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7 Objections to Homeschooling Teens

And why they are not insurmountable obstacles.

by
Paula Bolyard

Bio

July 22, 2013 - 1:00 pm

saxon

In a recent article at Cafe Mom, Ericka Souter listed 7 reasons she could never homeschool her teen. They are all fairly common concerns that most parents wrestle with as they decide whether to continue homeschooling through the middle school and high school years and I’d like to address them:

Mathusee-PreCalculusLesson6860-11

1. I could probably get him through algebra and geometry, but we’d both need a tutor when it came to calculus. Sure, I took it in high school but it was in one ear and out the other as soon as the final was finished.

One thing that homeschoolers discover early on is that they learn along with their children. Most parents realize fairly quickly that there were gaps in their own education and they remedy the situation by plunging right into the learning process with their kids. With math, for example, parents not only review what they already know, but they fill in gaps as they work through the curriculum, progressively adding to their own skills as they teach their children. Many homeschooling books are designed to walk parents through every step of teaching various subjects, some even including video lectures.

If parents are uncomfortable teaching higher-level classes such as calculus and physics, they have a wealth of resources at their disposal. Some parents enroll their children in online classes for subjects they find challenging, while others, like our family, join co-ops in which parents pool their skills and teach classes to small groups of homeschoolers. In our co-op, a homeschooling mom who is a physician taught biology and a dad who is a mechanical engineer taught physics. We used a video-assisted program for pre-calculus, and my older son took discrete math at a local university during his senior year of high school. The array of options is almost dizzying.

First Day of School - EVER!

First day of school – EVER!

2. I can’t imagine his first intense classroom setting being a college lecture. Talk about intimidating.

I must admit that I don’t know a single homeschooling parent or student who really worries about this one. One thing about homeschooling is that the children tend to spend time with people of all ages rather than in age-segregated classrooms. By the time they graduate from homeschool high school, most have spent a great deal of time in adult settings, where they learned to interact with the community in the “real world.” Most have attended classes of some sort (Sunday school, co-op classes, etc.) and understand the protocol for classroom behavior. Really, it does not take 13 years of training to learn how to sit at a desk, raise your hand, and answer questions when called upon. The majority of home-schooled students are bright, articulate, and confident and have no trouble adjusting to a classroom setting.

school-bus

3. We’d get sick of each other by week four two.

“I wouldn’t want my kids home all day — I don’t have the patience.” I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard this when I told people we were homeschooling. I’ve always been tempted to respond, “What does it say about your parenting that you have raised children you can’t stand to be around?” It sometimes seems like people have children and then immediately begin counting the days until they can put them on the school bus so they can have some peace and quiet. Some of this is because parents know what their children are like when they get off that bus: cranky, exhausted, and not especially pleasant to be with. They don’t realize that homeschooling changes the whole family dynamic. A family that spends all or most of its time together not only avoids the jarring transition from school to home every day, but also gets to spend the best part of the day together. During that time, parents constantly mentor their children and model good behavior for them. One of the blessings of homeschooling is that the children are more influenced by their parents than their peers and so they naturally enjoy being together, even in the teen years.

Before we had kids of our own, my husband and I volunteered as youth leaders in our church and there met our first homeschooling families. We were shocked to meet teens who not only weren’t embarrassed to be around their parents, but who actually enjoyed being with them. These kids actually volunteered their parents when we needed chaperons for a sleepover or a retreat. Though we saw this occasionally from public school students, it was consistent with the homeschooled kids, one of the rewards of spending so much time together.

Mother Daughter Conflict

4. When he complains about his bit**y teacher, he’ll be talking about me.

Years ago I heard something that changed the way I thought about teenagers: “Rebellion is not God’s plan for the family.” As a culture, we have bought into the lie that it’s normal for teenagers to rebel and to dislike their parents. While it may be “normal” in our culture, it hasn’t always been that way and we should reject the notion that teenage rebellion is inevitable.

If you spend any time with kids who were homeschooled, you’ll likely hear a discussion about who had the strictest parents — they’ll try to one-up each other with complaints of “I wasn’t allowed to watch TV growing up” or “my mom made us do all the Saxon math practice problems, not just the odd numbers!” My older son tells his friends about how he used to sneak down to the family room to watch Liberty Kids whenever I was sick with a migraine, and my younger son laments that he’s the only kid he knows who hasn’t seen all the Disney movies a dozen times. The competition is a unique homeschool-geek-culture phenomenon — all in fun — and most of those kids will tell you (and their friends) that they are grateful for their parents and appreciate being home-schooled. Many of them will go on to be just as strict with their own kids.

