It’s official! My 17 year old son got word last week that he has been accepted into a major private university for admission, starting fall 2011. He is still applying to other colleges and for scholarships. We will see which school gives him the best deal and then he will decide which one to attend. This is the university that I obtained my bachelor of science degree from, as well as the same school that my husband did. It’s the university where we met, when he was going to law school and I was an undergrad. So we are feeling a bit nostalgic. We realize this university isn’t perfect, but with the knowledge my son has of how to really learn, I know he can choose to get a liberal arts/leadership education there. He has yet to apply to George Wythe College, which is also on his list. It will be interesting to see if he gets accepted at every college he applies to and which one he will pick.
I am also breathing a HUGE sigh of relief. As my oldest child, he is my guinea pig in homeschooling. Since one of the goals of my homeschooling is to get my children into college, I can say that homeschooling works, at least for this child. He has never set foot into a public school to attend classes. He has done some online charter public schooling. That lasted for a year and then we decided it wasn’t for us. Not every homeschooler has the goal of getting children into college. If it’s your goal, you might want to read on.
How to Get Your Homeschooling Child Into College
1. Start with a burning desire to homeschool even before your child is born or you get married. For me, this desire came from coming out of the public school system myself. After seeing the poor, spiritually toxic attitude and behavior of the kids I was surrounded by (i.e. “What will you give me if I do this work?”, not to mention the worship of football and basketball and careless attitudes towards scholarship, despite the fact that schools are supposed to be for scholars) I knew my kids would have something better, if I had to do it myself. This desire has been strong enough to withstand the negative comment from my father, a former public school district board member, and other occasional negative comments from my mother-in-law and others.
2. Because the adjustment to doing public school at home was a little hard with a baby and a preshooler as well, do school only three days a week. Take a break the other two days and let him play a lot.
3. Hear Oliver DeMille speak at a homeschool convention in 1999. Miss most of what he says because you are so sleep deprived with three children five and under and a husband who is gone every week traveling on business that you fall asleep while sitting on a hard chair. See that one of your email friends refers to him in an email she writes on a Charlotte Mason email group. Realize that what he said must be worth paying attention to. Tuck that info into the back of your brain.
4. Have fun poring over homeschool catalogs. Feel like you are a kid in a candy shop. Tell your husband that you are homeschooling his firstborn. Why should the school teachers have all the fun learning with your child?
5. Get Mathusee math materials. At first, watch the Mathusee video with your son while eating popcorn and see how much fun math is. See that he does a page a day of math before he plays. Be skeptical of the “inspire, not require” mantra applied to math and children.
6. Go to lots of homeschooling conferences and see the Noah Plan from the FACE people promoted. Feel frustrated that you can’t afford the curriculum. Realize that it it’s OK since your child is not in scholar phase and this program works best for children in scholar phase. If the children aren’t in scholar phase it burns out the mother.
7. Get copies of What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know and then What Your First Grader Needs to Know. Start reading them to your son. See that he is not interested. Realize that it’s better to let him become interested in what he needs to know when he wants to (except for math :-)). Keep the books for him to read later on his own in scholar phase.
8. Help him polish his reading skills using the book Reading Reflex. (He already taught himself how to read when he was four.) Do a lesson or so a day for a few months. See his reading skills take off as he enjoys reading on his own.
9. Get the Italic writing series workbooks and have him do a page a day of handwriting.
10. Have fun buying fun homeschooling items like Math Shark, all the books by Peggy Kaye (Games for Math, Games of Learning, Games for Reading, etc.) the picture book biographies by the D’Aulaires, Phonics Firefly for his younger sister, arts and crafts material, a gyroscope, and a Chinese jump rope.
11. Enjoy teaching him how to multiply when he is only six by using a lesson in the Games for Math book while fixing soup for dinner. He is in the kitchen and is eager to learn. All it takes is a piece of paper and crayons and his inquiring mind.
12. Supplement his home education with creative dance lessons, soccer, basketball, and gymnastics.
13. Do a once a week “group” school with other homeschoolers where you each do one lesson for one subject.
14. Feel frustrated that it’s really hard to do science “class” with him, because the baby always seems to be into all of the materials, wanting to finger paint or eat them. Read Diane Hopkins’ article “The Baby is the Lesson.” (http://lovetolearn.net/policies/baby.lasso) Hope that someday he will have the desire and the ability to do these science projects on his own. Let go of the conveyor belt notion that kids have to know certain objectives of science education at certain ages.
15. Have more babies. Give your child more responsibility helping around the house, like making a loaf of bread in the breadmachine every day and doing the dinner dishes.
16. Have fun teaching him and his sister to draw with the book Drawing with Children.
17. Read aloud to your child at night. Read aloud during school time as well. Enjoy books like Hillyer’s A Child’s History of the World and A Child’s Geography of the World.
18. Hear Aneladee Milne speak at her seminar about The Hero Generation. Know that you want your kids to take part in the Commonwealth School model that she has helped develop with Tiffany Earl that she talks about in her seminar.
