Homeschooling Your Teen: Are You Missing the Most Important Thing?

I know we hear and read everywhere that one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is reaching our child's HEART, but during the teen years are we REALLY taking that into account? 

Or, are academics, transcripts, and outside pressures driving our decisions? 

It would seem that the world's goal is to have a child graduate from high school and attend college.

 Traditional schools cram all of the "required" coursework into them, help them achieve a good score on the SAT,  and send them on their way to college - where they will most likely flounder a bit, incur large amounts of debt, and still never really know WHO they are or what God has designed them to do. 

And guess what? It is not just traditional schooled students who fall victim to this path, it can be homeschoolers, too. 

Yes, academics are important. Yes, being equipped for the workforce and/or college is important. Yes, even performance on the SAT can be important. 

If we, however, neglect our child's precious heart - their loves and desires - we are doing them a grave disservice.  If we aren't helping them tap into and use their God-given gifts, what good are our efforts?  

Homeschooling and Your Teen's Heart: Are You Missing the Most Important Thing?

After reading a post from my friend Jimmie and what her daughter had taught her, I felt convicted to write about my own journey (albeit short)  homeschooling a teen, in hopes that you can possibly avoid the trap I fell into, and the mistakes I have made. 

Moms, please know that your teen's heart is the MOST IMPORTANT thing.  We can do all of the curriculum research and give our child the BEST academic education, but if we have MISSED THE MARK if we have neglected their heart. 

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Missing the Most Important Thing

My Anna has been in the Classical Conversations Challenge Program for the past two years. She will be a Challenge I student in the fall (9th grade equivalent). 

I got so caught up in the "academics" of the program that I forgot to nurture her spirit. 

(Please understand:  I believe in this program, but I think I took things a bit too far as you will see. CC allows us to be our child's teacher, and I need to take more FULL advantage of that! )

It was so important for us to complete the daily assignments, that I forgot to let her do what she LOVED.  This is a child who LOVES music, loves working with small children, and loves helping others. She adores lots of time to be crafty and creative, time to play music on the piano she enjoys, and lots of time to get lost in a good book.

For a little more than a year we focused only on academics. I thought, mistakenly, that we needed to "buckle down" now that she was getting older. Even when something just wasn't working I held the course because it was what we were "supposed" to do.

I tried to squeeze my daughter into a Classical "mold" - one that I thought she should just fit in if we were to be Classical homeschoolers.


By doing this, I created the following problems:

  • poor attitude
  • a dislike for learning
  • unhappiness
  • strained mother/daughter relationship

I put the blame FULLY on myself, because my daughter was just doing as she was told - but she didn't like it, and I thought I could force her into an education that I deemed best. 

Homeschooling Your Teen: Are You Missing the Most Important Thing?

I often tell her this is my first time being the mom of a 13 year old, and we laugh about how we are doing this together and how her younger brother will benefit from MY mistakes!  I was HONEST with her and told her my feelings, and we talked about ways to make her high school experience more about HER and less about meeting graduation requirements.  (I can make whatever she does fit graduation requirements - that's the beauty of homeschool!)

My daughter is a BEAUTIFUL soul and I am just so thankful we have the time to learn and grow together, and that we are on a good path now.

Tending To Your Teen's Heart - 3 Steps

1. Encourage and Cultivate Their Passions

I'm trying to provide AMPLE opportunities for Anna to pursue her passions, while still upholding a Classical education framework. What does that look like? (For your child it make look different - but the point is to tailor your child's education to THEIR personality and passions.)

  • Easing up in an area or two so she can spend more time with her music, more time volunteering at a local preschool, and more time SERVING others. I see that one day Anna may be in a helping profession and I want to cultivate that NOW. 
  • Giving her fun projects that fuel her creative side (The  Doodle Crate subscription is great for this!)
  • Providing art supplies galore and TIME for art. 

I think it's so interesting that, when given a full day to just choose what she wanted to do, she created a series of CS Lewis quote pictures on vintage book paper. This one in particular really struck me... that's my Anna. 

CS Lewis Quote - Tending to Your Teen's Heart


2. Listen!

I am quite a talker, and this is the WORST thing to be with a teenager. 

I was too busy telling her how I thought it should be, rather than listening to how she wanted it to be. 

When I've really stopped to LISTEN to her I've learned so many COOL things. 

Listen, and resist the urge to criticize and nitpick. Just listen. 

(Might I recommend  How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk ?)

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk?

3. Accept Them for WHO THEY ARE!

Emphasize your child's strengths and help them to improve upon their weaknesses. 

My daughter isn't the Latin scholar or math whiz. She will readily admit to you that she works HARD for the academic success she has. 

She doesn't particularly ENJOY many subjects in school, but she will readily admit there is value in having a well rounded education.  

She can, however, walk into a room of special needs adults and get to know each and every one of them. She will care so deeply for them and show such compassion. It warms my heart. 

She forms special relationships with so many of the younger children she encounters, and takes special pride in her Mother's Helper job she has started this summer.

She is conscientious, hard working, and caring.  She has the most musical touch when she plays the piano. 

God is showing me in BIG ways recently how I need to be focusing on these strengths and gently guiding her through the weaknesses. 

And - surprise, surprise! When our children feel accepted, they are happier and more compliant and willing with the necessary schoolwork! 

What is your ultimate goal of homeschooling?

I've been giving that a lot of thought lately.

My goal is to raise confident, passionate, capable young people who have the courage and desire to follow God's call on their lives. 

I can equip them with the academics necessary for "success", but if I have neglected their hearts all of my efforts have been in vain. 

Do you agree? 

Are you homeschooling a teen? What are your thoughts about this? 

Feel free to Pin the image below and leave me a comment below to get the discussion started!

Homeschooling and Your Teen's Heart: Are You Missing the Most Important Thing?