This week, I shared with you why my high school students are not taking dual credit classes. While a few homeschool moms have spoken out in favor of not only dual credit but also CLEP testing for homeschoolers, the vast majority of my readers have expressed relief. There is so much pressure in high school — especially for us mommies — that our freedom and individual choices sometimes get lost. So I think we all can take a deep breath of gratitude this week that, in reality, we all agree on the most important truth: each of our teens need the right education for THEM, and high school homeschooling is not one-size-fits-all.
One of my readers commented with a question, though, that I thought deserved a longer response than a quick reply would allow. So let’s look at it together and see if we don’t all identify with her fears and frustrations.
I need some advice, please. My son is in 9th grade, and we are doing teaching textbooks algebra 1, he spends more time frustrated than he does learning. But, this is how he is with all of his subjects…..especially math. He hates to write, hates math, doesn’t mind scince (I let him choose what he wanted to learn in science) or history. I am concerned for his future, in that I don’t want to mess it up! I want desperately to set him up for success. I just feel horrible inadequate. I would love for him to learn a trade..although he would prefer not to…he doesn’t know what he’s interested in doing yet. But, he loves video games and tv. I don’t mind some of that, but I don’t want it to be his life. Any advice is appreciate. Thanks.
First of all, dear friend, I wish I were right there beside you to pour you a fresh coffee in my bright red mug and hand it to you with a warm hug. I am right with you; I feel the same way, too, most days. We just carry on in faith.
I’m going to take your concerns in order.
“He spends more time frustrated than he does learning.”
Welcome to high school. This is your first year homeschooling ninth grade, right? Because you will find out soon that this is par for the course with teen students. There’s several reasons teens get frustrated at this point:
- The subjects are suddenly much harder. Even when we try to ramp up middle school gradually to help them prepare, it’s still an adjustment. We can’t avoid it, just expect it.
- The pressure is suddenly real. It’s transcript time, and everyone knows it. In his heart, he wants to succeed as badly as you want him to achieve, but since things are unexpectedly more difficult, he feels defeated right out of the gate. That’s very frustrating. He only has increasing difficulty to look forward to, as well, and that’s not encouraging.
- He is hormonal. I know, the middle school years are really rough with attitude adjustments, but we aren’t quite out of the woods yet. Late high school, like right before graduation, he will suddenly turn into a delightful man you sincerely want around the house all the time. But then, he leaves. Right now, he’s still waking up feeling weird and acting weird and not understanding why. And he stinks, which doesn’t help.
- He wants to be independent. This is a tough time for homeschool students, especially, because they want so badly to be their own person — that means not mom. So the only way your son can assert his individuality is by pushing back at mom (you’re the one around all the time, so you get the brunt of it) and dad. But he loves you, and that makes him feel badly about making you upset, which makes him more upset, which makes him make poor choices when he’s expressing his independence. It’s really hard to be a homeschool teen guy. Bless his heart.
So, yes, he is frustrated, and that’s to be expected. You can’t change how he feels, but you can kindly acknowledge that you know he is frustrated, you love him, and that you want to help him (not cause more problems). Encourage him to express his frustrations in meaningful ways — the whole “use your words” thing we went over when they were three years old — and to not let it spill over into anger or irresponsibility.
He hates to write, hates math, doesn’t mind scince (I let him choose what he wanted to learn in science) or history.
Ok, that’s also to be expected. I hated all of that, too, when I was a homeschool teen (I really, really hated to write). But you know what we always tell them: that’s life. We have to do the work we hate, because it’s our job, and right now, the job is high school. No discussion, just get through it the best you can.
Now, that aside, I do ask my teens if there is anything in particular they need help with, and I encourage them to ask specific questions. So when they are grumbling (or yelling, or throwing school papers around the house) in frustration, I’ll ask, “Are you venting, or do you want help? If you want help, tell me how to help you.” They need prompting to make that distinction.
Finally, I love that you give him input in his studies. I do the same, within reason. I tell my teens what their graduation requirements are and where they have choices. So they know what they can control and what they have to just do because it’s mandatory. It actually helped clarify things.
And I made a transcript chart on a google doc and shared the link with each of them. They can see what they are doing and the grades that are being shared with colleges, so it reinforces from the beginning what their job is and how well they are doing it.
I am concerned for his future, in that I don’t want to mess it up! I want desperately to set him up for success. I just feel horrible inadequate.
Here’s where I started to cry, because…well, I cry about this too, sometimes. I don’t think there’s an honest homeschool mom who hasn’t. It’s a lot of pressure, homeschooling high school.
But here’s what I forget too easily — It takes a lot of faith to homeschool high school, too. We are trusting God to work through us to prepare our young person for his future. We are absolutely inadequate for that task. Only God’s sovereign, powerful hand can guide them to their destiny.
And the sobering reality is this: There is little we parents can control now. High school is, by and large, up to the student. Let that sink in for a moment. You can’t make your teen learn, you can’t make him study, you can’t make him pay attention, you can’t make him want good grades. It’s entirely up to him.
Your job now is much different than it was five years ago. You are merely providing the tools, the accountability, the guidance, and the certification. That’s a small part of the process at this point. In reality, your son is personally responsible for most of his education now.
Yes, you are inadequate. We all are. Yes, you are concerned for his future. We all are. But you are setting him up for success. He decides what he will do with it.
I would love for him to learn a trade..although he would prefer not to…he doesn’t know what he’s interested in doing yet. But, he loves video games and tv. I don’t mind some of that, but I don’t want it to be his life.
Your son sounds like a perfectly normal teenaged homeschooler. Mine, too, wanted to be a video game tester, and he still places gaming at the top of his favorite things to do. But guess what? He’s grown up a lot the past four years.
You know what? Your son will, too. He isn’t mature enough to make his own decisions, but neither is any other fourteen-year-old guy. Keep parenting, keep loving, keep holding him accountable, keep hugging him. He’ll grow up some day.
This is not that day.
I prayed for you yesterday, and I’m praying for you today. You aren’t messing him up. Just keep going.
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