Have you ever talked to a homeschooler who had high school children who were doing amazing things? Not just extra-curricular hobbies, but starting non-profit organizations, running farms, taking outreach classes at universities, performing music on the weekend, or running their own businesses?
I’m privileged to know a few, and they are inspiring. They were so inspiring, they made me start questioning my own children about what they liked to do. Not what they would like to do (future), but what they like to do (present). It was something I had never asked because I had separated classical schooling from hopes and dreams. Education had nothing to do with careers and dreams, did it?
For a while, I sat on that information because truthfully, it overwhelmed me. But I also must admit that they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know before.
My oldest daughter wanted to be a cosmetologist. After my initial trepidation, I worked at getting her into a vocational school as a share time student (meaning she did her academics at home, and went to school for her shop classes).
She did have to go back to public school full time for the last year because the state licensing board wouldn’t acknowledge her homeschool diploma, and that wasn’t a fight I was willing to take on at the time.
She is now working at an amazing organic hair salon and very happy with her decision, even though she had to read The Scarlett Letter three times between her homeschool lit classes and her senior year English class.
My middle son took a completely different route. One of my favorite pictures of my now 15-year-old son is of him as a toddler, asleep with earphones on. We were on our way to Maine, and he was unhappy unless he had those headphones on. That was the start of his intense love of music.
We held off on buying him his first guitar, but after we did, he saved his money and bought many more. He then acquired a banjo, a mandolin, and a ukulele. He also plays bari sax, and tenor sax with the school band and marching band as an after school activity. (Our district allows homeschool kids to join certain public school activities.)
His other loves were Legos, robotics, and designing things. He now is an amazing musician, and wants to be a luthier and an engineer. We were amazed to find out that perhaps the country’s best luthier lived in our county, and soon my son will be taking classes with him. He’s also making sure he works hard on his other academic courses because he knows he wants to head to college.
I also have twin 12-year-old girls, and from the time they were tiny, they were as different as night and day. One loved baby dolls with all of her heart, but the other wanted nothing to do with them and would look at them disdainfully and toss them across the room.
The one who loved babies wants to be a teacher and a mother. The other one wants to be a kennel owner, and for a long time wanted to be a vet.
We work with animals every chance we get. It would be no surprise to those who know us that when we can, we’ll be hopefully buying a farm.
My youngest son has always been physical. He is very aware of how his body moves, and the space he takes up. It doesn’t take him long to learn complicated physical things, and he has always been this way.
He is now in football. We are all excited about going to his games, and cheering him on!
Where he goes with his love of physical activities is up to him. I could see him in martial arts competitions, mountain climbing, and even in the armed forces, though lately he’s expressed a desire to be a police officer.
My youngest who is 8 asks me once a week if it’s a good thing to be an artist. Ever since she was a toddler, she’s been drawing and coloring every chance she got. She has free reign of my paints and paper, and of my pastels, and pencils, and she is on her path.
My oldest son that I classically homeschooled through 10th grade is deep in his two loves: cooking, and mechanics.
Here’s the thing: If there is any educational style that befits any child no matter their path, the classical model is it. I want my plumber to know Longfellow. I want my banker to know Faust. Classical education is about the true, the good, and the beautiful. It is about developing virtue, and I honestly can’t think of one profession that doesn’t need both.
So how do we incorporate both? With ample amounts of time, and for this, homeschooling is the best. My son who is a musician was able to learn all of those instruments by my giving him the time to learn them. By truly living multum non multa. By weeding out all of the unnecessary, be that books or co-ops, so that they have time to pursue what they love, and so that they also have time to fruitfully rest. It may not be easy, this path, but it is amazing, and delightful, and deeply gratifying.
Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.