We talked about it for years—the move, I mean. Then, when it seemed it would never happen, and we would never be able to make the state of Texas our home, it did. My husband looked at me one day, after yet another frustrating day of trying to keep afloat in a state that no longer felt like home, and said, “Let’s go.” He likes to say that, within five minutes of the decision, I was packing boxes. He is wrong, of course, I had already started packing some of the things I knew we would want, but did not need out all the time. I had started a year or two prior, in fact; but whatever, he will hear about that little detail when he reads this.
The plan was for us all to go together. Then, as all plans do, that changed too. It became the boys, cat and I would go first, secure a new home and begin to settle in while he finished things up in California. It was stressful, hurried, and we made decisions under fire that would have been different, had we just a little more time.
That said, I love our new home in Fort Worth, and I am at peace with the things we left behind, even if some of those things make me a sad to think about, they are still just things; after all, we still have a chance at a fresh start.
A homeschool journey is much the same. We can be excited, look forward to it, and be happy about the whole thing—but sometimes have moments where, if we had had more time to make the transition, or planned for a known change more thoroughly, it would have gone more smoothly.
Some parents take their kids out of school in a rush, due to safety or other concerns. Others, like us, waited until the end of the school year to withdraw. This would have been their 8th grade year in school, had we left them to stagnate in the system that was already failing them in first grade. The system was failing them in ways we wouldn’t understand until we were all free of those chains. We are in our sixth year as homeschoolers, and I would not trade it for anything.
I know that everything will work out, the boys will grow up and into their roles as young men. They are smart, creative, and willing to do what it takes to become their best selves. That said, the transition from public school to homeschool wasn’t always easy; and now that high school is staring us squarely in the face, I am getting a bit nervous.
Change is hard
No matter how much we love our new neighborhood, we must still mourn the loss of things and people we left behind. Through this, we have all learned that no matter how much we want or need to do a thing, there are still a variety of feelings through which to sort. It’s a complex cocktail of emotions that sometimes leaves you wondering if you’ll ever find a new “normal.”
In much the same way, different stages of homeschooling require conscious change. Most of time we transition seamlessly, as we are simply growing with our kids and learning new things; in essence putting one foot in front of the other. Other stages though, like the one that begins around middle school and extends into high school, need more focus and attention.
As kids enter puberty, they begin to come into their own; and aside from some of the behavior and attitudes we sometimes see, they also start looking towards the future in more substantial ways. They start to dream, to wonder what it will be like to be out on their own, and want to earn their own way. This natural desire to grow up is a great way to enlist their ideas (if you haven’t already) on what they want their education to look like. You have probably already found great ways to include their interests in their learning, now is the time to start focusing those interests into areas that can become a career path. There are many opportunities for businesses and careers that aren’t part of the traditional 9-5, if you look. This is especially true now, with the vast array of technology and information at our disposal.
Perhaps, instead of business or entrepreneurial pursuits, your kids are more interested in skilled trades. These fields are in constant need of hard-working people. The last several decades of pushing for college has left them without good men and women to fill their ranks. Remember that not everyone wants or needs to go to college; it should be a choice, not a requirement. Mike Rowe, of the show Dirty Jobs, and now Returning the Favor, has a foundation for young people to get a great chance at a skilled trade that doesn’t require a four-year degree—one that often earns more than those new college grads will bring home. If your kids are remotely interested in these fields, check it out with them. You’ll find it at mikerowe.com
With information literally at your fingertips, there is no excuse to not get moving. This fact makes the transition from adolescence to adulthood both easier, and more difficult. Having a wide variety of options is sometimes overwhelming, especially for kids who have more ideas than time.
Have a conversation with your kids—in fact, have many conversations! Talk about what it was like for you growing up, and how you made decisions on your future. Discuss the options available, and help them start planning what it takes to get where they want to go. Ask your kids what they think about their present and future; also how technology, social media and the internet have affected their decision-making process. Teach your kids to actively seek out opportunities for volunteering and work in areas of interest; and most importantly, show them that growth and learning are things you experience throughout your life, not something you do just until you are “all grown up.
The only constant is change
Our transition to a new home was, to say the least, an adventure. It was full of stress, worry, surprise, and change. One day we had started packing, and had a couple of months to get it all done—the next day we discovered that things were changing faster than we wanted and we had to adapt. The drive across country saw the boys, cat, and I driving through Arizona in some of the heaviest rain I had seen in a long time; and then stuck in Tucson, Arizona for half of a Sunday while I dried out the cylinders in the engine. All while my poor husband was still at our old home, cleaning finishing the clean out, making some of the hardest decisions alone, and beside himself with worry because he could not be there for us. Regardless, we all grew during that time, and in hindsight, everything worked out exactly as it needed to; even though I did sometimes wonder how, or even if, it would all work out.
If I can impart one idea beyond academics, morals and a solid work ethic, it would be that living means change. We have two basic choices on how to respond to change; we can accept and embrace it in order to change with wisdom, or fight it and let the inevitable change take us on a wild ride. How do you respond to change? How do you want your kids to respond? Answer those questions, and you will be well on your way to preparing your kids for their own journey.
Learning Tangent is Gail’s brainchild. When it all goes down, she has to get the magazine out the door and on its way to subscribers. She has four kids, of whom she and her husband David homeschool two. She enjoys a wide range of activities including weaving, photography, writing, is a musician (both a teacher & performer), calligrapher, and is an avid sci-fi- & fantasy reader. You’ll generally find her busy doing whatever it is she wants to on a given day.