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10 Reasons to Homeschool Your Teen

Chances are, if you are homeschooling a teen now (or thinking about homeschooling a teen in the future), you are a bit intimidated and cautious because - well, they’re teens.

There are so many reasons for NOT homeschooling your teen.

The attitude (oh, the attitude). The difficult subject matter. The socialization. The need for them to be accountable to others. The questions about getting into college.

Put all that aside, please.

So many of these are unfounded, unmerited, and just plain FALSE.

I am an advocate for homeschooling your teen ( If you need to, pause right now and read Stop Telling Me Why You Can’t Homeschool - High School ).

Yes, it will be challenging, and yes it will be painful at times. But so is traditional school.

 10 Reasons to Homeschool Your Teen

10 Reasons to Homeschool Your Teen

1. Your influence matters (more than ever) during the teen years.

WHO do you want to influence your teens?

Do not buy into the lie that teens need to move away from the families - and towards independence - during these years. Yes, they will become independent, but with YOUR help.

Teens are watching those around them. We want the examples they see to be of the highest quality. This is where parents come in.

Model what you want to see in your children. It’s your most effective teaching tool.

This is a tremendous opportunity to train up a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

2. Your teens will have better social skills.

There are so many ways to socialize your teen homeschooler.

A variety of in-person and online classes, sports and fine arts groups, and well chosen peer groups are just a few of these.

I love watching my children greet adults by looking them in the eye, introducing themselves, shaking hands. I love seeing my children adapt to any social situation. In short, I love seeing the young people they have become BECAUSE OF the intentional socialization homeschool provides.

I would contend that traditional schools do very little to “socialize” children, wouldn’t you?


3. Homeschooled teens will be able to pursue their passions.

We have the unique opportunity to not let our children lose their sense of wonder in the teen years.

Just today, I saw this in action. We have dear friends whose nephew is visiting for the month of December. He is staying with his grandparents (who also homeschooled their children) and they are building into him for the month. They asked him what skill they could help him learn while he was in town.

This young man wanted to learn to forge, so today was his first lesson with our friend who is a blacksmith. They will continue to work together to refine this skill.

We have tapped into community and church members who can help our children pursue any number of interests. It takes some work on our part to find and nurture these relationships, but it is OH SO worth it!

 10 Reasons to Homeschool Your Teen

4. We need to protect our teens from the influences of social media.

I don’t need to explain much here. The influence of social media when teens get together in a group is palpable.

When your children are homeschooled you can more easily delay cell phone and social media usage. You have the opportunity to keep your children busy with other things, and to be on the same page with your children’s friends’ parents about social media.

This article speaks loud and clear about the NECESSITY of delaying technology use for our kids.

I’m not saying we don’t let our children use social media. I am saying we do it SPARINGLY and with careful supervision.

5. You owe your teens a safe, respectful space for learning.

Why do we think we need to group literally THOUSANDS of teens together into a prison-like building to effectively “educate” them?

Many schools are unsafe, unpleasant places to be. With increasing frequency we hear about school shootings, bullying, and so much more going on in schools.

Where would YOU learn best?

Why should we expect any less for our teens?

Whether it is at home in a learning space your child has designed, or in some type of a homeschool hybrid environment (which is always smaller), the environment for homeschoolers in infinitely better!

6. We can keep our children from falling prey to the “teen” mentality.

The concept of a “teenager” is a recent phenomenon.

This article from The Saturday Evening Post explains the origin of the concept of “teenagers”.

The teenager emerged in the middle of the 20th century thanks to the confluence of three trends in education, economics, and technology. High schools gave young people a place to build a separate culture outside the watchful eye of family. Rapid growth gave them income, either earned or taken from their parents. Cars (and, later, another mobile technology) gave them independence.
— Saturday Evening Post

Who says teenagers have to be moody and sullen? Why is it that our society almost seems to instill a FEAR of the teenage years in parents?

We treat teens as some different class of citizens, and it really is driven by marketing and education.

It seems to me that the word TEENAGER has very few (if any) positive connotations.

Homeschooling allows us to treat children like adults much sooner. We can maintain high expectations, and not allow them to devolve into teenager-land.

7. Homeschool prepares our teens for the “real world”.

As we design a curriculum for our homeschoolers, we can infuse real world experiences and skills.

