Homeschooling "Big Kids"


Homeschooling Big Kids

This post is about homeschooling the "Big Kids". 

What, you ask, exactly defines a "Big Kid"? 

BIG KID = a child who is past the initial "sponge" stage of learning, a child who is developing thoughts and opinions of their own; a child who might believe they know best most of the time; a child who only thinks a shower is necessary once every three days; a child who is conflicted most of their waking hours; and a child who is full of potential and joy.

 {Commonly known as a middle school or high school student}

I've struggled to find what "works" for my big kid - and I'm not talking about a little struggle, it's been big.

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Much time has been spent on my knees, in tears, and talking with good friends.  

Many date nights have occurred spontaneously in the middle of the week so my husband could be my sounding board - so we could work through the issues of our changing homeschool. 

There's so much I CANNOT share with you (to respect my children's privacy), but I can share this:

Sometimes the journey homeschooling an older child is just plain HARD.

Well meaning friends tell me, "Oh, I could never homeschool my child during these hormonal years!" {and you know what I what I would tell them, right?} 

Let's talk about the challenges, joys,  and OPTIONS when homeschooling your bigger kids. 

I don't think homeschool moms talk about it enough. We hear all of the fluffy stories and assume other families have picture perfect homeschools. 

It just isn't so.


Challenges of Homeschooling a Big Kid

Narrowing this list down to 5 was tough. Let's be honest: there are many challenges to homeschooling at any age, but this middle grades age has given me quite a bit to ponder. 

  • Personalities - because of their developing wills and strong opinions, cooperating isn't always first on their list. At this time in their lives a personality conflict can be very obvious with mom or dad (or their siblings).
  • Academics - big kids are SMART! It can be difficult to keep them academically challenged and provide them with the dialectic and rhetorical education they deserve.
  • Submission - by their very nature, big kids don't like to submit - they have to LEARN this (just like adults do!)... sometimes submitting to their parent is difficult and painful.
  • Time - with little kids you are most always guaranteed nap times and early bed times; with big kids the times of quiet are unpredictable - one minute they may want to be alone in their room and the next they may want to have a heart to heart at 10 p.m. Homeschooling big kids takes time.
  • Preparation - are our big kids getting what they need to be prepared for life? Will they be prepared for college? A job? A family? That's a huge responsibility for the homeschooling parent to carry.


Joys of Homeschooling a Big Kid

I have to remind myself to focus on the joys and not the challenges... some days the challenges can bog you down, but when I step back and get some distance from the situation I can better see the joys.

  • Freedom - gone are the days of getting a babysitter or taking your children with you to every doctor appointment and errand. You can LEAVE THEM by themselves, and the first time you do this the feeling of freedom is indescribable! Better still - they can babysit the LITTLE KIDS! 
  • Conversations - the level of discourse with a big kid can be really exciting - many of the homeschooled big kids I know have more intelligent conversations than many adults I know. Big kids have a lot to say, and if you listen, you can learn a lot.
  • Humor - big kids are funny. When you catch them at the right time they can genuinely crack you up and make your day a lot lighter. 
  • Accomplishment - watching your big kids accomplish certain BIG things (like that really hard math problem, writing a great essay, or showing genuine compassion to someone in need)  is a wonderful feeling. As a mom, you feel like you've done something right and that this lifestyle has been worth it.
  • Peace - knowing my big kid is free from traditional school JUNK makes me so peaceful. We don't have to worry about bullying, mean girls, or weapons in the classroom. We are free to teach what we want to our children, and they are free to pursue their interests. We recently toured a  private Christian school and what struck me was the lack of depth in its curriculum. Nothing is more rich than a custom education for your UNIQUE child. As a homeschooling family we have fewer worries! There is an immense amount of peace that comes with educating your own children.

What are Your Options?

I've explored all of these on some level - we're very familiar with OPTIONS around here....

These options can be utilized alone or in conjunctions with one another. 

  • Give up - you can do nothing and throw in the towel just to gain some sanity. Put your child in the local public school and be done with it. (This is not the option I would recommend.) 
  • Change Course - consider doing something drastically different for homeschool. For us, it came in the form of joining the Classical Conversations Challenge Program (a HUGE blessing). Investigate the options for hybrid schools, classical academies, online schools, and so much more. There are SO MANY OPTIONS out there! 
  • Seek wise counsel - find a mom who has been there and understands your struggle. Most moms I know are more than happy to share their experience and advice with you. Seek out a seasoned homeschool mom who can encourage you, pray for you, and let you know you're not alone.
  • Pray - when I start my days with prayer for our homeschool, things are so much better. I also find myself whispering prayers throughout the day. Praying WITH your child is important, too. In our home, dad leads prayers in the evening, and the sense of peace that comes over us is PERFECT.
  • Study - over the years I have collected a few books that really help - I've put them in a widget below:


Starting next week I will be writing about our experiences in the Challenge program with Classical Conversations. For my "Big Kid", this has been the perfect balance of "school" and "home". She is growing, learning, and "challenging" us on a daily basis. The parents we have met all sharpen one another, and I am certain this is where we need to be.

Tell me about your "big kid". Has homeschooling them being challenging? Joyful? A mixture of both?

Let's talk "big kids"!