The Teen Years: Finding a Balance Between Exam Led Learning and Delight Led Learning

At what age does the future of one’s children suddenly seem to matter more?  At what age does home school becomes something a little more serious, and a little less fun?  And when this does happen, how do you stop yourself panicking at the enormity of it all?

teen years

It hit me sometime last year and over the past six months or so I have been praying about the future.  For us, the academic year following the 16th birthday of a child is the year they can choose to go to college or sixth form or indeed stay at home for their 16-18 education.

Examination Goals

Here in the UK pupils traditionally take on average between 6 to 8 GCSE/IGCSEs during the year they turn 16, sometimes more.  These are used as a stepping stone to take A Levels, BTECs, Diplomas or to get a job.  The law has just changed here in the UK and states that every child is to remain in some sort of official learning until they turn 18.

It was always mine and Gary’s goal to see them through their IGCSEs, with each child taking at least six IGCSEs.  We will be requiring them to take Maths, English and Biology, leaving the rest of the subjects up to them.  If, like T, they wanted to sit more, then we would fully support that.

T took his first one in January just past, and is half way through the work required to take his Maths.  L and C (especially C) are biting at the bit to have a go too!

Gearing Learning Towards Exam Taking

T would like to take 8 IGCSEs.  His current choices are: Physics, Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, English and Religious Studies.  Come September, he will have only two more years left at our little home school (sniff).  He hopes to go to a sixth form collage, where he’d like to take A levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.

Our goal with regards to his IGCSEs is to take three next year and four the year after.

L13 will be taking five IGCSEs after which she hopes to study full-time for a Level 2 Art and Design diploma (the equivalent of four GCSEs).  The ones she has chosen are English, Maths, Biology, RS and English Literature.  Her goal is to study Art and Design to a higher level.  She is fairly certain, having discovered a flair for all things arty farty, that this is the area she wishes to pursue in the future.  She has three more years left at our home school.

C13 will be taking six IGCSEs at the moment.  This may well go up to seven if we find somewhere she can take a music GCSE.  The IGCSE subjects will be English, English Literature, Maths, Biology, Religious Studies and History.  Her goal is to take possible A levels at the local sixth form in Music, Drama, Media Studies and Religion & Philosophy.  She also has three years left in our home school.

They will use their morning times to study for their IGCSEs.  I will still be having morning meeting for an hour, but the rest of the time will be independent learning for my older three.

Delight-Led Learning

We LOVE project Based learning in this household, and in order for the projects to lead to the kind of in-depth learning I desire, I need to put my money where my mouth is, or at least my schedule where my intentions are.  To this end I will be leaving the afternoons completely free for project based work.  I want the children to have extended time exploring their gifts in a way which does not involve jumping through anyone’s hoops (including mine).

I am creating Pinterest boards for each child to use as a spring-board if they wish.  Apart from those I am backing off.  The children’s afternoons (apart from Monday) will be all about them individually rather than as a threesome or fivesome.  Gary and I will be providing financially for these projects in the best way we can.  I want the children to know their gifts are as important, if not more so, than their exams.  The exams (IGCSEs) will give them choice but really that is all.  They are but a stepping stone, a tiny part of the big picture.

T14 will continue with teaching himself guitar.  He would like to become proficient in lead, classical, rhythm and, once he has built his bass guitar, bass.  He will be using some of the time to build his bass as mentioned, as well as explore the local area on his mountain bike.  Once the large outdoor building is finished at the bottom of our garden, he will inherit Gary’s work shed as his own work shed, so who knows what he will find to tinker with in there 🙂  He will also be doing some research into the sixth form colleges he would like to attend and what sort of grades he needs for his IGCSEs to be accepted.

L13 will be working towards putting together an art portfolio, and so will spend the majority of her time teaching herself various different art forms using different media.  Being of an artistic temperament myself I can see us doing lots of artsy stuff together.  I am really looking forward to watching as she develops as an artist.  We may very well decide upon one piece of work together which she works on until completion.  Whatever the case, she has been really enjoying researching all that is out there.  I think it has really opened up her eyes to the variety of arts which she can learn if she wishes.

C13 is all about the music, writing and performance based arts.  She will continue with her music theory and her singing lessons (she is learning how to sing harmony right now).  The goal will be to reach Grade 5 within the next three years.  If/when she finishes her music theory she will begin piano lessons and again attempt to reach Grade 5 within the next three years.  We will be looking out for drama opportunities as well as performance opportunities – for example she attends a children’s choir who put on three live performances each year, and she will be part of Gary’s worship band when he plays at the adults with learning difficulties group.  Gary is the musical one in our family so he will probably be overseeing her work.

I am hoping this will give us all a perfect balance between exam led learning and delight led learning, and give the children the very best possible start to their adult life.

How will you be approaching these teen years?