Money management. Cooking. Doing laundry. Volunteer work.

Those are very practical things.

Recently, my own teens have had a huge dose of the real world, as they walked through their grandfather’s last weeks of life in hospice care. Homeschooling gave them the flexibility to be with him, and spend time with our family in those last days.

I cannot imagine what our life would have been like had we been beholden to a school schedule and requirements. Sometimes real life means we have to be there for our families. Sometimes real life means dealing with messy and hard things.

The real world is NOT a traditional school. Far from it.

8. Parents can retain control of their teen’s education.

Someone once jokingly asked me if I was homeschooling because I couldn’t give up control of my children. Actually, that was EXACTLY correct.

I appreciate being able to decide (with my child) what classes they take, when they take them, and what the content of those courses is. I know what my children need to graduate and I can decide on the best path to get there.

Having this control saves our family A LOT OF TIME and A LOT OF HEADACHE.

9. Your teens can actually get a BETTER education through homeschooling.

If you are willing to do the research, you can seek out the BEST education for YOUR CHILD.

Nothing can equal the personalized education homeschooling offers our children.

 10 Reasons to Homeschool Your Teen

My son is a math kid. I have enjoyed seeking out math curricula that fit his needs. First, it was Saxon Math. Now that he is at the high school level we have chosen Shormann Math and it is working VERY well.

For my daughter, math is not her strong area - but she still needed instruction and to be successful. Mr. D Math was the perfect solution for her. One size does NOT fit all.

In an update I wrote about my oldest, Follow that Child, I stressed the importance of customizing our child’s needs at every stage of their homeschool career. I am convinced that we couldn’t have achieved this customization any other way.

(P.S. : Just read Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education and you will be convicted to homeschool quite quickly!)

10. Homeschooling your teen will give you an abundance of time with them.

As we near the end of the road with our oldest, I can tell you this has been the largest benefit to homeschooling our teens.

This is time I will never get back - precious, precious time.

My children are close to each other and close to their dad and me. As we prepare to send our daughter to college I know this closeness provides self-confidence, security, and an anchor.

 10 Reasons to Homeschool

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Lost time is never found again.”

Oh how true this is for our children’s teen years.

We will never get these years back. They matter.

Use them wisely.

I’d love to hear from you. Are you homeschooling your teen(s)?




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Upper Grades Homeschool "Socialization"

Socialization is a common concern of parents of older homeschoolers. Many families make the decision to send their children to traditional school for this reason. A common myth is that our older kids simply “need” things that only a school environment can provide.

This is actually one of those times where I agree with the myth.

(Well, partly.)

I believe we can stay the course for homeschool in the middle and high school years. I also believe, however, that we need to provide our children with a broader range - and more “school-like” opportunities at this age.

As our children mature into the middle and high school years, we need to keep in mind the need they have for independence, belonging, and ownership.

Learning everything from mom and/or a textbook won’t cut it. Sports teams are increasingly difficult to find for older homeschoolers. Children need other voices of authority and accountability.

The teen years are a tricky transition time - at any age - but for homeschoolers there are many decisions and changes to be faced.

 Contrary to popular belief, our older homeschoolers can easily become “unsocialized” without some effort on our parts — here are some ways to keep your big kids engaged and socialied!

We must be intentional about the academic, physical, and peer opportunities we provide for our homeschoolers. It is an interesting situation, though, because as we step away so our children can assume more independence, we need to be MORE involved in and knowledgeable about their activities.

To put this in simple terms - homeschooling our teens requires more head space! Increasing independence doesn’t mean parents can step out… quite the opposite!


Academics Socialization in Upper Grades Homeschool

Do you recall a specific teacher that truly excited you about a subject?

I remember an English teacher in middle school who was passionate about language. Learning beautiful words was a priority in her class. The influence of Mrs. Willets, followed by my wonderful literature teacher, Mrs. O’Connor, the next year, created a love of reading and writing in my young mind.

Our homeschoolers need these types of experiences. How will they discover a passion unless it has been shared with them?

My daughter, Anna, discovered a love for science after having two great teachers in Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology. - teachers at a local classical school she attends. I am CERTAIN if she wouldn’t have taken these classes she would never have discovered her interest in science.

