After a lot of discussion, reflection and even amidst continuing doubts, we (Mason, DeAnna and I) have made the decision to give home education a go again for this next year, which would be his Freshman year in traditional high school. When we decided to try home education for the first time last year, we knew a few things: it was going to be for 8th grad (which we all viewed largely as a review year = low risk if we royally screwed things up) and we were only committing to do it for that year before assessing how things went and deciding where to go next.
The assessment took place over several discussions in the last few weeks and we learned a lot that both helped us decide to try again this year (if doctor’s can practice medicine, we can certainly practice home education) as well as shape how we’ll try to do things this year. One exercise that helped us through the discussion was to each spend some time reflecting on what our needs (or desires or values) are out of this next year of home education and also what commitments we were going to make to each other. Here is my list in it’s raw, unedited and slightly duplicitous form:
- I need to know you are making progress
- I need to see you fail and persevere
- I need to know you will do work when we aren’t around
- I need to know you aren’t going to default to “lazy” all the time
- I need to see you find some passions – even if its just for a day…or just a few hours.
- I need to know you are taking steps towards meeting your needs as you get older.
- I need to feel like I am some help to you in your journey
- I need to be able to tell you my ideas and be able to make suggestions without them feeling like demands or expectations
- I need to see you be curious
- I need you to feel like you are free to ask questions
- I need you to feel safe
- I need you to be able to focus
- I need to see you self assess every day and make the next day a little bit better – or at least try something else if today didn’t work
- I need you to have great experiences
- I need to know how you are feeling – I need feedback
- I need you to identify and follow your interests, not forever, but until your natural curiosity on that topic has been satisfied
- I need to see some tangible results – that can be just good questions or sharing with us for 5 minutes what you are working on / thinking about.
- I need to know you have a plan – even if it changes every day (or hour).
- I need you to still be interested in something by the time we get the materials or trip in place for you to investigate it.
- I need you to learn to ask good questions
- I need you to know you can ask us / tell us anything
- I need you to be patient with us and give us a few minutes to switch gears when you want to share, discuss or question
- I need to see you “wanting to learn” = not sticking to a fixed schedule for a day/week/year, but learning becoming a habit that you enjoy.
- I commit to keep the lines of communication open
- I commit to understand your needs and do all that I can to meet them
- I commit to work out which of the needs I have identified are something I just need to deal with myself and not impose on anyone else
- I commit to get you the resources you need in a timely fashion
- I commit to be available to you – to plan, discuss, share, question
- I commit to give you regular, constructive feedback
- I commit to listen to you and question when I don’t understand
- I commit to use what I know about learning to help you, not necessarily always try to tech you what I know.
To be clear, not all of these needs are something that I expect Mason to meet – not because he can’t, but because they really aren’t his responsibility. Some of them are just things I am going to have to deal with. Sorting out which is which is my work for the next few weeks before we start again. Mason’s work is developing the list of topics (trying to avoid “subjects”) that he is passionate about. One small win already on that front is he found a musical theater group that meets once a week at NKU. He starts in September and will be part of a production of Annie, Jr. in May of 2016. It’s going to be an adventure!