About Melissa Camara Wilkins

Melissa Camara Wilkins is a homeschooling mom of six in Southern California. She writes about being who you were made to be and letting go of the rest.

To the mamas of high school seniors-to-be

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

T his fall, my youngest daughter will be kindergarten-aged and my oldest daughter will be a freshman in college. When I say “freshman in college” I mean “that thing where she moves away to live in a dorm and does not come home until maybe Thanksgiving.” What on earth is happening here.

(We also have two more elementary-school-aged kids, a middle schooler, and another high schooler, so I basically have the whole spectrum of educational opportunities going on under my roof right now.)

This last year has felt like a whirlwind of applications and deadlines and college visits and plans, and when I think about all the mamas of high school seniors-to-be, I want to give every one of you a hug. This is hard.

No matter what path your almost-grown child chooses next, it’s hard to be heading into the end of this phase of parenting.

What I want you to know

I would tell you not to freak out, but if you’re anything like me, you started freaking out about your child growing up and moving out somewhere around the day they were born, so I assume that ship has sailed.

Instead, this is what I want you to know as you step into this last year of parenting your high schooler:

It’s all going to be okay. And at the same time: “Okay” may look nothing like you thought it would.

[Read more…]

What do unschooled teens do all day?

What do unschooled teens DO all day? Ideas and resources for interest-led learning for teenagers.Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Teenagers are awesome.

The teenagers I know have interesting ideas, share perspectives I haven’t thought of, and are still open to learning even as they’re showing me new ways of looking at things.

At the same time, being the parent of homeschooled teens has opened up a whole new list of fears and expectations and things to worry about (hooray?):

Does interest-led learning work for teens? What will they do all day? What SHOULD they do all day? Are they doing enough? What IS enough, anyway?

[Read more…]

How to help kids deal with disappointment

Advice for parents when kids are disappointedWritten by Melissa Camara Wilkins

A couple of weeks ago, some girlfriends and I went out for coffee and talked, as you do, about all the things in our lives and in our families’ lives that have not gone according to plan lately.

He didn’t get a part in the play. She didn’t make the team. His best friend moved away. She didn’t get the summer job. He didn’t understand. I wasn’t invited to that event even though it looks like everyone else on Instagram WAS.

We all know it will all be okay, but… it’s also awful.

It takes me approximately one hot second to make my own disappointments mean something about me. I let myself believe that if I wasn’t invited, it’s probably because no one is interested in my perspective, or because my relationships aren’t what I thought they were, or because I’m just not the kind of person other people want to have around.

I make it all mean that I’m not enough and I don’t belong.

My kids usually go for the more-expansive explanation: It’s not fair and the world is ending.

That’s about how it feels. But I don’t want any of us to get stuck there, right? Ultimately, I want my kids to know that they can experience disappointment and survive. Unmet expectations will not crush them. Even smashed-up hopes, broken hearts, dreams that didn’t quite come true—I want them to know these can all be endured.

[Read more…]

How do you do the next right thing?

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Mamas of grown-up kids, I would just like to say: I don’t understand how you did that.

I mean, I understand the growing part. I understand how they start out like squishy little peaches, and you feed and water them, and then one day they’re taller than you are and are “borrowing” your shoes.

That part I understand.

But the part where they turn into thoughtful, fun, endlessly interesting young adults who you could spend hours talking with, and then we’re supposed to send them out into the world? That part is terrible.

In related news, college acceptance letters have begun arriving for my oldest daughter.

My self-directed, witty and sparkling, creative and brave oldest daughter. It’s like these colleges think that just because they have “really cool writing programs” and “a great design department” they’re allowed to steal her away. (Yes, okay, she did apply. I did sign the forms. I don’t see how this is relevant to my angst.)

It’s just awful, this growing-up thing. [Read more…]

Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 7-, 10-, 11-, 14-, and 17-year-old)

Melissa's Homeschool Day in the Life (with a 4-, 7-, 10-, 11-, 14-, and 17-year-old)Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

I want to tell you about a typical day at our house, but… that’s harder than it sounds. The first thing I should tell you is that the kids are 17, 14, 11, 10, 7, and 4, and they’re all busy, all the time.

But you probably would have guessed that, wouldn’t you?

A usual day looks like this:

Everyone starts the day with morning routines and chores.

Once that’s done, we ask the older four kids to spend time doing five things: being outside, moving their bodies, reading, creating, and working on their learning activities. (We plan the learning activities together periodically.) They decide how and when to do those things.

[Read more…]

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