7 Things Not To Do For Your Teen

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?  As devoted homeschool parents we often are very involved in our children’s lives, but as they mature, we should graciously back off and allow our teens to grow, learn and mature in every area of their lives.

“Parenting on Purpose” allows opportunity for our kids to develop the necessary life skills.  Some may view this as a lack of parenting, but research shows that “helicopter parenting” — over-involved, hyper-vigilant parenting —  is a one-way ticket to incompetent offspring,  While we don’t want our children to fail, we need to realize that adversity is a normal part of life and the only way to teach our children coping skills is to make them do and think for themselves.

To quote Ann Landers,

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Here are some issues to avoid when parenting teens ~

  1. Do not speak for them.  Do not stand in for them in social situations, doctor’s consultations, interviews, bookings and introductions.  After blundering in this area and seeing my children cringe and roll their eyes when I butted in conversations, I made a decision to shut up and give my teens the space to speak for themselves.  They often amaze me with their eloquence.  My shy daughter still tries to avoid answering the telephone and greeting visitors, but she has become more confident.  Practice makes this life skill easier.
  2. Do not lie for them.  For over-protective parents, this may be a form of trying to soften the blows of life, but our teens need to connect with the consequences of their decisions, lack of diligence, mistakes or issues.  Our teens need to learn to be honest, admit their failings, and find ways to make right.  Often harsh consequences teach them far more than a weekend of lectures.
  3. 20161201_185333Do not manage their time.  Every teen should set their own alarms, wake up,  prepare and be on time without mom or dad cajoling, persuading, nagging or reminding.  Don’t rush around buying last-minute items, find lost clothes or projects or”helping” them reach their deadlines.  Teach your teens to make schedules, activate their own alarms and add reminders to their cellphones, or simply keep a calendar or notebook.  Our aim is to raise well-functioning adults here.
  4. Do not manage their budget & money.  No matter how little or how much pocket-money your teen receives, they need to learn how to save, budget, spend or share their own money.  If you constantly dish out money to your teen, you act as their personal ATM.  Now is the time to open a personal bank account for your teen and teach them how to spend and save wisely.  Don’t rescue them when they spend all their money or suddenly need more money.  Give them ideas or opportunities from young to work to earn extra pocket-money.  My kids tender for projects that need doing around the house to earn extra money.
  5. Do not fight their teacher/ “friend” battles.  When your teen has issues with teachers or friends, it may be wise to listen and ask questions which may lead them to figure out what to do about their unpleasant situation, but at this point, parents should not be personally involved in bringing about resolutions.  Let your teen figure things out for themselves.  My eldest daughter once told her dad, “I can navigate this situation better on my own.”  And she was right.
  6. 20161201_185345Do not take over incompleted work/ chores.  Do not rescue your teen when they forget their work, leave it behind, delay or procrastinate and run out of time with work or chores.  Again, allow the consequences to be the life lesson here.
  7. Stop filling out their paperwork.  Teens should learn how to complete forms or fill their own applications.  With a little advice, most teens should be able to complete all their own paperwork.  Practice this skill while they are still young.  Every teen should practice their own signature and write neatly and clearly.

My parenting goal is to raise competent and capable adults.  And to accomplish this, I am backing off in areas where my teens can stand on their own two feet.  So, despite my love and my desire to hover and help, I want to see my teens succeed in the real world.  This means that I may have to stand by as they navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids seem a little unsure, make mistakes, or sometimes suffer the consequences … it’s all part of growing teens in independence.

And may I add here, that this is an area that calls for grace

… to yourself … to your children … and to others.  Grace to other moms who are trying to figure out just how much help is required .. or who don’t know how to step back …  Grace to young adults who are growing and learning.

In Grace, Nadene

Mom’s Nature Journal inspiration

With my teenager’s increasing independence in their homeschooling, our days have settled into a new rhythm, and I have found peace in making some new, small, personal goals for myself.  Charlotte Mason calls it “Mother Culture“.  One of my goals is to regularly sketch in my nature journal.   I look forward to quietly making an entry once a week during a lovely time of quiet observation, some scientific research, and creative sketching, painting or journaling.

