Let's just get this out in the open: there are some things that can get harder when homeschooling older kids. Here are five of them.

Homeschooling Older Kids: 5 Ways it Can Get Harder

The Hmmmschooling Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. You can view our full affiliate disclosure here.

As luck would have it, we’ve been at this homeschooling gig for awhile. We’re now entering the high school years, and while I don’t want to change the path we’re on, I can definitely admit there are some things that can get a little harder when you’re homeschooling older kids. Here are five of them.

(Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post.)

1. School work: when homeschooling older kids, it can be more difficult and less fun—for both of you.

“Honestly? It’s just not as fun. Am I allowed to say that?”

When you start out, homeschooling is super fun, right? Exciting, even.

Plus, it looks good in pictures.

A fellow homeschool blogger once joked that she’d lose all her social media followers if she posted pictures of what her teen kids were actually doing most days while homeschooling: sitting at the computer, doing online work. Or research. Or coding.

Let’s face it—a picture of the back of your kid’s head at a computer or doing book work is not nearly as exciting to look at as a picture of your kid doing a cute craft project.

As kids get older, school work can become more intense. It’s not as “fun”.

And yes, I think you—parent and child—are allowed to say that.

Let's just get this out in the open: there are some things that can get harder when homeschooling older kids. Here are five of them.

“I’m out of ideas.”

When you start off homeschooling, it seems like the whole world is wide open. And when you’re on fire right out of the gate, it can be easy to over-do.

Problem is, ten years later you’re trying to find things the kids haven’t done yet, and struggling with how to study new things in a hands-on way that doesn’t seem beneath them.

2. Homeschooling older kids sometimes takes more money.

“The kids get older and homeschooling gets more expensive. I think it’s just one of those things.”

I felt like when my kids were younger, I could cobble things together for very little money to help my kids learn and explore. However, the older they get, the more specific their interests or needs are—and I can’t always find those materials for cheap.

When your child’s interests or abilities expand past what you can teach them, it means finding classes or tutors or different curriculum or activities—which almost always means more money coming out of the pocketbook.

“It has crossed my mind that if my kids were in public school, they’d have more opportunities to do bigger projects and experiments that I can’t afford at home.”

As kids get older, homeschool projects can be more pricey simply because a) they require more expensive materials and b) you’re not getting a bulk discount.

It’s that thing where you only need 1 tablespoon of an expensive ingredient for a science project, but you can only find the ingredient sold in super expensive 8 pound bags.

The struggle is real. Real, and expensive.

3. The dreaded “s” word still exists when you are homeschooling older kids…

“Remember park days when kids would just hang out and play together? Park days were awesome.”

Let's just get this out in the open: there are some things that can get harder when homeschooling older kids. Here are five of them.

While you can toss a lot of young kids together at park day and they’ll generally hang out together, try to do that same thing with a group of 15-year-olds.

I’ll be waiting over here, giggling.

Some homeschooling parents advise that the later years of homeschooling are the years it’s most important to be involved in a co-op or social group. It gives kids an excuse to get together. It gives you an excuse to get them together. Except…

“Where did all their friends go?”

There tends to be a mass exodus from homeschooling to public school as kids get closer to high school, and there are as many reasons for it as there are kids who make that choice.

So, finding a co-op can be great. Being part of a social group can work well. But if many of the local kids have gone back to public school…you’ll find yourself at a brick (and mortar) wall.

It doesn’t mean a lack of older kids can’t be dealt with. It does mean, however, that you will have to work in order to overcome the issue.

4. Homeschooling older kids? Parents and teens can start to butt heads.

“What’s hardest about homeschooling teens? Hormones. Attitude. Independence. Personalities. Oh my word.”

Years ago, I talked with a mom who homeschooled one child all the way through high school, but had sent another child to public school at 9th grade. The mom explained to me that it was the only way she and her daughter wouldn’t eat each other alive, and now both she and her daughter agree that public school was the main reason they survived her teen years.

Y’all. Hormones and attitudes and personalities can make or break a homeschooling experience.

“When we got closer to the end, I started to second guess everything. I was worried we’d missed something and I got crazy. Between my attitude and my daughter’s…it was insane.”

While homeschooling can mean freedom, it can also mean, all right, now we have to button down and get going… because transcripts and testing and high school and college and GAH!

