There is something about the Highschool years that can bring anxiety to even the most laid back homeschool mama. What seemed manageable before can suddenly feel overwhelming. You can begin to believe that you are not adequate for this huge responsibility!
I am here to tell you… stop that train right now before it runs off the track! Homeschooling highschool does not have to be scary. In fact, it has the potential to be one of the very best part of your homeschool journey.
Delight Directed Learning in Highschool
My philosophy on homeschooling teens has its roots in personal experience. I was thirteen when my mom pulled us all out of public school and began homeschooling. My life abruptly changed as I began spending my days reading books and exploring the things that interested me, while doing a little bit of traditional subjects on the side. Overnight I entered into the world of Delight Directed Learning and I loved it.
Four years later I suddenly decided I’d like to try college. Since I was the oldest child, my mom had never walked this road before and I’m sure she wondered how things would go. I hadn’t done any testing during these highschool years and had not even completed a single curriculum; just spent hours reading books, writing for fun, discovering the world around me and doing a little math here and there.
In our state a GED was the alternative high school diploma. I checked out a GED study book from the library that I started to go through (and felt pretty overwhelmed by!) and a short time later went in for the test. To my surprise I passed with a high enough score that I was eligible for a scholarship. In this way I began a college experience that would end with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with high honors awarded for my GPA.
My own homeschool highschool experiment had ended triumphantly. I walked away not only with a degree, but also with the confidence that a delight directed education can actually work.
Fast forward 17 years later. I now have three teens of my own and am right in the middle of the highschool years. I am now able to customize an education for each of my (very different!) children and allow them the space and time to pursue their passions.
Too much academics?
I recently spoke with a woman whose homeschooled children are now in their twenties. She shared with me some of the things she’s glad she did during those years, and also a regret: “I wish I had been more laid back and let their interests determine things that we studied”.
It turns out that those young adults had a highschool education that was so academically rigorous they didn’t have much time to explore and discover the things that interested them, and they are now unsure of what they want to do for a career of their own. They are full of knowledge but lacking direction.
This was very affirming to me in the choice I have made to homeschool my kids in a way that was similar to how I had been. That is, letting their interests take the lead.
Homeschool Highschool While Looking Forward
By the time my kids get to the teen years I have been observing them for over a decade. Perhaps you haven’t been homeschooling since the beginning and you are just now intentionally paying attention to how your kids learn and what things make them come alive with enthusiasm. Become a student of your child. Take the time to really study them. This is the first step in guiding them through the highschool years.
Although I continue to have my teen practice the basic subjects, I resist the urge to pile on more work and more curriculums as an effort to feel like we’re really taking this highschool thing seriously. These are precious years where they have the time and support to explore interests that may turn into a future career. When we allow them to utilize this, there is a greater chance that they will enter adulthood with a vision that was inspired by the giftings God placed inside of them, and a love for learning plus the confidence to teach themselves. This combination is dynamite! It will carry them through any challenges that may stand in the way as they move towards their goals.