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How do you design high school for the child that you've got?

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Karen, if I were in your shoes I'd rather have my dd succeed in regular science classes, and feel competent, than struggle in AP classes and feel that she's not good at science, or maybe even "not smart enough" or disappointing you.  I think the most important thing in your whole post is "She would jump at the opportunity."  It's not like she'll be slacking, she's still doing science, but this way she can put her energy/efforts into the things she feels passionate about, rather than struggling to succeed in the things you feel passionate about.

 

I'm right there with you, btw - a science mama who may have to accept that it's not my kids thing. Still hoping, but it may not pan out that way.

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Karen, if I were in your shoes I'd rather have my dd succeed in regular science classes, and feel competent, than struggle in AP classes and feel that she's not good at science, or maybe even "not smart enough" or disappointing you.  I think the most important thing in your whole post is "She would jump at the opportunity."  It's not like she'll be slacking, she's still doing science, but this way she can put her energy/efforts into the things she feels passionate about, rather than struggling to succeed in the things you feel passionate about.

 

I'm right there with you, btw - a science mama who may have to accept that it's not my kids thing. Still hoping, but it may not pan out that way.

 

Thanks, I will talk with her science teacher about it on Friday when she goes in to do her lab, to see what our options may be (this is a hybrid program with the public school--the majority online, but the opportunity for some hands-on labs and teacher support).

 

Just another reminder to me that homeschooling, like parenting, is in large part  about letting go of the idea I had in my head of what the journey "ought" to be and not shortchange what it actually is and can be. That letting go is harder for me in some areas than in others.

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OK, some of the posts may be leading me in a direction that would make my child happier. She is a full-on humanities kid, for whom science and math don't come nearly as easily (currently in algebra 2 and honors bio, holding her own in algebra, but bio is a struggle). Her current goal is to be a writer (though I realize that may well change) and writing is her passion, with side dishes of art, psych, and history. She has no interest in a super-competitive school environment, though her ACT/SAT scores are already quite high as a freshman, and I really don't see her being happy in an environment like that. I'm honestly more interested in giving her the foundation to possibly get a really good scholarship and honors program at a school she likes than striving for an ivy. She does even have a good science score on the ACT. 

 

I'm really struggling with what to do about her current biology class and our overall science plans. After the horrible experience of dragging her through physics in physical science last year, I have realized high school physics is not in the cards for her, and the only potential AP science class I can imagine now is environmental science, maybe. My original plan had been to do honors bio (bio SAT subject test), honors chem, AP environmental (AP test). Given the issues she's having at this point in honors bio, I'm wondering if I need to just accept that it's okay if she does regular science, I drop subject and AP test aspirations in science (she doesn't share those aspirations), and concentrates honors and APs in areas she enjoys more (she did really well in honors English last semester), even though I know colleges want the most rigorous courses available. In the particular program she is (using APEX Learning ayop online materials with teacher support), the difference between regular and honors bio is some additional, more in-depth explorations, so I think I can switch her without losing ground.

 

So, would I be totally cheating my child by allowing her to drop back to regular bio (with lab), chem (with lab), and environmental science (and maybe trying for a bio E test after environmental)? I've already allowed her not to continue to Spanish 3 and start Latin instead (which she requested and is enjoying). I am hopeful she will go through Latin 3, but at least she has two years of modern foreign language at the high school level. This would likely allow more time to concentrate on other subjects and not stress as much, maybe even have time for her writing. She would jump at the opportunity, and I acknowledge a large part of this is about me---I was the science math person who was also good in humanities, while she is my husband, the English lit major, so it's sometimes hard for me to understand how the science and math are struggles for her.

 

Karen, the cool thing is that plans are just that - pencil on paper (you did use pencil right?) which can be erased and redone. If you are really lucky and your kid is unusual, the final product will look like today's plan. But I can tell you that for many of us, the end product looks nothing like the plan. It's good that you recognize that stepping back on biology would free up energy for things that are more important to your dd. You know that you are not cheating her by stepping back. Cheating your dd would involve no science classes at all or presenting her with schlock curriculum that bores the socks off of her.

 

If you haven't already, do check with your dd and see how she feels about stepping back. She'll probably be relieved. However, some kids are perverse. I have one of those. AP Biology is biting him. It's going to dip his GPA and since he is giving his priority AP classes and Spanish class short shift due to the scramble to keep up with the Bio. class, he's probably going to take another grade hit. There are things he feels he needs to learn from this class. It's like he's back in the pool and the beast must be conquered. It doesn't seem to matter what I think. 

