Words by: Pat Fenner
When we started homeschooling “back in the day,” my plan was to educate the kiddos all the way… to high school. Then, we’d enroll them back in the system that could teach them all the upper-level maths and sciences, and, well, you know, the stuff that “the professionals” need to teach; stuff I thought I couldn’t handle.
Except, by the time our kids – all five of them – reached the high school years, I realized a few important things:
- I didn’t want to send them back into the system;
- they were all learning just fine at home, thank-you-very-much;
- I still couldn’t handle those upper-level subjects;
- and homeschooling was so much more than just academics!
What Our Teens Learned By Homeschooling High School
Since my husband and I both came from families that worked in and valued education, we assumed our two oldest would be college-bound. By the time the others came along, we had realized how exorbitant college costs had risen, so we had altered our approach. We wanted our kids to be prepared to go to college, whether or not that’s where they ended up.
So, for those subjects that made me shudder years ago, we became creative outsourcers. We looked for or formed co-op classes, utilized programs offered in the community, and enrolled them in dual-enrollment courses at the local college. Those classes ended up earning our kids college credit while still in high school and prepared them to participate in both college and career-training programs. It also showed them that learning could take many forms and doesn’t need to take place in a stuffy classroom.
Since they were home, we could also focus on adult-living skills. We didn’t want to assume anything, so things like car maintenance, home maintenance, laundry, food prep (and cleaning up!), nutrition, making, and maintaining a budget were incorporated into our day-to-day life. All of the “adulting” skills were covered as they popped up in the lives of our growing young adults.
Finally, we created some fun electives that allowed our children to grow the gifts and talents that God had created in them. Delight-directed studies included an enhanced auto mechanics program, learning American Sign Language, writing a novel, and advanced karate and music studies; they almost always had a component of service through volunteerism. Our teens began to develop a lifestyle of learning and realized that quenching their curiosity about their interests will forever serve them in their lives.
How Homeschool Moms Can Prepare For the Transition
It can be easy for homeschool moms to become child-focused and forget that they, too, need to prepare for that grown-and-flown stage. Graduating their teen from high school means that all-too-soon, in one way or another, that brand new adult will head off on their own.
Fortunately, moms can do some simple things to prepare themselves for this transition, too:
- Give yourself grace. Realize that you may be a tad “extra emotional” for a while. After all, you’ve been with your child 24/7 for many years, and all of a sudden that seems to be changing! Be gentle with yourself if you find yourself grieving from time to time.
- Start something for yourself. While your teen is in high school, use the time they may be outsource-learning to do something for yourself. Start a hobby, write (even if it’s just journaling), read more, get a part-time job, take a course… whatever it is that can help you continue to grow and perhaps even lead into a new career after your homeschooling years are over.
- Keep relationship first. Continue to deepen your relationship with your teen, even as it is forever changing. During this time, you will find you can become more of a counselor and guide, providing feedback and insight and a much-needed voice of encouragement – if you keep the relationship open. Be quick to listen, quick to forgive and seek forgiveness, always loving, and you will someday have a dearly treasured relationship with your adult child.
Transitioning to “life beyond homeschooling” can be exciting for everyone in the family! This season can be the start of new beginnings for both mom and kiddos – the final chapter of a job well done.
After almost 25 years of home-educating her five children, Pat Fenner continues to encourage and inspire others as they continue the journey through the high school years at her blog, BreakthroughHomeschooling. She also helps moms find meaning and purpose in the “post-homeschooling” stage of life in “The Empty Homeschool Nest” book and course. She, along with Canadian homeschool veteran and author Tracey Hagerman, co-host the “You Can Homeschool” podcast, helping new home-educating parents navigate this exciting journey. Sign up for tools and encouragement to homeschool high school here.