Apr 6, 2011

Looking ahead to High School - Part 1

KM is finishing up the tail end of her 8th grade year and I have been thinking a lot about "high school" lately. So many families are putting such a huge emphasis on buckling down and hitting the books through these years, but I am just feeling that is not the route we want to take.

For those of you who know me, I am a researcher. Put a topic on the horizon and I am going to find out everything there is to know about it. I am going to dissect it and view it from every angle. That is just me and the high school topic is no different. I have spent hours upon hours listening to podcasts and webinars and reading book after book about how to homeschool through high school, but as with everything else in our life there is nothing that feels as though it is just going to FIT for us. I don't want to do "school" just because my daughter is at the age she would be entering "high school."

I want the upcoming years to be filled with the same type of delight driven learning and fun activities that they have been. I want to keep her engaged and interested in the topics that we cover and not just cover things because "that is what you do in high school." I want her to still have time to spend with friends, go to the movies, play piano, draw, play video games, and whatever else she wants to do and still learn in a way that she finds intriguing.

I have heard over and over again about all the things that kids NEED to get into a good college, well I am not 100% sure that she wants to go to college. I am not willing to force her into a box set of guidelines in hopes that she will get to where she needs to be, when she can just be now and we can work on a way to get her into college if that is what she wants to do when the time comes.

Another thing that we have been thinking about when it comes to high school and college is her age. When KM started kindergarten we lived in a district that had a cut-off date of Sept. 30th, but our current district's cut-off is Aug 31st, so according to our district she is ahead a year - in all actuality she is all over the place on several different levels, but I don't need to go into that right now. Anyway, when looking at it this way and taking her personality into account we have seriously been thinking about stretching her high school out over 5 years rather than 4. This would allow her to be an older 18 rather than a much younger 17 if she decides to attend college at that age. It would also allow a much more relaxed timeline and more time for her to discover and work on her own passions or to get a job if she wants without the added pressure of heavy academics.

When I mention to people I am thinking of going this route I am often confronted with some rather odd looks and astonished remarks of "what do you mean IF she goes to college?" So many other families with middle schoolers are buckling down and hitting the books as if that is the only option in life. There are so many career paths that do not begin with college, but begin with learning what you are interested in, what you are passionate about, what brings you happiness. I know far too many twenty-something graduates who are doing NOTHING that has to with what they went to school for. They are so far in debt and have no direction in their life because they were hustled through the system and led down the path without having any idea what THEY actually WANTED. They were just told go to college, get a degree and all will be well, but that is not quite so in our world today. More and more companies would rather employees have life experience than college degrees.

I also know many thirty-something career driven people who HATE their jobs. They have degrees and work in the fields that they went to college for, but they hate it! They go to work because they have become accustom to the life that their path has allowed them to have, but they are miserable. I would really like KM to be happy in whatever it is that she chooses to do. I would much rather that she learn about a wide variety of things as they come up in hopes that something will spark an interest enough that she may want to find a career in it, but I would also like her to know enough about other things that if she finds that she isn't happy in the choice that she made that she can switch things up and try something else.

Maybe I am being naive or too wishful, but I really think this is the route we are going to take - five years of relaxed delight directed academics.

I would love to hear others comments or thought on this, so please feel free to share. 
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