"But what about high school? You'll have to send your kids to high school, right?
"Oh, I could never homeschool high school. I don't know enough and I could never teach high school math!"
"Aren't you worried your kids won't get into college? How will they learn to be in the 'real world'?"
If I had a dollar for every time I've been asked these questions over the last ten years, well, I would have enough money to buy all the books, hot tea, and dark chocolate that my homeschooling-mama heart desires.
The truth is, I have considered sending one of my kids to high school, I outsource ALL math, and I'm not all that worried about my homeschooled kids getting into college. In fact, one of my kids isn't sure they are interested in pursuing a four-year college degree and we are discussing all the options.
But homeschooling high school can be challenging. And it would be a disservice to you, the reader, if I pretended that it was all sunshine, rainbows, and parent-teen bonding 24/7. But just because something is challenging, doesn't mean we should just give up on it, right?
So, let's dive in and chat about three challenging things when it comes to homeschooling high school and some tips on how to address them.
Slaying the socialization situation with homeschool activities for high schoolers
Let's just get this challenge out of the way first. The dreaded, "But how will your kids know how to socialize in the real world or make friends or be around kids?" To be honest, I am not even sure this is about "socialization" or, most likely, a question about establishing relationships. Maybe it's both. And to be honest, homeschooling high school absolutely can be challenging on both fronts.
First off, many homeschooled kids decide to return to traditional schools for high school for a variety of reasons, including to connect with peers/teens their age. This is 100% normal. And because I do not know you, your teen, or your situation personally, this is something to think about and explore together as a family.
But what if your teen wants to keep homeschooling but also craves more peer-to-peer interaction, friendships, and connections?
You've got to be intentional, first and foremost. You cannot expect relationships or opportunities to just magically appear. This might mean driving your teen to more places more often (raising my hand), investigating options with them, trying things, and meeting a wide variety of people. It might not be easy right off the bat.
My oldest teen has moved through various groups of friends over the years based on location, interests, and changing desires of what he's looking for in a friend group. Also, teens are fickle and growing and going through a lot—so don't be surprised if an activity or peer group that worked for six months suddenly doesn't.
My best advice is to let your teen take the lead (mostly) and be supportive.
Here are some helpful ideas to consider:
- Get a job
- Take classes outside of the house (co-op, local community college, etc.)
- Try online classes and/or social groups
- Play a sport
- Join a local theater or dance troupe or choir
- Start a teen book club
- Join a local youth group
- Attend a homeschooler teen dance or other homeschool activity near you (if your area doesn't have one, research into how to host one!)
- Check out a 4H club or other scouting/nature/wilderness clubs
- Host events at your home (pizza, lemonade, cookies, games—keep it simple!)
Fixing feeling like you're running out of time with time together
When I was chatting with my friend about our teens, she told me she felt like she was running out of time with him. I paused to consider her statement and then let it wash over me. Goodness. Now, we both have 16-year-olds (we met when they were six) and I am not sure where the last decade went.
There were days (weeks) when it felt like we'd be doing long division forever and that I couldn't possibly read Make Way for Ducklings another time. Homeschooling high school was not even in my brain in those early days.
Maybe you're like me and you've been home educating for a while. Maybe you're starting to feel a bit panicky because your kid never learned Latin, has never done a research paper or perhaps reading all the books doesn't appeal to them. You know you shouldn't be playing the comparison game with friends and family or other homeschool bloggers. But you look at the calendar and start wondering if you shouldn't have skipped that unit study on ancient Rome back in 5th grade and if your teen will be missing out on some key nugget of knowledge because of it.
Breathe. Take a long pause (and maybe a long nap). Get your hot tea and then take a few more deep breaths.
Yes, time is moving quickly. Yes, depending on your teen's goals, they might be out of the house sooner than later. Yes, you skipped the unit study, but no it doesn't matter. Yes, you might need to be more intentional with your time and with your teen's time. And lastly, and most importantly, you're doing enough and your teen is too.
Creating opportunities to spend time with your homeschooled teen could look like:
- Cooking or baking
- Taking walks or exercising
- Playing board or cards games
- Planning a short trip together
- Going on teen-approved homeschool field trips
- Attending a concert
- Signing up for a fun/interesting in-person or online class
- Volunteer at a local organization
- Have movie marathons
- Listen to podcasts together
A simple shift in perspective and taking some time to plan for fun and connection can really make a difference.
Handing the driving keys over to your teen for responsibility to blossom
Letting your teen step up and take both the proverbial and the actual car keys can be daunting. A few months ago, my oldest teen began driving and my life flashed before my eyes (and not just because he was in the driver's seat, but I digress). This right of passage really solidified for me that he becoming more and more responsible for his future.
Yes, we are still supporting him and feeding him (so much food), and assisting him with resources, but his goals and visions for what he wants to do post-high school are quite different from what we had in mind when we started on the journey.
When I start gripping on to my own homeschool plans and desires, I always have to remind myself why we started homeschooling over a decade ago. I wanted my children to explore their passions, learn at their own pace, try new things, develop critical thinking skills, meet all kinds of people, and love learning.
As homeschool parents, we can provide that foundation, but then we need to step back little by little as they get bigger and bigger. I know it can be challenging, friend. But think of all the beautiful and dedicated time and effort you've put into your home education adventure. You've got a front-row seat as your teen rounds the corner towards their post homeschooling life.
Handling high school challenges together
These are only a few of the challenges associated with homeschooling teens. I hope that I've provided a realistic view and some helpful tips to keep you and your teen connected and excited about your days and months ahead. You do not have to homeschool high school alone. Be sure to lean on your friends who are in the same season of life, consider a homeschool coach who focuses on high school (I do!), and always partner with your teen and have the snacks ready to go.