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Yo Jo

a column by Joanne Casiello

"Do Homeschoolers Go to College?"

Yes. There, that was an easy question to answer. "How do they do it?" is a much more complicated question as there are as many ways to pursue a college education as there are homeschoolers. And for me, the most complicated question, "Do they have to go to college?"

More than seventeen years ago when we began homeschooling our sons, we dreamed a dream. Our dream, our goal, was to take our children out of a schooled environment and allow them to grow, to discover and develop their natural gifts and find the ways to use them in this world. We strongly believed (and still do) that each child is born "gifted." As parent-educators we saw our role as facilitators providing opportunities. Everyone we knew who homeschooled, from unschoolers to school-at-homers, shared the idea of developing gifts. It was a lovely and lofty dream.

It all got kind of squirmy feeling when our fourth son decided not to go to college. He has been building things for me since he was about two years old. At eight he could look at a hole in a stone wall, glance at a pile of rocks and casually pick up the rock that would fit that hole. At ten he completed the hands on physics class that his older brother were part of. So, I was thinking, architect, engineer? It took all of the tongue-biting talent I had developed as the mother of teens to be silent when he said, "Construction worker, carpenter."

So I switched gears and read everything I could about mentoring a kid to a career in carpentry. One book urging parents not to worry about no college suggested that if we simply trusted our children and gave them all of the money that we would have spent on college to start their own business we would find they are successful. Swell. The money in our son's college fund was gone with the wind of the recent stock market crash. We talked to folks at the local voke school who suggested it was not the place for a motivated, hard-working kid like our son. We contacted state agencies for info about apprenticeships and education. They would send us union listings of educational opportunities which included four years of classroom as well as hands on time. My son wanted to be out in the world, not sitting in a classroom. For a fee, state agencies would send us non-union information. We contacted non-union apprenticeship organizations - none available in our area. We found opportunities in fine furniture making, instrument making - not his interest. One school of carpentry only accepted schooled kids! It was our son, through the friend of a friend from an internship he did in construction while in high school, who found himself a job as a carpenter.

Two years later I am amazed and proud of the growth of this talented son of mine. He lives on his own, pays his bills, bought a truck, shops, cooks, and cleans. His all-nighters may be a contracted job with a deadline. His final exams involve building inspectors signing off on the addition he built, or having the cabinet he designed and built in the shop fit perfectly at the customers' business. Because he is part of a small, new company he has been able to use his web skills to develop the company website, his CAD skills in design, his video skills to document the work and provide comic relief.

Practical Language Arts Suggestions for a Newbie

A reader wrote that her kinesthetic learning style son was really resistant to studying Language Arts. She didn't want to frustrate him as homeschooling was a new adventure for them, but felt the need to work on this area where his abilities were way behind his other skills.

All four of my adult sons write. Right-brained, left-brained, visual, auditory, kinesthetic learners - they all write. Most recently my third son was amazed at the As he was receiving on hastily written college papers which he felt could have used a rewrite in a class where students did receive Fs on the same assignment. The following suggestions are some things that worked for my sons.

Personal Journals

Each son wrote for a minimum of fifteen minutes a day in a personal journal on anything that came into their heads. We never checked spelling, punctuation, or grammar, and indeed I never read the books unless invited to do so. The first goal was to get them writing spontaneously and consistently. Initially entries were often about how much they hated to write and had nothing to say, went on to a sort of grocery list of activities for the day, evolved into descriptions, grew into emotional essays, and morphed into poetry that became lyrics to songs they had written. They now enjoy rereading their old journals with me to see how they have grown.

Conversational Journals

Each son wrote a paragraph a day on his choice of topic, or started a story. After he went to bed, I read the paragraph and responded with one of my own, or continued the story. A favorite starting exercise would be the unluckily/luckily story. One person starts an adventure story and at a crucial moment ends their section leaving the hero hanging. The nest storyteller starts their paragraph with, "But luckily," or "But unluckily" and gets the hero out of the predicament or into more trouble. In my paragraph I would use words that were misspelled in the son's paragraph, spelled correctly. I would correct grammar or punctuation errors by using a similar construction correctly. That way the visual kids saw the errors corrected gently.

