Homeschooling Teenagers *Gulp*

Sitting here I have just heard my daughter gleefully exclaim from the back room she got her SAT scores and got the highest score possible on her essay!

I can hardly believe that my sweet little baby is looking at colleges.  It is enough to make a momma collapse in fits of tears.  I can remember four years ago panicking about the idea of homeschooling high school.  When I first started homeschooling I swore I would not homeschool the high school years.  Now if I had to choose between elementary and those mid and high school years I would choose mid to high.

Those years are immensely life changing!  Remember your high school years?  I know that in those years I find out a lot about myself.  I started to truly realize who I was and what my interests were.  I started to truly define who I was and what I was going to be.

I was lucky, in that I got to go to a small private Catholic school.  Class sizes were small and the focus was truly academic.  But most people do not have the opportunity.  The cost alone for us to send one of our kids to that school would be more then we spend on our house in a year! 

So homeschooling those years can be essential.  You can harbor your teens, giving them a firm place to dock, yet also allow them to explore and find out who they truly are without pressure from outside.

I have discussed in the past why I think homeschooling these older years is not as bad as I feared.  And believe me I feared!  I sent my poor oldest daughter to a small private school, I subjected her to those horrible online schools, and enrolled the others in charter schools, all because of this fear.  Rose refused to do the charter school.  By then she had figured out what it was taking me forever to realize:  TRUST IN HOMESCHOOLING.

My concerns about homeschooling high school were these:

  1. Would they learn enough without totally destroying their love of learning?
  2. Could they get into college without a diploma?  and...
  3. Would they miss out on the high school "experience?"

So first things first!  When you are homeschooling your young ones it is a lot of coloring and reading fabulous picture books together.  As they get older you let them do more on their own, but there is still lots of time cuddled under blankets enjoying adventures in their books.

This does not need to end in high school!  Every morning, we as a family, sit in the living room some of us with knitting or crochet in our hands and listen to an audio book.  Right now we are working through the Little House series.  These books are great for all ages and both boys and girls.  The teens have heard them before, but so have I, and we all love it.  This is a great way to start your school day, all together.  We pray, do a Bible reading from the Old and New Testament, and then listen to a chapter from some great family read.
Ah, that look.  All teens have it mastered.

I guess what I am getting at here is simple,  just because they can and will learn independently don't forget to do things together.  Audio books are a great resource for this. 

One of the greatest resources I have found for teaching the upper grades, other than audio books, is Ambleside Online.  You don't have to do everything on there.  But it is a great skeleton to build off of.  Actually for all the grades, AO is a brilliant resource.

One of the most important things you can do, however, is give your teen some freedom.  Let them read what they want.  I assign booklists with tentative due dates.  In other words, you will read these books in the next three months.  Oh and expect to write a paper about them, too.  In between that time they are allowed to read freely.  One of the things I hated about high school was the sheer amount of homework I had.  It did not encourage a love of anything academic.  I didn't read anything by choice, until the summer before my senior year.  I read the play Henry V, because I had been inspired by a movie I saw to learn more about that king and that period of history.  It was NOT on my summer reading list for school, but luckily the teacher let me write a paper on Hank instead come fall.

Allowing your child to read books other than the great literature you will assign, will encourage in them a love of reading and a love of reading will get them everywhere.  Being able to read anything just because you love it will help you in all aspects of education, even math.

So for high school a firm skeleton is important, but it must be flexible.  It must be able to bend in order for your teen to truly explore who they are and what passions they have.  Ambleside has a lot of great literature and it truly encourages learning rather than stifle it.

But never forget that skeleton.  Because there is more to high school than discovering self.  Whether we like it or not, life is not just about finding out who we are and what our passions are.  Life involves work.  A lot of work.  Too much freedom, especially in those teen years when we are all apt to be lazy, can be very detrimental to their future.  They don't have to be great at everything, no matter how much we would like them to be.  They need to study more than just how to build paper airplanes or knit the world's longest scarf.  By all means, make the world's longest scarf, but after you finish your math.

Curious about number two?  I know it was my biggest fear.  It kept me up and nights and made me a victim of bad advice.  But it is not as scary as it sounds.  So stay tuned for "College *Gulp*" in the next few days. 

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