Keeping Homeschoolers Happy in High School

Keeping Homeschoolers Happy in High School

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.

How to Keep Your Homeschooled High Schooler Happy

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#1 Teach your child to experiment.

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.)

Choose an elective course in the area of your child’s talent. Listen to the podcast episode I did on talent education and read the post Vicki Tillman wrote on high school electives.

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.

But what if your child hasn’t earned freedom and responsibility because of poor choices? If your child has ADD, listen to the podcast episode on that topic. If your child is oppositional or defiant, listen to the episode on the #1 question homeschoolers ask me. Then read The Defiant Child by Dr. Douglas Riley. This is one of the best parenting books when it comes to managing misbehavior, even if your child doesn’t have an oppositional-defiant diagnosis.

#3 Assess your child’s mental health.

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.


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What I Learned Sending My Homeschooled Child to Public School

What I Learned Sending My Homeschooled Child to Public School

What I learned sending my homeschooled child to public school.

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.

Check out what the other iHomeschool Network bloggers learned from their kids.

What my child has taught me. Homeschooling.

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Easy Lunch Idea, CollegePlus Review & More: 6 Hot Flashes

Easy Lunch Idea, CollegePlus Review & More: 6 Hot Flashes

easy lunch idea, college plus review, Norwex review, Pinterest for bloggers, scrapbook kit reviewThis month’s hot flashes are in a new format similar to what I do with What’s Hot in Homeschooling. If you’re new to this series, allow me to explain that I give a detailed account of my hot flashes from the previous month. Not the wake-up-drenched or the open-the-freezer-to-cool-off-quick kind, but the hot news, reviews, and ideas I just have to share.

#1 The Treasure Box Scrapbook Kit Review

I found The Treasure Box at a local scrapbooking convention and was blown away by the quality and the price. Everything you need to complete six pages (3 double-page spreads) is included but adhesive, ink/chalk, and tools. I’m delighted with the results which my husband has declared are the best pages I’ve ever done. The price? Just $20.99 a month which includes shipping. The website states this is the lowest price on the internet. Try spending just ten minutes a day on these kits and use a Cropperware Page In Progress Box to keep everything in place until you can work on it again.

#2 CollegePlus Prep Review

My oldest son did CollegePlus Prep when it was a year-long program that involved group coaching. He found the study skills and logic courses valuable. While he decided not to take the CLEP tests that are part of the program so he could take AP courses instead, we both were impressed with the godly leadership of his coach.

My second oldest son, Sam (15 and a sophomore) enrolled in CollegePlus Prep this fall. To say that he is different from his brother is an understatement! I wasn’t sure what he would think of it. But CollegePlus Prep was much different than it was when my oldest enrolled. Sam did the study skills and reasoning parts of the program, but jumped right into studying for his first CLEP. Previously, this waited until the spring. I could tell Sam was anxious about both the workload expected of him (about two hours a day) and how he would do on the exam.

This month Sam took his first CLEP tast and passed! We are so proud of him.  But I really can’t say enough about CollegePlus Prep so far. It’s true that you can guide your child through the process of CLEP testing on your own and save some money. But the experience of the staff and the one-on-one attention Sam has received are well worth the expense for us. Sam’s coach not only encourages and assists Sam in studying the excellent materials provided, but has helped him set personal goals, and is helping him to grow in his faith. For example, Sam studied for and passed his driver’s permit exam with his coach’s encouragement and is asked to study Scripture around his life purpose.

Right now the plan is for Sam to begin working on his bachelor’s degree in earnest next fall. Meanwhile, my oldest is in the process of applying to college. I have friends who have asked me what their child should do where college is concerned. Because getting a four-year degree through CollegePlus is estimated to cost $17,000 right now, my advice is to use the Net Price Calculator to determine how much a college degree will cost your child elsewhere. By entering your family’s financial information, your child’s GPA, and actual or expected test scores, you can get a good estimate of what kinds of grants, automatic scholarships, work study, and loans your student would qualify for. These estimates do not include competitive scholarships.