20170203_154302 Here is where I find inspiration for my nature journaling ~

Outdoor Mom Journal

Barb at Handbook of Nature Study runs a monthly Outdoor Hour Challenge which we enjoyed in our early homeschool years.  She also shares her Outdoor Mom Journal each month.  She encourages moms to answer all or just one of the prompts in a blog entry on your own blog or right here on her blog in a comment.

Her nature journal prompts are open-ended statements ~

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

Simple, gentle prompts which lead to her monthly Outdoor Mom Journal posts.

20170203_154312Nature Finds

As my grown children and older teens no longer go on nature walks, I am privileged to go for walks with my little  granddaughter who comes to visit us often.  She notices all the tiny details and loves to pick up leaves, feathers, stones and any other interesting nature finds.  I keep her nature finds on a little tray.  Often I use her finds as a journal inspiration.

This nature tray was inspired by Celeste, a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8, of Joyous Lessons, who writes about their nature tray.   She set up a little tray for her family’s nature finds and encouraged her children to look at, play around with, and record these ‘finds’ in their journals.  At the end of the week she stores or clears the tray ready for the new week.

She says,

“In a way, this holds me accountable too: I don’t like to clear out the tray until I have had time to document and sketch a bit, but the tray must be emptied to make room for our new finds. So through the routine, I’m nudged into at least a weekly journal entry.
This seems like such a minor tip–perhaps this is something you already do!  But if you’re anything like me, it’s little things, those easy habits that allow the “extras” to become smoothly woven into the rhythm of our days, that make all the difference.  It’s this little habit that prods me to get out the colored pencils and notebooks!”
I find some amazing inspiration on the Internet.  Remember I posted about Helen at Middlewood Journal?  Here’s someone who inspires me I found on Instagram … I am totally in awe of  L Gastinger, who describes herself as “a botanical artist, illustrator, documenter and interpreter of all things exquisite and awesome in nature”.   Her double-page spreads are so intricate, details and perfect, you simply must pop over to view her work!
My Garden
Lastly, I love gardening and this year has been a year of big gardening changes for me.  After struggling for years working in my vegetable garden which was very near a row of willow trees, my hubby and I finally created a shade-netted vegetable garden in a lovely, sunny open space.  It has been a joy to harvest food in less than 3 months! garden I also completely transformed a decorative flower garden into a herb and salad/ kitchen garden outside my back door.  I cut down huge shrubs, transplanted flowering plants and moved all my herbs.  I prepared the new beds with ash, manure and compost layers and covered them with a thick mulch layer.  Late summer and autumn seeds and seedlings are in and I am already planning my winter seeds. With all this happening, there is plenty to note, sketch, paint, photograph and journal!
So, simply, I plan to set time aside each week for my nature journal entries and aim to participate in a monthly Outdoor Mom’s Journal.
What about you?  What inspires you in your nature journalling?
In Grace, Nadene

Sketch Tuesday ~ Something Tall

“Sketch something tall” … and my son immediately came to mind.  He is really tall, but no way nearly as tall as I drew him in my sketch.  I call it artistic licence!

Here’s my sketch ~

20170211_161816This week I used some of my daughter’s gouache paints.  Can you believe that I have never painted with gouache paints before?  I looked at one or two YouTube videos and gave it a try … and loved it!

To quote Craftsy ~

Gouache (pronounced “gwosh,” in your Frenchiest accent please) is a type of paint which is centuries old, and yet relatively few people even know of its existence today. It’s a medium with characteristics of both acrylic and watercolor that can be used to create vibrant, luminous works of art.

Note from the author: when I was in art school, a teacher referred to gouache as being “watercolor plus chalk.” That does oversimplify it a bit, but it gets the basic point across.

