By the time your children reach high school, you should be involving them in the planning process for homeschool. Especially if they have been homeschooled for several years leading up to senior high, they need to be given ownership of their studies and allowed to have a say in the what, how, and when.
Explain to your child the high school graduation requirements for your state: what credits are required, which are optional, and the different ways to measure credits (course work or hours spent). Do some negotiation and find out what your child would like to do to fulfill the requirements.
Even though the four years are mostly defined by your state, you still have great flexibility in how you earn those credits. Does your child prefer traditional textbook courses or individualized, real-life experiences? Is online learning, outside tutoring, or dual enrollment something your child would benefit from? What kind of budget to you have to work with? Lay it all out and let your child have a say.
You might think that you already have a great plan for high school so you don’t need input from your teen; you need compliance.
This is a short-sighted perspective. I even go so far to say that it is wrong. In most cases, you are doing your child a disservice not to allow her input in the high school planning process each year.
1. Self-esteem and Control
People are happier and more confident when they have a sense of control. If learning is something imposed on a teen from outside, it is not as enjoyable as something she has control over. None of us like to be forced to do something.
Teens hate being treated like children, and they will act out in rebellious ways if they feel they are not respected as individuals. Letting them have a say in homeschool decisions is a safe way to allow them to express autonomy.
2. Family Relationship and Contented Kids
Teens need to know that their parents value their opinions and are willing to act on them. Acknowledging your high schooler’s choices smooths family relationships. You are not the dictator-parent that so many teens perceive their parents to be. You are a wise guide and mentor who encourages.
When you offer control of homeschooling back to your teen, you are increasing her potential for enjoying her studies. And happy homeschooled teens make for a happy home overall.
3. Independent Learning
We all say that we want our teens to learn independently, but do we give them the tools they need to make that happen? The first step in learning independently is choosing the subject, the method, and the resources. Even if you offer your child two choices of textbooks, you are providing more ownership in the process and empowering your child to be an independent learner.
The more control of the decision making process you can offer your child, the more likely he will be to enjoy and to excel in those studies.
4. Adult Decision Making
We all want our children to grow up to be responsible adults. But that transition is not an overnight one. It is a gradual development from making good choices in small matters into being able to decide about huge, life-altering choices. If you never give your child room to make decisions while under your protective umbrella of guidance, she will lack the practice needed for bigger choices when she is on her own. Don’t cripple your children this way.
Negotiating the high school plan is a great way for teens to see how problem solving works as you weigh options and evaluate pros and cons. Maybe your plan will need to be revisited and modified mid-way through the year. All of that process is part of learning how to make good decisions. Teens need to be part of it so they can repeat those skills in college, in the workforce, and in daily life.