Once again this year, I learned of the death of a homeschool parent/friend. The first time this happened, I learned of it when a man contacted me, trying to figure out what his son had been learning and where to go from here. He’d left the homeschooling to his wife. She’d kept the records, purchased materials, took care of lessons, etc. while he’d been busy earning a living to pay their bills. But then, in the midst of their grief, he realized that he didn’t have a clue what his son had already studied, and his son wasn’t exactly a wealth of information.
Perhaps it was the natural tendency of some teens to not want to go into detail about their lives with a parent who wasn’t really keeping tabs prior to this. Perhaps it was the result of his grief–I’ve been in that fog of grief that makes it hard to comprehend the simplest conversation, let alone remember and coherently share details about anything. Or perhaps he’d just worked on what his mom set up and hadn’t really paid attention to the overall structure of their lessons and what he’d finished. Perhaps the structure of his education had fallen apart as his mom had grown ill, and he’d had to cope with helping her and keeping the house going. Whatever the reason, the young man wasn’t able to put together a list of what he’d covered as part of his high school studies, and his father was afraid that his son would just have to start high school studies all over again.
Worse yet, months after I helped this man figure it out and make a plan, I heard from another family member going through the same thing. Apparently the dad hadn’t been able to manage, and the teenager was then sent to live with another relative, but dad hadn’t been together enough to send his notes nor information about the educational plan to this relative. So the problem continued for a few more months. Grief can be an all-consuming thing to deal with and it had been too much for this family.
This past week, as I heard about the death of yet another homeschool parent and friend, I updated my teenagers’ records. I updated their transcripts on our computer and printed out copies and put them in the binders where I keep their portfolios; I’ve worked on updating their course descriptions and writing out the plan for this coming school year. I’m not planning on anything happening to me, but I know that few get a say in when they meet their demise. If something happens to me, I don’t want my grief-stricken husband trying to figure out what courses the kids have finished and what they haven’t. And while I know they’ll be able to explain that they’ve finished Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry, the classes that we pieced together from a variety of clubs and co-ops or activities or did in more unschool-y ways, might be beyond them to explain–particularly if they are grieving.