I consider myself quite fortunate to still be in contact with most of the families I’ve worked with over the years. For this month’s blog hop I’m excited to share with you one special former student’s story. She’s 17 years old with a good head on her shoulders and a bright future ahead of her.
JR: What is the best part of homeschooling in your teens?
FS: I think the best part of homeschooling as a teenager is the freedom it allows me to choose my own activities and schedule. At this point in my education I feel like I am entirely in charge. I currently have a very busy schedule between community college, work and homeschool classes. Even though exterior forces, such as college admissions, may influence my decisions, and I carefully weigh the advice of my parents and other adults supporting me, I am the ultimate decision maker in how I will receive my education and spend my time.
The level of autonomy I have in my education may not work for all homeschooled teens, or their families. Throughout my childhood and middle school years I always had a lot of say in how I was homeschooled, and I think this prepared me to take charge of my education this year when I returned to homeschooling after a stint in traditional school.
JR: What is the worst?
FS: I think homeschooling was the hardest in my tween/early teenage years. There were very few kids close to my age in my homeschool community, and although this led to very close friendships, it also led to extreme stress when those friendships were not going so well. Although I did spend some time with other kids in traditional school through dancing, it was often hard to connect since my life and experiences were very different. I think having a wider social circle would have eased the pressure on the relationships I had.
Currently I think the hardest part is planning and prioritizing how to spend my time. It can be difficult to create a sense of equilibrium between following my passions and also having a well-rounded high school record for colleges. I’d say the second hardest part is not having much connection with other homeschoolers my age since I resumed homeschooling.
Between friends from former schools and community college, I don’t lack for social interaction or friendship. However, there is definitely a stronger sense of divide than I expected, between the stresses/concerns my friends in traditional high school are facing and my own.
JR: What should parents of homeschooled teens be prepared for?
FS:When asking my Dad this question he quickly responded with
“Be prepared for them to be full fledged people with the skills and ability to understand the world equal to yours far sooner than you’d expect.”
However, with a little prompting he provided more pragmatic advice,
“Kids who are in regular school have their whole life scheduled for them. Often they neither have the opportunity nor are required to make choices for themselves. Homeschooled kids have to learn how to make choices about their education and how to manage their own lives and schedules at an earlier age than kids in regular schools. This is a whole separate set of skills. You have to recognize that they are learning these skills at the same time they are learning the “content” and plan your time and their time accordingly (which we’re not very good at yet.)”
When I posed the same question to my Mom she recalled the difficulty in making sure my brother fulfilled the requirements to apply to college (specifically the requirements for public colleges/universities in our state UC’s and CSU’s). Previously, school was mainly driven by interests and passions, making it difficult to transition into being more mindful about how to represent everything to colleges. Eventually he decided to attend public high school for his senior year. Looking back she wished they had planned more carefully throughout the earlier years of high school in general. Although she kept records to create a portfolio, they were not as comprehensive as they could have been which made it more difficult to piece together everything he had done.
I want to extend a love-filled “Thank you” to my former student and her family for their comprehensive and candid answers to my questions.
I’m proud to participate in the March Gifted Homeschooler’s Forum Blog Hop. Please take a moment to follow the link below and check out everyone else’s wonderful insights. The topic of this month’s hop is “Homeschooling and Parenting Gifted/2e Kids into the Teens (and beyond)”