Are you considering home-schooling for the first time with an older child? Are you worried about how things might go, if it will be rough getting started late in the game? My journey with home-schooling began when I was fifteen and a sophomore in high school. At this point in time home-schooling was almost unheard of where I lived in Upstate New York. Our family had dinner with a few families who were home-schooling before that first year but other than that I didn’t know any other kids my age who were home-schooled. Needless to say, that first year was a big transition for our family and of course for me personally. It was a strange feeling to hear the school bus pass by our house every morning; like I had some kind of instinct that I should race to the door the second I heard the loud bus engine approaching. On the whole home-schooling wasn’t bad. I was relieved I didn’t have to attend health class with the inappropriate teacher who was employed by the school primarily to coach football rather than to teach. Less pressure socially and academically all day long definitely made my life easier. Yet as I look back there are some things that would’ve made the transition easier.
- The freedom to create my own routine with the expectation to stick to it.
Ever since I could remember I set my own alarm clock, got myself ready for the day, made my own breakfast, packed my lunch and got on the bus on time. I was on my own from 6:00 a.m. every day till dinnertime. Suddenly when we started home-schooling all of that independence changed. The home-schooling program we were using emphasized the family learning together. That’s a wonderful concept to incorporate into a family but it can feel frustrating to a teen just getting the hang of what it feels like to be at home and not away doing what all the other tenth graders she knows are doing at school.
- A list of grade appropriate expectations and deadlines to complete them.
Compared to a school setting home-schooling can feel like free falling. There are no buzzers going off every 43 minutes to change classes, there may or may not be a grading system, and depending on the curriculum you are using there may or may not be any real time frames to complete your work. It’s easy to feel like you are just floating. If certain expectations are outlined and made clear to the student along with a general time frame the student will most likely feel more motivated to complete the work and have the satisfaction that they did in school when assignments were handed in on time.
- Scheduled time to connect with other home-schooled teens
Going from being around peers all day and suddenly being at home with just mom or with your own siblings instead of friends is a drastic change. Scheduled time with other kids in the same boat is vital to adjusting and making new friends. I remember feeling isolated and lonely because there weren’t other kids I saw regularly who understood home-schooling. Nowadays there are home-school groups everywhere. Reach out and find some groups your teen will be able to connect with every week.
- Regular Outings to Emphasize the Benefits of Home-Schooling
The flexibility home-schoolers have is a huge plus, especially for a high-school student who would love to experience life instead of being stuck in a classroom all day. Are there internships you could investigate, historical places you could explore, or vacations you could take to open your student’s eyes to the cool factor of home-schooling?
These are just a few ideas that might help with the adjustment period, but probably the best idea by far is to sit down with your child over an ice-cream sundae and find out what he or she thinks would work best to help settle into a new style of education.
Sarah Brutovski is a homeschool mom of three children. She grew up just down the street from where she and her husband are raising their family now in rural Upstate New York. When she is not teaching her kids, grocery shopping, or drinking coffee you might find her training for a half marathon, escaping for a morning at the beach, or chatting on the phone with one of her four siblings. Sarah loves writing on her blog sarahswritingcafe.blogspot.com and currently teaches creative writing at her kids’ weekly co-op.