High School Year 3

Amazingly these two great kids are juniors this year. I can hardly believe it.

IMG_8796

They have been back to school for a while now as they take classes online at Harari. Harari goes year round with their first quarter having started in June. In addition the twins are running an online book club this year over at SEA. They even made a video introducing the club for anyone who is interested.

Outside of Harari and book club the twins do not have a great deal of down time. When they do have free time they work on their own projects, mostly art, music, and making games. In addition they like to hang with friends (what teens don’t?) and are making plans, lots and lots of plans for their future. Basically they are just being teenagers which is great because honestly teens are so much fun!

Here are their school pictures for the year. They took a great deal of interest in their photos this year as opposed to all the other years we took school photos. The pictures came out great and really captured their personalities.

11872124_10153148374600922_986935062357985214_o

11037352_10153148374595922_1607908985048155916_o

I am looking forward to the future too. I can’t wait to see where it takes these two. At the same time I find myself feeling a little sad at how fast time passes, at how quickly the twins have grown up. It is a cliche but time really does pass by in the blink of the eye. These last two years will be gone before I know it. In the meantime I am going to sit back and enjoy watching these two make their final journey towards adulthood.

The Average Homeschooler

FullSizeRender1

Three average homeschoolers tackling a day of school at home.

I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head lately and I have wanted to post about it for a while now,  though I needed some time to process what I was feeling and what I wanted to say. There is something going on in the homeschool world that is rubbing me the wrong way, and I know I am not the only one struggling with this. The problem is that there no longer seems to be a place in the homeschool community for the average homeschooler. Of course that shouldn’t really matter for we all homeschool alone, but what I am talking about is how homeschoolers portray themselves online.

When I first started homeschooling all those years ago I felt very welcomed and at home in the community. I was a young single mom with very limited funds, and I never felt like I would not be able to do this. Older, experienced moms encouraged me and helped me with homeschooling on a budget. It seemed very doable, and I felt I could meet all of my student’s academic needs very easily at home. If I was starting out today I am not sure I would feel the same.

There is a ton of pressure on all parents today, and this includes homeschooling parents. I believe that social media and the internet are partially to blame, but I also think some of the blame rests squarely on our shoulders. There is this strong drive today to be the best at what you do, to take things to a higher level, to provide your children with the most amazing experiences. It is hard as parents to filter out all of this, and it is hard to not compare ourselves with others. Unfortunately this is what happens, and because the majority of homeschoolers cannot do everything they see online, many are left feeling inadequate or they end up worrying about the fact that they, as parents, are not doing enough for their children.

I know how hard it is to resist these feelings as I have suffered from them too. In addition, I have heard from numerous homeschooling parents who have left various online support groups and in-person groups due to the enormous pressure they feel from the most vocal homeschooling parents. And it does seem that many of these vocal parents are the ones who have the ability to provide their children with wonderful opportunities that many other homeschooling parents cannot.

Of course there is nothing wrong with what these parents do. It is their prerogative to spend their time and money the way they want and to give their child and/or children the education they want. But there needs to be a balance on these forums and in these support groups. Instead of just being a place where a few voices are heard, we need it to be a place where everyone has a voice. Instead of always talking about what our own children are doing, we need to support all the children. I feel a responsibility to the new homeschooling parents, to the struggling homeschooling parents, to the isolated homeschooling parents to show them that it is possible to homeschool successfully with what you have.

I always felt like homeschooling evened the playing field in a way that schools couldn’t. It seemed when I first started that no matter your background, income, or race that you could homeschool your child and succeed. Today it feels like the homeschooling world is starting to pull away from that ideal and becoming more and more competitive. I suppose this was inevitable given the amazing growth that the homeschool world has seen, but I still hate to see it.

Take for example this article that was recently published in Boston Magazine. In it the author asked if homeschooling is “the new model for creating elite kids?” The article discusses one student who homeschooled and was accepted this year into Harvard. This is a great feat, and one that the parents can be proud of, but it also bothered me to no end. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed every homeschooler was sharing the article all over social media (as if to say “look my choice is valid, this kid got into Harvard!”) or maybe it was the fact that this look at homeschooling was a look at how wealthy parents homeschool, or maybe it was the fact that other articles that discuss homeschooling, such as this one, this one, or this one (just to name a few) are not shared or talked about nearly enough.

