Written by Heather Woodie of Blog She Wrote.
If you’ve been homeschooling a while, then you know that the early days of homeschooling are among the sweetest. What could be better than gathering young children around to work together on reading and simple projects?
But as our homeschooled children mature, so does our homeschooling. Pattern blocks and letter tiles are traded for long division and book reports.
Eventually research papers, calculus, and college entrance exams are on the horizon.
Mothers of young homeschooled children hear such truths, but we seldom take them to heart until it’s our turn. Perhaps many of you are reading this and thinking how far away calculus is – or wonder if your students will ever get there. I understand.
My children (we have four with a six and a half year span between them) were all little once. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were teaching reading and running to change a baby’s diaper.
But now, it sometimes seems like it’s all “nose to the grindstone” around here.
So this post is to encourage you to remember why you began homeschooling and to keep the flame ignited — even during the middle and high school years.
Perhaps it is the highly charged academic community we live in (homeschoolers included), but we are often tempted to leave behind some of the most sacred of our homeschool ideals the older our children get and the higher we believe the stakes are.
Resist the urge to chase the conventional and consider ways to keep the spark in your homeschool.
Here are four of our tried and true methods:
Read and discuss books together
There are few ways to connect so effectively with a teen both personally and academically than through shared books.
Continue to read aloud to your teens and have them read to you. Time is well spent as you challenge each other to a good read and then talk about the book.
Even disliking a book, should that happen, gives you something to talk about. It also stretches you as the parent. I would never have picked up Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 if my son hadn’t been reading it and I didn’t expect to like a dystopian novel, but I loved it. It’s a thinking book and still relevant to us today.
My teens feel so strongly about books that they came up with this list of 100 Books You Should Read before You Turn 20.
Talk about current events
I have our teens watch the headlines and we discuss them at dinner or in the evening.
Even younger children can participate at measured levels. We often keep an eye out for news which is relevant to our teens’ studies and email them a link. My husband and I copy each other on these so we can all be part of the discussion.
Current events keep us on our toes when our tendency might be to shy away from what’s going on in the world.
Our 16-year-old will be voting in the next presidential election. We have a responsibility to make sure he is aware of the news of the day.
If you are unsure about how to approach this with your family you might enjoy, How to Use Current Events in Your Homeschool.
Prepare a meal
When our children were young, we cooked special meals to go with unit studies all the time. How much better the results are when we have older, more capable students!
Our 14- and 16-year-olds are planning and making a meal to go with their high school history study of The Gilded Age.
It’s a fine opportunity to insert home economics goals for students leaving the house in a short time.
Pour into a passion
What is it that makes your teen’s heart sing? Use it!
Make sure that nurturing a talent or honing a passion is a daily part of your older student’s homeschooling.
We find ways for our kids to have authentic experiences with their talent. Whether it’s sewing, writing, programming, or flying, we make the time and we incorporate as much as we can into the regular stuff of homeschooling.
Give your student the time, space, and materials and watch them go!
Your homeschool will change as your kids grow older. There is a natural, gradual adjustment in focus and a change in the way we do the business of home educating.
We give our students more independence. We transition from being the teacher to being the mentor. The stakes do get higher as graduation approaches, regardless of your student’s plans beyond high school.
Yet, many things remain the same. Our reasons for beginning our homeschool journey may be in the distant past, but the convictions behind them are continually renewed.
Do the same with your sacred homeschool ideals and find ways to be authentic and engaged with your teens — right up to graduation day!
How are you keeping the homeschool spark alive with your older children?