When we began our homeschooling journey a decade ago, I truly didn't know where it would lead. With three kids very close in age (a singleton boy and boy/girl twins 22 months younger), I was mainly trying to keep them fed, clean, engaged, and supported on a daily basis.
We spent hours sitting together reading, playing games, making lapbooks, watching library DVDs on every subject imaginable, playing and going to park days with friends. Bedtimes were early for the kids (I miss that) and life, while always busy, had a consistent rhythm day in and day out.
Fast forward to today, all of my kids are teenagers and life is intentionally busy and every day there's something different on the schedule.
We've leaned into this season of life, trying to balance everyone's needs and goals as best as possible. Not everyone gets to DO all the things they want to do at the same time, but we work together.
Homeschooling teens, for me, has been challenging and refreshing and fun (most days). It can be easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day craziness of sibling bickering, mood swings, wondering where all the groceries went, driving to and from four different places, and finding time to fill up my own cup.
So, what are my five favorite things about homeschooling teens right now? I'm sharing them all below and I hope they inspire you too.
My 5 Favorite Things about Homeschooling Teens
- Engaging in deep conversations: All three of my kids are talkers. Yes, they got their talkative gene from yours truly. I am always having engaging conversations with them--whether it's cooking dinner, driving in the car, or right before bedtime (when I am exhausted but I try to keep my ears open). All of my kids are vastly different. Each one has their own struggles and strengths and opinions. Yup. Opinions are NOT in short supply in our home. Whether we're discussing current events, the importance of health and wellness, friendships, or favorite books—talking with my teens is something I appreciate. Even though we don't always agree on everything ( a good thing), we're always practicing the art of conversations and discussing what could go better next time if someone isn't feeling heard or understood. Keeping the lines of communication open is vital.
- Listening to interesting podcasts: I am a podcast lover and listen to one or more every single day. My younger son has developed a love of them too and we enjoy listening to them together while we drive around town. In fact, most of his history education this past year has been listening to podcasts such as Conspiracy Theories, Historical Figures, American Innovations, Homeschool History. We've spent hours learning and then researching and talking about a variety of topics from the moon landing, to the Wright Brothers, to the invention of video games, and more. It's truly one of the highlights of my week. Check out our favorite podcasts!
- Outsourcing classes and being just mom: My oldest son's education is completely outsourced this year. That means I am not his teacher for anything. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. And can I tell you a secret? It's amazing for both of us. He's responsible for his assignments, getting his work done, communicating with his teachers, and managing his time. He's just been hired for his first job and he's training to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). It's been wonderful to see him grow and mature this past year and to just be his mom. It's really working well for his personality (extremely independent) and showing me that I can give up the reigns and step back and but still be there for him.
- Exploring their passions: We've always been interest-led in our homeschool. It's something I am passionate about and have discussed in many blog posts and at homeschool conferences and on my Instagram. As my kids have grown into teens, we're having so much fun exploring new passions and diving deeper into ones they've had for years. I can help them find mentors, programs, online classes, resources, books, podcasts, and more. Watching my oldest son light up when he discusses his EMT training is the best. My daughter's love of baking is always welcome, even when recipes don't quite come out how she expects. Learning is always happening. My younger son is interested in all visual arts and has taught himself how to use Canva, video editing, and is now into digital photography.
- Exploring my passions: Last but not least, my favorite thing about homeschooling teens is exploring my passions. I almost didn't put this one on the list. Why? Because there can be an expectation that homeschooling parents must only devote ALL of their time and energy into educating their kids--even at the expense of their own dreams, health, and wellness. I've been the homeschooling mom who goes ALL IN 24/7 and it leads to burnout. Period. Over the past few years, I have gone back to work part-time (from home), started writing again (both here and my own projects), and I will be working towards a life-coaching certification program next year. By creating an environment that supports a love of learning and following passions, I've given myself this gift as well. And it feels good.
The more I talk to other friends who are homeschooling teens, the more I realize that we're all doing everything differently.
We're all meeting our teens where they are.
We're all striking a balance of interest-led learning and checking the boxes for subject areas that we deem as non-negotiable.
We're all driving a lot and wondering if things will be easier or more stressful once our kids have driver's licenses.
College, vocations, career path questions abound. Mental and physical health is always top of mind, especially in the world we live in today.
If you're a parent homeschooling high school, I see you and I applaud you. Don't forget to stop and appreciate the daily moments.
It's not our job to ensure our teens know every bit of information in every single subject before they graduate. But, you probably know that, right? Now, go warm up your tea, take a deep breath, and ask your teen to make you dinner tonight. It's only fair.