I?m going to write some of our experiences with our teen daughters. One of them is 15yo and she has always learnt at home. The younger daughter is 13yo and has always learnt at home except this year she spent 15 weeks at a small private Christian school until we moved interstate. She was home again until earlier this week when she started at a local state (public) school. Of course, as parents we still have the greatest responsibility and privilege of training and educating her despite the fact that she attends a school during the day.

When 13yodd first attended school she had to do some diagnostic testing. At first she was a little concerned about how she would fare with maths. Maths is a subject that although we do work on (in our own slow and steady way) she has not enjoyed, nor completely grasped. I explained to the school that I expected that she would be ?ahead? in some subjects and ?behind? in others. I thoroughly dislike all this sort of labeling and terminology but when in Rome?

She was ?behind? grade level with maths but very ahead with English and quite up to par in science, which is quite funny as we aren?t a big science studying family. However, as this school used a system that was self-directed and individual, she came to understand maths and as a result, came to love it! Then we moved interstate but by this time, maths was a great interest to 13yodd. We knew that attending school was a possibility and we told 13yodd that if she were to go to school, then she would have to get herself to grade level in maths. This was important to us as we felt that she would only get ?further behind? and then lose the love of maths as well as confidence. Well, completely on her own she has studied maths. I?m so proud of her. This isn?t something that I?ve pushed in any way. I don?t tend to push, cajole or insist upon lesson work from my teens as their education is their responsibility and I?m more than happy to facilitate in any way I can, but the ultimate responsibility for learning is theirs.

13yodd had her fourth day at school today. Her class had a maths test which she did not have to sit for, as she hasn?t been able to study any of the material, but she chose to anyway. She was actually quite shocked to find that there was only 8 questions and they were all multiple choice!!!!!! She thinks she did well. She also has a science test tomorrow which she will voluntarily sit for even though she hasn?t done any work on this material yet. I think she is pleasantly surprised at how much she actually does know ? even though we?ve always been fairly relaxed, natural-learning, literature based learners at home! She has often said (previously) that she doesn?t feel like we *do* much at home?in other words, we don?t have much to show for it?this is something I?d like to work on more but it always seems forced or artificial in our home whereas discussion and writing seems more natural.

13yodd is able to see how much time is wasted at school?and the futility of some much that goes on there but on the other hand she also enjoys some subjects that she wouldn?t otherwise have access to. Earlier this year, she made a coffee table and presently she is doing metalwork. This just doesn?t happen at our place- especially since we?ve been moving around and not living in our own home.

The Yr 8 class made muffins today in Home Economics class. It sounded like a real hoot to us. See 13yodd can make muffins with her eyes closed- been doing it for years! So she felt like the class was dumbed down as they all had to go step-by-step together. She didn?t have a tin of sweetened condensed milk so she asked the teacher if she could use normal milk instead, knowing that this would alter the measurements needed. The teacher sighed, seemed to get a bit cross but had to allow it. So 13yodd adds more milk as she was also using wholemeal spelt flour (it?s all we had here at home) and she knew she would need even more liquid. The teacher got upset at this too. Ah well, it?s a learning experience for 13yodd, that?s for sure.

I find some reassurance in it all (Hey, I have to get something out of it), in that we are learning HEAPS here at home, in our delight-directed, natural learning, literature based, unschooling life. Ultimately, it isn?t about academics?it?s about their hearts, their character, how much they care about the world and those around them.