After watching my daughter's stress level rise and grades and self-esteem plummet from the pressure she was feeling to excel in high school, I knew I needed to take matters into my own hands.
Three months ago, I began home-schooling Jazlyn, 17, an 11th-grader.
As I've added this duty into my juggling act of work, single parenting and caregiving for my mom, Rose Beebe, 88, who has Alzheimer's disease, I've reflected on a couple things: What a wonderful teacher Mom was and how different my high school experience was from Jazlyn's.
I fondly remember doing puppet shows, canning food, collecting seashells and going to plays with Mom. She made sure every activity we did was an opportunity to learn in a practical, organic way. She definitely was my best teacher and inspired me to continually self-educate.
I grew up on a farm near Bethune, S.C., a tiny town of about 500 people. When I graduated in 1982, Bethune High School was the smallest public school in South Carolina, with 150 students in grades seven-12.
This is a huge contrast to the 2,200 kids at the suburban high school Jazlyn attended.
There were no honors or Advanced Placement classes at my high school. We all took the same classes, and I never felt any pressure during my learning process to get into college. Many of us continued on to higher-learning institutions and became professionals. School was serious, but also easygoing and fun.
I want home schooling to provide Jazlyn a useful education in a relaxed environment where she has some control over how and what she learns. I strive to capitalize on the everyday situations that offer some of life's most valuable lessons.
On a typical day I get up early to get some work done so I can devote a few hours to Jazlyn's schooling. I am blessed that my work as a freelance writer and yoga instructor allows me the flexibility to help her.
Jazlyn and I gather around the table about 10 a.m. with our laptops and school materials. Inevitably, our pets wind up with us. Kobi, a Chihuahua, sits in my lap, and our cat, Frankie, lazily naps on the table. We discuss our goals for the day and get going.
We've started with some courses from an online high school that is accredited regionally and nationally; credits would transfer should Jazlyn decide to return to public school her senior year. We are focusing on two classes at a time and I help her with questions and studying for quizzes. Tests, essays and projects are graded by a teacher accessible by phone or e-mail for assistance and tutoring if needed.
Jazlyn is completing a computer science class that focuses on computer hardware, Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office applications. While she's a wiz at social networking and surfing the net, she didn't know a gigabyte from a processor, so this course was both challenging and beneficial.
Much more to her liking is American literature, which explores the complex and fragmented American identity.
Jazlyn just finished "The Great Gatsby" and is reading "Of Mice and Men." It's gratifying to see her enjoy reading for pleasure again and to breeze through a course with an A average.
I require Jazlyn to devote time each day to studying for the SAT, which she will take in late spring. She hopes to go to college and is interested in pursuing a degree in psychology or dance.
Jazlyn helps with household chores, yardwork, grocery shopping and cooking. She helps me keep track of bills and the monthly budget so she can learn what it takes to run a household.
We spend time out of the house walking on the greenway or honing Jazlyn's driving skills so she can get her license soon. She is looking for a job so she can pay for car insurance. She attends dance classes a few times a week and connects with her friends regularly.
Several days a week we visit Mom's memory care facility, where Jazlyn volunteers with the special seniors who light up when they interact with her. She is learning lessons there she could never get in a classroom.
I am pleased that Jazlyn is regaining her love of learning and is moving toward adulthood with more confidence. And I am happy to be spending this important but fleeting time with her.
If I can be half as good a teacher as Mom was, then I'm doing fine.
Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.