7 Tips for Homeschooling Your Teen

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A while ago when I asked my followers on Facebook what they would like to see in my upcoming e-book about homeschooling curriculum, one mom asked for ideas for the child who doesn’t want to go the “traditional” college route.  While my e-book does not touch on that topic, this post does!  I wanted to answer this mom’s question, as well as to provide some other tips on homeschooling those older kiddos.  So here goes:

1) Prepare them for college…anyway – Even if your child does not want to go to college or you think that they will not want to go to college, prepare them for it anyway.  Why?  Well for one thing, they may change their mind!  And there’s no way you can know how they will feel in a few years (or even one year!) from now.

Additionally, if you prepare your child to go to a traditional college, and they decide to go to a tech college instead (as an example) your child will certainly be considered a desirable candidate for whatever school they apply to.  Frankly, it’s the rare homeschooler who isn’t capable of handling college…giving them a college prep education prepares them for that possibility and gives them more options overall.

2) Don’t forget to give them “credit” for extra-curricular activities – If your child is involved in a sport, 4-H, scouting or they take any kind of lessons, etc., don’t forget to count these on your child’s transcript.  For instance, when my son was involved in the homeschool band, I gave him credit on his transcript for “Fine Arts.”  He was also involved in baseball which was credited as “P.E.”

Anything your child does outside the normal parameters of curriculum can still be credited on their transcript.  Don’t forget to give them credit for these activities.

3) Make sure they can write…very well – I’m not much of a fan of requiring young children to write essays, reports, stories, etc.  because I feel it’s too abstract of a concept.  Note, I’m not saying I wouldn’t encourage a child who wants to write…I just don’t teach it at that point.

But I do expect my kids to learn to write well.  However, I do start a little later than many homeschooling parents.  For instance, my youngest son will be in 7th grade next year and we will just be starting a writing program.  The program I use is “Write With The Best,” which is a curriculum I strongly recommend to my readers.  I spent years looking for a composition program that covered all the bases.  It wasn’t until I was preparing to teach composition to my third child that I (finally!) found “Write With The Best.”  I was so thrilled to find this program and I was even happier to find that it truly works!

4) Don’t neglect higher math – In addition to making sure your child can write a solid essay, you need to ensure that they can handle upper level math.  They should, at the very least, have taken Algebra 2 by the time they finish high school.  It would be even better if they’ve had some Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus.  Even if you aren’t good at math…or you think your child isn’t good at math…with all the programs out there today there’s simply no excuse not to expect your child to take higher math.  Hire a tutor if necessary.  Personally, I’ve started using the Saxon DIVE CD’s with my youngest son.  He’s fortunate – I used to make my older kids teach themselves!  Avail yourself of all the resources that are out there if you don’t feel confident to teach higher math.  It’s so do-able.  Trust me on this one.  Your child can handle it.

5) Use these years to hone in on future plans – I have what seems an odd way of looking at parenting.  I actually believe that I should have a strong and definite hand in guiding what my children do when they become adults.  I do not buy into the philosophy that teenagers should be released to essentially figure things out on their own, and then when they screw up big-time, well that’s just the way it goes.  I’ve had a definite say in my children’s lives in their teen years and beyond.  My philosophy is that until they are paying their own way through life, then that is my prerogative.

I believe you are to not only be your child’s teacher, but their student as well.  By that I mean that you should study them as they grow up and determine what their strengths and interests are, so that you can guide them to career choices that fit their gifts and temperament.  Fortunately, you have many years to do this.  Make it your mission to be an “expert” when it comes to your child, and then guide them accordingly.

6) Have them get college credit while in high school – Here in Florida we have a great dual-enrollment program that allows homeschoolers to attend college classes.  Through this program students earn college credit and high school credit at the same time.   In fact, one semester of college is equivalent to a whole year of high school, so it’s a great way to get in math and science and other core subjects.  And in Florida, except for paying for books, it’s free.

I don’t know if every state has dual-enrollment programs, but I would encourage you to look into it.  Your state homeschool group would be a good place to start.

Another option available for your child to get college credit is the College Level Examination Program administered through the College Board.  There is a cost to these tests, but they are convenient and a great way to get basic courses covered while still in high school.

7) Make sure they have a professional looking transcript – Personally, I’ve used the Transcript Pro software to produce my kids’ transcripts for many years now.  I love the professional look and ease of use.  And of course there are other programs out there as well.  Make the investment.  You’ll be glad you did.

I hope these tips have helped you and I encourage you to share your own tips for homeschooling teens in the comments!