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My Freshman's True Year-End Exam

By Judith Jolma

My 15-year-old Joseph and I had a disagreement. He wanted to watch “Sonic the Hedgehog” but I had prejudged the movie as a potty-humor-filled, foolish show and assumed Sonic would be disrespectful, sarcastic, and overall an icon of everything unhealthy for young minds. Why did I make this assumption? I’d only ever seen the trailer and nothing more. It was simply an impression.

But if you’ve ever had a child respectfully prove you wrong, you know how humbling it is and how proud it makes you. That is what happened last week.

Thursday is pizza and movie night in our home. Each Thursday, the kids clean the bathrooms, the floors, and their bedrooms. They dust and pick up all the clutter that has piled up over the week. As a reward, they get to order a pizza and eat while watching a rented movie. But choosing a movie is becoming more difficult with fewer good options available.

Last week Joseph suggested we watch “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

“I knew you would say ‘no,’” he said responding to my veto and pulled out a perfectly written, five-paragraph argumentative essay. "You had me at argumentative essay," I said. "Let's hear it."

As he began reading, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The essay followed all the structural elements that he had been struggling with all school year. He presented research, quoted critical reviews, and crafted several forms of logical appeals. Both his introduction and call to action were equally compelling.

Not only was I impressed by his academic application, he authentically persuaded me to consider the movie with an open mind. Of course, he earned the reward. So we settled in to enjoy a family movie night with Sonic the Hedgehog. And guess what? It was a really cute movie.

Joseph had proven me wrong and I'm glad he did. One of the great joys of homeschooling is when your children become smarter than you, respectfully hold you accountable, and grow in independence.

What made Joseph’s essay so much sweeter was knowing how hard he has worked on writing this year. As a freshman in high school, Joseph's academic workload had increased far beyond his ability especially since he struggles with dyslexia and high school requires so much reading. The first five essays he wrote this year were … rough.

Nevertheless, I continued to focus on his strengths and strove to form a person above academics. The effort paid off in spades. Here at the end of the school year, he had the courage to present his ideas in writing to a critical audience. He mastered the tools of structure, style, research, and logic pulling it all together. He knows how to take what he has learned across multiple subjects and apply it all in a real-world setting.

So next time you wonder if your child is falling behind. Don’t. Love the person. Support the soul. You are doing enough.


Sophia Homeschool.

Sophia Homeschool teaches parents how to homeschool. Learn more about our training at

Learn how to create a homeschool method and environment based on your family's needs so you can thrive. My Foundations of Homeschooling Masterclass teaches parents to work with their budget, schedule, learning style, teaching style, and resources so each member of the family has his or her needs met— including yours! Learn to create a peaceful and joyful learning environment that lasts a lifetime. Identify learning differences and adapt your educational plan accordingly. Unlock the mysteries of teaching multiple grades at once. By knowing what your needs are, you will save thousands of dollars, time, and energy on methods that do not work. We will end homework battles and restore your relationship with your child.

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