Why It’s a Good Idea to Let High Schoolers Be Somewhat Independent

High schoolers are in a transitional stage where they’re preparing to be completely independent, and sometimes the doubled up parental dependence of both homeschooling and home life can be difficult for them. When I was in middle school, preparing to go to a private school instead of homeschooling already seemed like a much-needed escape. It’s for this reason that allowing a little bit of flexibility to a high school homeschool student can go a long way. For example…

Constricting Curricula

If you’re a homeschooled high school student and have been doing it for a bit, it’s likely you can tell what’s working and what isn’t working in your curriculum. Possibly, you can also spot what is and isn’t going to work, but don’t count on it. Either way, not every type of school work is going to teach one homeschooler as adequately as another.

As a parent or other teacher of a homeschooled high schooler, be prepared to take action if your student tells you they don’t think they’re learning anything from this or that subject. Or, more likely for a teenager, that they think the subject is “stupid.” Try not to pass this off as the student just wanting to get out of math…it also may be that they simply need to  learn it in a different way. And, as I’ve said before, it’s best to make changes to a curriculum before the start of a semester.

Cabin Fever

Pretend for a moment that you’re a homeschool student, but also a baby bird. You’ve been homeschooling in the sticks-and-hay nest for most of your childhood, and up until now it’s worked. But a mysterious spider – perhaps a Disney animated one – spins over to your nest one day and informs you about how great the outside world is. There’s friends to make, grocery store coupons to hoard, and angry people that exist outside the Internet. How crazy is that? It would make anyone want to experience this new world of possibilities and soul-crushing realities.

I’m not saying that homeschooled students are literally kept inside all the time like the ghost kids in “The Others,” nor am I saying that homeschooled students should necessarily have to enroll in a different type of schooling. But many parents are protective of their kids, and come high school, it’s definitely time to start loosening up.

For example: ever since I was about fourteen, I’ve been taking walks around my town every day. By all accounts, it’s improved my life and kept me from getting perpetual, self-replenishing cabin fever. If your student wants to go out and see the world a bit more, high school is the time to let them.

A Change of Mind

This is kind of the elephant in the room. I speak from personal experience here, and mean to offend no homeschool teachers. High school is a time when a student discovers a lot about themselves and what makes them happy.

By extension, I’ve seen quite a few high school homeschoolers up and decide that they’d rather go to a public (or private) school than stay at home. Alternately, some traditionally-schooled students try homeschool and decide it’s not for them. Whether it’s due to constricted social lives, frustrating siblings or any other number of factors, sometimes it’s best to let a homeschooled student get their feet wet in other waters. If your high schooler suggests this, you should probably at least take it into consideration.


June 26, 2012


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