Unschooling high school feels like the biggest leap of faith so far in our homeschooling journey. If we, The Parents, fail our kids here, then we have failed them for life – or so it feels. I have mostly been happy and confident to facilitate child-led learning over the last 12 or so years, but while standing on the peripheral of their experiences that crescendo of worry has been building up in me as my eldest child got closer to the typical high school graduation age.
For many years I had hoped that my kids would want to eventually try formal schooling, especially high school, as I have heard that many homeschooled kids do. While my second child is pining to do so (but doesn’t currently have the needed language skills to jump in) my first son, Badier, has never had an interest. So, as far as I could see he had three choices to close out his teen years: be diploma-less, get an American diploma through an online source, or get a GED. There is also an international diploma now available, but it is beyond our financial reach.
I steered Badier towards getting a US diploma, thinking that may give him the most options for university and also knowing that it is often better accepted than a GED if you are not doing junior or community college before uni. He agreed and we enrolled in Clonlara based in Michigan. Clonlara is a fairly exceptional program and I was super happy with their services. They are very flexible and while we could have used a packaged curriculum to work through earning the necessary high school credits, instead each semester we designed courses tailored to Badier’s current interests. While earning high school credits, Badier has done Animal Husbandry, Magazine Writing, Bicycle Engineering, Photography, Videography, Swimming and other engaging activities. The main drawback to this freestyle of schooling, for us, was that Badier does plan to go to college and hasn’t learned how a classroom course functions. He hasn’t had any practice in following someone else’s agenda. The only way to learn this is to enroll in one, which if we were in the states wouldn’t be hard to do, but being in Morocco makes it costly and we can’t afford to do that while also paying for Clonlara. The other drawback is that he has been auto learning languages, which is difficult to do, and while his vocabulary has built up nicely he recognizes that he has hit a wall and needs formal instruction, which may provide the structured class he needs, but again we can’t afford to simultaneously do that while enrolled in high school.
We set a deadline of August 1st to decide to continue with Clonlara or commit to taking the GED. But how do you make such a hard choice? I have fretted, a lot. Badier sat down for a few hours and worked through practice GED tests, acing them, so really at that point it felt a bit pointless to continue with two more years of high school when there is so much else he could be doing. My baby is now a high school dropout, just like his mama! He also seems really fired up to hurry along to higher education, just like I did. This week he has found some affordable language classes, which is remarkably a bit hard to do in Casablanca where there are a handful of very expensive language schools for the very many folks swept up in super competitive schooling.
While second son is showing interest in taking formal classes, I am trying to harness that enthusiasm and find a good fit for him, which means either something primarily in English or language classes first just like his big brother… have I mentioned that I am going to have to do this seven times? Insha Allah (God willing)! I am still hoping that my younger children will be “easier” and want to do some formal schooling, but maybe it will just be easier for me to let go and fully embrace Unschooling philosophy. *winky smile*
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education has been a great resource and companion for me over the years, though my kids find it a little difficult to relate to since nearly all the kids in the book have had some formal education to actually quit.