special high school experience.