Correction Journals

I would write a paragraph from one of their textbooks into their journal with spelling, punctuation, capitalization, or grammar errors. They would rewrite the paragraph correcting the errors, then check their work by reading the paragraph in their textbook and highlighting the correct parts of the paragraph. This meant they had read the material from the textbook that they needed to learn three times, had used muscle memory in rewriting the information, and had a good visual of the correct information correctly written and highlighted in their visual memory.

Computer Story Journals

Each son kept a file with his original stories on our computer to be worked on in his free time. I didn't read the stories unless invited to do so. The computer automatically points out errors in grammar and spelling so his work was corrected painlessly with an immediate visual key. Of course, homonyms present difficulties, but the idea was to keep the kids writing.

Homeschool, Trade Journals, and other Publications

We started a Family News Publication that came out every Friday and was mailed to family and friends. Each member of the family contributed. A homeschooled teen group published a Monthly News for the members of the group. Our sons wrote articles for biking magazines and soccer news groups.

Finished articles for publication had to be a true finished piece with everything correctly done. Rough drafts were edited in several ways. Friends edited them online. The editors for the month suggested corrections. I read articles aloud to the authors so they could hear their errors. We sat together and looked at articles on computer and made corrections together (the most painful method). One highly successful method was for me to read the article on computer. When the kids were younger and tender to criticism I highlighted everything that was correct leaving the parts that needed work un-highlighted. Frustrated writers could then see that most of their piece was great, with some rewrite necessary. As they got older and recognized that most work (certainly including mine) needs to be rewritten, I could highlight the errors or weak parts and they could correct them.

Lessons to be Learned

Someone asked me if there was a lesson to be learned that I could share about my son’s serious car accident. Drinking and driving? Teenage capering with loud music and friends? Excessive speed accompanied by young male bravado? No, none of these scenarios apply. The only lesson we can come up with is that even though you are a good, responsible kid, who doesn’t drink, does run a bible study on your college campus, studies and works hard, and drives carefully after a quiet afternoon with your family, on a dark night really bad things can happen to you that you will have to overcome.

It’s a tremendous lesson to learn, the ability to overcome the challenges we are presented with in life. To handle pain and suffering with cheerfulness, to struggle to relearn tasks that were simple once, to recognize that you are not the person you were before, and to discover the person you are today, are all lessons that, if successfully learned, lead to a resilient human who will live a full life. I have never met a human who has not faced obstacles to overcome in life. In our house we say, “Everyone has something, so deal with yours and get on with it.”

Of all the learning we have done as homeschoolers, the ability to overcome obstacles, to be knocked down and not only get up again, but to laugh, sing, dance, and be strong again, has been the most used and most useful. The flexibility of homeschooling is eminently suitable to switching tracks and powering forward when life throws a glitch in the plans your way. To set goals, accept realities, and set new goals is a goal we have achieved.

When my first son was a boy he wanted to be an astronaut. He had the brains, the drive, the athletic ability, the courage. Unfortunately he also had my 20-200 vision and grew too tall. So he broadened his passion for space to science and math and eventually settled happily into software engineering. My second son worked passionately for years volunteering, studying, interning, and then almost days away from completion he saw the dream crumble through no fault of his own. He had to get up, turn around, and use the skills he had developed over those years on a different career path.

My own personality, at these set-backs, would prompt me to cover my head in my comfy quilt, preferably with a good book, chocolate, and a glass of wine and not come out again. As a parent and as a homeschooling parent responsible for facilitating the education of my offspring, I had to recognize that often the way I thought things would work didn’t, in large and small situations.

Learning to read, which came as naturally as breathing to my first three sons, would require effort from my fourth son and special intervention from me. My all or nothing method of attacking a subject was highly successful with two of my sons, but my right- brained boys needed a consistent structure of small, daily, time blocks of study to learn.

So, life teaches us over and over that goals and plans may need to be adjusted; homeschooling allows us the flexibility to do so.

The Reading Ties that Bind Us

On November 27th two of my sons were in a terrible car accident. It was nearly the one that happens in the nightmares of all parents of teens, but my sons were alive and knew me. Two weeks later, a gifted surgeon rebuilt half of my older son's face as I paced in a waiting room at the hospital. The surgery went well. My son was in recovery. I would speak to him soon. I sat and waited.

I waited some more. I checked the time on my cell phone. Too long. Could the patient advocate check on my son's status? She did. He was still in recovery. He was not handling the pain well. They thought he would need morphine. I shouldn't come in yet. I sat down to wait. And then I began to think more like a homeschooler. What the experts couldn't do, I, as a parent, very probably could.

