90 minutes.

Approximately 90 minutes.

That’s how long it takes for a spaceship to orbit the earth, which is big news these days, as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos scramble to normalize space travel for you and me. (Or maybe just you—I’m not getting my astronaut badge any time soon!)

In 90 minutes, a space traveler can take in the view of the entire circumference of the Earth. Can you imagine? Now, that’s the perspective of an astronaut hurtling through space at 17,500 mph: not the view for us earth-bound travelers generally trying to avoid any type of hurtling!

In contrast, a terrestrial traveler trudging an average of 1.5 miles per hour would circumnavigate the 24,901 miles of the equator in about 37,351 hours. This translates to 1,556 days and presumes the ability to walk on water without stopping. Therefore, this traveler is obviously not your typical homeschooling family because the implied need to eliminate meals and bathroom breaks renders it impossible—even with a minivan.

Summing up, this nonstop journey around the earth takes approximately 4 years, which is ironically, but not coincidentally, the length of time it takes for a typical high school education.

Here’s the connection between the metaphor of circumnavigation and homeschooling through high school.

For many of us, faithfully homeschooling through high school, this time of year can leave us feeling that we really are trudging along at 1.5 mph, growing blisters, and needing a lot more than just a bathroom break.

Yet, the slow, daily trudging is juxtaposed against the realization that the journey’s end, graduation and empty-nesting are rapidly approaching. We homeschool because we wanted to be intentional, and we understand that it’s not just spaceships flying by: time is flying too! We know that four years will feel more like 90 minutes on that teary day that we applaud our high school graduate. We want to be fully present to these minutes that go by so slowly and the years that whiz past!

It’s natural for weary legs and hearts to long for some perspective from those who’ve traversed the whole terrain. What wisdom would they share? What’s it like to be finished with the trip, and what can we learn from them?

HSLDA’s High School Educational Consultant Team have all graduated one or more of their own kids and constantly learn more from the thousands of other parents they counsel every year.

Like a good Rick Steve’s travel guidebook, we know that perspective helps us persevere. So, we asked our High School Educational Consultants to share some insights to lighten your backpack, refresh your GPS, and pump some fuel into your soul.

Carol Becker:

  • Growing and learning together can turn teens into adult friends.
  • Remember that it’s a rare and precious gift to develop family unity while walking through both the ups and downs of life.

Joyce Blankenship:

  • This is an ideal time for your child to build business and career skills.
  • Find ways to help them start a business (her family had a homeschooling sports program) or shadow people working in their career of interest.

Anita Gibson:

  • Time-building hobbies as a family can build memories and connections that last.
  • Join your teen in their interests, even if it’s not yours (at the moment).

LaNissir James:

  • Even as academic demands increase in high school, remember to embrace and enjoy the flexibility of homeschooling.
  • The James family expanded their learning venue by taking homeschooling on the road with an RV.

Clarisa Loparo:

  • Incorporate opportunities to build compassion through caring for elderly or ill family members or serving others who are needy or suffering.
  • Character built through service lasts long past a high school grade or transcript.

Natalie Mack:

  • As a military family, Natalie encourages families to embrace the value of travel.
  • Travel makes history, language, and geography come alive and helps families grow more culturally sensitive and aware.    

Karim Morato:

  • High school is a time when kids are discovering who they are.
  • Homeschooling means parents can be present to help their teens understand and reach their potential.        

Stacey Wolking:

  • Encourage your teens to make choices and take risks.
  • Home is a great place to process life’s inevitable successes and failures.

As a terrestrial traveler, it’s easy lose sight of the destination, get lost in the complexities of the map, or even be tempted to repeat the refrain of your kids in the backseat, “Are we there yet?”

Yet, like any worthwhile journey, hindsight reveals that even the missteps, detours, and delays are simply rich proof of the journey’s authenticity.

Be encouraged in knowing that you and Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos have more in common that you may realize. Because, like them, you are casting a vision, crafting a legacy, and changing the world.

Be encouraged, fellow-traveler. And whether by foot, or minivan, or spaceship, may some perspective enable the perseverance you need to continue the journey.

—Heather Frommack