Many homeschooling families begin to doubt their decision to homeschool as children enter the teen years.
The teen years present a host of parenting challenges in general - throw education into the mix and it can be overwhelming. The high school years especially feel like a time we just need to get it right.
Are they getting the right credits?
How can I help my child with Calculus?
The list of questions is enough to keep a parent up at night, isnt’ it?
I am proponent of never saying never, but I feel confident in our decision to homeschool through high school (largely because I’ve done it!). So many people tell me why they could never homeschool high school.
I’m here to tell you why you CAN, and share the many benefits.
Strong Relationships with Parents
I think it is fair to say I have a very good relationship with my children. We are together so much and this forces us to have to work through it all - the good and the bad - on a daily basis.
Time to Develop and Explore Passions
Because we aren’t slaves to a traditional school schedule my children can spend time on what interests them. During the high school years, especially, this is is so important.
Our teens need their sleep. Yes, I agree they need to know how to get up with an alarm clock and follow someone else’s rules, as well.
I like to think we have a healthy mixture of this in our home. We have days where we have to be up and out, and days where we can sleep in and rest if we need it.
No one can accomplish much when they are run down and worn out!
Absence of Peer Pressure
We haven’t dealt with mean girls, cliques, being “uncool” because we’re smart, or any of the other worries I had in traditional school.
I’ve almost forgotten how MEAN teens can be to one another. I am SO thankful we don’t deal with this. In fact, I think we have just the opposite: iron sharpens iron!
We often associate the teen years with attitudes - eye rolling and disrespect. I read an interesting thing about adolescence the other day:
Adolescence metastasized during a season in American history when families weren’t prepared to raise on of the first generations ever to experience childhood with both parents working outside of the home. Without parents that said, “Follow me,” - into the kitchen and into the yard, into the office and onto the farm - children didn’t learn many of the basic skills required to become an adult. ~ Janet Newberry (Education by Design, Not Default)
Because we are homeschooling we have the opportunity to guide our children into adulthood - I’m noticing that we are skipping a lot of the “teenager” behavior that I simply assumed would occur.
It’s Not “All About Me”
Again, because we are homeschooling, my children see life day in and day out. Life is messy and difficult. Life is also joyful and wonderful.
Because my children have had to experience everything with us at home they know that life isn’t all about them. In a school the focus is all on the children - at home our kids have to sometimes take a backseat for one another or other members of the family.
This is a GOOD thing.
Selfishly, it’s nice to have some help around the house! Many hands make light work.
Additionally, the skills children learn because they are helping around the house from a young age are invaluable. We can incorporate cooking, cleaning, yard work, and so many other household chores into our school day.
More Time for Real Life
We don’t have the wasted time of waiting in line, changing classes, going to and from school, and just all of the TIME spent doing nothing in traditional school.
This gives us more time for REAL LIFE.
Increased Independence (with the right motivation)
When we homeschool our children we can give them opportunities to be independent. Things like doing laundry, cooking meals - and working jobs as they get older - help our children become independent.
Some children become independent because they are FORCED to do so - but I would like to think that my homeschool teens have become independent because I have inspired them to do so. They see the fruits of their labor and are looking forward to adulthood.
They aren’t simply being independent because mom isn’t home to help them. Mom is THERE, coming alongside them in love, to inspire them towards independence.
(Yes, I’m including some pictures of my homeschoolers in this post — love my kiddos!)
This goes back to the independence I think. As our teens become more independent (socially and academically), they are readying themselves for college.
I’ve heard time and again that homeschoolers are a college professor’s dream because they are self-starters and go above and beyond what is expected of them. They haven’t been box checkers in their homeschooling career, so they aren’t wondering what boxes need to be checked to receive a certain grade in college.
Homeschoolers are used to working for MASTERY not a reward.
This is huge.
Better Social Skills
Ironic, isn’t it? Homeschoolers have better social skills.
I have watched homeschoolers carefully and they generally know how to interact with a wide variety of people quite successfully. Their language is more sophisticated (because they haven’t been around teen speak all day every day) and they are able to relate to people of ALL ages because this is what they know.
Honestly, I am SO THANKFUL my children don’t have the social skills I have seen in some traditional teens. I’m not trying to put other teens down, I am just telling you the truth of why we homeschool.
It’s Less Expensive than Traditional School
Yes, we have to pay for all of our own supplies and classes, etc… Stick with me, however.
Have you seen how much a marching band trip in the public schools costs these days? Are you aware of how much money traditional school children spend on the prom?
How about the clothes kids feel they need to have to keep up with others?
I think you get my point here.
At the very least I feel better about how we invest our dollars in our homeschool than I would if my child were in a traditional school.
It Nurtures Introverts & Extroverts
I have one of each in my house.
We can set our homeschool up for the success of both my introvert and my extrovert.
Our teens need to feel loved and secure. They need to feel they can be who they are and not have to conform to everyone else.
