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Homeschooling Teens

Homeschooling high schoolers strikes fear into even the most dedicated homeschoolers! They worry, "What about physics?" "How can I teach economics?" "I don’t know calculus! How can I teach something I don’t know myself?" And besides, "How can they miss the prom?" and "What about team sports?" The biggest concern may be, “Will my children be able to get into college?” Girls reading

There are answers to all these questions and they are not as difficult as it might seem.

Of all people, Latter-day Saints should be the least concerned about teaching subjects they know next to nothing about. When we are called to teach church classes we are not expected to be experts in every lesson we teach. We learn right along with the students. One of the best things about homeschooling, I have heard many moms proclaim, is that we get to actually learn all the stuff we forgot (or never learned) from our own school days. And if a subject really is over your head or you don't have the time or desire to learn it, there are always alternatives. Many high school textbooks are self-directed and there are online courses, tutors, DVD and TV courses, and city and community college classes available. Some support groups have classes for teens where the parents take turns teaching so moms and dads with particular expertise can teach the teens of those who aren’t as adept in that particular area. You don't have to know everything to homeschool your teens!

First you need to find out the requirements in your state. Some states require specific subjects for high schoolers. For instance, the following subjects are required to be offered in high school in my state: English, math, social sciences, science, fine arts, health and physical education, foreign language, applied arts, vocational education, and driver education. To find out the requirements in your state, look online for a state homeschool group or the Department of Education.

Even if your state doesn’t require them, you may have certain subjects that you feel are important or topics that your child is particularly interested in. Discuss with your teens the plans they have for the future and decide together what they will need to do to accomplish those desires. In our family it is important to study economics and the United States Constitution in high school so I have included those subjects as our social science/math courses. We read the text together and have discussions about the principles we learn and how they are working today. There is a complementary test booklet, videos, and activities available also. We try to incorporate field trips when possible.

One of the biggest worries that parents have about homeschooling teenagers is whether they will learn enough to qualify for the university they desire. There was a time when universities were reluctant to accept homeschoolers, but that memory is fading fast. Some universities actively recruit homeschoolers now. It is still important to find out the admissions policies for the universities your child is interested in though because not all of the universities have caught on. However, a common solution to this problem is for teens to attend a local community college first and then transfer to a university later. This alternative keeps youth home longer, is cheaper, and works well for most families.

My youngest child started college at age 16 as concurrent student at the local community college. In California, high school students are permitted to take college classes for free tuition. Each college has different rules about accepting high schoolers. If you are interested in this route, you will have to do the research for your college. Many times information is available online. girl writing

While parents are worried about college, the youth are worried about socialization. Teenagers do seem to have a higher need for social functions. That need can be met within a homeschool framework with just a little effort. There are many homeschool support groups available, and more and more communities are starting homeschool sports teams and organizing homeschool proms. If yours isn't, don’t be afraid to do it yourself! Let the youth themselves do most of the work. Advertise for help online or in homeschool publications. There are also opportunities for teens to get involved in other outside activities such as community service, city teams and classes, church activities, 4-H, Scouting, and Community Theater to name a few. Many homeschool groups offer special activities for teenagers. You may have to go out of your way a little to find wholesome activities for your teenagers, but it is well worth it. Be willing to make sacrifices to make it happen.

Despite the fact that there are many resources available, it is not always easy to homeschool teenagers. It can be quite challenging and draining for parents whose teenagers are not cooperative or motivated. In the end, it is up to the youth themselves whether or not they will succeed. You can only do your best and pray that they will have the desire to follow you. Don’t panic if your child doesn’t learn everything you had in mind. We are all continually learning and your children will be no different. If they don’t learn something they need in high school, they can still learn it afterwards. There is no end to learning. ~Michele Everett

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