When your homeschooled child enters or will soon enter high school, their happiness becomes critical to ensuring the success of your homeschooling. Obviously, we can’t base all our choices on what will make our kids happy. But doing what we can to make the high school years enjoyable is an important way of expressing love for our children. Here are my top tips.
I don’t mean to do science; I mean to teach your child to have an experimental attitude about their education. Many older homeschoolers are ready to give up homeschooling because they’re dissatisfied with some aspect of the home education. It’s possible that going to school is the right choice for them. if you wonder, listen to the episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show on this topic. But it’s also possible that some experimenting is in order.
Would a different schedule help? Try it and have your student record their findings. How does the new schedule affect their mood, productivity, and feelings about homeschooling? My kids have a later rise time as a result of this experiment and I’m constantly pointing out that they would be getting up at 6 if they went to school.
Another experiment to try is a new format for learning. Have your student try independent study, learning along with you, online learning, a co-op, or outside classes. Last year my son did an online course that went very well for him. My boys have enjoyed taking dual enrollment classes, especially doing so with a homeschooled friend the same age. Next year we are going to use more independent study and we’ll try outside classes through a new homeschool co-op.
Experiment with new activities. Consider youth group, a homeschool sport/activity, a non-homeschool sport or activity, or a part-time job. One son began attending youth group and another started a part-time job last year and both have made them happier in their homeschooling. Though she is not in high school, my daughter enjoyed playing volleyball with junior high and high school homeschooled girls last year. This summer she will be on a local swim team.
Finally, experiment with studying new subjects. Choose an elective of interest, for example. The 7 Sisters Human Development course will be of great interest to my daughter and would be perfect to do with a group. I taught developmental psychology at the university and it was a packed course. (For a limited time, use code SANITY to take 20% off your purchase. Comment on or share this Facebook Live review for a chance to win a 7 Sisters course until June 6th, 2017.)
If you’re stuck for ideas, review a high school or college course catalog. Ask your student what he thinks sounds interesting and pursue a course on the topic.
The key to experimenting is to give the experiment a decent trial period. One or two days of curricula, class, or an activity isn’t a fair trial. Attitudes can change. I insist on a semester for most things. Even if my student is right that she hates a curriculum and that doesn’t change, we help our students develop character in the process. Relationships, jobs, and new endeavors often get off to a rocky start, but turn out to be a blessing. Students will also learn how to adjust to less than desirable circumstances. They can choose a positive attitude and learn to focus on what they like and ignore what they don’t. They can learn to make friends who make the experience more pleasant. They can learn to push themselves to a new level of achievement, despite not liking the instructor (hopefully that instructor isn’t you!). They can learn how to deal effectively with difficult people. They can learn to entertain themselves when bored.
Teaching your child to experiment with all of these variables in their homeschooling because it’s a critical life skill.
#2 Give appropriate freedom and responsibility
The second approach for keeping high schoolers happy is to give appropriate freedom and responsibility. Kids aren’t happy when they’re hemmed in too closely. As long as your child isn’t violating your trust with poor choices, you shouldn’t use your fear as an excuse to limit your child. One reason we’re afraid to give freedom is because we know what we did as teeens or what our spouse or friends did at this age. But your child isn’t you or your friends. He or she has had the benefit of being homeschooled by you. If your child has earned the right to attend a well-chaperoned party or dance, to take a dual-enrollment class, or to get a part-time job, let your child have the experience.
When I began homeschooling, the thought was we wanted to limit our teens’ exposure to these things, but I think that teaching was misguided. I think it’s important to have our kids try and potentially fail while we are still there to guide them. This is what leads to success in college and life. That doesn’t mean we don’t have discernment in choosing the freedoms and responsibilities we give. We should choose those opportunities that will encourage our child in his faith walk and expose him to people who share his values while also allowing him to meet those who don’t.
Provide plenty of coaching before giving more freedom and responsibility. Ask your daughter how she will respond if she witnesses underage drinking or drug use. What will she do if she makes a poor choice in this area? Does she know that you will not punish her if she calls you to come get her? It’s critical to communicate this. If she reports underage drinking, she has to know that you won’t keep her from attending all functions in the future. She has to know that if she does drink that you will come get her immediately to keep her safe. Of course, these discussions should also include the many natural consequences of poor choices. The more real-world examples you can provide, the better.
Talk with your child about the kinds of people he will meet in the workplace. Share your own experience. Talk about temptations. Discuss what you believe about dating. If your son or daughter is interested in dating, what will you say? What situations do you want your child to avoid and why? As you talk, affirm your child and your confidence in his ability to make good choices. Remind him of examples of his good decision making in the past.
