Educating Teens at Home
- Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Several moms have asked me recently about homeschooling their high school age students. A similar thread emerged from their questions, and I'd like to share with you some of the thoughts that have been going through my mind lately. The general theme is this: Home education for your teenagers should still be conducted at the best, safest place--HOME.
A significant struggle faced by many parents (including my husband and I) who are home educating their high school students is the quantity of opportunities now available for homeschooled teens to participate in. In the early years of home education, families were isolated and yearning for more things for their teenagers. The opposite now seems to be true. From co-op science classes to community college, to charter schools, to all-day "enrichment" programs, it seems everyone is getting on the high school home school bandwagon. And, although some (though undoubtedly not all) of these things may be, at least in concept, excellent opportunities, there is a significant danger that we will allow all of these "good" things to rob us of the precious time we spend with our teens.
You may have these or similar questions: What should be my priority for homeschooling my teen? When there is so much available, what should we be involved with? Does my high school student need to learn everything that is offered? To answer those questions, simply ask yourself another: What is the purpose of your homeschooling? If it is to cram every available opportunity for knowledge into your already overwhelming life, then do it all. If your vision for home education is your student's relationship with the Lord first, and his/her relationship with you second, then all of these opportunities should be third--a very distant third.
Don't get me wrong--I want my teenagers (three at home right now) to have all the opportunities available to them, but within the education that the Lord has planned for them. So, we have carefully avoided being involved with too much. Once a week we have Bible Quiz team practice, and once a month we participate in our support group's Activity Day, with sometimes a field trip afterwards. That's it for schooling with others away from our farm. The rest of the time, we (as in my husband and I) provide our students' education in the privacy of our home. Granted, we do go into town for music lessons, the library, and groceries once a week, but fortunately our piano teacher is a home school mom who graduated her five boys and is in the next phase of her life! Oh, I would be remiss in not mentioning weekly church (that can be an everyday pull, too) and a monthly 4-H meeting, though we consider those "family" activities as opposed to "individual" activities.
Living 26 miles from town, with gas prices remaining high, has helped us enforce the fact that we stay home to homeschool. I am relieved that we do not live in the city anymore where I know all the opportunities to drive somewhere everyday would pull us from home and hinder our home education. I would encourage you, urge you, to look at your schedule for your high school student(s). Are you going somewhere every day? Do you spend more time away from home doing school than at home doing school? Do you homeschool in your car on your way to "educational" activities? It isn't my intent to judge anyone, as the blessing of home education is that whatever works for your family is what your family should be doing. But, I caution you that your vision for home education may be clouded by everyone else's vision. Just because your support group offers a physical education class once a week does not mean you should participate, unless it is something that truly benefits your child and his/her home education. Likewise, some families tap into the community college for learning. This is not a bad thing, as long as the parent still remains in control of the home education program, knows and agrees with what is being taught, and the learning is identity-driven (meaning it fits into how the Lord created your child and what He has for them).
In a materialistic, commuter world, we often get swept up in the going here and going there syndrome that much of the world thrives on. In doing so, are we teaching our children that they cannot be content and fulfilled at home? I am especially concerned about this for our outgoing, social daughters. Will they be content to stay at home to be their husbands' helpmeets, content home educating their own children someday? Or will they feel they need a job away from home? This is a difficult challenge for my own family, not just yours! Will my boys be content in a job that earns them what they need to support their family, but may not provide them with all the extras that most consider essentials these days, such as a new car parked in the driveway of a fancy house? Will they need to depend on a second income? Will playing team sports every day as a high school student carry over into Saturday mornings when they are adults and should be home giving their wives a break after a long week at home with their children?
These are tough questions that are all directly related to teaching high school at home. These are questions directly related to how much we leave our home for our children's education. We would all be wise to pray, with our spouses--and our teens--and seek the Lord in what He has for us as teachers, and our high schoolers as students. Let's find His balance of learning at home, and learning away from home. He created each of our children for His purpose and glory; He can show us what He had in mind when He led us to home educating them. Finally, may God bless you for home schooling your teens; those who honor Him, He will honor!
Shari McMinn lives in northeast Colorado on a dryland sustainable farm with her husband, Cary. She left a career in Commercial Interior Design to home school her children and become her husband's full-time helpmeet. Shari and Cary currently have 11 children, 8 of whom are still at home. Shari and Cary can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about homeschooling a wide range of children, adopting bi-racially, and managing a large family on a modest income.
This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com
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