God created our children in the image of HIM, yet uniquely gifted as well. Our children’s true identity is in Christ, not who the world says they are. Introverts and extroverts have very different needs, and I am thankful to be able to cater to those through homeschooling.
Increased Academic Opportunities
If you are willing to do your research and plug into your community there are an abundance of academic opportunities for our teens.
Just a couple of weeks ago we were at a Robotics Open House at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am quite certain this motivated a lot of the teens in our group!
There are so many classes, curricula, and groups for our teens. This is perhaps the most exciting thing about homeschooling a teen right now. The world is your oyster!
More Opportunities to Fail
You read that right: more opportunities to fail.
Because we aren’t worried about checking off boxes or working towards a grade (or worse still achievement on a standardized test) we can let our students fail and then learn from those failures.
Failure is the BEST way for our teens to learn. Our teens need to make mistakes, humble themselves, seek forgiveness, and receive grace. That cycle will repeat itself again and again my children’s lives, and it never ceases to amaze me the learning that takes place.
My home is the safest place for my children to fail. They can make some of their biggest mistakes under my roof. When they are out on their own they will hopefully look back on those failures and remember the value in admitting the mistake and seeking forgiveness - and then taking ownership.
They Mature Earlier, Yet Stay Younger Longer
Think about this: our homeschoolers mature earlier, yet stay younger longer.
Increased independence leads to maturation.
If we are successful in “sheltering” our children from so many of the evils of this world, they will stay younger for longer.
Many people mistake maturity for worldliness… I want my teens to be mature but not worldly. There is a HUGE difference.
I also believe that because many of our homeschoolers have younger siblings they are forced to stay younger for longer. I know that my own children interact with many children who are younger and it is such a blessing!
Close Sibling Relationships
Homeschool teens need their siblings. Siblings will be around much longer than traditional school friends (in most cases), and we have a unique opportunity to foster that relationship.
Our culture now is suffering from the effects of so many fractured families. Hopefully homeschool parents are doing their part to create strong families and close siblings!
Freedom to Pursue Their Relationship with God
We are able to bring God into EVERYTHING when we homeschool.
Our teens are in such a time of faith formation. They can be free to see His presence (or even question His presence).
The teen years mark the beginning of the dialectic, and our children are created to question and seek. We have such a chance to guide them in their faith through all of the time we enjoy with them at home!
Working and Saving Money
From a very practical standpoint, our homeschool teens can have jobs and begin to save money from a younger age.
I know so many homeschool teens (my own 17 year old included) who work a job - or two - , go to school, and participate in other activities. In days gone by our teens were expected to work and pull their weight.
Many people now simply hand their children “opportunities” and don’t feel they need to burden them with a job. Parents, one of the best things you can do for your children is to make them WORK. The satisfaction that comes from buying their own clothes, filling their own gas tank, and purchasing their own incidentals is immense.
And, with the rising price of secondary education, these kids need to pull their weight!
Quality of Friendships
My children have had many of the same friends for a LONG time.
Homeschoolers generally tend to value friendships (because they aren’t as readily available as they would be in traditional school) and cultivate those friendships.
I watch the friendships of school children come and go - based on who is the most popular, or who is dating whom at the present time. It’s all so shallow and sets the kids up for heartbreak - not to mention they never learn how to TRULY be a good friend.
Young People Who Are Leaders, NOT Followers
Our teens have greater confidence to lead when they are certain of their identity - and certain they are loved.
They will not look for affirmation through following a group.
This also goes along with maturing earlier and staying younger longer. Our teens grow in grace and naturally will bring others along with them!
Courage to Pursue Nontraditional Paths After High School
College isn’t for everyone. Increasingly, nontraditional paths after high school are starting to become more financially and emotionally rewarding.
Because our homeschoolers have been off the beaten path in their homeschool journey they have the courage to continue after high school.
Our teens, when they are homeschooled, have a chance to participate in community service because they WANT to - not because it is required for a resume or transcript.
It makes me so sad to see high schoolers checking getting in their “volunteer hours” just so they look good on an application.
As we, their parents, participate in community service, we can naturally encourage our children to serve with us (not keeping track of the hours!), and hopefully this will lead our teens to love and crave more service.
We are also in a beautiful position to help our neighbors and those closest to us because we are at home and have the time to see and respond to their needs.
Yes, I’m going there.
With all of the shootings and violence in our public schools, I am thankful to be able to keep my children in a more protected environment.
Homeschooling our children (especially our teens) is a safer option. They are at less risk for violence, exposure to drugs, and a myriad of other things that plague today’s schools.
Our Children Can Become “Persons”
So often in a traditional school our children are simply “test scores to be ranked and marketed, instead of persons to be raised, nourished, known, and valued.” (Janet Newberry)
I am so clearly witnessing my children becoming persons - the person God intended them to be.
There are so many competing agendas in the world of education today, and I don’t want my children to be pawns in the system.
The most gratifying part of my homeschooling journey has been watching my children (now 14 and 17) mature into the young people God desires them to be. I know they have a long way to go, but I am honored to have taken them this far!