~ A Homeschooled Senior’s Biography ~

June 29, 2010

Could I possibly post a worse picture?

Sadly, I was so caught up in the action of the day that I never got a REALLY good picture of Taylor at graduation.  I have a family picture of all of us, but none of Mom, Dad, and Graduate. Ugh! Bad mom!! *insert frowny face here*

What is happening in this pic is Tim has just handed Taylor his diploma, has shaken his hand, and then Taylor turned and handed me a rose. I am helplessly blinking back the tears.

At the end of the ceremony ~ you know where the graduates all toss their hats jubilantly into the air? ~ well, Taylor’s hat never came back down. It got stuck on a speaker thingy up there and most likely has yet to descend. AND the reception was immediately following the ceremony, so of course the graduates took off their gowns on the way to the reception area. (I’m sorry Taylor! I’ll do better next time!)

What I wanted to share with you is not a picture anyway. It is what Taylor had written in his Senior Biography that appeared in the graduation program itself.

Why do I want to share this with you? Why would you even care?

Well, in my last post I commented on Taylor’s academic achievements, but hopefully by reading his biography in this post you’ll see why I (also) cried tears of joy upon reading the piece he wrote which attempts to summarize his life thus far…in 225 words or less.

For Tim and I, our ultimate goal as homeschooling parents is not at all academic in nature.

Wait…I’ll hush and let you read for yourself.

Taylor Nathaniel Calderwood

November 27, 1991: that’s when it all started.

That single point in time marks the beginning of this crazy and wonderful adventure I know as my life.

God saw fit to give me to Tim and Joanne Calderwood; and what’s more, He gave them to me. I was their third child, the surprise child. Little did they know, they would eventually wind up with eight. These two amazing people have made me who I am. They taught me to walk, they taught me to read, and they taught me to love knowledge and never stop learning; but most importantly, they introduced me to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and showed me how to live.

My early childhood was full of tree climbing, freeze tag, secret hideouts, firefly catching, construction paper art, homemade theater productions, make-believe dragons, innumerable Lego and K’nex creations, and countless other activities, episodes, and adventures. Day to day and year to year, time has taken me on a marvelous journey, and I could not have asked for better traveling companions than the extraordinary people I am so blessed as to call family.

So, here I stand. I am now graduating high school and preparing to make my way in a large and unfamiliar world. My current plans are to attend Lee university in the fall, major in who-knows-what, and pursue a career in the same field. Whatever direction I finally decide to take, I aspire only to know without a doubt that I’m doing what the Lord has called me to do.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

That my children should grow into mature men and women who seek first His kingdom…

…that, THAT is my calling as a mother.

All o’ us

Wall: Nick (20), Tim (older than me), Taylor (17), Franklin (16)

3rd row: Olivia (14), Me (No way!), Lauren (19)

2nd row: Lydia (10) and Adrienne (12)

Front: Lilienne (8)


~ So much to tell you since last I blogged! ~

June 25, 2010

Let’s just get it out into the open: I am not a terrific blogger.

With that said, with that sad point recognized, I will sincerely apologize and try to do better.  You know, it is hard to know what makes for good reading, what might perchance be helpful to my faithful five readers and what I should just keep to myself.

I didn’t even look to see what I last blogged about…so how about I just start with a rundown of what has been happening in our household since….well, since May?

In early May, two of my sons and I went to Lee University to pick up my daughter, Lauren, and her stuff. Well, she has a car, so literally she picked up herself, but we helped her bring home the contents of her room. She has just finished her sophomore year and has retained her 4.0 average.

Just so you know, Tim and I do not put a premium on our kids maintaining a 4.0 average in college. The college kids just know that they have to work hard in order to maintain their scholarships, and Lauren has been working very hard indeed. In fact, Lauren is taking two sessions of summer school back to back to have some extra fun in the sun. (She also makes two thousand dollars cash back simply for attending summer school because of her scholarships. Good deal. ) So Lauren was home for a week after her sophomore year ended, went back to college for two back-to-back summer sessions, and next Thursday she comes home for the remainder of the summer. Yay! Can’t wait!! That’s Lauren.

Nick came home from college for the summer and was here for precisely two days before leaving for two weeks in Moscow.  Why Moscow? Believe it or not, Moscow is host to the Russian version of the Dove Awards and CMA, the Christian Music Association. This was their second year of having a CMA week,  I believe, and Petra’s lead singer, John Schlitt, was this year’s host. CHRISTIAN MUSIC in RUSSIA! Pardon me, but I think that is pretty amazing!!! Out in the open. In Moscow. Red Square. Incredible.

Nick started a group at Belmont called the Christian Artist’s Fellowship in tandem with a really cool homeschool dad/pastor, and this was their first year to take a group to Russia for the aforementioned event. They had a wonderful time, met some on-fire Believers, and participated in the Russian CMA stuff.

Since Nick’s major at school is music business, he was very interested in the infant Christian music scene. He came back feeling like he may have found his calling, which is really wonderful to hear as long as I don’t fixate on the fact that his calling may be in the Soviet Union.

Next week my firstborn moves into his own apartment. Sigh. It is all good though, and I know Nick is open to where the Lord leads him. I am thankful that currently that road leads to Nashville. For now.