Morphine had made my son really ill without taking away much pain when he had been given it in the emergency room on the night of the accident and he had asked not to have any before he went into surgery. I had experience helping sons deal with pain many times (as the mother of four active sons who all played seriously competitive sports over twenty five years I had come to know some emergency room techs on a first name basis). I asked to speak with the recovery room staff and five minutes later I was at my son's side.

His pain level was at an eight. He was agitated. I cooled his hot face with my cold hands. I helped him focus on the parts of his body not in pain as we had taught our sons to do at home. He held my hand, turned his face to me with eyes closed and said, "Mom, could you read to me?"

So, I found myself standing next to my young adult son, reading Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures (the book he had in his backpack) softly aloud surrounded by machines beeping, blood pressure cuffs inflating and deflating, automatic leg massagers massaging, patients begging for morphine, nurses calling for help. And his pain went from an 8 to a 3.

All of those homeschooling years that we spent reading to our sons had formed a bond of peaceful security, loving calm. At first we read to them as they were weaned, we laughingly said, from breast to book. Cuddled in our laps in the same cozy rocker that we had used for nursing we read Goodnight Moon. We read books to keep them occupied on long car trips. Once I recited Green Eggs and Ham over and over for 35 minutes, the only thing that would keep the baby from crying in his car seat. We read to them because they didn't know how. We read to them as part of the good night ritual at bedtime after they had learned to read. We read aloud because we only had one copy of a really good book and no one could wait to take turns to read it. Experts told us that children who are read to will read and be more successful. Little did I know that all that reading to my child would one day help to ease his pain.

No More Teaching to the Test

Dear Joanne,
I've been homeschooling for two years. My kids are 9 and 10. I still never feel as though I'm doing enough. I am so hung up on testing, not sure whether it's going to show how well my children are doing, because my curriculum is not on the same schedule (timeline). I feel I am just making my kids frustrated and I'm feeling like a failure. Do you have any advice? 
Sincerely, R.

Dear R.,

Toss the tests over your shoulder and don't look back! Unless your goal in homeschooling is to teach your kids how to be superb test takers, there are a bazillion other ways to determine how "well" your kids are doing. Tests have their place in society and the ability to take all kinds of tests (essay, fill in the dot multiple choice, and practical) is a good skill to learn along the way, but it surely doesn't have to be the focus of your home education.

Flexibility is the greatest good in homeschooling among the many gifts of good things. If something isn't working for your child, drop it. You don't have to fill the needs of the majority, use the only materials the school administration purchased, or teach in the mode currently fashionable as school classroom teachers have to do. Suit the method to the child.

Take some time to sit back and observe. Learn from your child. When there is a skill that they want to gain, how do they go about it? What was that child's style? Do they ride two wheeled bicycles? Pay close attention to the way they gained that skill. One of my sons, the organized left brained one, broke the task into pieces with adult reinforcement of the idea of how to ride a bike. He practiced each part, first gliding for a couple of weeks, feet stuck out to the sides, then gliding feet-on-pedals, finally learning to pedal. Our kinesthetic learner took his bike out to the backyard alone in an all or nothing attempt for fifteen minutes, ran in, furiously hopped up and down to express his frustration for five minutes, ran back out for another all out physical attempt, back in for more hopping, and so continued for about four hours at which point he had entirely mastered the skill. Our third son asked his brother to tell him how to ride a bike, the mechanics and physics of the thing, before getting on his bike. Left-brained verbal oldest son did a great job of explaining. Third son then practiced with occasional sessions of questions on the physical aspects allowing him to correct his technique. Fourth son watched, and watched, and watched silently; got on his bike with perfect mimicry of small muscle movements, and rode. We used what we observed to choose the method of teaching for each child.

How will you know when they have acquired a skill? They will use it, and as a homeschooling mom, you will be there to see them do it. Have them read to you and discuss what they have read in a casual way as you might discuss a good book with a friend. Have them use writing in practical ways such as making grocery lists. Start a journal for just you and that child in which you write notes to each other. Go to historical sites and encourage your kids to tell you the stories of what happened there. Let them start businesses of their own where they have to keep records, make signs and brochures, and produce a product or service to sell. Keep samples of their work, pictures of their projects, or their entire business plan, to help remind you that they are learning and growing. Watch them, interact with them, and enjoy them.

