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Homeschooling older kids can sometimes seem tricky—it’s easy for parents to feel increasingly unsure of where they fit in the scheme of things. However, I think we tend to make things trickier than they need to be. Here are 6 things homeschooled teens need from their parents—in case you’re feeling a little lost.
(And yes, my teen boys helped make this list.)
1. To be their guide, not their teacher
When the teen years come, parents are sometimes a little confused about what their role is in the educational process. If you’re used to being the one supplying all the information, it can be oddly deflating to discover your kids can find the vast majority of what they need on their own.
This is a good thing! It means they’re becoming independent and using those big brains of theirs that you’ve been encouraging them to use!
But an increase in educational independence doesn’t mean they want to be abandoned. It doesn’t mean they can (or want) to be completely left to themselves.
The mistake we sometimes make with older kids is assuming that because they are older, they don’t need us at all—educationally or otherwise. So while you generally no longer need to sit with them at the kitchen table for every single thing they’re exploring, it doesn’t mean you can leave on a permanent vacation.
You may not need to be as hands-on teaching as often. But—trust me—your guidance is still occasionally requested, needed, and appreciated. It’s one of the things homeschooled teens need the most.
2. To help find stuff they need that you don’t have or can’t explain.
I remember the first time my oldest asked me a question about music theory that was so far beyond the scope of what I understood that I was completely floored he even knew to ask it.
I needed to find someone or something to help him out, because he was stuck, and I couldn’t help him.
When your kids have gone past what you know and are asking you for more, you need to be willing to help them find the information they’re seeking. And yes, I know—you’ve always helped them find the information they needed, even when they were younger.
It’s just that with older kids, it can be a little harder. You might be completely clueless about the answer they’re seeking, or even where to find the answer because you’re not even 100% sure on what your kids are talking about.
It happens. Ask me how I know.
One of the things homeschooled teens need is for you to put your ego away. It’s for you to spend the time. It’s for you to put out the feelers to all your people to find out if anyone can help your inquisitive teen with the information they want.
3. To be their mom, not their teacher.
We sometimes forget that we are mom first, teacher second. And more often than not, one of the things homeschooled teens need is for us to be that mom.
When kids get older, it’s common for homeschooling parents to freak out about things that need to be done educationally because transcripts and graduating and college and what did we forget to teach you. But one of the things that makes homeschooling different is that we are mom, not teacher.
We are mom first. Let’s not forget that simple fact just because our kids might now be taller than us.
4. The ability to be flexible and to punt.
It’s happened more than once that I find something really awesome to share with my sons and—burst my bubble—they’ve already heard about it. Or they take over the lesson and end up teaching me something I had no idea was part of what I was trying to share with them.
The first few times this happened, I was frustrated. As in, why am I spending so much time looking for cool stuff when they’ve already heard about all of it?
But then, when I got over myself, I realized, hey, this is pretty cool. The world is big. And if I’d just listen to them, I bet they can tell me about some super cool stuff I haven’t heard about yet.
Having older kids means you’ve got to be flexible—it’s one of the things homeschooled teens need! It means tweaking the lesson. It means throwing away what no longer works. It means keeping the stuff that does—regardless of whether it goes against what Most Popular Homeschooling Advice Blog recommends.
Sometimes being flexible means realizing you’re not a (ta-da!) one-woman show. It means that sometimes the things you tell or present to your kids are going to be awesome. And other times they won’t be.
(And pssst! That’s totally okay. Not everything you do has to be amazing. I mean, when your kids were 5 and 6, things were magical and sparkly and had never before been discovered! With older kids…not so much. And that’s okay. Be flexible. Go with it.)
Then again, sometimes the ability to be flexible and punt relates to…
5. A willingness to walk the shaky line of “I need you. Wait. I don’t need you.”
Parenting is strange. One day your kids are snuggled up on your lap and the next day they have gone out and conquered the world.
Okay. So, looking back it can seem like that. But in our heart, we know it’s always a much slower and less clearly defined journey.
Watching your kids grow up and become independent can be weird—for everyone involved. Your kids may want to talk to you, they may not. They may want you to read to them. They may not. They may love it when you make them lunch or it may drive them up the wall.
And all of these things can change by the week.
While you’re trying to figure out that shaky unclear line of independence and autonomy, remember—they are, too.
Things homeschooled teens need? Your patience and grace in their search for freedom is a big one.
6. To know you’re there.
One of the hardest things about having an older kid is that it can sometimes seem that they are so independent, they no longer need you.
Which is totally not true.
I mean, for some things it is. But not for everything.
People never stop needing people.
For as independent as my teen sons are, they still say one of the best things about homeschooling is that I’m not far away if they need me. It might be because they don’t understand a math problem. It might be because they want to show me a new song they’ve written. It might be because they want to ask my opinion on some current event. It might be for many different reasons.
They’re not wanting me to sit around, waiting at their beck and call for when they can’t figure out an algebra equation. They don’t expect that at all. But they do know I’m generally around, somewhere on our farm, and if they have something to ask or something to share, I’m not far away.
And to be honest with you, sometimes the things they are sharing with me are completely over my head. But that’s a little bit like listening to all those fascinating Minecraft stories or Pokemon tales when they were little. (Remember those? Odd how it seems so far in the past now…)
The point with all of this is that as a homeschooling parent, you’re there to listen and interact—which happens to be one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. That doesn’t go away just because my kids are older. It simply changes a little bit of how it happens.
People never stop needing people, and our kids will never stop needing us. Remember that even as your younger kids grow and morph into homeschooled teens, they still need you around.
Don’t doubt your awesomeness. You’ve still got it.