How to balance CM and interests in high school


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  • Bookworm

    Oh, marvelous, Sonya, thank you!!!

    I have a 14 yo son who has been homeschooled since age 6, most of the time CM style (except for brief forays into stricter classical method) He has happily put up with things he doesn’t care for much, like poetry, fanciful literature, drawing studies, etc. all these years, but now that he has more defined interests and goals, he’s beginning to make “noises” about how he’d rather have more input into his own studies. I’m mostly excited by this–except he wants to leave behind art, poetry, drawing, etc. to concentrate on his strong interests in computers, physics, animals, and flying. I want him to find his own path and his own life–but I’ve always believed these other items add so much richness to life. I can’t help but believe he’d be a better rounded person if I continue to insist on these things–but he’d also be a very frustrated one! LOL He’s developed into a very “to the point” young man–he wants things straight and simple and then move on already! He wrote a paper for a composition assignment, arguing why he shouldn’t have to do dictation anymore—he already can spell all the words, he has his own writing style already, he reads many of the authors already . . . all true. (He hasn’t missed a spelling word from dictation for a year!) I’m finding it hard to “refute”. He doesn’t see much point to poetry, although I’ve read it to him since babyhood . . . he’d rather be off programming or learning about flying or studying the various critters he collects–and he’s very good at all of these things. His nature journals no longer look like nature journals, but are mostly just counts of species he sees. He wants to be a veterinarian, possibly, or an engineer or a pilot, and can’t see why memorizing Shakespeare will help.

    What do I need to insist on, and where do I hold back and let him go his own way? I want the room in which he sets his feet to be large and generous–but I also want him to be the young man God intends him to be. And I’m a little worried that I failed to get him to “care” about so many things.

    Goodness, this got long! Veterans, help! LOL

    Michelle D


    Michelle, You asked Veterans for help and I cannot claim being one simply because each child is so unique. So, even numerous years of homeschooling,I’m nervous about giving any advice because it can be shot down instantaneously!

    Having said that, I was struck by your post and would like to just comment on a couple of things that stood out to me. Maybe we can get things rolling for someone else to come alongside and give us some more wisdom.

    It sounds like your son is turning into just the sort of young man that one would strive to be the mother of! Is not one reason for the liberal education to help a child see all the possibilities and allow God to lead in His direction? We cannot all always take part in all of the liberal arts. At some point we find our niche and settle in, though we never scorn the other areas. I do understand that you will say, “But he’s so young to be this far!” I agree…maybe.

    Then I would check the heart. Is it turned toward the Lord in service and his parents in honor and his siblings in love? Pray and ask God if this is rebellion or truly time to rearrange things. And rearranging does not necessarily mean giving them up. It’s amazing what my older guys still ‘catch’ as I work with the younger ones over the breakfast/lunch table.

    Do you have younger children? Can he take part in some student teaching?

    I have so many other thoughts but my guys are making lots of noise (hungry for lunch noises!)so I’d like to continue later (or wait to hear from other moms!)




    Thanks, Cindy. Yes, we have two younger boys, and so he could be “around” while we do those things. He really does have a good heart—definitely turned toward the Lord, and so I don’t know that this is out and out rebellion. He has always “presented” these things to us privately and respectfully, for discussion. He’s very good at arguing things out logically. For an example, Sunday he came to us privately. We’ve been reading an adaptation of the Odyssey out loud in the evenings and he did not want to read this on the Lord’s Day. He argued logically that we did not need to be reading about false gods on that day. Actually, we were pretty impressed by his argument and decided in that case to agree with him.

    He’s mostly pretty good with the younger ones, although when he is concentrating on something the noise level has started to bother him and he has, a few times, let the younger ones know that in an ungraceful way. (yes, we do deal with that when it happens)

    Sonya Shafer

    Great question, Michelle. And wonderful counsel, Cindy. Here’s another suggestion, for what it’s worth:

    Is there any way you can allow him freedom to tweak those subjects of spelling, art, and poetry more toward his interests? For example, could you challenge him with dictation passages that include medical terms or aviation terms? (I love those examples of his reasoning, BTW!) Could you assign him to study good animal artists and draw anatomically accurate animals or detailed planes? Didn’t Leonardo da Vinci make various animal (and human) anatomy studies in his notebooks? So he ‘d be in good company 🙂

    Poetry might be harder to tweak, but I would think that just growing up in an atmosphere where poetry is used often will go a long way. Maybe you could use his computer programming skills to sneak in a little Shakespeare by having him write a program for his younger siblings that reviews the play they’re studying or something like that? He would be typing those lines and reviewing them himself in the process, but we won’t mention that.

    Anyway, maybe showing him how those subjects are still relevant to the areas he’s interested in most will help him see their value. Just a thought.


    This is excellent, Sonya!

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