We recieve a lot of questions about what is available locally to homeschooling through high school from parents. They have shared their doubts about homeschooling their teen through high school. Parents want their burgeoning teen to be independent and prepared for whatever they may seek beyond the school years, or what to do if their teen ponders a year in public school just for the experience.
Jen Mackinnon, the hardworking homeschool mom behind Practical, By Default, shared how to quell rising questions and navigate unchartered waters as teens, and parents, enter this new, and final, phase of homeschooling.
Why do parents who have cruised through homeschool sometimes lose their confidence when it comes to high school?
I find so many of us have bad memories of our own high school experience. We associate “high school” with big scary subjects. Often, we don’t remember what we learned and thus have no clue how to teach it to our kids.
The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the freedom to teach in a way that our kids learn best, and sometimes that means handing it off to someone more capable.
Personally, math was my hang up. How was I going to teach my high schooler math when math was my weakest subject? Truth is, we don’t have to teach our kids these subjects. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the freedom to teach in a way that our kids learn best, and sometimes that means handing it off to someone more capable. We can find friends, family members, tutors or even use online programs to teach those big scary subjects.
It is NOT only on your shoulders. When faced with something you don’t know how to teach. It can be cooking, rocket science, or art. Get your children involved in the research process. In this way they learn how valuable research skills are and have control over their own education, which they like!
This also opens the doors to great communication and you can discuss what type of program works, what won’t work and cost in terms of time and money. Using these tips can restore parents’ confidence and help them overcome this fear of high school.
What are some of the crucial points to understand when homeschooling a high schooler?
One thing you need to know when homeschooling through high school is what your teen plans to do when they have completed grade 12.
Do they want to go to college?
Do they want to go right into the work field?
Do they plan on starting a business?
Now, listen carefully. Try not to interrupt and do not belittle their ideas even if they seem far-fetched.
Work with them to create a plan on how to reach their goals, whatever they may be. Make a list of courses and credits they need in order to reach that goal. To learn more about this I highly recommend Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: How to Be Sure You’re Not Missing Anything by Ann Karako. Her’s is one of the few homeschooling books I recommend over and over again! It is THAT good!
What if a teen is struggling with what they want to do?
Do not panic. You can do some career exploration with your child. Encourage them to volunteer when the opportunity is available. It is a great way to find out if you are interested in pursuing a career in that field or not.
Personally, I would recommend finding out what is required in order to attend college or university in case they change their mind later. You can find that on the website or call to inquire.
How can we further help teens without stifling them?
NOW is the time to teach them time management skills. Get them a planner or planning system, sit down and teach them how to set up their schedule but hand over most of the control to them.
Check in each week. I find so many of us hand over the scheduling and then forget to check in. What happens is months pass and our kids get lost, stuck, off track and we don’t notice. Our teens are still learning and by checking in each week we can provide that structure and feedback they need on a regular basis.
Pro tip: make it fun! Add food and show them by example how you check your weekly schedule, make adjustments and plan for the week. Do not make it a drilling session.
Lastly, they are still our kids. They still need you. Make it a priority to spend one-on-one time with them. Invite them in the kitchen with you as you cook. Take them with you on errands. Be interested in their interests even if it means listening to music you hate or learning how to be really bad at a video game. Have fun with your teen.
How can parents best guide their student at this stage?
In order to best guide and support your child in this stage encourage open communication with your teen and give them space. When talking with your teen (with not at!) ask questions and listen carefully. One thing to keep in mind is that what they SAY may not always be what they mean.
Teens often struggle putting their feelings into words. Expressing themselves is difficult, especially if they feel mom or dad will be disappointed.
One thing I have found extremely helpful homeschooling through high school is to not face my child when we are talking but to be side by side doing something. This removes a lot of the pressure.
What tips can you offer to get teens talking?
Again, you need to find this one-on-one time with your kids and be very intentional about it. They may not always open up and that’s okay. You can share about your day, express your hopes and dreams, talk about what failed for you that day and how you overcame it. As you share, take note of their body language and get comfortable with silence. This space allows them to feel safe expressing their feelings.
Lastly, if you say they won’t get in trouble if they share you need to follow through no matter how thrown off guard you may be. Your “not so little one” is preparing to enter the world. It is our job to raise capable adults. Now is a great time to add in life skills if you haven’t already such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, and general maintenance.
It is also a great time to step back and give them space to explore hobbies and interests such as music, building, crafting, writing and more!