I also agonized over how I was homeschooling my kids. Was I doing enough? Too much? In the end, the kind of life that a child will create or choose will ultimately depend on that child. And the very best you can do is to remember to love them, hard, through it all.

Advice on a Homeschooling Mom’s Freak Out

As the big yellow school bus rolled away carrying the rest of the kids in the neighborhood a young mother silently freaked out about the decision she had made to homeschool her five year-old-daughter. “What am I doing? This could be a really bad idea and I’m going to ruin her life and she’ll hate me forever!” she thought in a wonderful moment of absolute panic.

As the mother of four young adults and aunt to 21 more kids from 7 - 33 years of age let me reassure that young mother that no matter what decision you make about how to raise your child there will come a time when that child will tell you it was wrong. There will then come a later time when the child may decide to make exactly the same decisions you did, with their own kids.

I have added the mother’s prayer to my daily routine. “Dear Lord, give them the strength to overcome any of the terrible things I may have done.” My friend has her own version of the same thing. She tells her teenagers, “Yeah, well when you are adults in therapy because of me just make sure you tell the therapist I love you.”

Another solution to that feeling is to have several children. The more kids you have the more you realize that you really don’t have as much influence over their lives as you thought.

My sons say that the reason all homeschool parents have that freaked out feeling you describe is simple. When schooled kids turn out terribly THEIR parents can blame the schools.

But seriously, starting to homeschool is not like taking vows. You can stop homeschooling anytime you want to stop (really, since it is only mildly addictive). Your child is not yet five. If homeschooling really doesn’t work for your family she can go to school next year and have years to recover from your incompetence before she is permanently damaged.

As to the stakes being so high, there are some things you can do in life that have immediate and irreversible repercussions. Stepping out into the path of an oncoming truck could be one of them, but many things you do in life can be reversed. If I overeat today I can work it off at the gym tonight. If staying home doesn't work for your child, she can go to school. Learning is a lifelong process not one final exam. And you know what? Even if you fail a final, you can take the class over.

Did your daughter learn to walk and talk? Eat solid foods? Is she toilet trained? Then you must have been homeschooling her all along and didn't recognize it.

And you know what? The worst feeling of freak out I had came as I made the decision to homeschool, then disappeared for a long time after we really experienced the joyful freedom of learning together at home.

Some at Home, Some at School

Can you homeschool some children successfully while some of your other children go to school?

Yes, of course, and many folks do so with great success and contentment throughout the whole family. Built into my philosophy of homeschooling is the job of facilitator: to find the best place and method to learn what a child may want or need to learn. So, when my oldest son decided to go to the Mass Academy of Math and Science for his junior and senior year of high school, much to my surprise he actually looked upon himself as still homeschooling rather returning to school. In a speech he made at a teacher appreciation banquet at the academy, to which he had invited his Dad and me, he said we had always made it possible for him to seek the best path to learn what he wanted to know, and that attending Mass Academy was simply his current choice of where he would be homeschooling.

Yet, I am glad we had the years being all together learning at home. I once overheard a schooled friend shock my second son when he stated matter-of-factly that his mother couldn't wait for school vacation to be over so that he would be out of her hair. Wrapped securely like a warm blanket around our homeschooling is the knowledge of our sons that their parents like to be with them.

When we were all at home we could suit our day to match our needs. In glorious September sunshine we could decide to head to the beach and study the tides. On cold, dark, November days we could call a "drop everything and read day" dressed in pajamas, wrapped in blankets, sipping hot chocolate. We could become heavily involved in a research experiment and keep at it until bedtime. Since no one had to get up at a specific time we could push bedtime later if need be. We could visit museums and travel in off peak seasons while other kids were schooling. Flexibility is my favorite part of homeschooling.

Together at home we shared the experience of the day. It was crucial that the boys and I filled my husband and my oldest in with stories of our day when they got home from work and school, in order for them to slide back into their family place.

When my oldest left our magic circle to return to school it was at a time when he was already a fledgling, flexing his wings, and clearly at a different stage of life than his brothers. At a similar stage as they grew, each of my sons left the sibling nest and ventured out alone into the world in internships or college classes during their high school days.