 

If she steps back, let her know it's cool, but also try and think of ways to keep her engaged in the subjects she doesn't like but must take. If you like science, is continuing on in biology with you a possibility? Can you tailor it a bit more for her and give her the challenge without the stress?

 

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Karen, the cool thing is that plans are just that - pencil on paper (you did use pencil right?) which can be erased and redone. If you are really lucky and your kid is unusual, the final product will look like today's plan. But I can tell you that for many of us, the end product looks nothing like the plan. It's good that you recognize that stepping back on biology would free up energy for things that are more important to your dd. You know that you are not cheating her by stepping back. Cheating your dd would involve no science classes at all or presenting her with schlock curriculum that bores the socks off of her.

 

If you haven't already, do check with your dd and see how she feels about stepping back. She'll probably be relieved. However, some kids are perverse. I have one of those. AP Biology is biting him. It's going to dip his GPA and since he is giving his priority AP classes and Spanish class short shift due to the scramble to keep up with the Bio. class, he's probably going to take another grade hit. There are things he feels he needs to learn from this class. It's like he's back in the pool and the beast must be conquered. It doesn't seem to matter what I think. 

 

If she steps back, let her know it's cool, but also try and think of ways to keep her engaged in the subjects she doesn't like but must take. If you like science, is continuing on in biology with you a possibility? Can you tailor it a bit more for her and give her the challenge without the stress?

 

 

Oh, everything's always in pencil!

 

She's very happy at the prospect. :) I had a chance to talk briefly with my husband about it (he's on a business trip and called in), and he is in full support, since he understands where she's coming from. I've emailed the teacher to verify, but it looks like we will be able to just drop the extra assignments that made this bio an honors class and not lose any ground, as well as drop the prep for a bio SAT subject test that I had scheduled, and stretch the due dates out to give her more time to work on it. She started this class early (in Dec) as I was hoping to have her ready for the May seating for the SAT subject test (the June date conflicted with a big Girl Scout camping trip she wants to do), so her schedule will ease up quite a bit. The course is an ayop, as long as all work is completed by the end of the semester.

 

What you said about literacy really resonated. I realized my non-negotiable is scientific literacy, enough to function reasonably. With the extra pressure off, I may try adding in just watching some of the video portion of the "Biology for Voters" edx course that starts next month and see how it goes---connecting her bio and her government class a bit. I had looked at it, and the preview is quite engaging, but I had not seen any reasonable way to include it. I have the ability to add in things like that as extra credit to the school course, which I may do. She's also watching the Hank Green crash course bio videos for a preview of the material. She loves the way he presents. Hopefully this will make things much less stressful all around.

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Faith, that sounds right up Shannon's alley, but when I check out the website, I can't find anything about equine studies.  Maybe I'm search-challenged?

 

Shannon has expressed interest in equine-assisted therapy.  I think she'd be very good at that.  

 

Renaissance Healing & Learning Center

 

Just sayin'... there are local opportunities!

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Well, that wasn't my post that you responded to, but I do agree it's better to have a child play to their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.

 

Karen, if I were in your shoes I'd rather have my dd succeed in regular science classes, and feel competent, than struggle in AP classes and feel that she's not good at science, or maybe even "not smart enough" or disappointing you. I think the most important thing in your whole post is "She would jump at the opportunity." It's not like she'll be slacking, she's still doing science, but this way she can put her energy/efforts into the things she feels passionate about, rather than struggling to succeed in the things you feel passionate about.

 

I'm right there with you, btw - a science mama who may have to accept that it's not my kids thing. Still hoping, but it may not pan out that way.

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Well, that wasn't my post that you responded to, but I do agree it's better to have a child play to their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.

 

It was KarenNC's post.  We have a lot of Karens on this board!  

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So, I've read through this thread and started to post several times, but never worked up enough nerve. The thrust of the thread is great! But while reading I would become a bit discouraged because everyone seems to be talking about kids with passions who know (at least right now) what they want to study or do with their lives. My eldest...doesn't. He's 13 and the furthest he thinks ahead is the next meal. ;)

 

I designed a WWII Pacific Theater study with him (at his request) for his history which will probably take a year or so. Unfortunately, I am so incredibly busy at work that I don't think I can plan and design all his courses. He wants to drop Latin even though he is very good at it because he doesn't like translating English to Latin. He is the antithesis of STEM-oriented. He doesn't like to write, not can't, doesn't like to. I really have no idea how to educate him. He says he wants to go to university and we've talked about minimal requirements (the colleges') v. what it takes to earn scholarships, the family's financial picture, what he envisions himself doing (even though it'll probably change).

