Not long ago, my resident high school senior, Franklin, asked me which Physics book I thought he should work through. We have Saxon Physics, a challenging text which contains tons of math along with physics, and another physics text that is not so heavy on the math side of things but is still a very good intro to physics.
Note: I allow the kids to do science OR history in a semester’s time. They complete the book of choice in one semester by studying the subject more intensely each day instead of flipping back and forth between the two subjects each day. In this way, the student goes deeper into the subject at one time, allowing for better understanding and retention. If the student prefers to do both science and history, he/she may.
I give a choice because choice is motivating!
Give as much choice and control to your students as possible, and they will have more motivation than if you decided everything for them.
Back to Franklin’s question: which Physics text did I recommend? I asked him what he wanted to do. His answer was, “I want to tackle the Saxon Physics because it will give me more math which will get me better prepared for college. The more I learn now, the better off I will be in the fall.”
The bottom line: Franklin wants to spend as much time as possible on the ice in college. He is going to school to play hockey, really. But he knows that the education side is important too. Do you see his line of thinking here? With a computer science major, math will be important. He is choosing to take the hard road now so he has some breathing room in the fall.
Yeah, baby. That’s the way we want our kids to think: how does what I am doing now prepare me for what I want to do in the future? If kids can make that connection, motivation happens!
Sure, there are going to be some things that the high schooler just has to study that he or she may not be particularly interested in learning. But the beauty of homeschool is that the student can choose to focus on his strengths in order to hone those skills and interests and be ready for his next step post-high school.
One of the best things we can do with our high schoolers is to have them look down the road and see where they want to be, and then backtrack to the present, see where they are right now, and help them devise a plan to get to where they want to ultimately be. With Franklin, Tim and I spent Tim with him, looking at his best plan of attack for getting to the NHL since that is his goal, no pun intended. A lofty goal? Absolutely! Attainable? Absolutely! He has a plan for getting there now. The rest is up to him. A young adult’s goals may change, but having goals in place makes all the difference when it comes to motivation.
Incidentally, I would have chosen the physics book with less math in it, if I were the one taking the course. Does that make me less motivated than my son? Not at all. I know that time is short, and I don’t want to waste time on stuff that I don’t need and am not interested in. I’d much rather hone my strengths than waste time on stuff that just doesn’t make sense to me. After all, I’m the Mom; I Don’t Have to Know Calculus (if I don’t want to.) And I don’t want to.