Letter 11 – Teens

Letter to myselfHere’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mereminding myself, and, hopefully encouraging other new homeschoolers,  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~

Dear Nadene,IMG_20151224_194701

 Do not be afraid of the teen years!

When you start out, you may feel that you can cope with teaching your toddlers and middle schoolers, but may quake at the idea of homeschooling high schoolers.  Actually, be honest, you are scared of parenting teens …

Teaching high school maths isn’t really that difficult.  Remind yourself that if you have passed matric and have a diploma and a degree … you can do algebra and physics … or scratch pencil on paper until you have worked it out …  And if you can’t, you can find someone else to tutor your teen.  In fact, a tutor might be an excellent solution to the mom-teen-tensions and struggles!  I have heard many, many prospective parents refuse to consider homeschooling because they fear they will fail to teach high school subjects.  You don’t have to be a qualified teacher to homeschool your high schooler.  You are their facilitator and tutor.

Another huge shift is to sit next to your child and collaborate with their schooling choices.   This is very important.  Give your teen choices and work through options together.  From the simplest decisions like when and where they want to work, what format of notebook they will use, to how to study for exams, to what subjects they need and their career options. 

Don’t be afraid to set simple boundaries and insist on disciplined work.  Include dad in these discussions so that your teen doesn’t play one parent up against the other.

Create accountability sessions where you check your teen’s progress or sign off work.  Use a record of work page, a Homeschool Tracker or calendar to meet the course deadlines.  If you don’t, best prepare yourself for some serious delays, forgotten subjects, or even a course that simply doesn’t work out!  And if when it happens, you will learn how to take a deep breath and start over with a better plan of action.

Encourage entrepreneurship and provide opportunities to experience real-life and new adventures.  Develop their potential in creative and career exploits.  Meet with others who can affirm their passions and develop their skills.  Give them increasing independence and expect them to mature and become responsible. 

Remember that your teen goes through emotional rollercoaster days and weeks … and need you to remain calm and in control.   Your teens will withdraw.  You will feel uncertain and insecure.  Here’s the BEST advice I have ever received ~ “Don’t take it personally!  It is not about you!”  (given to me by my darling 14-year-old a few years ago.)

Above all, maintain heart-to-heart relationships with your teen.  Be flexible, available and gracious.  Hear their hearts.  Sit with them … listen … even if they don’t want to speak.  They feel so dreadfully insecure at times.  Listen to their music.  Chat to them about hairstyles and fashions.  Be open to new ideas!  Make tea or coffee dates and set aside special time alone with them.  Affirm them.  Champion them.  Have fun with them!

 I am so grateful for all these intimate, and challenging years with my daughters.  I would have lost this if they had gone to boarding school (our only option for our children going to public school.)  In these years of increasing and overwhelming peer pressure, homeschooling your teen is an enormous blessing! 

I am stunned and amazed by the gorgeous young women that my daughters are becoming and I am so grateful that we have homeschooled all the way through. 

You can do it!

With hindsight blessings,

Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please, would you share yours in the comments?

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

Relationships – The Real Reason

AnotherWhat Works!” post ~ 

If I had to sum up the most rewarding aspect of homeschooling to graduation it would be that I could spend these important years of my child’s life in an intimate, rewarding relationship.  This was my real reason to homeschool in the beginning, and it remained the goal and core of our homeschooling to the end.

Here’s a few things that I learnt along the way ~

  • Teaching high school was not as tough as I anticipated.  Grade 9 maths is hard, but navigating those early teen hormone-overloaded emotional outbursts were tougher!
  • Teens need to be an active partner in making many decisions.  We sat together and figured out course and subject selections, career options, even times and hours of school per day … together.
  • Mom, you may not be able to teach it all.  Tutors or friends may have to help with subjects, advice, making decisions
  • Don’t take the refusals personally.  There were some times when I felt my daughters rejected me when they refused to take some of my Charlotte Mason subjects, or Bible study lessons (… yes … I had to lay that down … and it was hard …)
  • Teaching high school is very different to teaching juniors.  Those busy years with toddlers and active juniors doing fun hands-on activities etc. makes way to a whole spectrum of wonderful discussions, emerging thoughts, discoveries of God’s real calling and gifting …
  • Each child is different.  They may each require a completely unique curriculum or approach to their homeschooling.
  • Savour times together in their extra-murals and hobbiesEncourage creativity as a balance to the emphasis on academics.  For those sporty sorts, that is very important to include balance in every area of their lives.
  • Read aloud to your high schoolers!  Read the same novels that they are reading.  We thoroughly discussed our views about some great books during these high school years.  And remember that this is an incredible investment in their maturing writing skills.
  • Support them in their relationships.  This is a season for real testing regarding their values.  Many teens face enormous pressure and some are rejected for being “different”.  All teens are insecure about themselves at some stage.
  • Encourage entrepreneurial activities and interests.  Some teens develop excellent small businesses and begin to develop sound financial principles.
  • Don’t homeschool high schoolers in isolation!  This was perhaps our toughest issue in our homeschooling journey.  Our location and distance from friends made weekly meetings difficult.  Monthly visits were just not enough!

Many teens choose to forgo their homeschooling for the chance to socialize and learn with their peers in public schools.  And many parents feels insecure about their ability to adequately prepare and educate their children to graduation.  But, by God’s grace, we have stayed our course. I am aware that these decisions were never cast in stone.

In the end, I am so thankful that I could be with my teenager and journey with her through these formative years.

May you find ways to keep your child’s heart and grow your relationships!

Blessings, Nadene