Sometimes referred to as opaque watercolor, gouache starts out similarly to watercolor. They are both composed of color pigment with a binding agent such as gum arabic. But that’s where things start to differ. First, the pigment ratio in gouache is usually much greater than in watercolor. Second, a solid white pigment such as chalk (or sometimes even acrylic) is often incorporated. These two factors give gouache a much heavier texture and higher opacity than watercolor alone.

In terms of working with gouache, this makes it a unique medium. It shows characteristics of both watercolor and acrylic, but is neither.

Isn’t it wonderful that one can keep on learning, exploring, experimenting and developing in art?

What new medium have you tried?

Sketch Tuesday is a wonderful idea prompt which can open untold possibilities!  If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings, Nadene


High School – Independence

My confidence as a homeschool mom has been challenged by each high schooler as we navigate their choices, attitudes, approaches and decisions for their final three years of their education.  May I share some of my experiences as I transition through this phase again with my youngest child?

Most teenagers automatically want to work more independently. The shift may be gradual, or sudden. Prepare for this change by gradually handing over subjects, work space and time schedules to your junior highschooler.

20161006_162441 You may find your teenager —

  • prefers working alone in their room.
  • works sitting cross-legged on a bed or lying down(!)  rather than sitting at a desk.
  • prefers to work late mornings or afternoons rather than starting early.
  • seeks out peer support rather than turning to mom or dad when facing struggles.
  • choses to work through the curriculum subject-by-subject rather than lessons across all the subjects.
  • needs to have music playing while doing schoolwork or chores.
  • is reluctant to pretend to be interested in some subjects and may refuse to do certain subjects.
  • wants their schoolwork to be relevant and real, rather than purely academic.  They still enjoy hands-on work, be it practical activities or Science experiments.
  • stays up later at night.
  • wants to work without help, advice or mom’s presence, even if they are uncertain or confused.
  • needs tutoring rather than teaching; coming for specific help with a topic or method rather than having the whole lesson explained.  I confess that I frustrate my daughters in covering and teaching too much!  They just need a little help and then want go back to working independently.  Obviously, if they are really stuck, then I insist on going through the work thoroughly.

20170209_111803Your homeschool role will shift to mainly facilitation, administration, accountability, advice and encouragement.

  • As your child approaches high school, you and your teen need to collaborate on what they want to study and how they prefer to study.
  • While some children know what their future hopes or career may be, others may need to do online aptitude tests to help determine their best options for career and purpose.  This is a stressful and uncertain period in a young teenager’s life.  These test results can help your child chose the best subjects and courses to graduate highschool with the credits needed to study further.
  • Depending on your child, you may need daily or weekly checks where you check their work, and assign new work, or sign off work.
  • Use a Google calendar where your teenager can sign in to their account to view their schedule, or use Homeschool Tracker or some other program where they can upload their assignments and log their work.  A good old-fashioned timetable or printed out schedule works just fine too!
  • Give your teenager time to work through different options, trying each out to find what works best for them.  My daughters all prefered to work with ring binders, but some subjects work best in hardcover books instead.  Some prefer to type and print their work on the computer, others prefer to work online.  Give them time to try and maybe change their minds in the first few weeks.  Then stick to the best option and make it work.
  • Set the standards and encourage your teen to raise their standard to meet the requirements for high school.
  • Be firm about how their work is presented or how detailed their notes should be.  Phase this in as they start their new work.  Encourage them to improve as they master the basics.
  • Prepare a school work and storage space in their chosen study spot.  You may need to find a storage box or basket, bookshelf and stylish table or desk that suits their style and their room.
  • Encourage your teen to make the work their own.  They should put their best into their work.
  • Add relevant extra subjects and skills to prepare them for life.  Cooking, learning to drive, washing & ironing, mending and sewing, fixing and repairing, accounting and budgets, volunteering, and working part-time jobs are all vital experiences at this stage.
  • Stay out of the way!  It is a time to learn to stand in the wings.  This has been hard for me and I have struggled feeling that I am not effective in my homeschooling and I not in control at times.