We can still retain the “homeschool” atmosphere while giving our children varied academic voices. All of the following options are still “homeschool”, but they give kids the chance to hear from expert voices:

  • online classes (Mr D Math is a perfect example - he completely reversed my daughter’s feelings about math!)

  • local homeschool hybrid schools/co-ops

  • parent-taught classes by ANOTHER parent who has expertise in a certain area (maybe an IT dad who would teach a coding class, or an accountant mom who teaches a math class).

  • mentorship with a member of the community who is willing to take a child under their wing and teach them about a particular area

(I loved that my kids got to meet Mr. D in person - we highly recommend him for upper grades math!)

 Kids love learning from an “expert” — Mr. D Math is a great example for another voice that can speak into our homeschooled teens!

Most teens work harder for a “teacher” than they will for mom or dad.

And, having the experience of time pressures, grades, and serious accountability not only prepares our children for college (or whatever comes next) but it also provides them with a feeling of accomplishment and confidence when it is all said and done.

I have found mixing a variety of teacher, parent, and student-led coursework to be the perfect marriage in our homeschool. My daughter has a lovely mixture of online and in person coursework, self-study, mentorship, and parent-led instruction, too.


Physical Socialization in Upper Grades Homeschool


Many teens have a deep need and desire to take part in a sport and/or be part of a team. If this physical outlet isn’t met, all other things will suffer.

What is a parent to do, however, when their child reaches 8th grade and the opportunities for things like Little League and other rec sports dwindle?

 Creating opportunities for sports teams in upper grades homeschool - Homegrown Learners

A few ideas:

  • Do you live in a state where homeschoolers can play on public school teams? (Some states like Alabama have laws in place to provide for this.) Find out about these state laws at HSLDA.

  • Many private schools allow homeschoolers to play on their teams - my son plays basketball for a local Christian school.

  • Create your own opportunity. For example, my kids played on a homeschool USTA tennis team. A few moms worked with local tennis coaches to set up instruction times, and then registered a USTA team of homeschoolers.

  • Check the YMCA - our YMCA offers certain sports through high school and I have also seen special opportunities for homeschoolers, too.

  • Ask around, and if an opportunity doesn’t exist - create one yourself!

The physical outlets we provide for our kids are every bit as important as the academic outlets!


Peer Socialization in Upper Grades Homeschool

This can be THE MOST CHALLENGING part of homeschooling teens - friendships.

When our children are younger simple park dates and field trips are enough for socialization, but as our children mature they need deeper friendships with meaningful connections.

The world of traditional school encourages our children to cast their nets wide rather than deep — more is better, right?

More friends. More activities. More AP classes. More, more, more.

In the homeschool world we have the beautiful opportunity to encourage our children to go DEEP.

 Socialization in Middle and High School Homeschool

Cultivate a few lasting friendships. Hone in on one or two activities you enjoy. Study a few things that are of interest to you. Less is more. The gift of space is HUGE for our teens.

Keep this in mind as you think about socialization and your teen. We need to cast aside the notions of what “should” be for our kids, and give ourselves permission to let them be who they are, without the pressure of a school telling them what to do.

I would encourage you to do everything you can to steer your teen towards healthy social outlets - even creating them yourself - so that you can provide them with strong friendships and activities during their middle and high school years.

Examples:

  • activities with local homeschool groups (we have a few that put on dances during the school year - so much fun!)

  • participating in a local co-op or hybrid school where different families take turns hosting social events for the teens

  • choosing activities carefully where your children have good friends

  • making your home inviting and a gathering place, so your child can invite their friends over

  • carefully cultivating a homeschool circle of families - a group you will travel the entire educational journey with


I have been so pleased with the homeschool path we have taken with our children. My children are happy and safe. They have kind friends who support them. They aren’t concerned about superficial things like boyfriends and girlfriends, clothing, popularity, or social media. We have worked hard to craft a life that is meaningful and valuable for them - minus the junk our world has told them should naturally just be a part of being a teenager.

Let me encourage you to stay the homeschool course with your big kids.

It’s SO worth it.

Do you homeschool big kids?

What unique opportunities have they taken advantage of that you can share with us?


Learn More About Homeschooling Upper Grades

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