If you are comfortable with a schedule set from outside the family, if you consistently seek what is right for each child at each point in life, then having some kids schooled and some not may be a natural progression. From my personal experience, homeschooling was easiest and most productive when we were all homeschooling together.

\What to Say When They Ask 

A new homeschooling mother once said she felt as if she were an Alien trying to educate Earthlings on the topic of homeschooling. Should she point out the advantages of homeschooling? Cite the idea that parents know what is best for children? Change the subject? I replied, "Yes. Depending upon which Earthlings you are educating."

With grandparents or others who truly love your child and also want what is best for her, you reassure, point out advantages, point out disadvantages of school, thank them for advice.

With those who feel that your homeschooling is a silent attack on their sending their child to school, you say that all of us are trying to do the best for our families and this is the best choice for you.

With those who are truly asking why, you might encourage them to remember their own school experiences and help them see how homeschooling their child could be better. When they are concerned about socialization get them to remember what school socialization is really like. Remember bullies? Remember what recess was like? Remember being homesick?

If you are getting in touch with your inner female-of-the-dog-species, you could point out how unnatural it is for anyone to want to abandon their small, own flesh and blood to a bunch of strangers to raise.

You can tell them you had your child on purpose and plan to enjoy every moment you have together.

I often told my husband's Aunt, who had a very different philosophy of life from mine, the most outrageous things. I told her we were using little, plastic, educational placemats as our curriculum. I told her I had no idea what other kids their age were capable of and didn't care. I told her we never planned to wear shoes and that my oldest was never planning to bathe again since he was doing an experiment on bacteria and disease spread. She soon stopped asking.

In choosing to homeschool you have become a member of a minority, which means that like any minority member you will sometimes be the only contact those Earthlings have ever had with your kind. Your daughter will be a poster child for her minority. That means when she comes up with a new scientific theory, composes a masterpiece, and wins a gold medal in the Olympics, those Earthlings will assume all homeschoolers are like that. And if she stands up on stage when accepting her Nobel Peace Prize, farts loudly, and picks her nose, those Earthlings will assume all homeschoolers do that too. You will be acclaimed saint or sinner depending upon the last piece about homeschoolers in the news by those who don't really know anything about homeschooling.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is first to raise your child in the best way that you can. Next, you should enjoy the time you have together. And finally you must educate the world, over, and over and over, one Earthling at a time.

Where Do You Do Schoolwork?

"Where do you do your schoolwork?" a visiting schooled child once asked my son. My son was perplexed. "Where don't you do your schoolwork?" would have been much easier to answer. From that day forward we taught him to say, "The world is my classroom and life is my teacher." It embodied our philosophy of education, stopped questions and usually made the child's parents decide we were left-over hippies. What follows is the true and complicated answer to the schooled child's question.

While our sons were growing up they each had a desk of their own which was rarely used. In fact, we rarely used tables. We have only recently begun to use chairs. Our kitchen table has a metal top. It can be used as a fireproof bench for Chem lab, but table tops can be a limiting space for projects. When one's feet may be the paintbrush or one's body the canvas a table top is inadequate. Projects and paperwork were usually spread across the floor.

The kitchen floor is an easily washed linoleum where most painting, gluing, sculpting, and wreathe making occurs. The living room floor was hardwood that needed to be refinished. I never cringed to hear toy trucks roll across it, physics experiments tumble, or furniture rearranged to create a setting for a play. Once the whole floor was covered by a giant piece of cardboard where our small boys traced the outlines of their bodies then filled in with pictures of their interior anatomy.

When we ran out of floor space we went up the walls. One wall of the kitchen was a bulletin board that was simultaneously a time line of World History and a place to dry hand woven baskets. Living room walls ( and windows) were for mural painting and map hanging. And of course all rooms were multi-functional.

The 12'x12' computer/sewing/library/trophy room also served as a place to put projects in progress when guests came and we needed to use the living room. Currently what would be the 12'x15' living room on most floor plans does have a sofa and TV but also the full size upright piano, spinet organ, the guitars, trumpets, saxophone, sousaphone, recorders, amplifiers, harmonicas, percussion instruments, shelves of music, microphones, and a video camera. Craft materials are stored in my bedroom on shelves that go from floor to ceiling. The basement is used to do metal and wood work, laundry, bike repair, can be rearranged as a setting for DVD productions.