Our study/schoolroom is now a craft and creative space.  Our notice boards and educational posters are packed away and I hung up a pretty, decorative mobile instead of our educational ones.  Our current art is up and the relevant books are still on our bookshelves, but the room has “grown up”!

Moms, at this stage, you will have more time on your hands.  This is a perfect time to develop and grow yourself too!  You can include some creative hobbies, private work and new interests and goals to your days.  All too soon your teen will be independent and may leave the nest.  This is the season for you to prepare to be complete without your “homeschool mom” role.  As my last child enters this final stage of her homeschooling, I am aware of my days expanding to include things other than homeschool.  It is a new shift and change and it is good.

All in grace, Nadene

Sketch Tuesday ~ Something On A Tree

This week’s theme in Sketch Tuesday is ~  Sketch Something on a Tree

Here’s my sketch ~

20170131_143215 Last week I wrote about our family’s sketching and creative changes.  Although my daughters have become very involved in their own sketching and art work, I have decided to make a weekly Sketch Tuesday contribution one of my personal creative goals for this year.

Read Barb’s own creative goals at Harmony Art Mom – Creative Month January.

Here’s last week’s sketch ~ Art Studio

20170125_141012And the week before ~ Laundry

20170125_141037What about you?

If you would like to join Sketch Tuesday, pop over to Harmony Fine Arts and click the subscription box. and confirm the subscription email when it comes.  Each week Barb will email the slideshow and the next topic of theme.

See you at the next slideshow!

Blessings, Nadene


Homeschooling a toddler?

Many new homeschool moms seem totally stressed out and A.F.R.A.I.D.  Most the questions I read on my  Facebook groups seems filled with anxiety and nervous excitement.  Just take a moment and R.E.L.A.X.  You are going to do fine! And despite your best and worst efforts, your child will learn and grow up to be really capable and educated!

Especially for your child’s early preschool years you don’t need to buy a curriculum or do school-at-home.  Don’t think “lessons”, but think “life-learning” and aim to focus and facilitate where your child is most enthusiastic.
Recently a reader wrote and asked ~
“Dear Nadene
Last year August I decided to stop teaching and take care of our toddler.  I wanted to know if you did ‘preschool’ home schooling with your toddler or if you only did primary and high school with them?”
I thought back to my precious early years of homeschooling and wrote ~
Like you, I stopped teaching to be with my young child.  A few friends from our little church group started to meet one day each week for play dates with our young toddlers.  They simply played together.  Every now and then a mom introduced a fun activity like shaving cream or finger paint or play dough.  It was short, just a few hours in the morning, and included a little snack or lunch before we all went home for naps.

Over the years, we developed a very informal, yet precious preschool-type approach.  During our weekly get-together we planned our next week.  Each mom suggested an activity or volunteered to lead an activity.

During our weekly homeschool/playdate we would teach them a song, read a Bible story, do an arts or crafts activity, play outside, introduce ball or jungle gym activities, go on outings and play games.  It was a very special time in our homeschooling journey.  Our focus was to “teach” for a very short while and then let the kiddos play!  Again, it was just a short visit, from about 10:00am to 12:00.

Image result for sorting and countingI began regular preschool sessions when my daughter was about 5 years old.  We would sit together and read aloud.  I would then spend a few minutes to teach counting, phonics and/ or one other activity spread over the week such as matching, sorting, fine-motor activities, gross-motor games, creative play with different materials and art mediums.
You do NOT need not purchase any curriculum for preschool!  I used some educational games I had already and gradually added a few more each month or so.  There are tons and tons of ideas on the Internet!  You could spend a few hours looking for games and activities!  Don’t get overwhelmed!  Be careful whenever you hear “should have”.  Simply do what you can, as you can, when you can.
You may find a list of skills a child should manage at each age a good prompt for the kinds of activities and skills you may introduce, but be led by your child’s readiness and your lifestyle.  Read some ideas here, here and here.
Do be careful not to try “do school at home” instead of naturally flowing with life and learning, following your child’s nature delight to learn and learn!  They love repetition!  They want the same songs and stories over and over!  They love to redo a skill until they master it, so don’t rush on to the next thing.
Take your time.
Enjoy the small moments.
Live life fully with your child and don’t be under any pressure to “do” the “right” things.
Wishing you every blessing in your precious journey with your child.


