“Hard work and perseverance remain the answers. In college prep, as in everything else, those who prepare far in advance and work like they are running a marathon are the ones who succeed. The college admissions process is just another thing to learn and do as a family” (Leigh Bortins, The Conversation, 211).
I recently attended my niece’s graduation from the Naval Academy. The weekend had to be the mother of all graduation ceremonies with the Blue Angels squadrons flying over, twenty-one cannon salutes, highly decorated speakers, and enough military officials to launch several fleets—literally.
All weekend long, the running joke among my family members was what my son’s homeschool graduation would be like. They asked many questions like: would the dog be named valedictorian? would my son graduate first in his class of one? do homeschoolers even have graduations? I dearly love my family and all joking aside, I get it. Deep in the caverns of my heart I have wondered if I am doing all I can to prepare him for how and where God calls him. If he wanted to, could he attend an elite school like the Naval Academy?
Short answer: Absolutely yes.
Long answer: I believe that God has called my son to be part of new generation of thinkers that will change the world in which we live. Yes, we as a family, have to work hard. But I also have to believe that we serve a God who is big enough to equip my son by perfect design. I know God will be at work in my son’s life whether he wants to attend a community college, the Naval Academy, Harvard, or a technical school. God’s got this and I trust Him. If I believe the Bible is true—and I do—then I have to trust that God can guide us through what we need for high school.
For the past academic year, we have been walking through Leigh Bortins’ book, The Conversation. We have been reviewing each subject in high school and how the subjects are connected with rich discussions as our platform. We have been using the five canons of rhetoric as our starting point and working through each subject for high school studies. If you would like to learn more about the five canons, read one of the earlier articles from The Conversation series called “Drawing Out the Wonder” here. The Conversation articles from the past year have been archived for future reading too.
In Chapter 12 and the epilogue of The Conversation, Mrs. Bortins reviews final thoughts in “A Graduation Conversation.” She explains how many parents become overwhelmed in preparing their student for college and beyond, but reassures that it’s just another thing to learn as a family.
“The final years of high school do require a lot of work on the part of both the student and the parent. This is true whether students are at home or in a public or private school,” Mrs. Bortins said. “Too often, parents think a dedicated person at the school will help their children navigate standardized testing, financial aid forms, and college admissions essays. However, committed parents and students do this work at home no matter where the students spend their school days” (210).
10 Great Takeaways from The Conversation
Now that we are wrapping up our walk through the book, I wanted to take a moment to share a few of my favorite insights from the past year.
- Don’t miss out on great conversations with your student—they are some of the very best parts of homeschooling.
- The five canons of rhetoric are an amazing tool to be able to work through any subject (and probably how you are already working in your homeschool whether you realize it or not).
- Don’t be afraid of difficult subjects! They are an incredible opportunity for you to partner with your student in doing difficult things.
- Not knowing an answer can be the start of an incredible learning adventure.
- When working through difficult subjects, be willing learners and ready to ask a lot of questions, together.
- The very heart of homeschooling through high school well is cultivating strong daily habits, nurturing a relationship of mutual respect, and choosing excellent content.
- Let love of learning be an ecosystem in your home; don’t miss out on connections across subjects.
- Homeschooling is a team sport. It takes committed parents, but it also requires love and encouragement from community, mentors, and others to pour into you and your family. Ask God to plant equippers on your path.
- High school, college admissions, and beyond are just one more thing to learn together as a family.
- Don’t miss the beauty of everyday moments; this season will be over before you know it. Treasure it all.
Keeping The End in Mind
With another homeschool year wrapped up, I realize I only have three more years to get my son ready for launching beyond high school. That secretly terrifies and thrills me at the same time. My vision is to prepare a virtuous young man that knows how to learn anything, understands how to think deeply about a subject, and knows that God is at the center of it all. My hope is that he will complete his high school education years knowing that learning is something he will treasure for the rest of his life. With a solid foundation under his belt, he will be ready to pursue more of what he loves.
But before he does, yes he will have an amazing graduation party attended by a large passel of family, friends, and mentors. It will not be the kind of graduation party with high profile speakers, long lists of graduates’ names, and officials droning on and on. It will be the kind of graduation that will mark time well spent on the very best ideas, hallmarked by a love of the Creator and a love of learning.
And the dog will not be valedictorian.
Read Along in The Conversation
Read Chapter Twelve
- What are your thoughts about working towards graduation?
- What parts of the high school years do you struggle with?
- How will you maximize the time you have left in high school?
- Where do you see God at work in your high school student?
- What will be your greatest memories in homeschooling through high school?