In hopes to balance out this phenomenon I am calling on all homeschool parents to share more, to support more, to ask questions more, to help more. I know I have sometimes struggled greatly over the years being a single mom on a very limited income with three children who all have some special needs. It has not been easy. I have to think over every decision I make long and hard before I make it due to these reasons. I have also had to make many sacrifices over the years. I would have loved to travel more with my children, I would have loved to have been able to have a tutor or mentor for each of them, I would have loved to have had more opportunities for them, and I would have loved to have had more individual time for them. But that has not always been possible and that is ok.

As my mom says, the children will all grow up. They will all find their way. In the meantime, for this short period that we can call them our own, could we be a little more kind to each other? Could we support each other and try not to be so competitive? Could we take some time each day to be thankful for what we do and have and remember not everyone has the same? Could we pause a moment before we post something online and think is this beneficial to anyone? Could we perhaps humble ourselves for the greater cause?

Creativity Runs Wild

At TAD Town we often take breaks in our homeschool schedule when it is needed. Whether it is for an illness or just a mental break, I try not to stress if our schedule does not match a typical school schedule. After all a flexible schedule is one of the many benefits to homeschooling.

IMG_8212 2

This kid here was in need of a break from academics after a hard year of working. We called it a year in April, and he has been doing his own thing ever since. His days have been consisting of writing, audiobooks, cooking, mini-fig making, drawing, and song writing. Basically he has been using all his free time to be creative.

This is one of his songs that he wrote last month. Somehow the twins and I have gotten it stuck in our head, and we are all walking around the house singing “I Googled it. ” It has been very entertaining to us.

And this is a sped up video of one of his digital art works he did. The boy is starting to become very interested in working on his drawing skills especially on the computer.

Here is another picture he did.

imago

The boy has also discovered the world of custom Lego minifig making. This, along with baking, has been his primary area of pursuit these last 6 weeks. He has been watching how-to videos on the process and then perfecting it on his own. The only thing he needed for this was Sculpey, acrylic paints, different sizes of paint brushes, and toothpicks. The process of him learning how to do this has been very interesting to see. Boiling Sculpey mini-figs in my kitchen was not something I ever envisioned doing, but it has been fun to see the boy work so hard on a project.

IMG_0662

IMG_0689

We have also been baking quite a bit together. I will admit every time he sends me a complex recipe online I am not exactly thrilled about it. I don’t find the joy in baking that he does, but once we start cooking in the kitchen I do find joy in being with him in the moment. Baking brings him so much joy, and it is wonderful to see that.

IMG_0663

Basically he has been having a wonderful mental break these last six weeks or so. We will most likely start up with academics again sometime in June. I know when we get back to it he will be ready for our routine and excited to be back in the swing of things. But in the meantime the boy is also enjoying his free time, time where he can follow his passions and work on all things creative.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

222776_10150163183430922_7155732_n

It’s that time of year when the school year is ending, and the kid’s birthdays are coming near. The time of year when I get all philosophical and introspective.

1934990_136619135921_3881645_n

I start looking at photos and reminiscing about the old days. The days that seem so fleeting, years that went by all too quick.

184832_10150090570775922_2726208_n

1934990_136619330921_604455_n

Like all parents, I ask myself how did this happen? How is it possible that I now have a house full of teens? How is it possible that they all look so old?

IMG_8089

IMG_8039

10978620_10152695222605922_245732217781750756_n

At the same time though I am looking forward. Looking to the future and all that it will bring. Kids in college, kids moving out of the home, more time for myself, maybe even a second career? And it is exciting to think about these things that will come and about all the memories we have yet to make.

IMG_0282

So I am allowing myself a few days of reflection which I often take at this time of year. A few days to be sad about time slipping by so fast and excited about time that has yet to come. I sit here and look forward while also looking back. It’s not a bad place to be.