Nature Journal Inspiration

Every now and then I find fresh nature journal inspiration and here’s a fabulous blog I spent most of my afternoon browsing recently ~

Middlewood Journal

middlewood-journalHelen is a freelance writer and illustrator and a regular contributor to the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. She teaches weekly nature journaling classes and various workshops.

Her journal pages are filled with detailed sketches, all painted and labelled accurately, and her notes  and observational recordings frame her pages.  They are works of art and utterly inspiring!

middlewood-pageI added several of her journal pages to my Pinterest Nature Board.

Barb at Handbook of Nature Study wrote about her Nature Journal Goals for 2017  to include a weekly entry.  Barb’s children have all left the nest, yet her nature journalling is still an important part of her life.  She inspires me to make time to form creative, personal habits that feed and grow my love for the outdoors and nature.

What are your favourite nature journal blogs?  Do you keep a nature journal?  Why not stop and join your children in their nature walks?  Who knows, your nature journal could form a lasting habit!

Blessings, Nadene


Sketching Changes

img_20160803_130753383Any of you who have followed my blog for some time will know that for years and years my children and I have participated in Barb‘s Sketch Tuesday.  Almost every week I shared our sketches and created a wonderful portfolio of our work.  But over the past year, as my children grew up and became more independent teenagers, they no longer wanted to take part.

This was because they had become increasingly productive, independent artists.  Almost every single day they sketch, doodle, paint or create!  They have filled tons of books, pages and journals with amazing art and creativity.  In fact, their requests for any gift is usually sketchbooks, watercolor paper and art supplies.

They. are. artists. 

Last year I finally opened an Instagram account to share my art, doodles, homesteading and knitting and other creative activities that I enjoy.  I discovered Charlie O’Shield’s Doodlewashed.com and joined his monthly doodle challenges.  In fact, much to my surprise, a month or so later, I was Doodlewashed!

And so, for sometime, we haven’t taken part in Sketch Tuesday.  However, after reading Barb’s post Harmony Art Mom – Creative Month January, I decided to once again make Sketch Tuesday a regular part of my Mother Culture’s creative goals.

20150831_144954I share this post because Sketch Tuesday seems like a very innocent activity, but it yield enormous rewards!  I wrote about the advantages of regularly sketching, but I never imagined that it would produce such an incredible, lasting gift of creativity in all of our lives.

Do not despise any small beginnings.

Make space and time in your and your children’s lives for art, not for any end result, but for the simple joy of creativity. Join your children and sketch together with them.  It is intimate, relaxing and soothing.  It will recharge you as a mom.

If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you join Sketch Tuesday.

Creatively yours, Nadene

Unrealistic Expectations

2014-02-18-05-10-37I don’t know about you, but my kids cried a lot in my first year of homeschooling, mostly due to unnecessary stress that I caused .   I also found myself floundering under the weight of my lofty ideals and unrealistic homeschooling expectations.

Today I want to encourage new homeschool moms how to plan and prepare so that you don’t burn out, feel discouraged or think that homeschooling doesn’t work for your family.

Plan Big

By all means, plan your homeschooling with lofty goals, aims and high hopes.  Then pray, and break it down and hone in on just one area at a time.

Introduce new routines, skills, subjects or approaches slowlyGradually encourage your children to learn and master these before adding another.

Practical Preparation

I love being practical!  (You get my blog name, right?)  I have found that if I express  my expectations the night before, my children do better the next day.  This is especially important if there is some level of anxiety about the coming activity or event.  Children can visualize themselves and plan how they will respond and react.

