Highschooler Needs

I’m sure many homeschool moms feel insecure about homeschooling their child through the high school years like I do?  Coping with important subject and career choices, teenagers’ growing need  for independence, as well as their raging and extreme emotions can quickly bring a mom to her knees!  But let me encourage you to keep homeschooling to the end ~

  •  Accept the confusion and guilt as part of this phase.  You will feel like you didn’t do enough, that you failed in so many ways, but try not to dwell on that, because you have time for relationships which is the cornerstone of your reason to homeschool.
  • Feast your eyes on the amazing person that is your high school son/ daughter. Consider the many good things about that person, and recognize that you influenced some of that wonderfulness. Enjoy the person, cherish the moments, treasure the memories you are making.
  • You still have an impact on this wants-to-be-autonomous-but-still-needs-mommy child. It’s not too late to help them in preparing for independence by encouraging more and more responsibility and self-reliance.
  • Give them the space they need to test their wings while they still have the safety of home. Show trust where you can, and try not to hold the reins too tight. Easier said than done, I know…
  • Be physically affectionate.  Hug them early and often; when they wake up  and hug them before they go into their room for the night. Hug them in the middle of an argument. Hug them “just because” throughout the day.  It is impossible to hug too often!
  • Talk with them as often as possible, and better yet, let them talk to you about anything and everything. Avoid criticism or correction about what they say — just let them vent, or exclaim, or explain — and then you may nod and say “mm-hmmm.”  Give an opinion only when asked. Be available, and willing, to listen.
  • Expect their frustrations because they all sigh, fuss or yell, “why should I have to do this stupid school work”.  Try not to nag; it may be time to let them experience some natural consequences of not getting things done on time. When in doubt of how to respond, see #3 and #4.
  • You need to help and support your senior highschooler through critical transitions like writing final exams,  completing applications for college or university, or writing up their CV or resume and preparing for and attending job interviews.
  • Plan on celebrating graduation. Make it a big deal and celebrate, even if it is only a special family meal, eating out at a nice restaurant, or holding a small gathering for cake and photographs.

Enjoy your high school senior while you have them with you, and then watch them take on the world. It’s a wonderful thing to be part of.  I wish I could say that things get easier now, but I know that you are already aware that parenting is a lifetime endeavor.

Blessings, Nadene

Working Independently Yet Responsibly

A reader recently asked ~

“Do you have any ideas when dealing with boys?  My son (11) to be a different learner, wanting to be more independent and do things on his own, which I am fine with and would like to encourage, however he keeps putting everything off and doesn’t want to be told when to learn….”

Your son’s desire to work independently often occurs when children, both boys and girls, move into their tweens and teen years.  The trick is to find the balance between independence  and accountability.  

I believe that independence is given through trust that is earned by repeated responsible behaviour, and so my teen children gained more independence when they regularly worked up to standard.  

I have written several posts on High School and independence here and here, and the tips and advice that I share below applies to high school ages, but you can apply most these points to your independent learner, whatever his age.  Here’s what I found works for us ~

