I know that you are anxiously awaiting the newest edition of “What is on Tressa’s mind today?” I am sitting at the table and watching once again my son do his school work. I did manage to do a little more laundry (yes, I still have some), and even swept the floors. All is not lost. I have been thinking about these high school years. I have been reflecting on these past years and wondering if homeschooling my kids through high school was the best decision. I go back and forth. Some days I think school could have been very beneficial, and some days I am so glad that I pushed through. Honestly, and you probably won’t hear this very often, I think no matter which way you go it all comes out in the wash.
There are a few things that I have learned now as I have pushed, prodded, cajoled, and dragged two kids through their high school years. I think my experience may be a little tainted because we had to move them across the country, but regardless, I learned a few things.
I remember when my oldest was getting set for 9th grade. That was 7 years ago. (Wait a minute. Did I just type that? 7 years ago?) I remember being terrified that I was going to screw everything up. I would ruin his chances of ever getting into college which would mean he would live in my basement for his entire life.
He did get into college. The living in the basement part still remains to be seen. However, high school did not end being challenging for the reasons that I thought. It ended up being challenging for different reasons.
I should probably clarify. It wasn’t challenging in the sense that I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t even terrible because I didn’t enjoy the work. I love Algebra, remember? It was terrible because it was hard. Really hard.
As I come to the end of another 4 years of high school with my daughter, I ask myself what it is about this high school thing that makes it hard. I have very good kids. Oh sure, they are teenagers with their teenager moods and drama, but overall, they are good kids.
You are scaring me, Tressa! What is it about high school that is so hard?
I can tell you it isn’t the parts that you think it is. It isn’t the transcripts. Those are a piece of cake. It isn’t the college search. Although, that can be a headache. I will tell you what makes it hard.
1. You have to do it. Every day. It has to get done. Remember the elementary years when you could skip a day to go to the park? It was Ok if you had a dozen errands to do one week because you can catch up easily the next week. Say good-bye to those days. It doesn’t work like that in high school. No one is going to like hearing what I have to say next, but if you don’t establish good habits in the late elementary years and junior high years you aren’t going to be able to establish them in high school. I am not saying that your kid has to love their school work in high school, but I am saying that they have to understand that they have to do it.
2. Sometimes it isn’t fun. Wait. A lot of times it isn’t fun. This goes back to my last point. If you have trained your child to think that their school work always has to be fun, you are in for a rude awakening. Maybe your child doesn’t like math. So what? I don’t like cooking dinner every night. Don’t fall prey to the lie that just because you don’t think you use Algebra in your every day life that your child is never going to need it. High school work can take a lot of time, and some of it is just plain drudgery. I am not saying that school can never be fun. We still laugh. What I am saying is don’t beat yourself up if your kid doesn’t like his school work. Maybe it is my fault that they don’t sing the praises of their daily work, but I am kind of over it. I assign work that I believe to be important. If their 16 year old, underdeveloped brain doesn’t get that, it is not my problem.
3. You are going to have to learn new things. Now, see. This was my favorite part. I am one of those crazies that loves learning. I read a lot. I love to learn about Chemistry. Difficult math problems are fun for me. When my son was working through the Saxon green book, I had to teach myself a lot of the trigonometry concepts. I enjoyed it. Somehow my enjoyment did not pass on to my children. I am not sure why. I also had to learn a lot of Latin. I liked it for awhile until it got hard. Now, I am learning Greek because Freckle Face wants to learn Greek. I like it. I don’t love it, but my excuse is that I am over 40, and my brain takes a bit longer than it used to take. So, unless you plan on outsourcing your classes, which is a great option too, get your brain reading for learning.
4. Teens need to be busy. I think this is the most important one. It seems that as my kids grew older, there were less and less things for them to do in the homeschool community. Again, this could be because I had to start over in a new state, and I hadn’t “broken in” to the community yet. Programs at the museums, zoos, or science centers are usually run for the elementary age groups. If you want these kinds of programs, you will probably have to look hard for them. I know that 4-H is great, and so is Civil Air Patrol. These are a couple of ideas. Teens need to be in a social community. I know that we homeschoolers hate the “socialization” discussion, but teens need it. At least all three of mine have. I know that my kids would rather spend time with their friends than with me. This is not because they don’t think I am amazing. I mean, what is not to love? But, they need to develop a part of themselves away from me.
But, peer influence! Yes, peer influence. By the time your kids are 16 and 17 years old, they should have the skills to make good decisions. And even if they make a few bad ones, it is in the safety of your home. My daughter was pulled over the other night. She and her friend were on their way home from youth group. It seems she was driving with her brights on. The police officer told her that she was blinding everyone on the road and told her to have a good night. She was so worried that we were going to ground here. Imagine her surprise when we laughed at her until we cried. She made a mistake. She was safe. I suppose you could say that it was just a dumb one. Sure. But she learned something. Away from me.
I have found that the busier my teens are, the happier they are. If you are really worried about their socialization, find some things they can do- for example, volunteer work, a paid job, sports, youth groups, youth organizations, or make one for yourself. We started a coffee group as a way for teens on post to meet. They need a place to be who they are without their mother hanging over them.
As I reflect, I do realize that I have been able to have some wonderful conversations with my teens. They still make me crazy. I KNOW that I make them crazy. Homeschooling the high school years is rewarding and exhausting. Would I change it? Probably not. I wanted to write this because I believe that more moms find homeschooling high school more challenging than fun. We need more honesty in the homeschool community, so when homeschooling does get hard, we won’t believe that we are failures.
I will leave this for now. I have cookies to make. Pokémon club is at my house. Lucky me.