It’s easy to homeschool little people, but when a child is going into the teen years many parents wonder about sending their child to school. It’s a pity really, because homeschooling through the teen years has many advantages.
I asked some young adults who were homeschooled through teen years what they thought of the experience. The first two I asked both said they felt they learned more at home and were happier.
So I posed this question to them:
‘Teachers at good secondary schools know their subject well and are often passionate about what they teach and so pass on a real love of that subject to their students. Surely that’s a good reason to go to school?’
I got a little smile and a giggle from each of them separately. One said that most of the high school teachers don’t know as much as you might think, (this person has several friends who are specialist secondary school teachers in very good schools). And the other said that the advantage of being with a good teacher was off-set by being in a classroom of children passing notes, throwing stuff around, texting, etc.
So I asked them:
‘What about the competition provided by group learning at school? Surely that is good for teens?’
They answered that a competitive person will find ways to compete outside the classroom.
‘But what about the opportunity for independent learning? Surely that’s a good thing about school.’
My young adults said that independent learning was more likely to happen away from school. In fact, one of the advantages they both felt they had from homeschooling was the opportunity to learn independently.
I would agree with them on this – I have found that all five of my children have followed their own interests to very deep levels, much more than they ever would have done at school.
I asked about being away from Mum for boys, and the thought had never crossed their minds. Being homeschooled doesn’t mean that boys are molly-coddled. One of my boys captained the homeschool robotics team to the world championships in USA, (where they did very well and came back with several awards). A 17-year-old who is inspiring, encouraging, and leading other teens won’t do that if he is molly coddled. 😉
I asked another young adult for thoughts on homeschooling through the teen years. This child had a lot of contact with high school culture because they were a member of a local school band, so was involved in rehearsals twice a week, in productions and shows, and went away to another city for a three-day-long national schools competition. This is the response:
At school your child is exposed to a culture you probably don’t want them exposed to yet. In fact your child might decide that they never want to be exposed to it.
School is not a place to make friends and socialise. It is a place where you have to navigate social politics, and keep your place and position – every day.
Homeschooling is a gift. It extends childhood. It allows you to go deep in subjects and learn more. It means you don’t have to get tough.
School is different these days. It’s not the way it was when parents were at school, and children won’t tell you the worst of things.
Learning or Teaching?
The pressures of secondary level teaching need not exist if you think of it as learning rather than teaching. The children are learning, and as you have taught them independence, they will be learning without you at their side so that you can meet with them maybe once or twice a week for discussion on what is going on in their learning. This will have come gradually, starting independence at about 10, 11, 12, and being quite independent at age 16, 17, 18. And there is no need for you to join the exam treadmill if it is not for you. There are other (often better) ways to learn, and the rewards are great.
Do What Is Best
I was thinking that it seems like these homeschooled young adults have been negative about school – but this has come only from their own observation and experiences of school friends and teacher friends.
My attitude has always been that I homeschool because I like being with my children and homeschooling is fun. But I lately have had young people telling me that school is not always a safe place for children. This doesn’t mean that school is bad for all children; I have friends who have children in school and it has been a successful experience for them. They have made carefully considered decisions, and things have worked well for them.
In the end, we choose what is best for us and for our own family. Finding a way through is very individual for families of homeschooled teens. We will all do slightly different things, and we all hope to do what is best for our young adults.
I still think homeschooling teens is a fabulous way to go. (Not the only way to go.)
Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together. Jude chapter 1, verse 2 (TM)