Homeschooling Teenagers and Surviving It
Are you really going to homeschool your son in high school? That was the question a “curious” parent asked me as we waited for the baseball game to begin. And the look on her face said, “You’ve got to be crazy if you think you can homeschool a teenager!” Call me crazy, then.
Homeschooling through high school isn’t a walk in the park, but it is also far from impossible. As I approach fall with one child dual enrolling as a sophomore in college and a senior in high school homeschool and another who is getting ready for 9th grade as a homeschooler, I know homeschooling a teenager can be done. However, doing it easily, well, and without stressing the relationships between parents and teens isn’t something to take for granted. Homeschooling during high school requires part patience, part humor, part dedication, and a steel spine (to protect you from teenage hormones and the crazy looks you get at baseball games).
Homeschool High School – How Can I Teach That?
You don’t have to be an expert in every field in order to homeschool your kids in high school (although proficiency and knowledge do help). One of the benefits of not being an expert is raising a child who has to learn how to learn, instead of learn how to regurgitate. If you are wary of certain subjects, like math or biology, make those your priority for gathering top-rated curriculum. And take a deep breath – you can homeschool during high school.
- You can purchase supplemental lectures such as D.I.V.E. packages that correlate with Saxon Algebra. My daughter was ready to work on her own at her own pace, and these lectures gave her what she needed to know to succeed with her studies.
- Look at the Khan Academy for detailed lectures and information on wide ranges of curriculum.
- Invest in the solution manuals – not just the answer keys. Solution manuals often have enough details included to make teaching and understanding the concepts much more doable.
- Check with your school district for enrollment possibilities for certain subjects. In my state, homeschoolers can attend public school classes through agreed upon arrangements with the school. I have friends who send their kids to public school for classes such as Spanish and Chemistry – it saves on curriculum money and teaching anxiety.
- Find other parents with whom you can swap teachings. Maybe your friend’s husband is a computer programmer and he can supervise a computer language course for the kids, and you can teach the kids a literature course.
- Look for co-ops in your area that specialize in high school programs. Just make sure the teachers for these classes are bringing a bit more to the table than you could provide on your own. We utilized a co-op program that had parent teachers who were wonderful in their specialized areas of study (homeschool parents are often closet geeks in certain subjects!). But there were also some teachers who, honestly, didn’t really have a firm grasp of the courses.
Homeschool High School – How will They Ever Be Socialized?
If you’re homeschooling through high school, thank goodness they won’t be socialized – by other teenagers, that is. Socialization is about so much more than being confined to a classroom of peers of the same age, socioeconomic status, and general neighborhood experiences. That doesn’t prepare our kids for the real world.
High school sports – Check with your state to see how your child can participate in high school sports. Here in the lovely state of Minnesota I can even register my homeschool as its own entity with the State High School League. Fortunately, in MN we can also join the athletic team for our resident school district. Yep – it means lots of extra driving for me to get my son to school every day for practices and meetings – but we make it work in our schedules.
Volunteer time – The teenage years are perfect for volunteering – the kids are more independent and can do more activities in the community, and they are at a point in their lives when they can absorb the deeper meanings behind topics such as need, responsibility, and community involvement. This is real socialization.
Friends – Friends are really waiting around every corner, so you just need to keep walking until you find a few. In public schools the friend-possibilities are thrown at you – “Here – quick – pick some people to sit with at lunch!” For high school homeschoolers friendships are made purposefully and naturally. I have always made sure my kids kept active – not just so they can meet new people but so that they can explore the world. My kids are just as active, if not more so, in extracurricular activities as their high school counterparts who sit in brick and mortar schools. Some of these activities that foster friendships are homeschool driven (such as homeschool classes and field trips), and others are community based.
- Young Historians program through local historical society
- Youth activities through church
- 4-H club activities
- Community sport programs
- School sport programs
- Public service organizations
What about prom? – My kids most likely won’t have a typical high school prom (although they could go as the dates of others), but my daughter has already been to two formal dances – one a community dance and the other a college formal. It was fun for her, but prom is not something she laments over not having. Keep your options open and remember that a prom doesn’t prepare you for life – living prepares you for life.
Whenever my kids hear other people question how I can spend so much time with my children – it genuinely makes them feel badly. Not for themselves, but for the children of these other parents. My kids love knowing that not only can I survive spending time with them, but that I actually enjoy it and look forward to it!