  • Collaborate and decide together what subjects/ topics/ themes/ courses/ or programs your child wishes to cover.  When you provide delight-directed subjects, he will definitely be more motivated.  He may still have to cover other compulsory subjects to meet your country/ state’s education requirements, but if the majority of his homeschooling focuses on his interests and passions, he should co-operate with you.
  • Plan and schedule his subjects and determine his goals and deadlines. Create a basic timetable and a year plan.  Once you schedule his chapters/ lessons/ and topics over each month, this will form your basic year plan.   You can plan your child’s work on  Google Calendar or Homeschool Tracker or in a Spiral Notebook.
    Google Calendar
  • Keep track and record his work. Provide your child his own checklist so he can keep track of his own work.  I use my year plan for my record of work and created space to write comments, marks and dates.
  • Allow your child freedom to choose what and where he wants to work, providing he achieves a certain standard of work.  (Lying on the floor or bed to work is fine for some subjects, but is not effective for written work.) Teens often want to work in their own rooms.  Privacy is important, but, again, they need to demonstrate their responsibility in order to earn your trust.
  • Be flexible yet consistent.  Independent learners should work at their most efficient times (maybe later in the mornings or in the afternoons), but they should work regularly.
  • 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.
  • Very Important — Schedule regular accountability sessions with your independent learner.  Start with daily meetings before schooling starts, to discuss the schedule and his assignments.  Sign-off his check lists and discuss and evaluate his assignments at the end of the day.  Once he has accomplished his assigned tasks correctly and independently, you can meet to sign off his work once a week. These accountability sessions should be friendly, but focused meetings.   They are essential to building trust in relationship so that he can work more and more independently.  For example, if a child skips work or produces inferior work, re-schedule the assignment for him to do/ redo.  It is good to sit side-by-side and talk about the work, rather than simply tick pages with a red pen.  Quite often these discussions are an excellent opportunity to evaluate your child’s understanding, their focus or ability.  I make notes in my record of work when we meet.   Please read Heather Woodie of Blog, She Wrote post Fostering Collaboration With Morning Meeting Time.
  • Mom, you need to be consistent.  Keep an eye on your child’s progress.  Don’t skip meetings or forget to have daily or weekly meetings, because, before you notice, your child may fall behind or skip work altogether!  I “dropped the ball”  when I lost track of our middle daughters’ progress in her first year when she worked independently.  If I skip weekly meetings, some tasks fall below the standard.  Children need regular checkups with the necessary encouragement or suggestions to upgrade and improve in their work.
  • Never stick to something that simply doesn’t work!  You can adjust the course as you go along.  Find alternatives such as a study group/  a tutor or an online course where there is conflict between you and your child.
  • Tailor-make your homeschooling to include a variety of subjects such as life skills and entrepreneur options.
  • Ensure that your independent learner avoids obvious distractions such as cell phones, social media notifications, computer games etc.  My hubby insisted that our children put their cellphones in our bedroom at night until after 2pm the next afternoon, so that they had undisturbed sleep and homeschool without temptations of constant online distractions.
  • Above all, maintain a heart-to-heart relationship with your child.  Remain interested and involved in your child’s interests, passions and friends.  Even though they seem to “push us away” in their desire to become independent, they still want and need us in their lives.  Listen to their music, watch their games and videos.  Read aloud to them, laugh with them, pray with them.  Despite your changing role, this is still the most wonderful, intimate way to educate your child!

Dear mom, your child’s desire to work independently is actually your goal!  Our role as homeschool moms is to facilitate our children to become independent.  We need to prayerfully and graciously learn how to move out of center stage and stand in the wings of our emerging young adults’ lives.

Wishing you much wisdom and grace as you work through your son’s transition.

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

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

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Shifts and Changes

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year, my dear readers, and praying much grace to each of you as you enter into all that this year holds for you and your family.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.tinybuddha.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Time-for-Change.jpg
It has been some time since I last posted homeschool news here at Practical Pages, and I really appreciate the kind, loving concern expressed by some of you.  We all well and trusting the Lord as we start 2017.  But there is a reason why I didn’t post much …

But about 6 months ago, I sensed some shifts and changes in our homeschooling.  And, in all honesty, I could not quite put into words what I was experiencing.   I found myself sitting alone in our homeschool study while my teens were doing their own schooling.   Somehow it felt so right and I humbly agreed to hand over more choices and decisions to my teens.

And it didn’t all work out perfectly. 

My confidence floundered as my 17-year-old approached the end of the year without completing any of her end of year exams as planned. She is using an online course and I could not assist her, nor figure out why she was not progressing as she should.  It even led to a crisis with my hubby who felt that I had “dropped the ball” in her education.  I shed many tears in frustration and a sense of failure.  Sigh.  Then I breathed deeply … prayed and trusted … and I hope that she will complete her course by May this year.

I sadly let go of reading aloud with my 14-year-old as she withdrew into her own space and pace.  I felt her resistance to my more hands-on approach and I had to form a new relationship where she could be accountable and I could regularly check her work and progress.

There has not much to show of all these shifts and changes on this blog … no pretty new free pages, no new free downloads nor wonderful words of encouragement …  and I have even pondered the future of Practical Pages.  Bear with me as I adjust my focus and find my new purpose and vision.

So as I enter into 2017, and as I gain some clarity and insight, I would like to share a series of high school homeschool encouragement that I need myself …

Until next time, bless you all.

Multi-potential-ite

A few months ago a good friend recommended a TED talk by  Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don’t have one true calling.

To quote Emilie,

“A multipotentialite is a person with many interests and creative pursuits.”