5. When I complain about my crappy job, I’ll be talking about him.

See #3

Swirly

6. I can’t teach him the same survival instincts you learn navigating your way though mean girls, jocks, geeks, or whichever else cliques exist these days.

Let’s be honest. Many of the behaviors that go on in the public schools, especially those associated with bullying, are punishable by firing in the workplace. And spending six hours a day confined to a room with thirty people the exact same age as you is nothing like any place of employment the student will ever encounter. Being told when and where to sit, when you may use the restroom, and when (and what) you may eat is more similar to a penal institution than a business environment. Also, see #2.

unruly-students-2

7. I’m not a trained educator. Parents love to complain about their kids’ teachers, but it’s a tough job. Probably one of the toughest. It’s a combo of instructor, counselor, soother, conflict resolution expert, and motivator. How exhausting is that?!

All of the skills listed above are basic parenting competencies, whether or not a family homeschools. What parent hasn’t refereed sibling conflicts, soothed hurt feelings, or dealt with unmotivated children? Homeschooling is just a matter of applying those basic parenting skills to educating one’s own children. While teachers in brick-and-mortar schools may need special training to manage a classroom of thirty children, tutoring a few students does not require such training. In fact, many former teachers who choose to homeschool find their education training to be a hindrance and that they need to retrain themselves in order to adjust to the close, personal tutoring situation.

No one denies that homeschooling can be challenging — the teen years are no exception. But homeschooling also brings unique benefits that can actually make the teen years more enjoyable and less tumultuous. It is well worth the challenges.

Recently "retired" from homeschooling, Paula is an unapologetic Christian and Constitutional conservative. An enthusiastic Tea Party supporter, she is a member of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee. She is also a contributor at Ohio Conservative Review. Paula lives in N.E. Ohio with her husband, two dogs, and two parrots.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I share your concerns about technology, but I'm not sure banning it is the answer. I'm also not sure what you mean about "life without friends." I've never met a homeschooling family in which the children have no friends.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
What about the possibility of forming a "homeschool" with several other, like-minded families that possess well-distributed competences? We seldom see that discussed, yet it's just as valid an option as "going it alone."
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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Another option is to enlist the help of really good teachers who come visit your home via video. Delivered by DVDs, hard drive, or online.

http://www.bjupresshomeschool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/category_Distance-Learning____23702

You'd be hard-pressed to find better quality instruction.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've got a solution for your concerns... don't be his teacher. Our three sons homeschooled for high school, the oldest in total, the other two in part (their choice). We simply apprenticed them out. This was the major lesson for us--how delighted some people were to have a chance to give a young person a lengthy intensive experience. Our oldest worked at 14 as an intern in a Media Gulch firm and helped an old friend who was a famous horror film art director a month or three for seven years. He spent two winters captaining a dive boat in Switzerland and traveled the Maya for four months assisting a woman writing a scholarly book on the region. He capped off HS by making a documentary film in Cuba. Neither my wife nor I spent one minute formally instructing him. All of this actually took little trouble to arrange and came at very modest cost, less than $2,000 a year.

The other lesson we learned, when he applied to college, he was snapped up. The main school he wanted phoned and said he was the first student ever to get a perfect application score from their oldest, crustiest professor, so they were offering a scholarship. That was despite the fact he had never received a grade or taken a test in his life.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds like your son had some amazing experiences. That's one of the best things about homeschooling -- the freedom and flexibility to choose your own path. I applaud you!
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Technology has isolated kids too much already. Why isolate them even more. Raised in isolation, kids will not experience compromise and will become selfish monsters. Also, a life without friends is no life worth living.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I share your concerns about technology, but I'm not sure banning it is the answer. I'm also not sure what you mean about "life without friends." I've never met a homeschooling family in which the children have no friends.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some areas of the country allow for "dual enrollment" in the local community college. That helps knpock out some classes that a aprent might feel unprepared for.
With the materioals ac\vaalable now on the internet if I were younger (kids all grow) IU would give it a try., My issue would be persona;p -- disorganized?

Homeschooling allows for many more enrichment opportunities. One friend spent a lot of time with her daughter in equestrian activities, and they traveled during the "school year" with grandparents. Another had her kid audit Bill Forstchen's history classes.