19. Move an hour away to a place where a lot of people are into Thomas Jefferson Education, including Aneladee. By a miracle of God, run into the above-mentioned friend in point #3 who referred to Oliver DeMille on an email list. Find out that she lives in the town you moved to and she is starting up a group for moms interested in TJED. Learn more about it and decide it might be worth practicing.
20. Enroll your son in the commonwealth school when he is almost 12. Feel so excited for him that you almost want to attend the classes for him, abandoning your younger children.
21. Learn more about TJED by reading more, attending classes, and talking to people. Have some frustrating talks with your husband because he doesn’t feel like your son is learning enough, which you translate into meaning that you are not doing a good enough job of homeschooling.
22. Have a downturn in your family’s economy. Feel frustrated that you lack the money to buy math books. Try out the K12 program for a year when your son is 13. Decide that it’s too much of public school at home, and what’s the point of doing it to get “free” curriculum when they ask for it back at the end of the year?
23. Have weekly mentor meetings with your son, discussing his academics as well as his emotional, physical, and emotional life. Read the Scholar Phase article by Oliver DeMille, which is now a chapter in the book, Leadership Education: the Phases of Learning. Know that that is exactly what you want for your son. Give him the responsibility of owning all of the family’s laundry and lots of time to study as a scholar. He no longer has to clean the bathroom every week or do dishes every day.
24. See his interest in Shakespeare and history take off because of the projects he takes part in at the commonwealth school. See him get excited about Robert E. Lee and acting. Watch him enjoy all the classes offered at the commonwealth school, including the hardest one of all, Thomas Jefferson Youth Certification. Sometime in all of this turn over the correction of his daily math work to him by giving him the answer key.
25. See his knowledge of computers and programming build as he listens to podcasts on his mp3 player while doing his chores. Consciously decide that you will not have any X-boxes or Wiis in your home to distract him from studying.
26. Enroll him in an online charter school, Open HIgh School, because you worry that maybe he needs a diploma, but you don’t want to send him to the local public school. See that he can do well at “regular” tests and schoolwork.
27. Decide that Open High school isn’t exactly what you want after a year of him doing it. Cheer when you hear about Williamsburg Academy http://wacademy.org. Figure out a way to pay for it (for us it was using our tax return). Sign him up.
28. Host an ACT boot camp with Ann Meeks so that your son can take the boot camp for free. See him take the test and be pleasantly surprised that at age 16 he gets a better ACT score on the practice test than you did when you took it for real at age 18. Don’t tell him that.
29. Realize that he doesn’t need a diploma or a public school transcript to get into college. You can make a transcript up for him! See your conveyor belt ideas continue to wither away.
30. Watch him enjoy his classes and mentors at Williamsburg Academy. Feel jealous that you couldn’t have the same experience as a kid, reading and talking about Montesquieu, de Tocqueville, and Locke. The only time you learned about Montesquieu was when your AP history teacher said that he influenced the Founding Fathers with his book The Spirit of the Laws.
Hear about the book Major Decisions by Henry Eyring, from Ann Meeks. Read the book, obtained from the public library, and feel more inspired than ever to have your children go to college. Ask your parents to give the book to your son for his birthday.
31. Find out that he wants to go to college next year, even though technically he is a junior and was going to take another year at Williamsburg. Remember that he doesn’t need a “complete” high school transcript or diploma to get into college. Continue to let go of conveyor belt ideas. Direct him to signing up for the last ACT test of the year so that he can start applying in the winter to go to college in the fall.
32. Encourage him to take at least three practice ACT tests. Watch him do them and get better scores than he did on his first practice test with Ann Meeks. Be glad that you can actually read his handwriting. Give him feedback on his writing test. See that he doesn’t really want your feedback. Pray that he will write better on the actual test. Remember that Andrew Pudewa said in his writing workshop, that most graders of standardized tests take only 5 minutes a test.
33. Encourage him to start applying to college. Spend an afternoon over Christmas break when five of the six younger siblings are gone, making a transcript up for him, following the model you get from a homeschooling friend who has two daughters in college. Go over his educational history for the last five years, since he was 12. Rename the classes he took at the Commonwealth School with more generic names like Ann Meeks suggested in her talk at the TJED Forum (see http://tjedmarketplace.com/forums/slc/2010/youth-forum-ages-16-18/college-reading-classics). For instance, change Key of Liberty to American History I and Sword of Freedom to American History II. Watch your husband and son take the transcript and tinker with it some more.
34. Watch him get his ACT score back and cheer that it is over 30!
35. Watch him get all the paperwork done and send it off to the first college. Pray that he will get accepted.
36. Be the first one to hear him say as he checks his email on a cold, bleak and dreary Thursday morning in February before the sun comes up (while you are doing your own education of “you, not them”), “I got accepted!” Feel prouder than the day he took his first step or rode a bike. It is so swell to see him getting accepted into the college that you, your husband, your four siblings and all their spouses, your parents, and grandmother graduated from. Homeschooling, parenting, and mentoring don’t get much better than this. What a sweet payback time!