Amber shares her story of homeschooling to create a one-of-a-kind, individualized education for her children.
Part of our series: 10 Great Reasons to Homeschool
One-of-a-Kind Homeschool: Setting Our Kids up for Their Future
Of all the many wonderful benefits of homeschooling, there is one which has become more obvious as the children have gotten older.
As a homeschool mom, you have the opportunity to create a unique and individualized education plan for your child.
From the beginning, I’ve considered the needs and interests of our kids–challenging their strengths, reinforcing their weaknesses, and teaching to their learning styles. When the kids were younger, we would also make sure we learned about things that interested them, because we could. Having full control of the literature we read, the history and science we dig into, and the hobbies we explore, we can steer this homeschool ship in any direction we please.
When we started getting to junior high and high school, I began to see the full extent to which we could exercise that freedom.
As a homeschooler in Texas, I have complete control over what is required for high school credits and graduation, and I’m able to tailor my child’s high school curricula to the fields he or she would like to pursue after graduation. We can use the upper grade years to explore areas of interest and dig deeper into career interests.
Drawing by Catie, age 8
Around age 10, my crafty-artsy daughter developed a serious interest in drawing. At that point her artwork more closely resembled Picasso than Degas, and my husband was admittedly less-than-impressed. Seeing that she did have a good eye for art, however, I only wanted to encourage her to continue learning and practicing.
Over the years, her interest in art grew, as did her desire to be an artist when she grew up. Her dreams changed over the years–from artist to fashion designer to graphic novel illustrator–but her desire to pursue art never did.
During the middle school years, I began to tailor her education toward her pursuit of art. While encouraging her to look into the many viable options for an art career (such as graphic design, etc,) I began including many art projects, books about art, and a wide variety of art supplies for her. In high school, we continued to provide art supplies and references, while adding Photoshop and Illustrator for her. She is largely self-taught, pulling knowledge from books, exploration, and many a YouTube tutorial. She’s come a long way from her squiggly little horses and My Little Pony Drawings.
Arielle learning photography, age 14.
Meanwhile, her younger sister has long had a passion for music and photography. At 15 and as a high school freshman, she isn’t quite sure what she wants to do when she graduates. And that’s okay. While she figures things out, I want to keep encouraging and teaching to her interests. Even if she doesn’t pursue a career in either photography or music, these passions will likely stick with her as an adult, and every adult needs fulfilling hobbies that bring them joy (hobbies they might even turn to for income at some point.)
Likewise, my youngest, my 12 -year-old son has been interested in science since he was 4, but he doesn’t know what he wants to do either. I know that whatever career path he chooses will likely be in the area of science. So even as a 6th grader, I’m tailoring his education to include as much science as possible. (Much more science than my girls studied.) I provide lots of science because he loves it, and so that he can grow in his science skills.
As a parent, I’ve always wanted to encourage my kids’ interests and be supportive of their hobbies. I never wanted to be one of those parents who told their kids to find something else because they weren’t very good at something. I want to be the kind of mother who encourages her kids to work hard for something they want to achieve.
As a homeschool mom, I have the ability to do more than tell my kids to keep practicing. I have the ability to shape the scope and sequence of their education to help my kids work toward their goals. I can provide materials and opportunities. I can even learn with them. It would be much more difficult to do this if I weren’t with my kids all day every day, if I weren’t the one in charge of their education. Because we homeschool, we can take every advantage.
My artist daughter is now working on an art degree. She took several dual-credit courses during her junior and senior year, she graduated a semester early, and she just finished her first semester of full time college. She is halfway through an Associates of Art degree at the junior college, and she’s considering transferring to university for either BFA in studio art or a BS in Digital Media Studies.
Catie, age 17, finishing a project for a college art class.
Recently, she’s met several local artists who have praised her work, given her advice and wisdom, and told her that her art is ready to “put out there.” She is also working with her dad and I, creating digital t-shirt designs to launch a graphic tee business. She doesn’t have all the answers or know EXACTLY what she wants to do, but she has a pretty good idea and she’s well on her way for someone who just turned 18 years old.
Tailoring our kids’ educations to their interests can bring great benefits for our kids. I’m excited to see everything my daughter is going to do with her art, and I’m looking forward to helping my other two kids find and pursue their passions in the same way.
I don’t want to only make sure my kids can read, write, spell, and do math; I want to give them so much more. As homeschoolers, we are in the best position to do that. Customizing their education for their interests is just one of the reasons why we homeschool our kids, but it’s one of the really good reasons.
Amber Oliver is a relaxed homeschool mom who believes that learning happens all the time and the school day doesn’t need to begin before 10am and two cups of coffee. She has been homeschooling since 2003 and writing about it since 2006. She has one homeschool graduate, with one high-schooler and one middle-schooler still at home. You can find Amber at ClassicHousewife.com, on Facebook, and on Instagram.
Read more from the Series: I homeschool because…
- 10 Reasons to Homeschool; What’s Yours?
- Pros and Cons of Homeschool – Finding What’s Best for Your Family by Ashley
- My Children have Dyslexia and Learning Differences by Kim
- I Don’t Agree with Common Core or Standardized Testing by Katrina
- We Wanted More Time as a Family by Kirstee
- My Children are Twice Exceptional by Ginny
- Unrealistic Expectations Caused Stress and Anxiety in my child by Heather
- I Want a Simplified Life – Minimalist Homeschool by June
- My Public School Experience Sucked by Erin
- I Want an Individualized Education for my Kids by Amber