Here are very normal, everyday suggestions that can help elevate your homeschooling routine and prepare your family, especially after a break, illness or life interruptions:

  • Explain clearly how the next day will unfold and what will happen and how you want your child to respond.  Answer any questions and discern if your child needs to talk about their fears or anxieties.  Reassure your child with gentle encouragement.
  • Set up a specific routine for your day the night before.
  • Ease into good meal times, bedtimes and daily habits so that your days flow more smoothly.
  • Lay out breakfast and the school area ready for the new day.  Nothing throws good plans out like early morning chaos and confusion.
  • Avoid your cell phone, social media, answering phone calls or accepting interruptions.  These kill smooth, flowing, productive  homeschooling.
  • Use a timer.  Keep lessons and chores short and sweet.
  • Use music.  Nothing sets the tone of the activity quite like music.  Use soft, sweet background music for quiet times and activities that require concentration, and music with a beat for action and fast activities.

Be Specific

  • Habit training is your best friend!  Train your children in their routines, chores and activities so that your days flow smoothly.
  • Explain the details of your expectation, e.g.:

In 5 minutes, when the timer rings, we are going to pack up your toys and get ready for bathtime.”

Set the timer and prepare for bathtime.   Then, when the bell rings, help your child clean up with a song (we loved Barney’s ‘Clean up’ song) and quickly move on to the bathroom.  Moms, you must be ready and available to execute the routine with your children until they can do this with a simple prompt. Your expectation should be gradual, but you are aiming to eventually give a one word prompt like “Bathtime” and set this in motion without explanations, repetitions, remonstrations or refusals.

This will work for school too.  “

“After breakfast and morning chores, I would like all of you …. on the couch for storytime/ … at the school room starting …./  …. dressed and ready for ….”

  • For schooling, explain the activity and then show them exactly how to do it.  This is vital for handwriting, maths, spelling and new skills.
  • Help and encourage then through each step.  Repeat and work on the same activity for several days before expecting your child to do it with more confidence and independence.  For some children this may take a long time, especially in some subjects.  Put your mind at ease and simply continuing tutoring and gently urging your child through their fears.  (I had to tutor my junior high schooler side-by-side through almost an entire year of maths, but when she started her next grade, she worked independently and only called for help when she needed it.)
  • At first each subject requires your hands-on, detailed approach, but gradually your child will learn and master the work or activity and only need your quiet presence next to him/her as they learn to work more independently.

Build up

I recommend you do not start your homeschooling expecting to do the whole package.  Ease into the full curriculum gradually adding one or two subjects each week over a month.

  • Grow your expectations gradually, e.g.: if you want your children to do their work independently, first start with a hand-in-hand approach and do it with them.  Then tell them that the next time they will do it on their own, but that you will be there with them.  Only when they are working correctly and with the correct attitude, can you back off and allow them to work independently.
  • Whenever your child hits the wall or has some block, go back to where they last mastered the work and try another approach or substitute another method.
  • If your child is fearful, stressed or uncertain, take a break from the written work and do something practical, concrete or hands-on.
  • If you or your kids keep failing to achieve the goals you had in mind, stop and ask whether your children are ready and mature enough for the expectation.  If not, ease off and start at the point where they can master the activity.

Attitude Adjustment

Real parenting and homeschooling work is in addressing your child’s attitude.  This is by far the most draining, difficult aspect, and will require grit and determination to stay on point, encouraging and admonishing their best attitude and response.

Many of my homeschool days seem “wasted” with character issues that we addressed.  Often parents feel that this is a burden too hard to bear, and they feel like a failure.  But it is ultimately is our responsibility.  It may seem easier to “send them to school” than to work on the underlying issues, but this is the most important reason we chose to homeschool!

Poor attitudes may only rear its ugly head in your child’s teen years, but always address attitudes while your children are still young.  Do not accept their bad moods, negative talk and sulks and tantrums.