#3 Yummy & Easy Lunch Idea

When I found this pin on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. I have a friend’s family over for joint classes and lunch one day a week. I have to whip something up quickly for nine hungry kids (including four teen boys!) before we leave for P.E. classes. This fit the bill. I rolled up turkey pepperoni and half a part-skim mozzarella stick in a reduced fat crescent roll. I served these with marinara for those who wanted it. I heard several, “Make these again!”

#4 Cleaning Without Chemicals

I went to one of those home parties that I dreaded. I wanted to help a friend out more than anything. I know how awful it is to have no one show up!

Norwex is a company that sells naturally anti-bacterial and ultra microfiber cloths. I liked that idea, but it wasn’t until I actually used the products that I was hooked. I have the window cloth that cleans my windows, mirrors, and shiny appliances with only water. And they have never been cleaner! I also purchased the makeup removing cloths and couldn’t believe that with just water, they removed all my makeup–even the waterproof kind. No more eye irritation from the makeup towelettes I was using before! The dust mitt, enviro cloth, and cleaning paste keep my bathrooms cleaner than ever with no harsh chemicals. The kitchen cloth and towel can stay wet without smelling musty. I can have the kids clean my car interior with just water, too!

#5 Grow Your Blog with Pinterest

Last month was my biggest traffic month ever, doubling the page views of my previous high month. Why? Because I created a pin of 6 Crazy Easy Crock-Pot Recipes. This was a guest post on Stuff Parents Need. I fully expected the majority of traffic to come from the other blog or from her boards on Pinterest. Instead, the majority of my traffic came from my own Pinterest board which doesn’t even have the most followers! You can be sure that I will be doing more posts like these.

Top posts here for the month were 6 Crazy Easy Crock-Pot Recipes (which became my best post of all time), How to Grow Your Nails and Change Your Life, and Why Classical Conversations Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum. I created new vertical pins for the latter two posts and repinned them with fantastic results.

#6 Schedule a Family Portrait

This month we had our family portrait done while my oldest was having his senior pictures taken. I absolutely treasure family portraits. If I only had time to grab a few photos in a fire, that’s what I’d grab. (Except I think our photographer has copies, too! But you know what I mean.) What makes me sad is whenever I mention family portraits, someone invariably tells me they need to do that. Please don’t wait! It doesn’t have to cost you anything. I have a homeschooling friend who’s a photographer and I bet you do, too.

If you’d like a peek at one of our family photos, I’m sharing a proof on the Psychowith6 Facebook page. While you’re there, I’d love for you to click “Like” so we can keep in touch.

Linking up with the Homeschool High School Blog Hop.

What hot flashes have you been having this month?

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Free Weather Unit, Healthy Cooking & More: What’s Hot in Homeschooling This Week

Free Weather Unit, Healthy Cooking & More: What’s Hot in Homeschooling This Week

Whats Hot in Homeschooling

I am really enjoying the great posts I read on link-ups, Google+ and Pinterest. Be sure to follow me and share what you think is hot in homeschooling, so I can include it in future updates. Now on to what’s hot…

Free Weather Unit for Ages 3-9

Our weather has been so volatile lately. I’d like to just sit and whine about it, but an even better thing to do is study it! These colorful free printables and weather study links are just what we need.

Factory Tours

Summer is a great time to take advantage of the many factory tours available. This website lists them by state, so check out those close to home or incorporate them into a road trip.

Homeschooled Through High School (College-bound by age 12)

Many homeschooling families are anticipating having students in high school soon. This article details one family’s remarkable accomplishments, but has good advice about including advanced work on a high school transcript, regardless of students’ age.

How to Make Sure Your Kids Are Eating Healthfully When You Don’t Enjoy Cooking

This post is a great adjunct to my Once-and-for-All Meal Plan ebook. She recommends a meal planning app I’d like to try and notice the simplicity of her breakfasts and lunches!