 

He's incredibly smart, but not inclined to work hard. So, educating the kid I have just seems...hard. I know, he's 13. His body and brain are going through tremendous changes. His outlook will probably change in the next few years (hopefully for the better!)

 

Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm even posting this. I don't mean to be a downer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's plans and thoughts. Rose, your dd sounds utterly delightful!

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So, I've read through this thread and started to post several times, but never worked up enough nerve. The thrust of the thread is great! But while reading I would become a bit discouraged because everyone seems to be talking about kids with passions who know (at least right now) what they want to study or do with their lives. My eldest...doesn't. He's 13 and the furthest he thinks ahead is the next meal. ;)

my kids are older than yours & still don't really have passions. I kind of suspect it's pretty common. Sure, I think it can be easier to guide & nurture kids who are really driven or hooked on something but I suspect most of us have just generic "yeah, whatever, this is ok, I guess" kids. 

 

For my kids, I had to pull way back on the idea of passion because they were actually getting panicky about having to pick something. Instead, we reframed high school (& now college for one of them) as a time to just continue exploring & being open to new things & ideas & just trusting that it will all work out.

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my kids are older than yours & still don't really have passions. I kind of suspect it's pretty common. Sure, I think it can be easier to guide & nurture kids who are really driven or hooked on something but I suspect most of us have just generic "yeah, whatever, this is ok, I guess" kids.

 

For my kids, I had to pull way back on the idea of passion because they were actually getting panicky about having to pick something. Instead, we reframed high school (& now college for one of them) as a time to just continue exploring & being open to new things & ideas & just trusting that it will all work out.

I think you're right. I certainly don't expect that my kids have their life plans set in stone by some arbitrary age and I know they'll change their minds and courses of study and life several times more than likely. I like your attitude about using HS and college as a time for exploration. I just need to let go of "normal" and try to go with my kids' normals as best I can and as is practical.

 

Thanks for this.

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Brehon, it might make you feel better to go find a post I wrote way back. It is called something like to all you people with eighth graders. You sound like you have an ordinary 13yo to me : )

 

At that age, mine would not have done the things they did if I had not scheduled time to do it during our school day. They would not have done it if I had designed a study for them around an interest. It would not have worked if I had tried to make things last a full semester. Or if I had insisted on the topics being too academic or impressive sounding. I let them get started on something and then when the project was "going", I added the absolute minimum to make it credit worthy. They had quarter credits in the independent project section of their transcripts. If something was less than that, I combined it with something else short. Or we just left it off the transcript. Plenty of things were left off. Later, when they were older, their interests spilled over out of school, but only because we deprived them of easier ways to entertain themselves. There were plenty of periods of their lives when they would have done nothing but play video games all day if we had let them. And sometimes, we let them grin.

 

Nan

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Brehon, it might make you feel better to go find a post I wrote way back. It is called something like to all you people with eighth graders. You sound like you have an ordinary 13yo to me : )

 

At that age, mine would not have done the things they did if I had not scheduled time to do it during our school day. They would not have done it if I had designed a study for them around an interest. It would not have worked if I had tried to make things last a full semester. Or if I had insisted on the topics being too academic or impressive sounding. I let them get started on something and then when the project was "going", I added the absolute minimum to make it credit worthy. They had quarter credits in the independent project section of their transcripts. If something was less than that, I combined it with something else short. Or we just left it off the transcript. Plenty of things were left off. Later, when they were older, their interests spilled over out of school, but only because we deprived them of easier ways to entertain themselves. There were plenty of periods of their lives when they would have done nothing but play video games all day if we had let them. And sometimes, we let them grin.

 

Nan

Ah, Nan. What a balm to this momma's anxious heart! I read your post above and the ones Quark linked (Thanks Quark!). You're right; he is a normal 13 yo and a pretty great one at that! Thank you for your thoughts. I shall focus on HIM and not worry (too much 😄 ) right now about where he is academically.

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We were on vacation when this conversation started. I really wanted to comment but found it too difficult to do in my phone.

 

Some of you may know that my dd, now a ninth grader, was all Math, Math, and More Math for several years. She devoured AoPS books, loved competitions, and disdained applied math in her science classes. I was so sure I had a future math major on my hands.

 

Last year she was fascinated by archaeology. I fretted over job opportunities for budding archaeologists. But the math love was still strong.

 

This year she's interested in what makes people do what they do. A trip to China last summer and the AP Human Geography small group class have broadened her horizons. Math is just something she enjoys and can do without much effort.