State your expectations in the positive,

“Next time we do (whatever activity) … let us be really positive/ cheerful/ and do our best …  / or … Next time this work makes you feel really (name the emotion) …. call me and I will come and help you and we can work on it together … /  Tomorrow when we start … we are going to (be specific and positive)  …. “

Again, in my first year of homeschooling, I disciplined my children far too much and  I expected immediate changed hearts and attitudes, but found that this didn’t happen.  I quickly realised that I needed to pray for Godly wisdom, search for alternative approaches and find the underlying causes for negativity or rebellion.  Parenting is done on our knees, isn’t it?

Fresh Beginnings

You can always start again.  When we had epic meltdowns, or fail days, I would encourage myself and my kids that we would start again the next day.  More than once, we simply stopped our work and we cuddled together to read aloud from our favourite reader, or went on a nature walk or did some Fine Arts instead.  Most new days start with hope.

The Lord is so gracious and meets us with fresh mercy and grace each morning!  Begin again in hope.  Just start small, work slowly and keep moving towards your expectations.  Don’t give up!

In Grace, Nadene

Standing in the Wings

img-20160513-wa0002A precious friend and veteran fellow homeschooling mom of young adult and teen children shared her thoughts about her changing role in her children’s lives as

“Standing in the Wings”

It is such a lovely view of a homeschool parent of young adults and teens, that I thought about my own shifts and changes from this new perspective …

No longer stand centre stage

When I started homeschooling my toddler, I enthusiastically led our homeschooling  with dynamic activities and creative ideas .   I was very involved, very focussed, and very much in the spotlight.  My children, although the stars of the show, moved according to my directions, followed the scenes I laid out and progressed according to my timing and planning.  It took a few meltdowns, both theirs and mine, to learn to relax and follow their lead and let them learn at their pace and in their own way.

By the time they started primary or middle school I learnt to ask my children what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to present their learning — to tailor-make their learning.  I moved out of the spotlight and enjoyed seeing them make their learning experiences their own.

This is vital when raising teens.  They want their parents to fade into the background and not be centre stage.  It is a humbling experience to realise that our best efforts are sometimes intrusive and offensive to emerging adults.

Back off gracefully and yet be present and available.  For me, this is a humbling and sometimes uncertain role.

Stand in the wings

 As we move off centre stage we find ourselves standing in the wings.  I realized that much of what makes a play a success is due to the people and their roles out of sight, behind the curtains.  How does this apply in homeschooling young adults?

Lighting …nothing on stage can be seen without good lighting, and lighting often adds to the mood and tone of a scene.  The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  We should share the Word with our children.  As parents we have a better overview and can guide our teens through their turbulent changes and decisions.  We can be effective sounding boards and encourage our teens to hear from the Lord themselves.  I have learnt to answer their deep and probing questions with, “What does your own heart tell you?”

Prompt … Someone who knows the script is standing ready to whisper the forgotten lines or cues to an actor who may flounder on stage.  We back up our teens with prompts to prepare for exams, take the time to help them practice skills needed such as driving lessons, or preparing for job interviews.  We back them up and champion them in their endeavours.  They should always know that we are there for them unconditionally.

Props … all those items needed to set a scene or provide reality to the acting.  We should provide the opportunity for teens to shine in their own abilities, to discover their talents and passions.  Give teens real life skills and provide the necessary materials, lessons, experiences, and opportunities.  Give teens the tools to learn to bake or build a computer, start an online business or venture into an entrepreneur projects, learn to drive a car or sew with a overlocker … these are valuable skills and experiences that can open options for a job or a career.

Our children are the stars of their own lives.  Homeschooling teens is sometimes challenging, yet absolutely amazing!  I stand in awe of who my young adults are becoming!  They are emerging and developing into beautiful young women!

I am so grateful for the mentorship of fellow veteran homeschoolers, dear personal friends, as well as wisdom gained from those who share with others via the Internet.   What advice can you give parents of teens and young adults as move towards independence?

In Grace, Nadene