To keep your homeschooler happy, teach them to experiment with their homeschooling and activities, give them freedom and responsibility within a coaching framework, and assess your child’s mental health. Does your high schooler seem happy most of the time? If not, talk with your child about what they think is influencing their mood. Always consider hormones as a factor. Next, consider social skills. Students who social skills are lacking may suffer from loneliness and develop too much of a desire to play video games.
If you think your child may be depressed because they’re sleeping too much (or have insomnia), eating too much (or not enough), are unusually sad or irritable, or express hopelessness or significant negative self-esteem, seek a professional’s help. If you’re worried about attitudes toward your homeschooling, listen to the episode on working with professionals as a homeschooler. Even if you’re nervous, you owe it to your child to get help.
#4 Invest in the relationship.
Finally, to keep your high schooler happy, invest in the relationship. As your children get older, you will find you can spend less time actually teaching. You may find that you have even more time to yourself because your child is gone more. But this is not the time to let the realationship wither. Plan time to do a devotion together, enjoy a hobby together, or get coffee together. Let your child choose the activity. Chat with your high schooler the way you would with a good friend. Ask them how things are going, what they’re learning, what they’re interested in. Then reciprocate. Just as you know less about their lives, they know less about yours. You are building the foundation for a good relationship with your children when they are in college and adults living away from home.
Affirm your child. Praise her for the maturity you see. Envision a positive future for her. Tell her you can see that she’ll be a great mother, a caring teacher, or whatever will mean the most to her.
Make it clear that you are there to help your child overcome challenges. Explain that you will be there to help them deal with the dyslexia in college, to deal with difficult relationships, to manage money — whatever is a struggle for your child.
Pray for your child. Pray with him. Tell your children you’re praying for them. Ask for specific prayer requests. Give them a Scripture that applies to their circumstances. Of course, if you’re married, it’s important for both you and your spouse to invest in the relationship with your homeschooled high schooler.
It is possible to keep your homeschooler happy in high school. Even if you and your child decide that enrolling in high school is the best choice, many of these tips will be helpful.
Do you have other tips for keeping homeschoolers happy? Comment here or on Facebook.
I was given access to this course for free and was compensated for my time. I was not required to give a positive review.
After training our children in the faith and teaching them to love learning, preparing our children to do well on the ACT is a top priority for me and my husband. We have six children to put through college and a high ACT score opens the door to significant scholarship money. (For more on preparing your child for college scholarships, be sure to listen to my interview with Lee Binz on The Homeschool Sanity Show).
Math makes up a significant portion of the ACT score. Mr. D. of Mr. D Math claims that he can raise your child’s ACT Math score 5 points. That’s significant! That’s taking the math score from average to above average, for example.
I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think of this online interactive course. My first two sons had only prepared for the test using ACT prep books. I am also very picky about teaching style.
What the Mr. D Math ACT Boot Camp Includes
The boot camp is an online course taught live by Mr. D. himself. It is scheduled for Monday evenings in our time zone, which is challenging for my son because he has drum lessons at that time. Attending live allows students to ask and answer questions. However, replays are available, allowing viewers to hear Mr. D’s responses to questions. The interactive course includes teaching of test-taking strategies, help converting word problems to equations, and review of math formulas needed for the ACT. Students look over problems prior to class that Mr. D. then solves with students in class. Students work to solve the same problems on their own between classes, promoting mastery.
The online course is not the only part of the boot camp, however. The course fee also includes the Test Prep Portal. Inside the portal are numerous videos teaching skills such as how to use your calculator during the exam. There are also ACT practice questions for math, links to math games, and even practice questions for the other subjects comprising the ACT. My son characterizes it as “a ton of stuff.”
What We Think of the Mr. D Math ACT Boot Camp
I wasn’t sure if my son would like the boot camp. He is very picky, too! But he was quite complimentary of Mr. D’s teaching style. “He makes things very easy to understand,” he said.
My son is strong in math, but even he can benefit from this boot camp. I think students who are weaker in math would absolutely love this, as would students who learn best through audio and hands-on teaching.
My son hasn’t yet taken the ACT, but I do believe Mr. D.’s claim that he can raise my child’s math score by 5 points. Since 5 points can be the difference between a scholarship and no scholarship, the cost for this boot camp ($197) is a real bargain in my opinion. It’s like having a top-notch math tutor in your home.