Love Notes From God

I’ve had some discouraging days this week. That’s why I love this idea from Faith, Fun & the Fergusons. Definitely a project you can get the kids involved with!

Interviews for Mother’s Day

The most precious gifts I receive from my children are their words. Using these questions, you can have someone interview your child about you and you can enjoy the hilarious results on Mother’s Day.

Speaking of Mother’s Day, I’d like to wish all of you a very happy day. You inspire me and are blessing the world by raising the next generation. I hope you get lots of love this Sunday!


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The Motivating Power of Sleep

The Motivating Power of Sleep

Some homeschooling parents insist that their children have regular bedtimes and get plenty of sleep. Many of these same parents are up late and aren’t giving themselves the benefit of at least seven hours worth of sleep.

Some homeschooling parents don’t have regular bedtimes for their children who often aren’t getting enough sleep. Typically these parents are also sleep-deprived.

The Motivating Power of Sleep

If you and your children have regular sleep routines, you are likely to be healthier and more motivated than the rest of us. Just be careful that pride isn’t your downfall. 😉

Why Sleep is So Important to Homeschoolers

My teenage son, who likes to test the limits of sleep deprivation, recently asked me about dreams. He thinks I know way more about psychology than I do and I let him persist in his delusion. I equated dreaming with website maintenance. Websites typically become unavailable while work is being done to enhance their efficiency.

In the same way, we need to sleep so our brains can form new connections based on what we’ve learned. My theory on dreaming is that as the brain works, sorting through the events and emotions of our day, the conscious part of our brains tries to make sense of it all. The result? An often nonsensical dream that we will only recall if we wake up in the middle of it.

Sleep deprivation means that information doesn’t get stored in our memories. It means that our brains and even our bodies will operate less and less efficiently until eventually we have to go offline. We get sick.

Studies of sleep-deprived university students have found associations with:

  • lower grades
  • dropped courses
  • negative mood
  • increased procrastination
  • decreased perception of ability (students assume they “can’t do it.”)

These behaviors are exactly the opposite of what we want in our students (and ourselves!).

It’s Not How Much, But When

Homeschoolers often feel comfortable keeping erratic sleep schedules because they know their schedules afford them the flexibility to sleep in or make up for sleep deprivation later. However, studies suggest that being able to make up for sleep loss may be a myth. In college, I learned that even more important than the amount of sleep we get is the regularity with which we get it. What’s more, a constantly changing sleep schedule is likely to interfere with your ability to sleep soundly–even when you’re tired.

The summer I did a 12-week Body for Life transformation, I got up at 6 a.m. every morning and went to bed around 11 p.m. each evening. I have never felt more energetic. While I still keep this schedule in general, there are too many days and nights that I vary from it…and I feel it!

And my kids? I’ve mentioned before that my kids are up late and sleep late, but I think we need to be more consistent with bedtime in particular. I hope to motivate my husband to help me by having him read this post and the ones referenced at the end of this post.

Do a Sleep Study

I participated in a Track Your Happiness study using my iPhone.  I was able to look at a graph that compared how much sleep I got with my happiness. There wasn’t an obvious relationship. If instead, I had a comparison between my sleep schedule and happiness, I am sure I would have found consistency equaled happiness.

The blog post, Homeschooling and Sleep Deprivation: 8 Things You Should Know, suggests you do a sleep study at home. I love this idea! Have your children help you with a little psychological research. Record the times you and your children go to sleep and wake up and also have them rate themselves on variables you consider important to homeschooling (e.g., attention, cheerfulness, assigned work finished). You may want to rate them, too. I’d like a dollar for every time one of my children has screamed at me that they’re not tired. 🙂 You may want to consider having two experimental conditions: 1) Allowing you and your kids to sleep as they currently do or as they choose 2) Going to bed and getting up at the same times.

When you have the results (I suggest at least a week to gather data), ask your children what conclusions they draw. Is an amount of sleep or a regular sleep time important? If so, what changes do they think should be made with regard to sleep?

Want More to Sleep On?

Getting Better Sleep

Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective

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