Our 13-year-old son has almost finished his first year of high school—with no previous formal education. For 12 years he had time to be a kid—to explore, to think, to play. But now he is embracing this academic work just like chopping wood or baling hay. He seems nurtured, refreshed…and prepared.
When it comes to education styles, my first inspiration was Chris Davis of Elijah Company with his concept of “resourcing” our children’s talents, interests, and strengths with excellent books, tools, and opportunities. Then I read the book Better Late than Early by Dr. Raymond Moore, who actually proposed delaying formal education, even until the age of 12. Thus the journey of homeschooling our sons began with a relaxed, unschooling approach.
Another influence in choosing this natural approach to education was a growing awareness of “living” books: books written by an author who is not only passionate about a subject, but one who utilizes and engaging style. We found we were reading biographies of many famous people who had been educated primarily at home—with only real books!
Our home library began to grow. Ben, our oldest of 5 boys, began to read at age 8. He read books he loved, mostly history and historical fiction. Add Bible quizzing, wrestling, outdoor play, a spattering of math, and you have a good picture of Ben’s early education.
Like many parents, we got a little nervous about high school years. But by the grace of God we kept moving forward. Then two years ago I met David and Laurie Callihan, authors of The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School. Listening to David, my excitement grew. HE discussed radical ideas like double crediting with CLEP tests and diving right into high school level work, skipping the junior high “prep” years.
Loosely following the Calllihans’ concept of a “Grand Plan”, we viewed sample transcripts to see which subjects were typically included. WE then shared our own goals with Ben and listened to his. From our three lists we put together a backbone of 4 or 5 years of study. And we’ve kept that original list open to changes.
Last year I learned about the Civil Air Patrol opportunity for ages 12-20. Ben was hooked from the start. Physical training, military drills, search and rescue, CPR/First Aid, survival skills, leadership, aeronautics…even rocket science! We worked some of these subjects into the transcript draft.
When the Callihans came to Michigan recently, Ben wanted to take the CLEP preparation class for American History that David was scheduled to teach afternoons in the Detroit area. Laurie taught biology for college students in Flint each morning. Since Flint was closer for us, I brought Ben early to the college so he could ride with the Callihans later to the history class. Ben ended up attending the biology class, too! The first day he was a bit bewildered, but took notes frantically. The second day he announced with a grin that he LOVES biology and now he’s also preparing for the Biology CLEP.
When it came to a foreign language, Ben wanted German. Shortly after expressing his interest, we found out his new Bible quiz coach teaches German to a group of homeschoolers in her home. God is our provider!
Ben plans to earn simultaneous high school and college credit fro other subjects including American government, chemistry, natural sciences, and composition. He is also gaining practical work experience managing our family’s local bookstore a few days a week.
I’m confident that Ben will—academically and otherwise—be prepared for life.