Education on the rocks? Blended, not stirred.

September 15, 2016

Landing Pilot

How we intend to grow forever learners.

Having been parents for over 18 years, we have had a lot of opportunities to restructure our lives and parenting style depending on who existed, who passed, and who was on the way.  Over the years, the children have been in private school, public school, community college, and homeschooled.  They have attended summer camps, First Day (meeting= church), 4H, AYSO soccer, as well as Boy and Girl Scouts. We have had our fill of organized activities and are enjoying their freedom to be mobile enough to valet themselves to their practices and meetings, be it on foot or wheels.

The Elder just graduated with his Associates Degree through a concurrent education of homeschooling and going to community college in Wyoming. Elder is off formalized schooling while he is on a gap year using his welding skills to create a nest egg before going on for the BS, in animal science. Youngin’ checked the gauges in the house and as the time to catch extra solo flight time with the Landing Pilot was right, Youngin’ took the controls.  Time is something that the adults of the house sometimes forget, it is fleeting and Youngin’ brought us back to the core of our experience together and called us out on the need to live today and not just be working for tomorrow. Out of the mouth of babes, I tell you what, it is so true!

Elder was homeschooled from sixth grade through high school and enjoyed college classes along the way.  In Wyoming, Elder worked at two different lamb ranches which meant he was able to drive at 14 years old.  With his job giving him wings early, he also decided to use the freedom to enter community college for welding. Nothing like a flexible system that allows homeschooling 14 year olds to enter college while still in 9th grade.  The adults didn’t weld, so we always look for resources that assisted Elder along his path, kind of like when he was in 7th grade and decided to learn to be a blacksmith. Finding people that are interested in the learning, not ages or distances is key to helping your student grow their wings. (For us, that was Touchstone Center for Craft where master blacksmiths spent weeks at a time in a camp setting sharing their passion and expertise with anyone willing to get there.)  Elder learned about requesting, applying, and submitting a grant request at 11.  Special places usually have special circumstances for accepting special characters into their presence.  This was the reality for his time at Touchstone.  Elder had an amazing mentor and made many friends during his years at Touchstone, he found his place in the universe back then- it was around the blazing hot forge.

Last year, the Youngin’ wanted more friend-time so decided to take the wheel and went off to public school for 9th grade. However, this year the Youngin’ has decided to come back to homeschool and added a twist to the flight plan: blended learning.  Mornings at home, with afternoons spent two miles away at the brick and mortar school public school.

The morning includes breakfast at leisure and a great deal class work in Biology, Geometry, World History, Spanish, and English Literature punctuated with cooking, art, cleaning, animal care, puppy hugs, and visiting with family.

Blended, not stirred learning:  Ingredients for Success

1 empowered student

1 engaged home-educator

1 enlightened administration

1 ounce communication skills

1 strong and diverse curriculum

Educator and student will claim the classes they want to do at home and create with the administration the best learning experience.  Share with your school system in the success of the empowered student that becomes a forever learner. Share with your friends and neighbors that a brick and mortar doesn’t have to hold everything a student needs to succeed; it may just hold parts of what is needed to make a well-rounded learner.

For the afternoons, Youngin’ heads off to the local high school for Driver’s Ed, Chorus, Health, and a Tech class.  Youngin’ says it is the best of both worlds because lunch is included. Friends meet and eat at school  each day. The fun doesn’t end there, Youngin’ gets to ride home on the bus with Buddy, the best friend.  Most days, they find a way to have a few hours of hang out with each other before dinner. I swear, there is nothing better than having your best friend live less than one mile away, true friendships bring great memories.

We had to have faith in an entity we were usually attempting to avoid- the public school system in our home town.  We weren’t sure how it was going to turn out, but so far the days have been full of experiential learning and living life. We haven’t been on the same flight pattern as our friends and family; but we just keep on swimming and enjoying the view along the way.  I encourage homeschoolers and traditional educators alike looking to customize the education of children to explore the idea of blended learning. The varieties are endless and the outcomes are spectacular!img_1791Want to learn more about blended learning?  Check out his article:  Elder is considering Penn State as his BS connection, so seeing their President quoted in the first paragraph got both of our attentions.



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