Not only did her talk ring bells in my heart for my own feelings … that I have always been a Jack-of-all-Trades-Master-of-None my whole life, but I could see why my own children were not necessarily able to chose a specific career path and embark on dedicated further study.  There are just too many areas of passions and interests to narrow everything down to one focussed study or career.

https://nuatexperiment.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/lego-man_0709_acp-syndication_large.jpg?w=381&h=226Our culture applauds devotion, dedication and specialization.  Our faith believes in having a purpose and a calling.  People easily identify a gifting.  So, in many ways, people look down on multipotentialites as time wasters, under-achievers, immature, or “wasting your talent”.  Others may even ask,  “What’s wrong with him/her?” especially when talking about young adults who are still exploring their options.

There seems to be accepted formula ~

  1. Know what you want to become when you are older  +
  2. Choose the subjects and study course to match this choice +
  3. Specialize +
  4. Graduate with a degree/s +
  5. Find and specific job in the career +
  6. Work in that field = SUCCESS

Many children and young adults feel stressed and insecure that they can’t define exactly what they want to do as a career.  Many homeschool parents feel that they have failed to encourage their multipotentialite child to study or excel in a specific area.   Parents of multipotentialites often wish they could feel secure about their young adult’s future and feel frustrated that their child hasn’t “found themselves” yet.

Very interestingly, Emilie describes 3 “superpower” strengths of multipotenialites ~

  1. Idea Synthesis – combining 2 or more fields and creating something new at the intersection.  Innovation and new ideas happens at the intersection.
  2. Rapid Learning – multipotentialites learn hard when interested,  they are less afraid of trying new things.  She says that it is rarely a waste of time to pursue something you are drawn to, even if you end up quitting, because you might apply that knowledge in a different way from what you anticipated.”
  3. Adaptability – the ability to morph into whatever you need to be in any given situation.   Some employers believe that adaptability is the single most important skill to have to thrive in the 21st century.

Contrary to schools, systems, institutions and “specialist” mentality, homeschooling  provides the perfect environment that allows the multipotentialite child the freedom to embrace their “inner wiring”.

In your homeschooling, encourage your children to be diverse, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers.  Provide opportunities for exploration, diversification and intersection.  Stimulate their curiosity.  Let them be discoverers!

Allow your child to let go of things they are good at to be able to explore other areas or skills.  No matter how gifted or talented your child is, do not make that their label or box, but allow it to develop, change or take a back seat in favour of new and diverse interests.  In the end, everything they have learnt and discovered becomes the fullness of who they are … multi-potential-ite!

Encourage your children (and yourself) to be themselves!

In Grace,  Nadene

Also Read “How to get over multipotentialite guilt and “wasted talent”

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Practical Tip ~ Senior Maths Cheat Sheets

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Senior Mini OfficeMost highschool Maths students need to have maths formulas, conversion charts, geometry formulas, number systems, order of operations, and other important Maths information at hand.  We called it a mini office, but some think of these pages as “cheat sheets”.

Over the years, instead of making a laminated file folder mini office, I simply place the pages in a page-protector display file.  We keep the file on hand and my high schoolers use it regularly.

You can find all my free Maths Mini Office downloads here.   Download yours for your highschooler.

Blessings, Nadene

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Figuring It Out

I need to whisper this …

I’m feeling insecure about highschool homeschooling …Exam stress

I’m trying to figure things out and I do not know quite how, or what or where or when …

I’m feeling unsure, uncertain and ill-equipped.

These moments are written in my homeschooling script, and it often feels awful.  You too, right?

Please ignore all my homeschool posts where you think that I have it all together.  I like to feel organized and in control.  I prefer to be one step ahead and prepared, but instead, I have found homeschooling my high schoolers to be a lot more complex and complicated.

They are complex and complicated at times, especially when they are transitioning through puberty.  Physical and emotional changes cause moods swings and their changed perspective (especially when they realise mom and dad are not perfect and definitely don’t know everything!) causes the simple and normal to shift off-kilter.  They are insecure and withdraw.  They think more and need time and space to mull and ponder.  They need peers and close friends. They need grace.

Homeschool is no longer about fun little unit studies, delight-directed learning or creative days, or reading poetry while lying under trees and or meandering on nature walks and journalling.  Now, academics has become an issue.   Correspondence courses, curriculums, subject choices, aptitude tests and narrowing choices. exams and qualifications all rear their ugly side –pass or fail!  And what about the question of what is the best option for their future?

Right now, our struggle is an online high school course that doesn’t “teach” the way my teen learns and she’s struggling every day and especially during her tests … and I can’t actually help her.  Yikes!  She’s frustrated, angry and afraid.  I’m frustrated, angry and afraid.  Not a good mix for serene homeschooling!  She hates failing some of her tests and she often feels unmotivated and depressed.  And while this is front-and-centre of our homeschooling, there are larger uncertainties that lurk behind the exams and passing or failing.  What next in her life?