At one time, the two youngest boys each built a private cubicle which had their desk, computer (unattached to the Internet), and bureau. As far as I can tell Damon used his to deposit piles of clean laundry. Gabe used his to get away from all of us occasionally and to write in his journal.

The yard had a garden for each child. In the spring the rounded raised beds of varying lengths of freshly turned earth looked suspiciously like new graves and were a source of some apprehension for new neighbors. Also adorning the back yard are a full size soccer net, a volleyball net, a basketball hoop, a tree house, a campfire circle, shitake mushroom logs, and a tire swing. It has had a miniature golf course, a tiny framed clubhouse, holes to China, prayer places, obstacle courses, pitch backs, swing sets, snow sculptures, a sandbox big enough to bury a brother in, a dog run, and recycled junk sculptures. Not too long ago it was the setting for the scene from the fifth act of Hamlet where everyone dies.

The driveway was for learning to ride two wheeled bikes, practicing writing the alphabet in chalk, setting up a big wheel car wash, yard sales, spray painting picnic tables, and learning to change the oil on your truck. Learning took place in every nook and cranny of our home, our yard, our car and spilled over into the rest of the world. So, schooled child, where do we do our schoolwork? Wherever we live and breathe, we learn.

Homeschooling: The Adventure Never Ends

I'm sure it was only yesterday that we began homeschooling our four sons here in Worcester, MA, but when I glance around the house I can't help noticing that I am the only one home. One of our goals of homeschooling was to raise independent children who would discover their gifts and go out into the world to use them. And they do.

I'd like to say that it was my infinite skill, wisdom, and patience as a homeschooling parent that inspired my sons to become the capable adults and nearly adults that they are now, but my sons might read this, and they keep me honest.

A homeschool support list member, impressed that my sons enjoy singing in choirs and rock bands and play musical instruments, asked me how I had accomplished this. I wrote about singing to them from before they were born, always having musical instruments available, providing music instructors, playing music together. Third son looking over my shoulder said, "Um, if we were practicing music you wouldn't call us to come do our math homework."

So my four sons learned to be self-motivated, active learners because as long as they looked productive, I didn't stop and make them do something else. They learned rapidly that if they mentioned boredom, I might suggest they clean their rooms. If they fought with each other, I might decide it was a good time for a spelling lesson. Small boys engrossed in building with Legos, writing plays, painting pictures, designing science experiments, repairing bicycles, reading books, creating costumes, editing videos, inventing mechanical devices, or raising livestock were not interrupted.

From their parents' example they learned what they loved and what they hated. If you have parents who give you a quick lesson in drosophilae gender identification and state of reproductivity when they hand capture random fruit flies that happen to zigzag past the dinner table you either grow up to be an animal science major like our second son, or to avoid college bio classes completely by becoming a software engineer like our first.

This homeschooling adventure led us down paths I had never anticipated. I carry snapshots in my head of sons halter training a camel in the snow, bargaining in Spanish in a market in Honduras, singing in a cathedral in England wearing the formal vestments of choir boys, barefoot while picking tomatoes under the hot sun with a woman from Cameroon. I shake my head in disbelief remembering that while dressed in four layers of winter clothing I videotaped a son in shorts and jersey playing a crucial soccer game in a near blizzard.

Along the way I learned that if a son said he could do something, he probably could. Who was I to tell my fourteen-year-old that boys do not learn to dance jazz tap in talent shows by watching old movies, attaching metal plates to sneakers and practicing for two months in the basement to Duke Ellington? He did it and his act was a huge hit.

The official homeschooling adventure is nearly over for us. John Paul is married, living in Boston, a graduate of Northeastern University working as a software engineer. Ben is a senior at UMASS Amherst majoring in animal science and spending his summers working for Heifer International. Damon spent the summer as an intern in an engineering research and development department of St. Gobain. He'll finish his associate's degree in engineering at Quinsigamund Community College this year and transfer from there to a four year college as he moves towards a career in either material or bio-engineering, or maybe both. Gabe, at 16, the only one to officially still be homeschooling, works as a lifeguard, swim team coach, and makes training videos for lifeguard training courses. His formal internships in carpentry began this year as he continues to explore career options that mesh with his interests. The official adventure may be almost over, but the thrill of finding the best place and way to learn what you want to learn, I hope, will never end.