Thursday, October 4, 2018

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests?

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How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

No matter how long we've been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another.

One question we've continually worked on answering in our homeschool is this one:

How do you focus on your student's unique interests?

It seemed pretty easy when they were young. If I noticed that a particular topic seemed to spark their interest, that's what I'd zero in on for science or for unit studies. That's something that might encourage them to read more on their own. My oldest son was super focused on sports statistics when he was little, so guess how we learned math? One year the boys got pretty interested in sharks and whales, so our science went from general zoology to a big unit study on ocean life. And if you follow my blog, you may have noticed that my daughter loves music and art. Not only have we encouraged her to use and develop her talents, but when we studied history, we made sure to take a look at the music and art of particular time periods and cultures.

But once a student reaches high school, there's all those required credits to think about. So how have we been doing that? Kennady loves music, she's interested in music-related careers, so how do we focus on music without neglecting math, science, and technology?

First, the obvious approach is to allow and encourage her musical study and talent as much as possible. This has meant guitar lessons, Children's Chorus, and plenty of opportunities to sing and play. Each year of high school she has earned at least two music credits - one full credit for guitar and one full credit for voice (chorus).

She takes guitar lessons every week and plays with the worship team at least every other week at church. She absolutely loves the ukulele too, and owns several. She is planning on starting to offer beginner guitar and ukulele lessons to one or two students, as she'd like to eventually build up her own teaching studio.

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Children's Chorus provides a comprehensive music education and performance program. She is in the upper level chorus, which prepares and performs some pretty challenging pieces, many of which are college level! Most of their music is memorized, and they sing in different styles and languages. She's also traveled with the chorus for choral festivals and adjudications to Philadelphia, New York (performing at Carnegie Hall!), and New Orleans. Last year she also earned an additional credit, as she worked as an intern/director's assistant with one of the younger chorus groups. She enjoyed the experience, but ultimately decided to teaching or directing a chorus was not what she wanted to pursue as part of her career package, so she didn't continue as an intern this year.

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

By the way, we log hours at guitar lessons, worship team rehearsals, and guitar performances for the purpose of awarding the credit. It has never been necessary for us to try and record her personal practice hours, because there is more than enough in lesson and performance times to justify the credit. We also keep hours for chorus rehearsals and performances for the credit. 

Those are obvious ways to focus on her interests, but what about applying the interest in music to other subject areas? A Technology credit, for example, which is a required credit in our group. Yes, we could have just done a traditional tech credit - something like web design or automotive - but nothing like that sounded appealing to her. We started to consider how we could tie technology and music together, and at first I thought maybe she could learn something to do with sound mixing and production, but it wasn't coming together easily. Then she started working part-time at the piano shop, and got a chance to help a little with some piano repairs. This was interesting to her, and spawned an idea -  what if she could learn about tuning and repairing pianos, even as an unpaid intern? We were still thinking about how we could make that proposal to the shop, when they made the offer to her!  So part of her job now includes training for a Piano Technician job. She's learning about the inner workings of pianos, and how to do tuning, repairs, and refurbishing, so she is basically earning an apprenticeship credit.

How Do You Focus on Your Student's Unique Interests? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Because this is an unusual high school credit that doesn't come out of a textbook, we are writing a course description summarizing the objectives, and the skills she's acquiring.  We will log the hours spent on the training and will hopefully get some documentation from her employer as well. We'll be using (and we highly recommend!) the resource Internship for High School Credit  from Apologia Educational Ministries to help us document this particular credit.

Internship for High School Credit - from Apologia (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

(Read our full review here: Internship for High School Credit - from Apologia (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review) We wrote the review before we had any idea that this particular internship was a possibility!)
Internship for High School Credit - from Apologia (A Homeschool Coffee Break Review for the Homeschool Review Crew) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

How do you tailor your homeschool to suit your students? What makes your homeschool unique? Leave a comment and let me know what works for you - or leave a homeschool question you're curious about.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for the Our Special Homeschool Round-up to read more about the unique homeschool situations of other Crew members. (October 5, 2018)

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3 comments:

Chareen said...

Thank you for sharing Kym. You are so right even though I've been homeschooling for twenty years I still ask how and why to other home educators :) Piano tech work sounds interesting and if you were closer I'd ask her to please come look at our piano.

Kym Thorpe said...

Chareen, I've had so many friends ask me if Kennady would be able to repair their piano or at least give some advice once she's had a bit more training!

Mia White said...

Love this! And (though we are huge Apologia fans at our house) I had never heard about that internship notebook/program!

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