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Homeschooling the younger years is a special time when homeschool parents are working on basic skills like reading and math. We all know the exhilaration we experience when our students learn to read and conquer long division! By the time we reach the high school years, the goals change and so does our game plan. Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teens is all about how to help your teens navigate the high school years while having authentic experiences which prepare them for what lies ahead- whatever that may be.
Collaborate with Others
Many families work out small co-ops and work with each other to provide certain areas of instruction, but collaborating can also mean gathering to work on things outside of the regular subject areas.
- Trade Expertise with Another Homeschooling Mom– Families here will often trade off course work based on what they are good at. Are you the science teacher? Trade foreign language instruction for some science classes. The possibilities are endless if you know how to connect with others.
- Work in Groups with Other High Schoolers– Even if you aren’t trading instruction, you can meet together for classes which are more difficult to do alone. It’s popular to co-op science with another family or two to keep each other accountable to the task of teaching a subject you may not enjoy.
- Form a Writer’s Workshop– I love to host a workshop for teens. A writer’s workshop can be a way to encourage kids who love writing or not so much. Working together with peers is a favorite for most teens.
- Meet for Book Club– Book clubs are a great way to get teens talking about good books together. Often they challenge members to read books they normally would overlook.
Strive for Independence
High school is a good time to add on to the independence you’ve probably been working on since middle school. By the time your students graduate high school, you want to be sure they can study and work on their own.
- Discuss Goals Together– Teens need to be in the driver’s seat of their education. Bring them to the table to discuss goals. These can be long or short term. Shorter is good when you are just starting out. Having students be a part of the discussion on their goals is especially important for kids who aren’t as motivated as others. They need to buy in and a good way to move in that direction is to make them part of the process.
- Provide Opportunities for Ownership– We all know our kids and some students are ready before others, but it is critical that teens own their work. Part of that is being a decision maker when it comes to academic work, but it also means taking responsibility for what needs to be done. And getting it done.
- Get a Volunteer Job– Libraries, science centers, ministries are examples of places teens can find volunteer work. If you can, look for a volunteer position in an area of interest. It’s perfect for exploring fields your teens want to learn more about.
- Look for a Part Time Job– Our son worked in a grocery store and learned a lot. Employment in an area of professional interest is great, but even a retail or fast food job and teach a lot of independence. Even better if they live close enough to work to get themselves there and back.
- Start a Business– Our 9th grader considered a camp counselor job at a local sewing shop for their sewing camps and decided she’d rather teach her own classes than just helping out all summer. She has been working with one group of girls all year and just added a new class to her week. I’ll be blogging more about this in the future, but it’s been a good experience for her. Rebecca’s niche really is teaching others to sew. Entrepreneurship offers excellent experiences for increasing independence.
Seek Mentors for Your Teens
As our students get older, we transition from being teachers to being mentors for our high schoolers. While parents make one set of wise mentors, it can be beneficial to have others come alongside your teens.
- Character Builder– A person who can come alongside you as parents to speak wisdom into their life. This person can be a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or a family friend.
- Expert in the Field– A person who is knowledgeable in the area your student is studying.
- Niched Experts– A person who holds a specific field of study and works with your teen. For example, Ethan was mentored by a master falconer while he was learning and preparing to get his falconer’s license. This was a required mentor for Ethan’s goal and he learned a lot.
When it comes to mentors, even with older kids, make sure you know the person well and plan appropriate environments for them to meet.
Online Experiences for Homeschooled Teens
There are a variety of online classes available in various platforms for homeschooled high schoolers. Some provide credit and others may give a certificate of completion if you do all the work and turn it in to the professors. Whatever path you choose, using online courses is a great way to expand your teen’s horizons at home.
- The Potter’s School– Online courses for high school in all the major subject areas plus electives. Our son took Worlds of Imagination both Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature as a junior this year.
- PA Cyber School– Some of our friends locally have benefited from taking classes through public online cyber schools.
- Community College– Locally we have CollegeNow which offers credits to high school students. It can also be used as a path to a high school diploma.
- Coursera– Online education platform which provides courses from universities from around the world.
- University Classes– Offered for free and for grade or pass/fail from major colleges and universities all over the world. For example, MIT has a wide range of courses available for free online.
Resources for Homeschooling High School
I’m always on the lookout for books and websites to use as a reference and to provide perspective as we navigate our homeschooled teens through to graduation and beyond. Here are a few I’ve found helpful:
- The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens– This is a nice reference for general items. Not everything in this book works for us, but there is a lot of good advice all in one place here.
- The Home Scholar– Lee Binz has many resources for parents on homeschooling high school and preparing for college. She often has her little coffee break for free. They speak about a variety of topics related to getting your teens to the next step after high school.
- College without High School– I adore this book which speaks to the heart of our homeschool. The author has excellent advice on how to approach high school in a way that seeks to capitalize on the experiences homeschooling allows our teens.
- The Well Planned Day High School Planner– While I prefer a plain spiral for recording our homeschooling, this planner has some thorough text available which provides a good timeline for what and when to do certain things during high school. It’s an invaluable reference tool.
More Blog, She Wrote Resources on Opportunities for Homeschooled Teens
We have two high schoolers and a middle schooler this year and in another two weeks, we’ll officially have three homeschooled teens in our home!
- Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job– This is a popular post all about the positive influence of a job in our oldest teen’s life. It’s time for a follow up to this post based on all the questions I got about it.
- How to Engage Your Teen with Books– Stories of all kinds are a tried and true way of communicating with your teens. Printed language has a profound influence on readers and can be used to provoke discussion and inspire dreams for our teens.
- Coaching Writing with a Writer’s Workshop– This is a how to on planning and implementing a Writer’s Workshop with a group of students.
The main thing when it comes to homeschooling teenagers is to keep pouring into their niche and to help them to reach out for experiences and resources. The high school years at home have such potential to shape their future in a positive way.by