I have a perpetual feeling that my sons are not doing enough academics for our homeschooling. This has its roots in my perfectionism and my idealist views to create a fantastic comprehensive, mile wide and mile deep educational experience for my kids. It took years for me to figure this out. I realize the problem is me and my too high standards. I am sometimes getting in the way of a successful and happy homeschool.
I am writing this while on a break from documenting my high schooler's work completed for a literature class and a fine art class. These are courses I designed. I had a sketch of my plans written ahead of time, but as we go along and dive into learning more books and movies and activities would get added to the studies based on either my son's request or my discovery of something else. We are so busy living life in the moment and I am so not interested in documenting every thing every minute of the day that I slack on writing down in one neat place everything that was completed. Then when I periodically visit the old syllabus I wind up adding in a lot of work that was done. That is when I realize that although we didn't yet do all that was planned, my son did a lot more than is expected. I am aiming for 120 hours of instruction to issue one high school credit for a course. When the course goes over that, I cannot add more credit hours, it's just not done, it's not appropriate.
When the lists are fleshed out, I cringe as I delete the work that I thought he'd do that was not actually done. That is my inner perfectionist at work, which I choose to ignore. When the list is complete I sit back and read it in its entirety I am often stunned at the scope of the studies and I'm impressed with my son's accomplishments.
I have taken risks to custom design courses that are geared toward my son's interests. I usually do this with courses that he loathes in an attempt to present the core subject with a twist that he will either love or at least find palatable. Other times he has an interest and he wants to learn about it and instead of just doing things in his free time and calling it fun I figure out how we can work that into a half credit or full credit course by studying it longer and deeper than he perhaps envisioned. What I feel when I look at the completed course is pride, as the good memories of those studies floods my mind. My son's high school transcript will be partially non-traditional and that aspect of his home education will show his uniqueness.
I have been thinking about all these hoops we homeschoolers do to jump through to impress college admissions officers and how we worry that we must do the same thing as schools in the same old way and sometimes we do even more (like use the entire science textbook not just selected chapters, or read the whole chapter not just a couple of the sections). My new outlook on the situation is that I think what truly matters in the end is the learning my son has done and the quality of the experiences he has lived. Let's say that he will be guaranteed admission to some college someplace, which is pretty much what we can count on, since it seems everyone who wants to go to college can get in somewhere. In that case it will have done no good for me to worry and to get worked up to anxiety states over trying to copy as closely as possible, what the public schools do.
What do I want my sons to think when he looks back on his home education? I want positive memories not negative ones. I rejected the public school cookie cutter mold for my children and I refuse to replicate that same model inside our homeschool. I'm taking a risk by doing some things differently but I think it is worth taking that chance.
Literature: The Hero's Journey, which started as a homeschool co-op class which my son loved
Literature: Dystopian Literature: novels, short stories, and movies
Fine Art: The History of Comic Books and Graphic Novels
Fine Art: Abstract Painting
Science and History: using living books in addition to a textbook spine to keep things interesting