You’re nearing that point where you release your kids out into the world. Where you push them out of the nest. Are they going to fly….or fall flat on their face?

Sometimes you get hyper-stressed simply because you have a sneaking suspicion your kid really doesn’t care about their future. At the same time, your kid is stressed out because you’ve suddenly gone from carefree, learning happens everywhere all the time! to memorizing important dates and names and doing daily math drills and OMG we need to prepare for the ACT!!!

5. Support for parents who are homeschooling older kids can be harder to find.

“My teen is into what she’s into. It feels like the more individualized she gets, the harder it is for me to find stuff to help her out.” 

When homeschooling older kids, it can feel like you don’t have as many people to advise you in helping your kid because, unless you’re using similar curriculum, everyone is doing different things.

In the early ages of homeschooling, kids have a lot of similarities. They’re all going to figure out reading and spelling and how to write their name and what happens when they mix red with blue or baking soda with vinegar.

But as we get older, our horizons expand. Which is crazy, because at the same time, our interests are getting fine tuned. There’s so much to explore, but you’re also more conscious of what you prefer. So if you’ve got a kid who wants to revolve their education around electric guitar or sea mammal anatomy, that’s great. But to find resources and people to support you in that journey?

Let's just get this out in the open: there are some things that can get harder when homeschooling older kids. Here are five of them.

Again, the struggle. It is so real.

“Independence is great, but in those later years, it felt like it backfired a little bit.”

Homeschooling can give our kids the opportunity to fine tune their interests, but that can also be isolating. It can be hard for you to know how to help your kid. Many people can suggest ways to teach kids to write their letters correctly. Where are all those suggestions to help you help your kid learn how to open their own gluten free cake and cookie delivery business?

“The resources and support just aren’t there for the later years like they are in the beginning years. It’s sad.”

I’ll be honest, many homeschool bloggers or leaders of homeschool support groups tend to drop out of the game as their youngest kids reach those later years of homeschooling. It’s a catch-22. You know the support is needed because you need the support, but you don’t know how to give the support because you’re not getting any support.

Then again, sometimes the issue is that you just don’t feel like you have anything left to say. It can seem easier to close up shop and focus on moving to the next phase of life.

So although it’s understandable, it’s also unfortunate—and we have to find a way to work against it. We don’t stop needing support just because our kids hit a certain age or level of independence.

If you’re looking for an online support group, consider joining The Hmmmschooling Hangout on Facebook. It’s my contribution to support of homeschooling parents, regardless of what phase of the game they’re in.

Here is a video to encourage you about homeschooling in the older years. It looks different, but in some ways…it’s really not. It’s a little bit about perspective.

Question: Are you homeschooling an older child? What things have you found to be harder about homeschooling now that you are homeschooling older kids?

Let's just get this out in the open: there are some things that can get harder when homeschooling older kids. Here are five of them.

Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tabor you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! 

Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.


14 thoughts on “Homeschooling Older Kids: 5 Ways it Can Get Harder”

  1. Yes, I agree! I have kids heading there and it does seem to get harder. I could have written this myself. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one out there thinking this!

  2. I’m starting to notice that mass exodus from homeschooling already, and my oldest is only 10! It makes me so sad. There are very few high school moms in our support network, and they aren’t the most regular participants either. I keep telling myself, we didn’t choose this homeschooling gig because it was easy!

  3. I’ve homeschooled all of mine all the way through – only the 16yo left now. With my older two we definitely noticed the return of everyone else to public school. I can’t recall anyone else in our circle who didn’t at least give it a go. It was less of an issue with my younger two since we were no longer very involved with homeschooling groups. The younger two got their socialization through their outside interests such as sport and scouting. Also online messaging etc helps with one kid who has friends wiho share a specific interest but are scattered around the country. A few years back I had a few blogs I really liked- kids similar ages to mine and approaches that resonated with me. None of them are blogging any more. In the high school years the focus seems to be all about SATs, ACTs and college admissions. We’re not in the US, not doing any exams and have a very different (much less convoluted) university admissions process so there is very little online that I can relate to. I definitely feel more isolated than I did earlier in the homeschooling journey.