How to Get Started With the MrD Math ACT Boot Camp
If you’d like to enroll your child in the boot camp to prepare him or her for the June ACT, go to the Mr. D Math site today. The session just started this week, so your child can still fully participate in this boot camp. Click the same link to enroll in future boot camps. You should also follow Mr. D Math on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, especially if your child isn’t quite ready for the ACT. Then you won’t forgot this amazing resource for ACT preparation!
I wrote about sending my son, who had been homeschooled his whole life, to high school as a junior. It’s hard to believe that was three school years ago.
I know there are many homeschooling parents who have wondered if they should send their children to school, particularly when it comes to high school. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer that question for you. I don’t know you, your child, or your school district. Even if I did, I could give you bad advice. What I can do is tell you what I learned from the process and tell you where to go for help in making the decision: God. He knows what is best for your child. He has proven Himself trustworthy to us. I believe He will for you, too.
I share what I’ve learned in case it will be helpful to you.
Public school isn’t always the enemy.
I had heard horror stories and I was terrified. Our local high school’s website said that homeschoolers would have to be interviewed by department heads to determine what grades they would be given for previous coursework. When we met with the guidance counselor, I was prepared for a fight. If the school planned on giving my child anything less than the grades he had earned, I wasn’t willing to enroll him!
We had submitted my son’s transcript and PSAT scores prior to our meeting. The counselor handed us an official transcript with all his courses and grades on it, just as we had reported. I said, “You’re just going to accept his courses and grades?” She said yes. Not only that, but she asked if my son wanted to enter as a senior because he had so many credits. He declined because he wanted to build up an even stronger transcript for college.
I don’t know if my son’s PSAT scores were taken as validation of his coursework or if this is how any homeschooler would be treated. I have heard of other homeschoolers being forced to repeat high school years.
In our case, the public school was our ally, not our enemy.
Public school can be validating.
I have heard the story of poorly prepared homeschool students entering public school and failing socially and academically many times. It’s a popular tale among teachers commenting on homeschooling online. I was worried that teachers would use my son to confirm that narrative.
Instead, my son came home and said that one of his teachers had this conversation with him:
TEACHER: “You were homeschooled right?”
MY SON: “Yes.”
TEACHER: “Your parents have done something right. You’re an excellent student.”
I just wanted to hug the man. It isn’t that I didn’t know that my son is a good student. It’s that I’ve never had my teaching of him praised. It was nice to hear.
My public school stereotypes were wrong.
Even though I went to public school, my views of it have changed as a result of the media and warnings from the homeschool community. I honestly expected a completely out-of-control morass of immorality.
I agreed to help serve lunch to the theater group at the high school. When I walked into the lunch room and saw everyone sitting and talking quietly, I was astonished. When I served the teens lunch and they all thanked me, I was again surprised.
Because my son is extremely social, he has introduced us to dozens of young people he met in the various groups he was in. It’s been a joy to get to know them. Many of them share our faith, which was another surprise. While they have shaken my public school stereotypes, I believe we have given them a non-stereotypical view of homeschooling, too.
My son needed to experience public school.
My son had a much different set of stereotypes about public school than I did. In his mind, public school was filled with cool kids who loved to discuss what they were learning and teachers who all loved to teach. I did my best to relieve him of those stereotypes, but it wasn’t until he went to school that he had a better perspective. He later told me that there were just as many weird kids at public school as in homeschool groups (ha ha), that there were kids in advanced courses who would play video games instead of listen and discuss, and that some of his teachers were just plain awful.
His funniest realization (for me anyway) was this: “I could have learned in two weeks what it took them a whole semester to teach.” Ahem. I told you so.
His saddest realization is that unkindness exists everywhere. As a homeschooled kid at church, his experience was that his friends who weren’t homeschooled tended to ignore him in favor of their schoolmates. I think my son hoped that once he was in school that this wouldn’t happen anymore. It did, in various settings.
I’m so thankful that he was able to learn these lessons while living at home. We had plenty of discussions about what he was learning and experiencing and his dad and I were able to give him guidance. Everything he experienced has also served him well in college.
While I’m thankful for the lessons learned by sending my son to high school, I can’t recommend it to everyone. I still have reservations about sending young people who aren’t strong enough spiritually, academically, or socially to succeed. My next three oldest sons do not want to attend public high school at this time. But if they change their minds or my younger children want to go (and the Lord confirms that decision), I won’t be terrified.
Have you sent your child to public school after homeschooling or are you thinking about it? Let’s chat about it on Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.
