I thought it was time that I shared a little about our family’s goals regarding high school transcripts, SAT preparation, and college goals. These are probably my most frequently asked about high school homeschool topics here at the Harmony Art Mom blog (a close second are questions about Tapestry of Grace).
First of all, please know that I am talking from my heart and not from an “expert” point of view. This is not a post about the nitty-gritty of making a transcript or how to get your child into a university. There is no magic Harmony Art Mom formula for any of those things and if you read my blog with any frequency you can tell that our family’s goal is not so much the narrow road to the SAT and then off to college. We prefer to wander a bit and to spend time together exploring fields of interest as they arise. We do not have tunnel vision to the SAT and not everything we do will end up on a high school transcript.
We have always taken a balanced view of the SAT (or you can insert ACT or AP tests). It is in the long-range plan to have each of the children take the SAT. Part of what my husband and I decided long ago was to allow our homeschooling to prepare our children for whatever opportunities came along as they grew and developed personal interests. The SAT is a tool that some institutions look to as a measure of academic achievement. Were we going to only shoot for the SAT? No. Our aim was to have them take the SAT as a way to practice taking a formal test, be aware of what other students were learning, and perhaps gain some scholarship money for college courses if that was the road they chose.
I would rather stress a wide variety of reading in the first three years of high school, lots of writing of all sorts, and allow time and space for my boys to make connections with the thoughts and ideas that come up in their studies. The academics were kept mostly to the morning hours and that left afternoons free to develop other interests like art skills, robotics, building models and then flying them, auto shop, and volunteer work. I don’t just teach to a test but try to offer a balance of opportunities for learning.
My best advice to anyone is to pick a system that works for you to record your schoolwork as well as other activities and then be faithful about using it as you go along. The extra activities can many times be worked into a more complete transcript course that will include not only academics but areas of interest that your children have been involved with over the course of your high school years. This will also keep you alert to areas that you may want to include in your homeschool plans. Examples of this in our home are my son’s interest in aviation and working in the shop. My other son has developed a love for cooking and writing. These are not always part of their formal schoolwork but they definitely are part of their education. We use Homeschool Tracker and have found it to be a great tool for record-keeping.
Here is my track record.
- My daughter graduated from college. Subsequently, she decided to take a career that does not use her degree in any way but it allows her to work a part time schedule and volunteer part time as well.
- My oldest son’s senior year in high school was a combination of high school and community college courses. He currently has two courses left to finish his degree. He has already been working 2 1/2 years in his field of study and finishing the degree will be a formality….an ending.
- Mr. A may very well end up to be the best read, most artistic welder in the world. He seems to have a natural ability in the machine shop as well and his instructor thinks he may very well have a good position lined up for him when he graduates in June. College may be something that waits. I trust he will make a prayerful decision.
- Mr. B has decided to have a unique 12th grade year which will be interspersed with “gap year” activities. Instead of taking a whole year for the gap activities, we will be working with a modified school schedule. Basically it will be half school and half outside volunteer work, creative time, and job exploring. This will still have him graduating officially from high school at the age of 17. He is still following a somewhat normal sequence of high school study but part of it will be at the community college and we will see what it leads to.
Nothing in this post is too surprising if you are a regular reader of my blog. You can see how our weekly activities support the goals we have set as a family and for our children. We take seriously the role of mentors to our children and as we see their individual personalities, strengths, and interests emerge we try to build on them.
My husband and I have never looked to the age of eighteen as the magic age of maturity for our children. We have continued to parent and encourage our oldest two children into their twenties. They are solid people now and when Amanda moved out to her own home two years ago we knew it was the right time. Our oldest son is getting ready to make the big move too….purchasing his first home….spreading the wings wide and strong.
It really is about preparing them for life and not just the SAT and for college. No weekly wrap-up post this week…we have been on our spring break and next week may very well end up being a light week as well as we take advantage of some special opportunities that have come up.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom