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       Don’t lower your arrow.
       While other cultural studies are important, we are limited in time and energy during high school.  We cannot study everything there is to know, so we must necessarily limit.  Western Civilization, with its root of Judeo-Christian culture, is our Christian and American heritage and therefore our focus for high school. 
     Your student has this unique opportunity to receive a quality classical education based on a scriptural worldview, Great Books of the Judeo-Christian Western civilization, Francis Schaeffer books, and primary source documents.  We use Cornerstone Curriculum for our world view studies that infuses Christianity into all academic subjects.  This series features the “best of the best” for each time period.  In addition, all study is mentored learning with Socratic discussions.  This allows for a safe forum to discuss challenging current events or difficult concepts with encouraging and supportive peers.
       We know the statistics. One Barna polls cites that “only 20 percent of students who were highly churched as teens remained spiritually active by age 29.”1 Do we want to quit now for that end result?
       Our aim is for students to claim their Christian faith and educational goals to produce a satisfying sense of accomplishment.  But more importantly, the goal is for students to express their faith as they assess ideas and communicate them using rhetoric skills in a winsome and engaging way to a culture that sorely needs Christ’s redeeming effects.
       Students may not get this opportunity to have a Great Books education from a Christian perspective in college.  Now is the time! Raise the arrow and aim true. Christ changed the world and we want our students to see and experience His world-changing influence and to empower them for life in the 21st century.
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THE TOP 10 REASONS TO HOMESCHOOL THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL 
You SHOULD homeschool  through high school if:
 
1. You want real education, a liberal education.  You desire the full-orbed perspective of a free mind that can interpret all angles of an issue, event, or idea. You want to teach her your Christian views, your values, your heart.
2.
Your expectations have diminished. While you enter high school with lots of plans, you adjust and modify as you go along, and that’s okay. You consider what is available to you, and then choose a course of study to suit the specific unique needs of your young adult. You’re flexible.  Even though you may not get to Menander or Juvenal, you decide you don’t need to anyway. You sift the good and savor the great.  You know she will read and study the Aeneid and The Federalist Papers.  She can discuss the stuff of great ideas.
3.
You can’t teach calculus, but it is okay because you know there are resources ready—online coursework, excellent books, tutoring, or community college.  You shouldn’t teach every little thing anymore, but you can teach some.
4.
You want your child to participate in and appreciate great music and art, theology, politics, and philosophy.  You want her to explore museums and travel, to develop strong habits and hobbies, to become a master violinist, or a master at something.  You want family time and still have time for strong academics.
5.
You want her to get “leadership” education, to be a free-standing citizen with unique views which address the needs of our future society.
6.
You want her to be distinctive, desirable, and determined rather than peer dependent. You want her to be able to stand alone, to stand above, to stand strong.  You want to help her discern her strengths, to know herself, to know she can.
7.
You want your child to make friends—with her siblings and classmates, with her grandparents while you still have them, with her debate partner, and her new boss.  You want her to learn how to perceive people’s needs, how to reason through situations rather than react, how to problem solve and work with others, how to comfortably communicate her values and views. You want her to be accepting of others, to understand their unique needs and to know her niche.
8.
You want her to be acceptable.  She has rough edges and you want her well-rounded.  You think that more time with mom and mentors will improve her character. 
9.
You like your child, nearly a woman.  You want time with her, to see her lead small groups, to give speeches, and to try new things while you are still nearby to give a nudge or a clap.  You want those next few years, those last four, which you’ll never have again.
10. 
You aren’t done talking with your child. You are still discussing world events, your values, and your opinions and you want her to codify, embrace, and share hers. At this prime rhetoric stage, when young adults can reason and think and begin to embrace and articulate their own views, you want to be there to hear them!
       You don’t have to homeschool through high school, but you can.  We’re here for you, beside you.  We have experiences to share.  We’ve been through it all in these last several years— illness and death, aging parents, newborn babes, disasters, diatribes, and duties.  But it all works together for our good.
       It is only four years, four more years.  It is only a few weeks, wonderful weeks.  It is grueling, great, and grand. It is hard to graciously guide a teen at puberty when you’re menopausal!  It is scary to slam against the “algebra wall” and relearn what you never knew before.  It is great to see your tottering teen show talent, the promise that she’ll truly turn out. 
       And you turn into a gentle woman.  You find deep within you that perseverance you didn’t know you had, the faith to believe in the unseen, the knowledge you can know more.
       You can choose those four years, those last years with your child.   Last week she was learning to walk.  This week she’s walking the aisle, a young woman.  When she nods her head and the gold tassel glistens, when she gives you your single, long-stemmed rose--with eyes sparkling and smile shining--she says, “Thanks mom for teaching me,” you’ll know the weight of those words.  They’re worth it.  They are 18 years together—precious and priceless. Wrap your arms around them and embrace them.  
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WHAT ARE THE  4 Rs OF RHETORIC SKILLS?
       Rather than skim through a cursory study of an overwhelming compilation of Greco-Roman works, students study deeply the very “best of the best” Great Books and original sources featured in the Great Conversation that Mortimer Adler refers to in the Great Books tradition.  They’ll discover for themselves the thoughts and ideas of those people who have influenced Western culture.

4 R’s:  Students are required to actively participate in learning by:
            Researching the subject or study, first from a Biblical view
            Reasoning through and identifying the leading ideas and basic principles  with syllabus work
            Relating it to other areas of study and the world around them through Socratic discussions
            Recording  what was learned in the syllabus as well as writing and presentations
Students first look at the subject of study biblically, then read the Great Books and classics to identify what these key thinkers say.  Secondly, they reason through these ideas with syllabus questions.  But we don’t stop there!  Next, we frame these views by mentored Socratic discussion, relating them to previous study and current culture.  In our online classroom, students see and hear other students in discussion time as all participate!  Finally, students exercise rhetorical skills by codifying their understanding in writing and presentations.
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IT'S SEPTEMBER.  READY TO QUIT HOMESCHOOLING NOW?

       Yup, been there, done that. We've graduated three with one left to go. It can be done. It can be hard. It can be immensely rewarding. Mostly, we have to know that we are doing what God wants us to do. Rise up and feel His pleasure!
       During my first year homeschooling, in the "Dark Ages" when no soul in all of California was homeschooling (wink), I was nervous that we wouldn't "do it right" and cover everything. It was weird radical stuff! What will people think? What will my mom think? What will I think???
       Well, in the spring I got pneumonia, the kind where you curl up in a ball in bed and ignore everyone and everything and just try to breathe. My girls played with their Barbies and books near my bed; I breathed. We didn't homeschool for three whole weeks. Heavens! I'd get behind! (I wasn't worried about it, though; I was just trying to breathe. I honestly thought I might die. I didn't.) My new homeschool friend took my girls to library story time for me (yup! There WERE other homeschoolers in California!) And we survived to homeschool another day. And I lost 15 pounds. :)
       Later, I was homeschooling two girls and then we had the two babies, I got so busy I couldn't homeschool! At least, not the way the books all say. Being a perfect mom, I still wanted to do it "right" the way the teacher guides told me to do it, to be sure we did all the quizzes and tests and didn't miss anything. That was the only "real" way to do school, wasn't it? But the babies needed attention, too. I couldn't ignore them for five years while I did "real school" with the older girls all day, then expect the babies to magically grow up and be ready to listen to me and be eager to learn at age 5.5.
      So the girls learned about babies, about child development, about how to cook and how to do household chores. It wasn't necessarily my vision of what a "good homeschool" should look like but it turned out to be good for them. My seven year old had to wait while I changed a diaper or fed the baby. She taught herself all along the way and my 11yo had to teach herself algebra! Self-teaching became a useful skill for them in college. :)
I've homeschooled 27 years through:
            pneumonia
            times with no curriculum
            times when there were too many choices of curriculum!
            morning sickness
            babies
            births
            several major moves across country
            several major moves back again
            house sales
            miscarriages
            getting a rental home long-distance
            new states to live in with new doctors, churches and friends
            new career and education for husband
            new hobbies
            new clubs and activities for the kids
            no support group
            lots of support groups! (Which one to join?)
            a close knit support group I had to leave
            a new support group I had to develop
            leaving all my family and cousins in California
            puberty drama
            menopause
            sick parents
            cancer
            disease
            hospitalizations
            wedding planning
            work
            my husband's disability
       I've always watched to see what God would provide. Does my child need friends? A new math program? Or determination? What will God provide? He loves this kid. He really does! He knows what this kid needs. And He knows what I can handle. It can be exciting to see the way that He provides!
       Right now we are living with my in-laws and all our stuff is still in storage. Eight years.
       A few years ago, my husband got cancer. Later, he developed a terrible disease, was in the hospital all summer, had open heart surgery, and became disabled.  Last year, he died. This is not the way I had it all planned out! This is not the environment I would have chosen for my child. This is not school!
       I would have had a strong husband, a nice house, and personal peace and affluence! A life of ease is my personal choice. But God chooses for me, and I can trust Him that it is good. He doesn't make mistakes. Never. He knows what kind of environment and upbringing these children need. They see me wait patiently to hear Grandma's story again. They see me get slippers for their dad whose legs hurt today. I'm not a gentle and quiet woman, but God is remaking me into the kind of woman these kids need to see.
       I'm learning to widen my vision of "homeschool" beyond teacher guides and book work, beyond 9-3. We are to inculcate our Christian values, but that means we have to develop authentic relationships with our children, to be "real." What better way than in our homes, during hard times? It's hard to be weak and needy in front my kids. It's hard to show them my adult side, but they also are older now and need to grow up. They need to own their education and their choices. As I become transparent, my rough edges, and my children's rough edges, are being polished in the rock tumbler of life, and God calls it good.
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WHAT IS CLASSICAL EDUCATION? AND WHY DO I NEED IT IN HIGH SCHOOL?
 
It's hard to keep up with your high school student and mentor him if you don't read all the books, too.  How can we continue to homeschool in high school if we can’t keep up and still do all the other things we’re supposed to do?
       It’s a false dilemma.  Nowhere does it say we have to do textbooks with tests and quizzes to do “real” education. In fact, I put to you the Thomas Jefferson Education model—use mentors and classics.  Let the students read the stuff of good ideas.  Discuss them around the dinner table, guiding their thinking and helping them see alternate views.  Mostly, show them that there is a God who is truly is there. 
       But you don't have to do it alone. 
       While my husband was seriously sick, I spent a lot of time sitting with him in the hospital, reading some of our books we use in this program, Job and Afflictions of all things!  It ministered to me and gave me the confidence to communicate truths about suffering.  By God’s grace, I delivered his eulogy. 
       I was asked to speak at a ladies’ homeschool tea at Christmas recently, shortly after my husband died.   I argued with the lady:   Surely they don’t want me to talk about suffering at a Christmas party!   She insisted.  I knew it would be hard for me, as my grief is so tender. But I also know the pressures homeschool moms face and how defeated we can feel, and I wanted to encourage them to persevere and press on for the prize. 
       It is not that we masterfully and perfect homeschool our children.  We are not creating perfect Christians.  We are responsible, however, to be faithful in helping our children to a solid Christian education with the best resources and materials available.    How can we do it?
       By high school, we really can’t do everything, nor should we necessarily do so.  Students need interaction with others, to be mentored by a few others “besides mom,” and to try out presentations and ideas—before they leave home and are challenged with conflicting views. In all my classes, I encourage parents to read these works, too.  Some do all the books but most do every third book or so.  They don't have to carry the load alone.
       In our Cornerstone Tutorials, a parent's burden of having to do it "all" in order to do it "right" is lifted.  They get help.  In fact, parents are able to view archived sessions at their leisure! I've also built in quarterly breaks so enrolled families have family and holiday time, too.  
       So why not just give them the books and let them work through the series?  Here's why:
CLASSICAL EDUCATION
       In classical education, the youngest children soak up facts, details, and content.   We usually can manage this level of curriculum because we’re dealing with facts.   We don't have to think too hard. :)
       In middle school dialectic stage, students begin to sort facts and filter them logically based on specific criteria.  Like algebra, there are many ways of getting to an answer.   Now it gets tougher.  At the dialectic stage, we don’t want to tell the student what to believe.  We do want them to discover and claim it as their own, but they need guidance.
RHETORIC
       Our Cornerstone Tutorials is a rhetoric level course of study:
       High school students need to develop and exercise rhetoric skills.  They take the content (grammar school details), filter them into logical organizations (dialectic), and evaluate them.  But they go beyond that to develop rhetoric skills when they learn to express these ideas in speech and writing.  The point of this curriculum is to learn to identify views and to analyze and assimilate Christian truths, but it is also meant to communicate them to a 21st Century world.  
STUDY DEEPLY A FEW WORKS
       So really, they first research the subject and read about it from a Biblical view.
       Next, they identify key ideas and reason through them, writing answers in their syllabus.  They begin to grasp it.  But we don’t stop there. 
       They must relate these ideas to other areas of study and real-world applications through Socratic discussions.  This is where they begin to assimilate and voice these truths. Additionally, they have opportunity to hear opposing viewpoints in a supportive environment with our tutorials, and to clarify and refine opinion in a safe setting. Parents have access to recorded sessions so they can continue the discussion in their homes.
       Finally, students record these ideas and codify them, presenting them in speech and writing in a compelling, winsome way.  This is when they claim them for their own.  This is where I come alongside you in your homeschooling to assist in these rhetoric skills. 
       The goal is for students to own their faith as they assess ideas and communicate them using rhetoric skills in a compelling and engaging way to a culture that sorely needs Christ’s redeeming effects. Let me partner with you in this task.

 ©Cathy Flowers