Homeschooling felt exactly right when I first considered it more than five years ago. At the time, my then nine-year-old son shuffled like a little old man, was not sleeping well, and was exhausted daily. Watching him bloom through homeschooling was like witnessing someone coming back to life. I knew deep in my soul with confidence that this journey was exactly what we needed.
Now, as I stare down the high school years, I find myself struggling with doubt and insecurities. Anxious thoughts about transcripts, AP classes, grades, and getting into the right colleges flood my mind anytime someone breathes the words “high school.” I even consider the lesser things like prom, sports, and homecoming. These are the things I know should not really matter, but somehow they still linger in my mind.
I have learned that the closer you get to the high school years homeschooling becomes even more scrutinized by everyone. Even people who believed in you during the elementary years and thought it was probably a good idea in the middle school season, now question you as if you are attempting cliff diving for the first time. My confidence and my answers have become a bit shaken.
When I picked up The Conversation by Leigh Bortins, her next in the series of books about homeschooling, I felt as though I had been given permission to take a deep breath. This book is the third in the series with The Core, written for the grammar/elementary years, The Question, written for the dialectic/middle school years, and now The Conversation, written for the rhetoric/high school years. Leigh packs The Conversation with excellent practical wisdom. She takes you by the hand with each high school subject and demonstrates the five canons of rhetoric (invention, organization, style, memory, and delivery) with concrete examples.
In her typical “Leigh” way, she reminded me that homeschooling through high school is just “another thing we do together as a family.” With lovely encouragement, she highlights that structuring a school day for high school is too small a goal. She reinforces the powerful touchstones of homeschooling through high school well: parents that educate using authority, confidence, and obedience.
“So how do confident parents develop habits that structure an effective school day? They don’t, it’s too small a goal. Instead, they structure a lifetime of learning, which means some days and some months and some seasons look like school at home, some look like goofing off and some look like suffering. Life is a big bag of learning” (page 21, The Conversation).
Leigh talks about her own family experiences and how her goals for homeschooling have changed. Instead of raising children to get good grades, to get into colleges, to get great jobs and make a lot of money, she discusses how that goal is too small. She says aiming higher to “raise virtuous men and women” is the better, higher calling. I love that. I am grateful for the bigger, Kingdom-style vision that she casts for the heart of homeschooling.
Not only do I love the practical elements of homeschooling through high school, but The Conversation reminded me that I can do this. Like a delicious pot of homemade chicken soup, I found Leigh’s walk through the vision of high school a rich encouragement. I have homeschooled my child this far with God’s help and He will be with me through the high school years. This is not to say that it will be easy, but together we have broken down difficult subjects already. High school is just more of the same.
Leigh shares, “If I want our boys to do hard things, I must do hard things. If I say the world is our classroom, I will get out there and show it to them” (page 14, The Conversation).
During the academic school year, I will be writing about and discussing The Conversation on a monthly basis. Beginning in September 2015, we will be walking through the book chapter by chapter and conversing about what we are learning. I hope you will join in as we dive deeper into what it means to homeschool well during the high school years. I know with God’s help and in community with other loving homeschooling families we can do this high school adventure. Let’s get ready to have some big, juicy conversations as we dive deep into the book together.
Join in the discussion and learning with The Conversation this fall. Here are a few next steps:
- Purchase your copy of The Conversation here.
- To make it even more fun, see if you can recruit a couple of friends who would like to read along with you and discuss the book together. Better yet, create your own Conversation Book Club to discuss ideas and meet on a regular basis.
- Coming this fall, we will be sharing a free downloadable book club guide, monthly articles, and questions for discussion on social media.
- Join the Classical Conversations Facebook page or Google Plus page so you can participate in sharing through social media what you are learning.