 

The past few weeks she's been talking about studying psychology next year. And maybe studying abroad. And wouldn't it be nice to add another unusual language? And self-studying computer science might be a good idea. And she wants to start calculus at the university right away instead of taking AoPS Calculus, to have an in-person math class.

 

Last night on the plane, when pressed by her older sister, she told us that possible college majors included engineering (what?!) dude, that's applied math!), criminal justice (which turns out to mean whatever would make her attractive to the CIA/NSA; good gravy!), and something else I can't remember because my head exploded at that point :eek:

 

:lol:

 

We just spent an hour looking at summer Arabic language immersion programs.

 

I am eating chocolate at 11:30 pm.

 

Planning, what planning?

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Luckymama - lol that sounds rather familiar. My youngest,s interests ranged widely like that. He,d explore something for a bit, and then when his curiosity was satisfied or he hit a wall, he would turn to something else. Sometimes it would come out of something I could see, sometimes not. It works out way better in the than it seems and I think probably it is a pretty natural way of learning for these children, focusing on a few things at a time. They have figured out that they can control their education and are making themselves the way they want to be right now, not necessarily preparing themselves for the career they will have when they are 50. If she does head for engineering, make sure she gets hands-on experience making things (robotics team?) and make sure she understands that at most universities, studying engineering isn't like working as an engineer. Most engineers make things for fun. Engineering school is mostly sitting and solving applied math problem after applied math problem. It isn't necessarily fun. If she does languages and math, the CIA will probably find her and try to recruit her. I know several people whom this has happened to. Make sure she understands the moral dilemmas and family problems and sacrifices involved with working for them. She might just think the spy skill set or code breaking problems are cool. Make sure her morals are well nailed down if she starts acquiring them for herself grin. I would say your planning is going great!

 

Nan

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So, I've read through this thread and started to post several times, but never worked up enough nerve. The thrust of the thread is great! But while reading I would become a bit discouraged because everyone seems to be talking about kids with passions who know (at least right now) what they want to study or do with their lives. My eldest...doesn't. He's 13 and the furthest he thinks ahead is the next meal. ;)

 

I designed a WWII Pacific Theater study with him (at his request) for his history which will probably take a year or so. Unfortunately, I am so incredibly busy at work that I don't think I can plan and design all his courses. He wants to drop Latin even though he is very good at it because he doesn't like translating English to Latin. He is the antithesis of STEM-oriented. He doesn't like to write, not can't, doesn't like to. I really have no idea how to educate him. He says he wants to go to university and we've talked about minimal requirements (the colleges') v. what it takes to earn scholarships, the family's financial picture, what he envisions himself doing (even though it'll probably change).

 

He's incredibly smart, but not inclined to work hard. So, educating the kid I have just seems...hard. I know, he's 13. His body and brain are going through tremendous changes. His outlook will probably change in the next few years (hopefully for the better!)

 

Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm even posting this. I don't mean to be a downer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's plans and thoughts. Rose, your dd sounds utterly delightful!

Just want to encourage you. 13 was a tough year at our house. It did get better. I tried to stay loose on one hand and not take comments as a rejection of me personally. I tried not to hold a grudge over past actions and attitudes. I also tried to hold firm to certain things that had to get done so that foundations were laid for future work.

 

It wasn't alway barnstorming or pretty.

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We were on vacation when this conversation started. I really wanted to comment but found it too difficult to do in my phone.

 

Some of you may know that my dd, now a ninth grader, was all Math, Math, and More Math for several years. She devoured AoPS books, loved competitions, and disdained applied math in her science classes. I was so sure I had a future math major on my hands.

 

Last year she was fascinated by archaeology. I fretted over job opportunities for budding archaeologists. But the math love was still strong.

 

This year she's interested in what makes people do what they do. A trip to China last summer and the AP Human Geography small group class have broadened her horizons. Math is just something she enjoys and can do without much effort.

 

The past few weeks she's been talking about studying psychology next year. And maybe studying abroad. And wouldn't it be nice to add another unusual language? And self-studying computer science might be a good idea. And she wants to start calculus at the university right away instead of taking AoPS Calculus, to have an in-person math class.

 

Last night on the plane, when pressed by her older sister, she told us that possible college majors included engineering (what?!) dude, that's applied math!), criminal justice (which turns out to mean whatever would make her attractive to the CIA/NSA; good gravy!), and something else I can't remember because my head exploded at that point :eek:

 

:lol:

 

We just spent an hour looking at summer Arabic language immersion programs.

 

I am eating chocolate at 11:30 pm.

 

Planning, what planning?