Lots of things out there. And a lot of people to connect with.
In general homeschool kids are very well socialized. I still remember one mom sending her 15 year old son in to pick up something from my office. He walked in upright, made full eye contact, spoke clearly and coherently, smiled, thanked me, and as he left I was thinking "Wow."

Oh yeah, in addition his pants were not down around his thighs and his shoes were laced and he wasn't wearing earbuds.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
All very good points, JAL!

Many homeschoolers (including my son) participate in "dual enrollment" during their high school years. I think it's a great option and knocking out some of those core classes can help reduce college classes.

Also, don't automatically reject the idea of homeschooling because you're disorganized. I have the same issues. Odds are, there are probably plenty of professional teachers who struggle with this issue as well. The don't automatically overcome every human weakness when they're handed a teaching certificate. : )

You might want to read something I wrote a few months ago, "Think You Could Never Homeschool?"

http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/06/17/think-you-could-never-homeschool/
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gack! Sorry for the awful typos! Why doesn't PJ Media have a do-over button?
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
... we should reject the notion that teenage rebellion is inevitable.

Bingo. It's normal for teens to try to distance themselves from their parents to some extent, as they begin to develop their own identity and sort out who they are as an individual human being. But there's no reason that process should have to take the form of active rebellion.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly right, Robin.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Objection #8

The Federal government decides to regulate/eliminate home schooling
and for that matter private schooling on the grounds that it is inherently
discriminatory; The only 'Fair' thing to do is toss all the kids into the
cesspool of the public school system and let them sink or swim together.
Only PS credits count toward a HS Diploma and College admissions.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I particularly laughed at #7. "I am not a trained educator"... That is certainly a major qualification for your success.
These are the people that value sensitivity and process over knowing 2+2=4. These are the people that eliminated scoring in Soccer and dodge-ball as a playtime activity.
These are the people that become hysterical when a 7-year old chews a pop tart into the shape of a gun.
These are the people that send home "your child is fat" letters.

I have known several home-school parents, it takes education, intelligence and commitment. All three of these are sadly lacking in our Unionized-Credentialed "Authorities".
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
One of the things we realized when we enrolled my daughter in a virtual school starting in 7th grade is that she'd never actually been taught in school HOW to learn. I didn't fully realize how much of her schooling, especially in 5th and 6th grade was just forced memorization without any focus on how to read for comprehension, take notes, etc.

It's certainly been a challenging prospect in some ways, but we're glad to do it. She's a freshman now and it's still working well. The only real issue is the lack of time spent with kids her age. However, soccer is nearly year round now and she has friends at church so I don't think she's missing out on too much.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I didn't fully realize how much of her schooling, especially in 5th and 6th grade was just forced memorization without any focus on how to read for comprehension, take notes, etc."


Oh, she used the Abeka curriculum?


/ducks/

:D


46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'll say, unique benefits like testing two grade levels above public school kids.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great article!

I've been thinking about doing this with my child, and many of these objections melted away when I became an educator myself (college level). There really isn't nearly as much to it as the teachers would have you believe. I'll also add that although I'm an expert in my field, I still learn from teaching and from getting questions I can't immediately answer. That's a feature, not a bug.

Finally, our public schools are failing. Like I said, my objections to home schooling died when I started teaching at college. Partly because I see the fruits of our K-12 system up close. The quality of reading, writing, and mathematics in a HS graduate is simply abysmal.

However, for people with reservations, think about this.

#1: If you didn't retain your mathematical knowledge after taking the class in high school, then what does that say about whether your children will retain it if they get educated in the same place? We live in a society that is both utterly dependent on mathematics, but also profoundly and often willfully ignorant of it. And nowhere is that more true than the American public school.

#2, #6: This is greatly over-stated. The reality is that grade school prepares you for... grade school. "Coping with bullies" often consists of simply enduring it. And since the outcasts are typically few in number, your child is more likely to BE a bully than to be a victim of one. Either way, home schooling doesn't mean you're isolated from other children, merely that you're not crammed together with them in a penal-style second wave knowledge factory.

#3, #4, #5: These reveal something else about the parent... Why are you sending your kids to public school? Is it to get an education? Or state-sponsored baby sitting? Take a moment to really decide what's important to you. I don't doubt that the quality of home school results is in part because the parents who care don't try home schooling in the first place. But that cuts both ways: home schooling also develops your own focus on family and education. And that's not bad to have.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Finally, our public schools have failed. "

There, I FIXED it for you!

46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
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