I’m trying to figure it out!

And no one really and truly prepared me for this complexity of this phase.

There must be a formula, right?

Well, here’s a truth — I will have to figure out what each child needs at each age and stage.  Each child is different and we will have to navigate their academic and career choices and options.

There is no “right way” except to pray and ask the Lord for His wisdom and His purpose for each child.  I need to pray that I find grace to let my children become who they are meant to be and help guide them to fulfill their giftings and calling.  How can I best encourage their character growth before I stress about their qualifications and careers?  Matric (high school graduation) is just a stepping stone to their next stage.  What is my teen’s best options for further study or growth?

Each person is unique.  Everyone deserves to develop, to change, to start over.  I’m just figuring it out … and praying and trusting for God’s grace …

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Collaborate With Your Teen

Kate's art1When you give a child a choice you give them power.  From chosing their own clothes while still toddlers, to chosing subjects when they are teens, your child somehow feels more in control.  This sense of power is very motivating and positive.

Some advice I wish to give to homeschooling parents of older children is ~

Collaborate

  • Visit other homeschoolers and view high school curriculums together.  Try to discover the type of work load, assignments and testing/ exam approach the curriculum requires, and match that your teens’ strengths and preferences.
  • If your teen prefers studying with others, this may guide you towards a high school course that includes tutors and study partners or groups.  Also, if there is tension and stress in your homeschool relationship with your teen, a third-party tutor or group can provide the necessary motivation and encouragement for your teen.
  • Do online aptitude tests to discover potentials, strengths and definite “no”s.  We thoroughly enjoyed our experience together and had in-depth discussions on the results.  (My 16-year-old scored zeros for a career field in 3 different tests!  A definite option we could eliminate!)
  • Discuss career options and what subjects and graduation requirements are needed to study further.  Investigate which university or college your teens has considered when they graduate high school.  Gap year maybe … why? where? and what?  What are their dreams/ hopes/vision for life after homeschool?
  • Collaborate with your teen regarding their study hours, work space and scheduling.  My eldest loved to work early in the day and complete her studies before lunch, but when I had to tutor her, she had to wait until I had completed homeschooling my younger children.  This led to much frustration for her.  My middle teen is a very slow starter.  She only seems to find her spark towards lunch time.  I become frustrated with her if I don’t allow her the freedom to work at her best times in the day.  Let them chose and try facilitate the best options.
  • Tess' SewingAllow your high schooler to choose and develop their own interests and hobbies.  Teach them these skills.  Most our birthday gifts are materials and equipment for their hobbies. Teens need creative space and time to themselves.
  • Encourage your teen to earn money off their hobbies and activities.  This may develop into entrepreneur or job opportunities.  My eldest has already had diverse jobs  and this has provided her with wonderful life lessons, character training and valuable experience.

Allow your children to make good choices and allow the consequences to teach them those life lessons.  Let them try new things, and to change their minds.

Give them the credit when they succeed and give them courage to try again when they fail.

As your children mature, your role is to become less directive and more supportive.  This  journey is different for each teen, and you will grow and learn from each child’s experience.

Wishing you every blessing and much grace, Nadene

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Candid Conversations

Never underestimate the values you instill in your children while homeschooling!  You’ll see things emerge as they mature.20140606_095626

At the dinner table, we were chatting about types of conversations,  our discussion went on to compare public school teens versus homeschooled teens and my 16-year-old related these conversations ~

Public schooled teenagers more often than not talk about their peers,
“Did you see her new  …?” “Did hear about his ….?” “Have your heard about them…?”
Whereas one homeschooled teen chatting to another,
“Have you seen this artist …?” “Did you read about ….?”  “Have you heard this musician?”

Now, I know that this is a generalization.  My teens defend their opinions by telling me that they find many teen social occasions frustrating.  They dislike the mean school gossip, they question accepted values of the “in” crowd, they get bored with continual superficial chatter.  Somehow, after the introductions, they are drawn to meaningful discussions and sincere conversations.

They are not weird, unsocialized homeschoolers.  They are completely normal.  They listen to contemporary music, watch the same kinds of movies, dress fashionably ,,, yet they are unique, independent individuals.  Somehow, homeschooling allows for this freedom.

Isn’t this one blessing of homeschooling?  How do your children relate to others? Please share in the comments.

In grace, Nadene