That brings us to Taylor, who just graduated from high school in early May.  I am so proud of Taylor! Not only did he rank first out of his class of 919 seniors  in our umbrella school, but he scored so high on the SAT that he has the next four years of college paid for. With cash back, just like Lauren. In fact, Taylor has chosen Lee University for their pre-dental department excellence.

Yeah, it would be good to have a dentist in the family. Perhaps he can eventually become team dentist for whatever hockey club Franklin ends up playing for. Ha! (If you follow my Facebook, you will know how I feel about dentistry. I have a hard time with trust, okay?)

Note to self: Remember how worried you were last year when Taylor had no idea what he wanted to pursue, let alone what college to pursue it at? Franklin is at that point now. It will work out. God has a plan. Chill. Breathe.

Okay, I’m better now.

It is wonderful to watch your children walk out into the realm of independence that we call adulthood. Because of the self-teaching methodology we’ve used for years, the kids have all been very well prepared for college-level work. Of course they have had adjustments to make once they landed at their respective colleges, but they’ve learned to balance work and play. (I, however, will forever roll my eyes at the mention of Xbox and Halo as recreation, but that is just a hang-up I have. I’m old.)

Because I have written extensively about self-learning and mastery learning, we kind of live in a fishbowl academically. “The Great Education Experiment” continues in our household with child #3 now graduating. Just as a passing note, Nick was ranked first out of 1,023 seniors in his class, and Lauren was ranked 8th out of 1,024 high school seniors.

Coincidence that all three have done so well? I really don’t think so. I certainly don’t take credit for it! Each of my high school graduates has worked hard to get where they are.

My job, especially in the high school years, has been to provide the kids with textbooks and a planner, and I’ve looked over their shoulders to provide accountability.  They were self-motivated BECAUSE I was NOT a helicopter parent: always hovering. I am convinced that taking a “You can do it” approach is so much  better than a “I’m going to tell you what to do, and then you can do it” approach. By taking myself out of the equation, I have put the burden of their education squarely on their shoulders, where it belongs! (I am the parent, I don’t have to study biology!)

Incidentally, homeschooling high school is a piece of cake! In case anyone is wondering, high school is much easier to homeschool than the elementary years. I mean, once you have taught your kids, literally TAUGHT your children to read, to write, and to do basic mathematical functions, you have given them the tools they need for the ensuing steps. You’ve just done the hard stuff! And it is step by step, one day at a time from there. If I can do it, anyone can. I mean that more than anyone could possibly know. I have staked my children’s education on the fact that they can teach themselves better than I could teach them and without constant supervision.  So far, so good.

Flashback. My experience as a classroom teacher taught me that you get what you expect. There are some really amazing studies out there about teachers and expectations (or lack thereof) and the corresponding results of  students. Visit http://www.greaterexpectations.org/briefing_papers/ImproveStudentLearning.html if you are interested in some really cool reading on this subject. I am simply fascinated by the psychological ramifications of expectations/lack of expectations.

However, in the school system, a teacher has limited influence over the students. I saw time after time that my highest achieving students were those whose parents were interested in their classroom performance. You can tell which children have serious issues in the home, as those issues can’t help but seep into the classroom, sadly. But I digress.

In the homeschool realm, parents hold the key to homeschool excellence not by standing over students and guiding them every step of the way (except in the early years when we are most definitely hands-on with our first and second graders), but by trusting their students, by setting out expectations of excellence, of expecting the student to do what he/she is supposed to do without grumbling and complaining.

Parents begin molding the hearts of their children from day one, and once they have their children’s hearts, they can then trust their children with the freedom to self-teach.

Self-teaching is a privilege that must be earned in our home.  If a student is not really studying or is not really putting in the effort that is expected, I will eventually find out, and the consequence is to lose his self-learning freedom. Yep, it has happened on occasion, especially if I have not been diligent in my accountability role.

The kids really see this as punishment! They don’t want me hovering over them, checking their every move. They want to be trusted. But they have to earn that trust and maintain that trust. And I have to inspect what I expect.

Hmmmm. I’ve only managed to catch you up on May, for the most part anyway, and only with three kids.  Perhaps I will just say that the other five kids finished out the school year….well…we kind of fizzled out, actually.  But only because URtheMom.com has kept us so, so busy. (It is okay to fizzle, by the way. We did well throughout the year, so I gave us permission to fizzle.) We did finish our requirements, lest you wonder.

I’m now busy working in the office, invoicing and shipping out materials to customers daily. Trying to keep up with e-mail. (I’m sorry if I owe you an e-mail. ) Summer is by far the busiest time of the year, and I have enlisted help, welcoming a new employee on board. Throw in planning self-learning bootcamps, writing/sending newsletters, writing articles for a couple publications, and doing transcription work on the side for an online company, and you will see why I am a terrible blogger.  Oh–I occasionally cook a meal and do a load of laundry.

So why anyone would want to know this stuff is beyond me.  But that is what blogging is all about, so I am told:  sharing the details of life. So here are some mundane details. Hopefully it is nap time for you, and I’ve helped you wind down. LOL.

One last sneak-peek for you: it is 12:00 a.m. on the dot, and everyone (including my 8-year-old) is still up and here in the family room…except for Lauren who is in the Eastern time zone. She is most likely still awake as well.  Ah, summer time.

I hope you are enjoying your summer family time as well! 🙂

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