    1. While it is GREAT to have all that information about testing and college admissions, that’s not what everyone is looking for. If you’re not, it can feel SUPER isolating. 🙁

  4. So true, so helpful to hear I am not the only one. I think part of the reason the “older” moms start to go silent around high school is that sometimes we don’t have the “results” we’d hoped for from high school. Our kids are not all excelling academically or making plans for college, so it become harder to encourage the younger moms to walk a path we have, when we don’t have all success stories to share.
    But I do often feel alone as so many homeschooling resources and support groups are geared to starry eyed moms just starting out in the journeys who have no regrets/mistakes/doubts about their path.

    1. You know what? I think you’re spot on. We assume (or hope) our kids are going to be in a certain place at a certain point with certain plans…and when they aren’t, we aren’t sure how to deal. Thanks for pointing this out – I think you’re absolutely right for many parents. 🙂

  5. Thanks for writing a real article. Yes, I have been thinking this lately about homeschooling our 2 youngest who are 11 & 13. Our other 2 are adults now in university, and that was a bit of a tough road also (homeschooling them through their high school years). It’s not all ‘beer & skittles’ as the saying goes. I think the world has changed also, where the lure of what they can do online is often greater than listening to us or being creative off the computer. But it’s not all bad news. Just the challenges are real.

  6. This is all so true. My daughter is entering the 7th grade. I feel (and really am) so alone on this journey. It feels the whole weight of her future is on me and how well I do in homeschooling her over the next few years. I would love some mentors, some friends, some guidance. Thank you for this. I wish I was on FB so I could participate in the group.

  7. Oh yes, this is Truth. I’m just glimpsing it – my eldest recently turned 11 and would be starting secondary here in the UK (roughly middle school) and yeah, the friends. We’ve got to find someone she’ll click with who _also_ likes astrophysics, Harry Potter, playing harp and writing stories, out of the 10 kids in an hour’s drive radius… OKaaay.

    As for online support dropping off, I’ve noticed that too. I suppose a lot of what you need help with is the relationship stuff, and, well, it’s not the same publishing to the world that your teen is driving you crazy as it is saying that your toddler is. Your teen’s going to read it, and so are their friends. That changes things, big time. I think there’s as much of a need for support – both giving and getting – but it needs to be in a more private way. Then you’re back to the catch-22 of needing that tribe – for you this time.

  8. So true! My daughter will be starting 8th grade this year and I am not at all excited about it. Neither of us are. It is not fun anymore. No more cute projects, games and fingerpainting. I went to our homeschool convention this past weekend and I usually love it. This year was just plain depressing. Everything was about young kids or gifted kids, nothing about the average kid. Luckily, I have my sister who also homeschools her boys (9th grade and 3rd grade this year), but we are just depressed together.

  9. I homeschooled three kids to college for twenty years in three states. I’ll agree with the more expensive, the kids going back to school (so more social issues in some of the places we lived), and the harder to find support (although I found myself providing a lot of it to others). But I really thought high school was the MOST fun and least difficult age to homeschool, and it was the time when my kids butted heads with me less. It was like the age of reason arrived and all I had invested into our having a positive relationship really paid off. Plus — the amazing projects, mentorships, and interest-led learning they can do when they are teens are incredible. They challenged themselves, and they were also able to use resources like community college and adult books, documentaries, forums, and classes. I LOVED homeschooling high school. I’m not saying everything was perfect, but for me it was less challenging than homeschooling high energy kids for whom I had to facilitate EVERYthing. High school was when I saw their intellect really kick in, y’know?

    Socially? Yes, hard, as so many kids went to school and our previous social groups dwindled. Honestly, we struggled as much, though, from our frequent moves.

  10. Yes, absolutely to all of this- and to numbers 4 and 5. I’m finding that as kids get older there is a lot more planning involved in making homeschool work for us. The social aspect has been a huge game-changer for us and we’ve had to create a strategy to ensure my daughter gets her social needs met in formalized class settings (because that’s her learning preference). We’ve had to find a lot of learning groups, enrichment classes and co-ops to make homeschooling viable for her. And yes…there is the butting heads issue because as they’re getting older (and smarter) the start formulating their own opinions (*gasp!)…which is exactly what we’ve taught them to do! Lol. But it’s so unexpected when suddenly my kid (taller than me now) doesn’t agree with me on a decision or has a strong opinion opposite of mine. It truly is a battle at times and I do find it challenging, but…it’s also rewarding in so many ways and I’m glad we’ve chosen this route. THanks for this post.

Comments are closed.