by Diane Kummer
Homeschooling in the teen years can cause great doubt for many reasons. “Can I really do this?” “What if I mess up?” are two questions I frequently hear from homeschool parents as they consider whether to teach high school at home. It always helps to view tasks from an optimistic perspective, so let’s approach this venture with more of a positive spin.
Although there are many factors that are important when teaching teens at home, three essential necessities include commitment, perseverance, and joy. If you cultivate these three attitudes, it will enable you to view these years as times of great opportunity for both you and your teen.
“Commitment, perseverance, and joy are traits to possess and refine as you teach your teens at home.”
Teaching high school at home takes commitment. Are you dedicated to providing your teen a solid and quality education that will prepare him for post high school goals? To realistically answer this question, it helps to think about your current responsibilities and obligations and then consider what you may need to lay aside for a period of time. It could be that you’ll want to scale back involvement in hobbies, pursue a less rigid exercise routine, attend rather than lead a Bible study, or set firm boundaries for taking on any additional responsibilities. Being dedicated to one endeavor typically means being restricted in other areas. When teaching teens at home, don’t think that you must check out of life completely; however, the time invested in preparing lesson plans, scoping out curriculum, providing instruction, and driving to and from outside classes and activities, will need to be carved out of the finite number of hours in your day. It can be done, but commitment to your teen’s education will be the boundary that reins in all of the other areas competing for your time.
Teach High School at Home: Perseverance
When you teach high school at home, it also takes perseverance. Similar to other undertakings, teaching your teens will have its highs and its lows. Some days will flow merrily along as you hit your stride and your teens cooperate, while other days will find you questioning your sanity, ability, and willingness to continue. That’s when you’ll need to tap into a reservoir of perseverance to keep you hydrated during difficult times when you don’t see much progress in your teen’s academic or interpersonal skills. Your determination to keep a long-range (and I mean long-range as in eternal) perspective will be the catalyst necessary to encourage your teen’s small increments of success whenever you can.
You may want to consider keeping a journal with weekly entries that note achievements during the high school years such as “Yes! She finished the research paper,” “He is learning to consistently meet deadlines,” “She overcame her fear of public speaking,” “He is making a real effort to spend time in the Bible,” or “He offered to help our elderly neighbor with her computer!” Regularly praise these signs of growth and maturity because this encouragement will hopefully foster even greater development in your teens
Teach High School at Home: Joy
Finally, as you head into the high school years, remember to teach your teens with joy. As defined at www.theopedia.com, “Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.” Joy requires supernatural help and grace from the Lord to teach when you don’t feel like teaching, to correct in gentleness when you want to lash out, and to believe in your teen’s potential when it would be easier to give up. Pray for joy each day, and watch the Lord bring lightheartedness to your soul that leads you to relish these years with your teen.
Joy will be your antidote to a bad attitude, hasty word, or quick temper. Joy offers hope when you rightly determine that many things affecting your teen’s future are far beyond your control. What job your teen is offered, what decision a college admissions officer makes, or whether the military recruiter chooses your teen to meet monthly enlistment goals will all be seen as matters for prayer and trust rather than burdens of responsibility you must shoulder. Joy reminds you that you do your best and then rest in God’s overarching plans for your teens.
Commitment, perseverance, and joy are traits to possess and refine as you teach your teens at home. The four years of high school will provide you with many opportunities to strengthen these areas in your lives and hopefully will give your teens many examples of how you have grown in the process!
Diane Kummer, high school consultant for Home School Legal Defense Association, helped to develop its Homeschooling through High School program and is a regular columnist for the Homeschool Enrichment and Court Report magazines. Diane and her husband Tom homeschooled their two children, and she presents sessions nationwide for parents who teach their teens at home. She recently co-authored two e-books entitled Develop a High School Plan and Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript, both available at HSLDA. This article first appeared in the Virginia Home Educator, Spring 2017