Monday, March 13, 2017
Homeschooling Older Kids
Homeschooling older children is a bit different from teaching the younger ones in Pre-K through 3rd grade simply because they are able to do so much more on their own without your help. And this is exactly what you want. Our goal is to foster their ability to learn independently while being available to give instructions and guidance or answer questions when needed. This does not mean you simply hand your kids their work and walk away. On the contrary; your input is not only critical for their continued success, but your children still need and want that personal interaction with you.
This step back is a relief for some parents, especially those who may be worrying that they cannot possibly teach a particular subject. I wasn’t too excited at the idea of having to teach my children math because I struggled with it when I was in school. And I have a friend who was totally stressed out about teaching her soon-to-be high schoolers science for the same reason.
I found ways to work around that fear. I found a computer math curriculum that does all the work: It teaches the student through lectures, helps them practice what they’ve learned, gives periodic quizzes, and keeps track of their grades all in one go. (See Teaching Textbooks aff link)
There are still times when my daughter needs a specific concept explained better, in which case I just go online to find videos or sites that can explain it in such a way that we both understand. Sometimes I have my kid teach ME (which is a super sneaky way to get her to enjoy learning because she loves teaching me something I don’t know!). Khan Academy is also an excellent resource for parents and students alike. And you know what? I found that as an adult, I am better able to understand complicated formulas than I was a child so my kid isn’t the only one learning!
Homeschool co-ops, museums, and online programs also offer classes in specific subjects. So if you are worried about science, you might prefer to enroll your child in an online class that they can stream. Or send them to a class with other homeschool students.
We also still do read alouds on a regular basis. Just because my kids can read on their own doesn’t mean that they still don’t benefit greatly from the time I spend reading to them. Studies show that older children’s reading level doesn’t catch up to their listening level until about 8th grade. So reading to older children helps them become better readers. And it also motivates them to read on their own. Children (and adults!) become much more engaged and emotionally invested in stories other people tell them. I can see it in my kids when we read remarkable books aloud, such as Don Quixote, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and The Little Pilgrim’s Progress.
If you have a teen, I recommend you get the book, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens (aff) by Deb Bell. From middle school through high school, this book is a wealth of information and resources, including forms you’ll need and tips for preparing for college.
The amount of school work and the complexity of it will increase, as well. Now's the time to be actively preparing for college, if you aren't already. You may be thinking about AP classes, volunteer work, building a portfolio, and more.
Another thing to keep in mind: your homeschool schedule may change a bit as your teen matures. All those raging hormones will be keeping your teen up later at night and sleeping in longer in the morning. That extra hour or two of sleep in the morning will actually benefit your teen and make it easier for him/her to focus on his/her studies (and make their mood swings a bit less dramatic).
This is also a time where your child can begin to seriously explore their passions. Photography classes, graphic design, landscaping, architecture...there are so many opportunities available thanks to museums, community colleges, professional clubs, and online websites.
I can’t stress this enough: Remember that you don’t have to teach your child all of the subjects yourself. Don’t feel pressured to do so. Use the numerous resources and tools that are now available in communities and online. You just have to oversee that they get covered. You don’t have to know all the answers, but you do need to be able to find the answers when need be.