In my last column I talked about learning and the preschool/kindergarten child. I discussed
If teaching the preschooler and/or kindergartner has you shaking your head in frustration,
teaching the teen just might put your head into a spin.
The last two columns had us talking about how to teach the young child. When I talk to
homeschooling parents, in addition to concerns about teaching the very young many approach
homeschooling the teen with just as much trepidation. So I thought that this month we would talk
about teaching the teen or the older student.
All parents shudder as their children approach those teen years so for those of us who actually
attempt to homeschool them it seems to get even scarier. But it can be done and done well. And
it can be done enjoyably. It’s all about our approach.
Like the younger child, every teen is different. Some are in a constant state of change while
others seem to know what they want at a very young age. Some flit from activity to activity while
others remain constant in their interests. Though it may seem chaotic to you it’s just sampling the
world – and for the homeschooler it can be done unbound.The teen years are the ideal time to
explore a myriad of options.
Even though they’re growing up, many teens are not ready to choose their pat if life until late
adolescence and even later for some still. Homeschooling the teen offers the greatest opportunity
for flexibility. The teen literally can create opportunities that are tailored to their needs and
First of all just homeschooling “as usual”, for many teens, can still be the best course of action.
That process of learning independently, seeking their own answers to questions and studying
with family still works for many teens. However, if your teen is growing restless there are options
to build their interest.
Many teens are anxious to get that first job. Work is one of the most natural approaches to self
education for teens. Of course most teens are eager for the money that a part-time job brings but
encourage your teen to look fo the knowledge that a job brings as well. Even better is the job that
is connected to your teen’s ambitions for later in life. This is a great way to collect some “data”
for his/her’s work resume.
Volunteer work is great for both for experience and adult interaction. There is not better way for
teens to learn how to give back than to get out there and help out whether in a senior citizen
organization, hospital or a simple neighborhood clean up.
Another great learning experience for some teens is to take classes outside of the homeschool.
You might just find that many of the adult ed classes for adults are open to teens. Several
community colleges offer classes to teens in their junior and senior yea of high school, an
excellent way to round out their studies and interact with others outside the family. Typical
classes for teens might be drivers ed, foreign languages, art, music or dance. Though it might be
an expense, consider it an investment in your teen’s future.
Another exciting opportunity for the teen student is an apprenticeship. Though most
apprenticeships do not pay in cash, the knowledge and benefits of such are priceless.
Apprenticing is ideal for the teen who has a strong interest in a particular field. It offers the teen
some on the job experience and a chance to learn from those who are doing what your teen is
yearning to do. For apprenticeships you might want to check around your community. Inquire
with local businesses and any connections you may have. Though apprenticeships are out of
fashion these days, if you find the right fit for your teen discuss with the owner what you are
trying to accomplish for your teen. For instance, if your teen is an avid aquarist, the local fish
shop might benefit from his knowledge and ability to answer customer questions. Don’t forget to
emphasize the benefits that your teen can bring to their business.
Don’t forget the simple things too. For the teen who wants to become a chef, designate one day a
week for “cooking class” let them pick a recipe, shop for ingredients and put it all together. For
the future marine biologist, frequent aquariums and even find out if they have any programs
where teens can be marine biologists for a day. The way to pleasurable learning with your teen is
to help him or her find ways to pursue their interests. Help them find the key to themselves and
let them open the door to learning and exploration. It can turn out to be the best experience for
Listen to an Interview with columnist Christina Lorenzen about Homeschooling
Homeschool Legal Defense Association
Worldbook Offers a page with the typical course of study for children grades K-12
to help parents figure out what their child should be learning each year
Home School Transcripts
provides help to parents in putting together transcripts for college bound students