Consider all options. That has become our mantra when it comes to our sons’ education.
There was a time, many years ago, when we fully expected that our sons would follow the standard path through school. We figured they would go through elementary, middle, and high school just like millions of other kids do. And then, we expected to watch them cross the stage and receive their high school diploma, just like John and I did.
My, how things have changed!
Shortly after returning to Idaho over two years ago, I wrote an update about what we planned to do about our sons’ education. At that time, we were thrilled that we had discovered a special program offered through the Boise Public Schools that was exclusively for advanced math and science courses. We enrolled our sons to see how that would work.
It worked beautifully!
And now, two years on, what does our sons’ educational program look like?
Basically, we’ve learned to consider all options and not discount anything until we’ve ascertained that it won’t meet their needs. Nothing. And that open-ness has led to all kinds of incredible opportunities!
What we’ve done for the past two years
1) Advanced math and science classes through Boise Public Schools
Our boys have continued with their classes through the local school district. They are each taking a math class and two science classes. What I love about this program is that it’s not based around how many years you’ve been on our planet, but rather on what you bring to the table. The classes are all filled with kids of many different ages and they all work together and respect one another for what they can do. Daryl is now taking two AP classes – Calculus and Physics – so he should have his first college credits within a month.
2) PE through Boise Public Schools
As you could maybe guess, our sons love physical activity! While we were perfectly capable of getting them out and about on bikes or hikes, what we couldn’t provide was the group activities. They each chose to take a PE class through the local school before being bussed over to their math/science program.
3) FIRST Robotics
For a couple of kids who have long been fascinated by all things robotic, FIRST has been an incredible program for them. This program has nothing to do with the school, but is one of the best educational opportunities I’ve ever seen. Through FIRST, Davy and Daryl have a chance to work one-on-one with professional engineers who serve as mentors to design, build, and program robots. What an opportunity! (For those not familiar with FIRST, read here: What’s this FIRST Robotics stuff all about?)
4) Boy Scouts
D & D have been involved with Boy Scouts since our return to Idaho. Although they don’t really care about amassing merit badges like some of the kids, they enjoy the activities and campouts. We’re good with that, and figure they will learn what they learn.
Daryl has opted to be on the swim team at the Boise YMCA, while Davy has taken up running. The Boise schools have allowed Davy to participate in both cross country and track, which has been a wonderful program for him.
What we like about this program
For Davy and Daryl, this program has been perfect.
- It has allowed them to pursue their passions and learn what they are interested in.
- They are excited about learning. Notice I said learning, not school? In our family, it’s all about learning – not bringing home good grades. We never, ever ask them to do their homework – they do it because they enjoy their classes and they want to keep up, not because we demand it of them.
- The schedule works for them. They both love to stay up late, and sleep in late. This program, having them start their classes at 10 in the morning, has worked out well.
- When the kids see a need, they can jump on it. For example, as we drove to the robotics competition in Spokane last month, another high school kid rode with us. She was passionate about history and was talking about her AP World History class and why the Treaty of Versailles and other world events were so important. My sons had never before been interested in world history, but are now considering taking AP World History.
- Because they are not locked in to a particular schedule, they are free to explore other options. For next year, they have decided to take an electronics class. They know that this class will feed directly into their robotics passion, so they can’t wait to get started.
Basically, what I’ve seen by handing the reins over to our sons, their education is completely tailored to what they want/need. Both Davy and Daryl are considering some sort of engineering for the future, and they are building up a platform that will help them tremendously in that endeavor. And besides, they love learning – and that’s what *I* am most happy about!