To inspire your teens to become more independent, involve them in the long-term goal-setting process that should occur before high school starts and again each year during high school. They need to think deeply about what interests them, what they want to accomplish in their lives both in a general way and specifically, and what commitments they are willing to make in order to reach those goals. You can help them in the brainstorming process, you can remind them of their gifts, and you can pray for them. In the end, however, they should be the ones who make these choices, as they will be the ones who must live with them.

(For more information on the self-teaching method, see “The Secret to Homeschooling Freedom,” parts 1-3, by Joanne and Lauren Calderwood in the Jul/Aug ’07, Sep/Oct ’07 and Nov/Dec ’07 issues of Home School Enrichment Magazine.)

Shared Core Studies

I fell naturally into the third element I have used through the years, one that has helped me enormously in my efforts to homeschool so many kids across a broad age range. My kids, from kindergarten-age right on up to the high school seniors, all study the same core historical theme each year. Of course, they study the topic on varying levels. We don’t all sit down every day to do craft projects together, but some of us do. We don’t all make costumes and cook recipes that correlate to the time period we are studying, but some of us do. We don’t all write 20-page research papers on the topic, but some of us do. Studying the same theme means that we are all learning about the same people, events, trends, and ideas, so we discuss them frequently, having many common points of reference, and we create many fun memories together.

In addition to our main theme, my high school kids often study a secondary history topic on their own in more depth. For instance, if we are covering modern US history, a teen might follow a tangent and delve into the Depression era in more substantial ways. This method works with our science theme as well. Whether my high school students are studying Astronomy, Botany, or Chemistry, they are covering the same topic as the younger kids, but with more advanced reading, writing, and experiments required of them. If my teens are particularly science-oriented, as was my oldest son, they can take classes (such as a four-semester Physics series) at our local college.

Centering our studies on a common history theme has been a big advantage for our homeschool. My children’s writing, whether they are in 2nd grade or 11th grade, flows from their history studies. We don’t have nonessential busywork papers to do, so there is less time wasted. Our days are full but positive, relaxed, and enjoyable, and we all feel connected through what we are learning.

Homeschooled high school students who are blessed to live in a house full of other kids face many challenges. Yet crying babies also let our teens slow down, read, and pray as they rock our little ones to sleep. Toddlers encourage our teens to relax, play, and just be a “kid” again. Tweens give our older kids the opportunity to be teachers and role models, and they will all benefit in future years from the long-lasting friendships they are forging now. Lastly, teen siblings usually make sure everyone learns the valuable art of compromise.

Organization, independence, and shared core studies can help the large homeschool family to flourish. These elements lead to homeschool graduates who are enthusiastic learners, teens who know what they want to do with their lives, and young people who understand the importance of a plan and the value of a family. 

Kim Lundberg is the busy mom of 10 great kids. She and her family have been homeschooling for 16 years, and they make their home in beautiful northern California. Kim enjoys teaching drama, writing, and world history classes, as well as reading mysteries, baking goodies, camping, and listening to her kids talk, sing, and make music.

This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Get more great homeschooling help by downloading our FREE report entitled “The Secret to Homeschooling Freedom” by visiting