Early in my homeschooling, I was blessed to hear Joyce Herzog say:
Our children are unlikely to be employed in their areas of weakness. Most likely they will be employed in their area of strength.
Yet we tend to focus an inordinate amount of teaching time on fixing weaknesses–not maximizing strengths.
But exactly how can we make a connection between our child’s strengths and future employment?
I had no idea until I met Jonathan Harris and read his book How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent. I loved the idea of putting all the pieces of my child’s life together (his strengths, his interests, our family’s interests, and the resources available) and seeing what picture appeared. I did work through the exercises in the book and had some vague ideas of what skills my two oldest boys still at home should be focusing on. I even wrote about it here. But frankly, I put it on the back burner. More pressing matters took precedence until Jonathan contacted me and offered to do a consultation. I’m so glad he did.
I suspect that most homeschoolers are like I am–not overly concerned about our children’s future until it’s time to think about college or employment after graduation. And that’s a shame. We have so much more time to devote to developing our children’s talents than parents whose children are in traditional schools. I wasn’t taking advantage of the time and Jonathan motivated me.
Jonathan and I spoke about both my sons–their strengths and their interests. Then I shared with him that our family has a passion for selling books. One of my sons had already helped my husband at a librarians’ conference and the next oldest would be doing so at the upcoming conference. I explained that my current passion was to write a language arts curriculum and start a homeschool publishing company that my kids could be a part of. Even as I spoke, I was starting to make some connections. And can I say what a joy it was to talk about my sons? What a rare opportunity it was to share with someone else the gifts I see in them and the hopes and dreams my husband and I have for their future. Jonathan gave me the assignment of completing the questions in his book again and determining what talent we might work on developing in the coming months.
After finishing my homework, I talked with my husband and the boys. I originally thought that my younger son would love to help my husband in his business, but my husband didn’t feel he would have enough meaningful work to keep him busy. We decided that we wanted him to have a business education so we planned to have him work through Micro Business for Teens. I felt my older son, with a gift for grammar, would be well suited to helping me complete the curriculum I’m writing. We agreed to pay him a training wage while I was teaching him and then more as he was working independently.
I reported our plans to Jonathan, who thought we were on the right track. I thanked him profusely, because I hadn’t really thought how my son’s talent could be developed in a way that fit with our family goals, too.
Jonathan asked me how things were going and I told him, but things have changed since my report.
I trained my older son to format the text I had written. Everything went well and he was meticulous, so I was pleased. But a problem came up. He began studying in earnest for the ACT and taking outside classes and doing more at church. I couldn’t get him to devote time to it, pay or no.
My younger son had a similar issue with new curriculum coming to my attention that I wanted him to use. The Micro Business books kept getting put on the back burner.
I still needed help formatting my books, so I started looking into hiring a foreign editor. The experience I’ve had hiring non-English speaking people for other work had me cringing at the thought of explaining what I wanted done. Then I realized that my younger son was completely capable of formatting text. I just hadn’t thought of him, because I was so focused on my older son’s English gift.
I sat down to train my younger son how to format the workbook material and he took to it immediately. Not only that, but he is much more motivated by money than his older brother (thus, we wanted him to learn about business). What I found is that my younger son’s enthusiasm motivated my older son. He is having to spend less ACT prep time, so will return to formatting the text for me. Meanwhile I am beyond thrilled with all the help. I will be able to publish the first volume sooner than I had expected. Meanwhile, I will be able to include my younger son in the business side of what I’m doing–invaluable hands-on learning. Our original plan is still intact (my younger son will work through Micro Business for Teens), but his experience helping me is the primary focus.
Second, contact Jonathan for a consultation. Yes, it’s a paid service, but it’s so worth it to get direction in helping to shape your child’s future. I appreciate so much that Jonathan shares my Christian values and recognizes the power of prayer in the process.
Third, engage your child and spouse in prayerful discussion. It’s exciting to grow beyond math and science and literature to life application. In this ever-changing economy, we have to do all we can to help our kids develop their talents in a way that makes them valuable employees or producers.
Fourth, begin training. You may not be the one who will teach your child the skills he needs to develop his talent, but you can arrange the teaching–whether that means purchasing materials or getting a tutor. If you are the primary teacher as I am, be sure to schedule time for training so it doesn’t get put on the back burner. (I’m speaking to myself here, too!)
Finally, keep evaluating how it’s going. My experience shows you that your first plan may not be the best one, but you will succeed with perseverance and prayer.