Homeschooling Older Kids

“Go light on the teacher aspect of home education. Don’t be the nightmare homeschooling parent, the one who insists on researching the country of origin of every piece of produce in the grocery store. Yes, it can make you – the parent – feel good to point out the educational aspects of everyday life. Your teenagers will probably find such antics more boring than the school they just left behind.

Instead consider spending time on activities both you and your kids enjoy. You have very few years remaining to share the same household. Learning occurs as a by-product of fun events – like travel and playing games and cooking together and outdoor sports. Enjoy – and don’t sweat the small stuff.”

– Cafi Cohen, homeschooling mother and author

Homeschooling does allow us time to travel, play games, learn and enjoy living together as a family. Unfortunately, too often fear sometimes grips our hearts as our children get closer to the teen years. Little doubts begin to crop up and we wonder if they have done enough academically, will they be ready for college? Will they be able to get a job?

As many homeschool parents who are on the other side of the teen years know, they answer is that they can and will do whatever they set out to do. Just as we were there to enjoy watching them learn to walk, talk, read and write, they enter this time in their lives in their own unique way and we are along for the ride to love, nurture and help them find resources when and where we can. We hope these articles and resources will help you support the Homeschooling Older Kids in your life!

Articles on Older Kids

The Door is Open by Earl Gary Stevens “As children grow into their teens, some families worry that continuing with home education might be closing the door to college. They wonder if independent learning is more suitable for little kids than for teenagers and perhaps not very practical as a prelude to college admission. While college may not be the best choice for every person, none of us wants to eliminate the option for our children.

There exists a myth that the only way for a young person to be accepted into college is through building a record for compliant behavior in a secondary educational institution. This myth was exposed for many of us when David and Micki Colfax wrote about their boys being accepted into Harvard on the strength of their own efforts and on the lives that they had put together for themselves, as described in Homeschooling for Excellence.

The Challenge of Older Children by Eileen Yoder “Parents of older home educated children sometimes find themselves dealing with the question of school for their older kids. I wrote this piece hoping to provide some food for thought for these parents who have kept their children out of compulsory school programs, but, faced with the challenges of older children, are wondering if they should enroll their kids in school now. Perhaps they don’t feel equipped to handle the emerging needs of their older kids. Perhaps their kids, needing to work and play with others to hone their relationship skills and explore the world, may be wondering if school would be a good thing for themselves. It is a question that comes up for a lot of families. It is hard to swim against the current of our culture, even if you are pretty sure that it is the right direction for you.

I am deeply committed to helping families keep children out of compulsory schools. I feel clear that there is far more damage than good done in that disrespectful environment, and I speak from that bias.” -E.Y.

Self-Directed Learning by Cafi Cohen “Looking at journal entries like this, I realize that after several years of homeschooling (we began when the kids were in grades 6 and 7 and continued through high school), my teenagers had finally “made it”. They had achieved my primary goal in homeschooling: they had become independent, self-directed learners.

What does that mean? In our case, it meant that both Jeffrey and Tamara planned their schedules and made good use of time. Their activities reflected goals and priorities – both theirs and the family’s. Given good instructional materials, they could teach themselves. Most importantly, they had learned to locate their own resources (people, materials, classes, interest groups) in the larger community.”

Homeschooling and Teens Who Dislike School by Larry and Susan Kaseman “Homeschooling has the potential to contribute significantly to the lives of teens who dislike school and even change their lives, especially when their parents and others recognize their strengths and the legitimacy of the their reasons for disliking school. Developing an alternative for teens is a lot of work but pays rich rewards to teens and parents. Homeschoolers who support families in this situation also help prevent homeschooling from being seen as an escape for teens who dislike school.”

Older Kids – Decompression – Frequently Asked Questions by Cafi Cohen “He just won’t do anything!” say the parents of teenagers who have just left school. Prior to beginning homeschooling, these parents have high hopes. They envision their older kids industriously attacking thoughtfully-selected curriculum, running a business, publishing a book, graduating early, and winning big scholarship money.

Some of those things may happen, but – in the first days and weeks and months of homeschooling – reality bites. Most new homeschooling families with teens deal with an adjustment period I call decompression.”

Older Kids Do-It-Yourself Group Activities for Teenagers by Cafi Cohen “Okay, you are sold. You are ready to organize or at least supervise a teen activity. But your teenager is reluctant. How to convince him and others to participate? Here are some winning strategies:

  • Avoid the terms “support group” or even “homeschool group.” Simply begin an investment club or musical group or a newsletter.
  • Get ideas from your teenagers. One support leader said that she never initiates an activity unless The teenagers suggests it.
  • Encourage one or more teens organize and lead, if possible.
  • Restrict the activities to older kids and adults. Find alternates for younger children.
  • Always include food. “Books and Brownies” sounds like more fun than “Book Discussion Group.”

Fly-Fishing to College; The Value of Uniqueness vs. Orthodoxy by Alison McKee “The college application process need not be as traumatic as it is often made out to be. I was gently reminded of this fact when Christian, our son, got yet another note from Kalamazoo College. This one asked for “written certification” of his high school graduation. The note alarmed Christian, and when he brought it to me, I must admit that I too felt panic set in. Was this going to be the loop-hole we had not anticipated, the loophole which would cause the college to withdraw its scholarship money and leave Christian out in the cold? I’d heard often enough of homeschoolers dickering with college admissions officers about discriminatory or seemingly unfair admissions policies and couldn’t help but wonder if, after having avoided such pitfalls, we were finally going to face the raging bull. At this point in the game I knew I was entirely unwilling to allow administrative details to cut Christian’s dreams short. We’d come too far.


Lillian Jones’s Best’s Teen Years, Homeschooling High School, College & Career Information
Articles and Links to information about high school years, colleges, getting into college, financial aid, CHSPE, GED, KLEP, and preparation for tests – as well as career information and opportunities other than college.

Homeschool Teens from the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers
Offers articles and resources for the teen years

Online Groups

AHA High School-College
Ask questions about homeschooling through high school and college – or share your experiences and resources with others who may be seeking help.

Apricot Pie – Giving older homeschoolers and homeschool graduates a voice

Homeschooling High School
A discussion list for parents homeschooling high school students, 9th-12th grade. Parents of 8th graders are welcome so they can start planning for high school. Only topics related to home schooling high school are allowed on this list.

Vegesource Homeschool High School Board

Click this link to explore more resources for Homeschooling Older Kids.

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One Response to Homeschooling Older Kids

  1. Clair Hoogland on October 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    With cuts in school, there are possibilities to maintain the standards, thus putting an end to important educational and social experience!

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