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Is Homeschooling a Teenager Different than Homeschooling an Elementary School-Aged Child?

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Is Homeschooling a Teenager Different than

Homeschooling an Elementary School-Aged Child?


homeschooling teensTeenage homeschooling presented a new set of challenges. Our children wanted to try all sorts of things with which we were only vaguely familiar. Our son wanted a private pilot’s license. Our daughter needed outlets for all kinds of creative endeavors: writing, speaking, performing, drawing, even cooking. In addition, both kids decided to tackle subjects in which we lacked expertise, most notably foreign languages.

As parents of homeschooled teenagers, we began to worry about college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT. Our kids were also eager to begin researching colleges. One had a clear-cut goal, and our questions centered around the best way to help him attain it. The other could not begin to decide on a goal; and, of course, we worried about that.

See also Homeschooling and Time for Me

In short, the kids seemed to need more expertise than we could personally provide. And we, their parents, worried more about the future than when they were younger. Were we doing The Right Thing?

Teens Can Accomplish a LOT on Their Own!

Fortunately, as we discovered, teenagers can do more for themselves than younger children. Contrary to what many educationists would have you believe, teenagers can learn trigonometry and biology by themselves for the SAT. They can read college catalogs on their own. They can teach themselves computer skills with little outside help. They can even find resources on their own – like community drama groups and free flying lessons. When challenges arose, more and more often as the kids got older they would find a solution before we even realized there was a problem. Sometimes we brainstormed together to generate solutions.

The Biggest Difference in Homeschooling Teens

What was the biggest difference we noticed in homeschooling our teenagers? Our role evolved from networker to facilitator. Our earlier research and our talking to experienced home educators had served two purposes: 1. We found resources, and 2. we provided a networking role model. Eventually, our kids adopted our techniques and became good networkers themselves. As they assumed more responsibility for their education, we, their parents, found we had an altered job description. We had moved from planning, motivating, and teaching to discussing, providing wheels, and writing occasional checks.

Cafi Cohen homeschooled her two children for eight years, from about ages ten to eighteen. She is author of  Homeschooling: The Teen Years and And What About College? Cafi was among dozens of homeschooling veterans who answered your pressing questions in The Homeschooling Book of Answersedited by Linda Dobson.

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5 Responses to “Is Homeschooling a Teenager Different than Homeschooling an Elementary School-Aged Child?”

  1. Fatcat says:

    Yes, people never believe me when I say the kids are basically homeschooling themselves, but they are. 🙂

  2. Cheri Wooten says:

    Schools treat teens just about the same way they treat younger kids. Work is assigned, they’ll be graded and tested. No real room to challenge THEMSELVES and no freedom to find what lights them up on the inside.

    As a homeschooling mom of five kids, I was heading the same way with my oldest till I read an article about what teens really need (homeschooling or not). Two Vital Factors, I think it was titled. I’ll add the link here. It’s a must-read if you have teenagers.

  3. Steve Bailey says:

    You are really to be congratulated Cafi. I take my hat off to anybody who has the confidence and (lets face it) the ability to take on such a daunting challenge.
    I take the point that youngsters who are used to being schooled at home may well have a different, more constructive and independent attitude that is the norm, but surely there are times when any teenager wants (and needs) to challenge the boundaries and strive for their own identity. It must take great skill to negotiate that particular rocky path and keep the end goal in sight.

Leave a Reply to Fatcat