This month begins my thirty-one-day series on “Homeschool High School Made Easy.” Like last year’s Homeschool Made Easy, (now available on kindle), this series is designed to give you the information and encouragement you need to simplify your homeschool efforts and regain your family’s love for learning. You can homeschool high school, and it can be easy!
Most homeschoolers start off in the beginning for just “one year at a time” during the elementary years, trying out the homeschool lifestyle to see if it works for their family culture. Maybe they started homeschooling to overcome learning difficulties, to help their gifted child reach his full potential, or to better meet the needs of their special needs student. Perhaps they wanted to avoid bullying, negative peer pressure, and other worldly influences in the public school system. They may even have set out to give their child a firm moral foundation, to pass on their own values and principles, to prepare the young person for a lifetime of worship and ministry.
Then they quit.
The teen years are too difficult, the high school subjects too demanding, the social pressures and hectic schedules and graduation requirements too scary. Parents who begin with all the best intentions find themselves unable, unwilling, unprepared to meet the demands of high school. So they put the student back into public school.
I nearly did the same thing.
When we connect with why we are homeschooling, we find new focus on the purpose of each day’s lessons, and we find a new vision for a lifetime of learning.
Because the teen years are super hard on parents. You’ve got hormones, you’ve got relationship issues, you’ve got identity struggles, you’ve got separation difficulties . . . and your teen does, too (ha!). It makes for rough going there for a while, and then there are the academic and parenting pressures of launching a new adult into the world. It seems way easier to just pack up the teacher’s manuals and put everyone back on a bus.
But maybe we have it all wrong.
What if instead of freaking out, instead of giving up, instead of stressing out about homeschooling high school . . . what if instead, we reinvent the entire process? What if we simplify everything, strip it to the foundation, and find our purpose, our calling our joy — and then pass it on to our young people?
Find the Purpose in YOUR Homeschooling
For these high school years, connecting to your values remains more important than ever. It’s time to recommit yourself to why you are teaching your teens. Because that why, that purpose, that commitment will change everything, refocusing your teaching, defining your curriculum, guiding your choices, and ultimately simplifying your high school journey.
For our family, there are four main reasons we continue to homeschool during the high school years. These goals shape our education, our activities, our entire family life. Perhaps you will think of more.
1. Homeschooling high school enables us to pass on our values to our teens.
The teen years become perhaps the most critical time to reinforce beliefs, principles, and values that shape the rest of life’s decisions. Now’s not the time to give up, but rather to dig in.
Teens are hyper-sensitive to inconsistency and (dare we say it?) hypocrisy. They yearn to experience a life of meaning, and they want to see actions lining up with lifestyle. They’ve been promised, all through childhood, that God is good and that clean living pays (so to speak), and they are looking for evidence that the world runs consistently with the principles we’ve been teaching them.
They want to see us live our faith.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. — Luke 10:27
Mom, the single most valuable lessons you will ever teach your children is to love God and love one another. These teen years are our single greatest opportunity to walk the walk, to humble ourselves before our children, to transparently share our spiritual journey and help them start on their own.
If we can keep that perspective, if we can stay laser-focused on that ultimate goal, the rest of our fears and frustrations will fall away. When we seek God’s best for our teens while recognizing our own inadequacies, we will find the Spirit’s supernatural enabling for each day.
2. Homeschooling high school facilitates teaching academics with a purpose (instead of pressure).
Hey, I know academic pressure. I remember the stress of proving homeschooling was legitimate when I was a homeschool student, when every test and worksheet was saved, every percentage point scrutinized, every college entrance exam a measurement of worth. As a homeschool parent, I’m keenly aware that every A is worth thousands, every C a personal failure (it’s a lie, but we still feel like that), every essay and test proof that we should or should not be trusted with the education of our own younglings.
I don’t want to teach to the test, I don’t want to measure my student’s success on a number scale, I don’t want to tie test-taking or communication skills with financial incentives. The broken educational institutions around us fail young people that way. We should be different.
It takes faith to spend more time understanding than regurgitating. It takes faith to wrestle with the messy truths of history instead of memorizing pithy sayings. It takes faith to slow down math to learn the why better than the way.
But when we connect with why we are homeschooling, when we remain true to our convictions about who God created our young people to be and the kind of difference He desires in their lives, then the distractions of grades and tests and arbitrary standards grow dim. We find new focus on the purpose of each day’s lessons, and we find a new vision for a lifetime of learning.
3. Homeschooling high school allows us to guide our teens through relationships.
One of the most significant changes in the teen years is in how they view relationships with friends and with the opposite gender. They desire close friends and learn painful lessons about cliques, gossip, and breakups. They notice boys and girls in a new way and closely watch their friends flirt, date, and break up. They experience powerful temptations. They define what kind of friend, what kind of boyfriend or girlfriend, and even what kind of spouse they will be.
It’s super hard.
Some people homeschool to try to avoid all that. And some people send their teens to school thinking they need to be around more of all of that. But in our case, homeschooling allows us to walk alongside our young people through these experiences, offering comfort, counsel, and protection as they make life-long connections to people from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, ages, and even beliefs.
Diversity represents a painful struggle in our culture. Homeschool teens have a distinct opportunity to represent biblical love, sensitivity, and unity within their communities and churches. If we as parents have the courage and humility to reach out, ourselves.
4. Homeschooling high school uniquely prepares our teens for responsible, productive adulthood.
Through the teen years, we take definitive steps to train our teens for adult life. They work jobs out of the home. They pay bills. They manage their time and their finances. They participate in ministries and community events. They get themselves into college and figure out how to pay for it. They take responsibility for their own mistakes and learn how to live with consequences. We’ve said many times that if our teens can survive high school with us and their first couple years of college, we’ll never worry about their adult lives. They will have the tools and experience they need to keep going.
Because isn’t that what homeschooling — and all of parenting — is about? Showing our young people how to have a relationship with God, teaching them to love others, preparing them to fulfill their responsibilities to God and man?
These are the four most significant principles of homeschooling high school, goals that define what we are doing and why. When we keep them in focus, all of the rest is simplified. Don’t believe me? Stay tuned for how you can make homeschooling high school easy.
Why do you homeschool high school? What is one of your most important priorities with your young people?
Leave me a comment below!