If you are homeschooling high school, then you already know it’s an adventure. Your part of the journey is important and High School Teachers Are on a Special Journey Too is all about how we can adjust to be better mentors for our high school students.
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The Start of My Teaching Journey
Raise your hand if you’ve been a classroom teacher- the organized kind that always had her finger on the pulse of her classroom.
I meet a lot of homeschoolers who were once classroom teachers.
Or maybe you had a Type A career path, is that you?
Chances are, whatever you did before you began homeschooling was pretty different from what you are doing now.
When it comes to homeschooling high school, especially with Out-of-the-Box Teens, there seem to be two camps:
- There’s the group that struggles with letting go of the box checking priorities
- those who don’t feel qualified to keep up with their teen, let alone any kind of box checking.
A bit of balance would help both groups a great deal!
The truth is, as parents homeschooling high school, we’re all on a journey too.
Let me tell you about mine.
For those of you new to our community of homeschoolers here at Blog, She Wrote, my professional story began in a public school science classroom in 1993.
I was hired to teach sixth and seventh grade science right out of college. Armed with a degree in biological sciences and a vision to make my classroom a safe and inspiring place, I was ready!
It was a lot of hard work and my specialty was developing fun labs and creative activities for my students. I ran a tight ship.
My lessons were planned to the clock and movements around my classroom were designed with precision and in five years, I only sent one student to the office (which could have been avoided if he hadn’t hurled an insult at me under his breath).
Ah! Middle school!
Teaching Classroom Science Was Part of My Journey
Orchestrating large science classes to work in labs and stay on task is not for the faint of heart!
Here I am five years later working with a group of students in a class of 37 doing a frog dissection.
Writing lessons and effectively working with 37 kids at a time, five of whom could not read (and with no aide), demanded lots of classroom management and efficient use of time.
And, did I mention teaching 170 students a day with two science preps (because I taught two grades in middle school)?
That’s a lot of papers to grade!
A laid back approach to this teaching environment would have been a disaster!
Teacher Journeys Chart New Paths
After five years in a public school classroom, my journey continued on a different path when I became a stay-at-home mom.
There’s a six and a half year spread between our four kids- the first three in three and a half years!
We started homeschooling when our oldest was half way through first grade and we were expecting our fourth child. It was a wild time to begin, but it was clear that the school could not meet our son’s needs.
We wanted to provide a different approach to learning. At the time, it was all about letting our son work at his own pace.
Our whole goal was to restore his love of learning which had been extinguished in short order in public school.
Pardon the slightly fuzzy image. In those days, we were still taking pictures with a film camera! This was 2007- the summer of the red shirt. Our kids are 8, 7, 5, and 2. We were homeschooling 4th, 2nd, K, and preschool then.
My classroom was totally different with only four students, but it didn’t take long for me to realize keeping up with my learners was a full time job and it required something besides doing “school at home”.
But, learning to do the step down from a classroom teaching mindset to a homeschooling mindset took time.
The same is true if you are simply stepping away from what you know as school from your own experiences.
If you look at how our homeschool looked in the beginning and compared it to how it looks now, it’s almost night and day.
Homeschool Journeys Change Course
Our homeschool began to evolve as a result of who our kids are and how it was to meet them where they are as learners.
As our children mastered basic skills in a more structured environment, it became obvious that the same type of structure from the early years was more a hindrance to their learning than it was helpful.
Sometimes, no matter how much I want to be traditional, it just doesn’t work for my students.
In order to help each of our learners to do their best and to flourish with the opportunities we could give them, I began changing my approach.
It wasn’t all at once, but it was continual.
The older my students got, the more we let them fly.
We encouraged exploration and creativity. We encouraged initiative taking and independent learning. I say “we” because my husband was a part of this process too.
The “dinner lecture series” started to be a fundamental part of helping our kids to grow in their learning. Rather than checking boxes only during official learning hours, we were taking advantage of many times in our day and recording it all as our official learning time.
More and more we supplied resources, materials, and mentoring to our students’ interest led projects and a whole new vision took shape for our homeschool.
To be sure, there are boxes to check.
We live in New York State which requires a lot of reporting and even asks for annual education plans for each school aged child.
There is freedom in sketching out goals for your students, no matter what your approach to educating them is.
In fact, it makes it easier when you are teaching Out-of-the-Box Teens, to be able to reference those goals as your teens dig in to their learning.
Our Homeschool Journey’s Destination is High School
And, here we are. This is the sassy pants, current version of me. I’m standing beside our newly installed Little Free Library which is dedicated to my dad, who passed away last year.
These days all our kids are teens or just beyond their teen years. Two are in college having finished out their homeschooling in a highly customized format.
The more our kids press into their own learning, the more we see ways to pour into it. Isn’t that part of why we want to homeschool- to be able to tailor their education to who they are?
Here’s the thing though, not every part of our Out-of-the-Box homeschooling is, well, out-of-the-box.
We do have credits we approach with a check the box attitude.
It leaves time and energy for the ones we approach creatively.
True confession: foreign language is like this in our family. For a variety of reasons, foreign language is in the “get it done” category for us. Calculus is one of those classes best covered more conventionally.
But you can play with all kinds of electives and courses in science, history, English, and fine arts, etc.
Homeschooling Out-of-the Box Teens in a customized way takes intention.
It’s hard work!
And, I won’t lie. You will regularly wrestle with your more controlling, Type A side!
It’s a natural part of doing business counter to the norm. It’s usually in the spring when you have to calm down and make that list of all the goals reached that year.
The good news is that crossing the threshold from teacher to mentor is worth all the effort!
If I can make the transition from being a classroom teacher precisely orchestrating lessons to a mentor facilitating relaxed explorations, you can too!
I have the pleasure of talking with many homeschool families.
So many people I talk to want to take the leap from the more rigid forms of schooling to the creative, exploratory, problem solving approach for their Out-of-the-Box Teens.
They are afraid to take the step, worried they will make a mistake that’s hard to recover from in the high school years.
My mission is to help families homeschool high school with confidence and peace.
I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve been working on because its whole purpose is to help families gain confidence working with their out-of-the-box learners in high school in a concrete way.
Are you ready to mentor high school with peace?
I can hardly wait to get started!
A Challenge for Homeschooling High School Teachers
Now it’s your turn to think about your own journey!
If you have a non-traditional learner, how can you make adjustments in your homeschooling to encourage more learning?
Let’s consider a few things:
- How are you like your Out-of-the-Box Teen? I see glimpses of myself in each of my children, even the ones who don’t share my personality.
- How are you different from your teen? We may have similar interests and approach them in a totally different way. For example, my daughter and I are different creative people. I’m all about the product and she’s all about the process. Remember this helped us work well together.
- In what way are you like the classroom teacher me? with the precisely controlled environment- great for teaching large classes but not necessarily so great for mentoring your teens
- Consider some areas where you can relax more and encourage your teen in the high school years– what is an interest you can go all in on with your high schooler?
I’d love to hear from you!
Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about a part of your homeschool that you’d like to try something new in.
What’s holding you back?
Homeschooling High School with Out-of-the-Box Teens
If you haven’t downloaded the free guide yet, what are you waiting for?
Sign up and get the free guide so you can turn those things you *think* are learning obstacles in the high school years into opportunities for growth instead!
It’s going to get you thinking more about your own journey and how misconceptions about your teen might be holding them back.
PS- This week I’m sharing the exciting news about what I’ve been working on. This is going to be amazing for all you not-so-sure high school planners out there- especially those who feel like they need more tangible help! Sign up for the guide and be the first to find out!