Welcome to the month-long series “Homeschool HIGH SCHOOL Made Easy,” a follow-up to the popular “Homeschool Made Easy” series (now published on kindle). I’m sharing tips from my experience as a homeschool graduate and homeschool mother, showing YOU how easy and enjoyable these high school years can be for you and your teen. Be sure to sign up for the entire series so you don’t miss a thing!
When we look back at our homeschool why, it’s sobering to see how close we are to finishing our pursuit of it. Whatever our reason for starting out in the homeschool journey, time is nearly up. In just a few short months, God will say, “Pencils down. Pass the papers in. The homeschool test is finished.”
How will we do? Will God weigh us and find us wanting? Or will we hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?” Sometimes it’s hard to tell. And sometimes, we may wish for a do-over. But all the time, if we stay focused on our true homeschool priorities, this day of reckoning can be a joyous anticipation.
It’s time to launch our young adults.
We’re done, at least with the worst of it. They are making their life choices, living out their beliefs, finding their path, and becoming the people God created them to be. Maybe they’ll take a circuitous path. Probably they’ll make a lot of mistakes. And several times, they’ll scare us to death. But ultimately, it’s time to let them go with God.
Did we do right? Have we prepared them adequately for the next year or two or ten of their lives? Have we homeschooled responsibly? Have we made the grade, cut the mustard, aced the test?
We won’t find out for a long time. God isn’t through molding our young people, and He definitely isn’t through changing us every day to be more conformed to the image of Himself. But in the meantime, while we wait and pray and counsel and pray some more, we can look back on some of the most important lessons we taught our teens (whether they were listening or not).
Get your homeschool high school student ready for college and adulthood.
Here’s a list of lessons that conform to our homeschool why. When we are tempted to worry about our young people, looking back at this list of lessons reminds us that we have already taught some of life’s most important lessons.
How to get a job . . . and keep it.
One of the best things we’ve done for our teens is to require them to work. I wasn’t sure about that decision at first, but over time it has proved to be the single best motivation for maturity in our young people. And the more hours they work, the higher their grades. It’s so weird.
The first serious job my oldest landed was a part-time position with the dry cleaner down the street. He had experience refereeing on weekends and evenings, but this was his first experience working every day Monday through Friday, and he was excited to work more hours. He interviewed for the job on his own, and he was really proud of it.
Until suddenly, the second or third week into the job, he quit talking about it. He wouldn’t tell me his next week’s schedule. He wouldn’t tell me how his day was. He completely clammed up. And then one day, he said he had the next few days off, and that just felt . . . off. This went on for a couple more days until he got a phone call and suddenly, he relaxed and told me he needed a ride back to work. And he told me the entire story then.
His second week on the job, he got fired. The owner told him that after he finished out that week, not to come back. He was devastated and embarrassed, so he wouldn’t tell his parents he lost his job. He applied online for others while he kept going into work for the remaining days. He not only kept showing up, but he worked as hard as he could, doing extra jobs around the counter that his boss hadn’t assigned him and asking other employees how he could help.
This odd reaction to being fired made an impression on the owner. And when he was gone, his initiative was sorely missed. So that’s why he was rehired. Then he was quickly trained to manage the facility in the owner’s absence. Within a few months, he was hiring, training, and firing employees; translating and negotiating disputes between the workers and owners; and delivering cash to the owner at the end of the week. His character and hard work earned him a reputation that far exceeded his chronological age.
Obviously, all of that happened on his own; he wasn’t about to tell his parents what was going on until the dust was settled and he had solved his first serious employment problem. In the end, his tenacity and leadership revealed that at least two of our homeschool values (hard work and love for others) had taken root in his character.
How to manage his time and responsibilities.
Time management was another life skill that concerned me when our son left home. Would he show up to classes on time? Would he remember his tests and assignments? Would he drop the ball or spend all day playing video games? I asked him repeatedly if I could buy him a planner or show him tricks on Google calendar. But, again, no, he wanted to try on his own.
The high school years, however, give our teens plenty of time to practice being responsible. By gradually handing over more and more control to our teens, we give them valuable experience making wise choices with their time. So, yeah, maybe I do a lot of nagging freshman year. But by sophomore year, the teen understands what needs to be done and how to do it. By junior year, there’s very few reminders, just accountability and grading.
My daughter is even more mature in this area than her older brother was. By age fifteen, she is completely independent in her school work; I just proctor tests and grade assignments. She manages her work schedule, puts her own appointments on the family calendar, and arranges for her own transportation to events. Other than reminding her to wash the dishes and pick up her bedroom (*cough, cough*), she needs little oversight. She already recognizes that making wise choices in what she eats, how much sleep she gets, how hard she works, and how she manages her time with friends all contribute to how successful she is in achieving her goals — even if her goal is more time with her dog in front of the TV.
How to make friends and work with others.
These high school socialization issues are just a tip of the iceberg of what teens will face in college, the workplace, church, and adult life. Training our teens and young adults to be loyal, kind, respectful, and loving is so much more than lecturing: it’s humbly changing our own lives every day.
How to recognize and admit his errors.
One of the most important skills we can teach our students is humility, especially academic humility. This is something that bothered me about homeschool graduates for many years, to the point that I questioned if we should homeschool high school at all. The very last thing I wanted to produce was a bunch of snobby, prideful know-it-alls who couldn’t consider an opposing viewpoint if it came down from Mount Sinai.
There are many opportunities, however, to cultivate a teachable spirit in our young people. Giving them the grades they deserve (not the A’s we want) helps. Challenging them with hard books, difficult issues, and the messy past is another. Encouraging them to say “I don’t know” and “I could have done better” without condemnation. Openly admitting when we don’t have answers, consistency, or virtue ourselves.
My college son is earning high marks in all of his classes . . . except for calculus. He’s struggled with that course since it started, and at times he wonders if he’ll even pass. Yet every time he tells me about it, I ask him if he’s changed his mind. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a mathematician since this course is killing him? He adamantly denies every questioning his major, though. “This is the class I don’t understand, and I love it! I’m going to learn things I’ve never imagined! That’s why I’m here!”
It is, son. It’s why we are all here: to see our need, to learn and grow, and to glorify God while doing that.
How to write an essay and research paper.
The single greatest homeschool lesson my mother gave me was how to write. It’s obviously what I do every day (though I never imagined it at the time!). And it’s the skill I most used in college myself.
So it’s also the one study skill I am most careful to teach my own children. If you can write a complete sentence, put those sentences correctly into a paragraph, and then string your paragraphs into a carefully constructed paper, you can communicate anything to anyone. And your teachers will think you are brilliant.
It’s also the one skill my college student has most frequently thanked me for teaching him. “I’m getting better English grades than the English majors!” That’s all I needed to hear.
What else does your homeschool graduate need to know?
I just shared a quick checklist of important skills that make the transition easier from high school to college. What else do you think our homeschool grads need to master?