Throughout this series, I've written about some of our favorite high school programs and resources, and I've also tried to cover some of the challenging aspects, such as planning. Today I want to address what I perceive to be one of the biggest challenges of homeschooling a high school student, and that is overcoming your own fears and intimidation as a parent.
As I work through high school with my children, one of the questions I am asked most often is "How do you get through all the challenging high school subjects?" People seem generally intimidated by what children must know these days in order to keep the edge in their studies or move on to college work. My first thought is that if a student is taught how to think for themselves, and how to study, that meeting the challenges of life and secondary studies will come as a natural progression, and a challenge that can be faced head on and overcome.
Even students who are adept at critical thinking will often need some extra instruction, though, so here are a few thoughts I would like to expound upon for parents who are considering homeschooling high school yet feeling a little intimidated by the challenges it will bring.
Own the Challenge
Yes - own it. Consider that the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and put God first in all that you do. Embrace the promise of James that states "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally." Now that doesn't mean that God has promised you a sudden understanding of Calculus, but it does reflect the fact that God does care about such matters, and will gladly lead and direct the parent who is seeking His direction. God can equip a parent to finish what they start, including homeschooling a child all the way through graduation.
While we shouldn't get bogged down when experiencing failures and trials, neither should we indulge in extreme highs over our successful achievements. Teach your high schooler to have balance and live steady. Teach them faithfulness and good character. Expect greatness, and equip them to pursue it. A teenager will naturally have mood swings and often will experience dramatic highs and lows. Don't react off their emotions, but be a buffer, responding with a steady and quiet mood, to show them an example. One day they will love math, but the next day they might hate it. It doesn't mean that you should toss the curriculum out the window and start fresh. It may just be that they have to adjust their expectations, and learn that life has ups and downs, but a faithful student will learn to deal with it and approach life on an even keel.
Get Out the Binoculars
It's time to study the big picture. Most of the studies and activities done during high school should be filling the student's life with experiences and interests to draw from for their future. It's time to be serious about studies, and fulfill the academic expectations necessary for graduation and post high school life.
High school only lasts four very short years. During that time your student will transition from an awkward junior high 'nerd' to a responsible adult who likes to sit around and solve the world's problems at midnight when you are bone tired from your day. Take every opportunity that you can to build memories. Have those late night talks. Pick your high schooler's brain, and throw out interesting questions to them to discover what they're thinking about. Share your own personal values and beliefs and in the process, you will reinforce theirs. Don't be so hard on the educational aspect of high school that you forget to have fun. Volunteer together for a cause that you believe in. Enter into their world of interests and establish yourself as a pillar.
Yep - you are not going to escape homeschooling high school without spending, so just budget it in and accept it for what it is. Student's interests will grow. You may find yourself doing some traveling, buying materials, or paying extra for tutoring or lessons. That's not even counting all that you will spend for multiple SAT tests and college applications! And then they will decide to obtain certification in CPR, scuba diving, or some other obscure field of interest, and you'll need to pay for that as well! Perhaps they will get their pilot's license! With homeschooling a high school student, there is almost no end to the possibilities.
Don't Have Angst Over Mistakes
Mistakes are inevitable. They will hate a program that you thought would be the perfect fit, or they will have to repeat a program that they should have passed the first time. It happens. Don't stress over lost time or money, but instead take away whatever lesson you can from it, and use mistakes as an opportunity to teach your child how to overcome them in life, and turn them into good. As they mature, they will make plenty of their own. Better that they make some while still in a supportive environment, where the mistakes are typically not so devastating, so they can learn how to work through them. Actually, allowing mistakes to happen and problem solving it together with your teenager is one of the best training methods to build a parent-teen relationship. Re-evaluate, re-adjust, and move on, but don't let mistakes define your identity.
Build Your Student
It is much more important to build lives than to repair and undo poor training. Take the time to invest in your high school student. Use positive reinforcement and reassurance to help build their character and establish a good self-image. Praise character and virtue over personality and superficial traits.
Seek Out Help As Needed
Don't frustrate your teen by allowing them to struggle through situations where help is available, and would be.....helpful! If they need tutoring in a specific subject, then demonstrate the value you place on their work by hiring a tutor, or finding an expert in that field to mentor them through it. In our family, we have been very blessed that I am strong in English and History, while my husband is completely a math and Science guy. It has really balanced out our home school, where the students have been able to receive the necessary help in every subject. When extra assistance was necessary, such as hiring an SAT coach, we went ahead and 'did what we had to do' to build a successful home school program.
Remember, most importantly, that you CAN DO THIS! You, as a parent, know that child better than anyone else. You can tailor a high school home education that will equip them to be a success in this life, and fulfill God's purpose and plan for them, all while building a strong relationship. One day, they will be all grown up, and you will realize that not only are you the parent, but now you are also a friend!
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Check out these other informative posts on the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop!
- Chareen at Every Bed of Roses shares Overcoming the fear of homeschooling in the Highschool Years
- Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her thoughts on How Will I Teach. . . Homeschool High School Biology?
- Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares on How Then Should I Teach?
- Lisa at Golden Grasses shares Making it Happen: Homeschooling Your High School Super Hero
- Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break on How Do I Even Teach That?
- Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares insights on Help! How Do I Teach High School Math?!