 

Oh look! Another student and teacher for the "Gumby" club. Pat yourself on the back at what a wonderful job you have done in opening your student up to the world's possibilities (choke, cough, cough) and pour a big glass of wine to go with the chocolate.

 

Our oldest son and his roommate came by to watch the Super Bowl.  It took him a while to find his dad. I was coming up the stairs in time to catch the following conversation:

 

Son: Dad, why are you in here?

Dh: Hiding from Mom.

Son: What! Why?!

Dh: It's January.

Son: Get a grip Dad, it's February 1st.

Dh: Too close to January. It's homeschooling madness.

Son: Oh. I remember that. Sorry, Dad.

Me: (Yelling from the stairs where I am trying to get over a cat while carrying laundry ) "I heard that!"

Dh: Quick, Son! Hand me my car keys.

 

Funny man. Just because I wake him up at all hours with my latest round of homeschooling anxiety.

:D

 

Luckymama, I suspect your dd is going to lead an interesting life.

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Thank you, Nan, for that long explanation of how your planned classes, and created classes out of what your kids were doing.  I've been inspired by your posts for years, especially your posts for parents of 8th-graders-or-therabouts!  And I'm intrigued by your natural history course - would you be willing to describe that in more detail, or direct me to a post where you've already done so?

 

My academic training was in psychology & neuroscience, but my life/job/work training is in organic farming and gardening, native plant propogation, and restoration ecology.  I currently work as a consulting agroecologist.  I feel like I should be able to pull off a pretty stellar natural history course!  And I'm thinking a lot about how I want to teach biology.  It's the science I know the best, and love the most, and feel most motivated to teach at home, but it's also the science I feel least satisfied to follow a textbook for, if you know what I mean.  I'd really like to delve into all the aspects of biology, including environmental science, watershed science, restoration ecology, and agroecology, and I want to include developing a strong understanding of the local flora and fauna and the watershed, with lots of hands on projects and labs and stuff - and this all gets me really excited, and I think my kids would really like it and would benefit from this knowledge, no matter what they eventually decide to study or what career paths they choose.  But it doesn't fit neatly into the whole biology-chemistry-physics box, KWIM?  So I feel a little nervous, even though what I really want to do is  3 or 4 years (starting in 8th) of biology/ES/natural science at home, then having them do their chemistry and physics at the cc.  

 

 

I haven't read everything yet, and no posts that followed this one.

 

But... what is wrong with this plan? It sounds fine so long as the kids do not want to do 3 years of physics and chemistry.  You'd have 8th-10th bio/ES/nat science, 11th chemistry, 12th physics.   4 years of science and all basics covered, plus extra in your area of greatest interest.       ????   Sounds wonderful!

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Thank you, Nan, for that long explanation of how your planned classes, and created classes out of what your kids were doing.  I've been inspired by your posts for years, especially your posts for parents of 8th-graders-or-therabouts!  And I'm intrigued by your natural history course - would you be willing to describe that in more detail, or direct me to a post where you've already done so?

 

My academic training was in psychology & neuroscience, but my life/job/work training is in organic farming and gardening, native plant propogation, and restoration ecology.  I currently work as a consulting agroecologist.  I feel like I should be able to pull off a pretty stellar natural history course!  And I'm thinking a lot about how I want to teach biology.  It's the science I know the best, and love the most, and feel most motivated to teach at home, but it's also the science I feel least satisfied to follow a textbook for, if you know what I mean.  I'd really like to delve into all the aspects of biology, including environmental science, watershed science, restoration ecology, and agroecology, and I want to include developing a strong understanding of the local flora and fauna and the watershed, with lots of hands on projects and labs and stuff - and this all gets me really excited, and I think my kids would really like it and would benefit from this knowledge, no matter what they eventually decide to study or what career paths they choose.  But it doesn't fit neatly into the whole biology-chemistry-physics box, KWIM?  So I feel a little nervous, even though what I really want to do is  3 or 4 years (starting in 8th) of biology/ES/natural science at home, then having them do their chemistry and physics at the cc.  

 

Can my dd come study with you?

 

Seriously though, I can see a path like this working so much better for her than the standard high school science rotation -- I've been thinking of biology for 7th, physical science in 8th, and then in high school, we could look at zoology, environmental science, etc. Whereas her brother is looking at finishing up a year of physics in 8th, and then engineering and/or chemistry next year. For him, I am looking at almost the opposite of your thoughts, in that I'll have him do a semester of biology at the cc, as well as more advanced physics, chemistry, and so on. Personally, I am all for tailoring to meet their needs and strengths.

 

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