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Why Homeschooling Teens Is Easier Than Homeschooling Little Ones


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We’ve been homeschooling for 12 years now. I have now officially schooled every age and grade from birth through graduation. There are pros and cons to each age and stage, but from where I’m sitting, I am of the opinion that homeschooling teens is easier than homeschooling little ones.

Why? Because…

Why homeschooling teens is easier than homeschooling little ones

They are becoming independent learners.

All those homeschooling years leading up to middle and high school are very mom-intensive. Let’s face it, most kids don’t learn to read and write on their own. (I know some of you have kids who learned to read with minimal input from you. I hope you realize how blessed you are, says the mom on the other end of the spectrum who taught two dyslexics.)

When you hit middle and high school, it gets so. much. easier. With kids who are reading to learn, rather than learning to read, and who are ready to start taking responsibility for their own learning, you get to move from teacher to facilitator.

And, sometimes facilitators have time to do some of the million and one things other than school that are vying for our attention.

The hands-on learning gets more sophisticated.

Y’all know how I feel about hands-on learning. Combining hands-on learning with great literature is the essence of my homeschool happy place. The fact is, though, I’m not very crafty. That’s why I love the fact that hands-on learning for older kids gets more sophisticated – science labs, cooking, creating videos, and sewing (my girls, not me – I can’t to that either!) are just a few ideas.

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Hands-on learning can go from crafts to life skills, artistic expression, and the stuff that adulthood hobbies are made of.

Oh, and that thing about how I can’t sew? Older kids are great about deciding they want to learn something and figuring out how to do it, either by trial and error, asking a friend or relative to teach them, or (my favorite) watching YouTube videos.

Books can be one and done.

I am not completely lacking sentimental feelings. There are lots of children’s books that I enjoyed reading over and over again. There are plenty of books I’m saving to enjoy with the grandkids. However, I’d wager that you’re lying if you say there aren’t a few books that you were so tired of reading over and over and over again.

With older kids, you can enjoy some great classics, along with popular modern lit and be done. There are a few that I’ve enjoyed so much that I’d probably read them again, like The Adventures of Robin Hood, but it’s nice to be able to enjoy most of them once and pass them along to someone else.

Instead of hearing “why” a million times, you get to hear their opinions.

Okay, I’ll admit this one can be a double-edged sword because teens can have very strong opinions – about everything. However, I usually enjoy hearing not only my kids’ opinions, but why they feel the way they do.

They often amaze me with their insight and make me see things in a way I never had before. Sometimes I even realize that {gasp} they’re right and I’m wrong.

They start taking ownership of their education

That last point about opinions? That includes their education. The really cool part about that is that they start taking ownership of their education. I like that my kids have an opinion on what, how, and when they want to study.

My oldest used to feel most alert late at night and that’s when she wanted to do the bulk of her schoolwork. As long as she got it done, it didn’t bother me at all when she wanted to do it.

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Josh had an epiphany at the beginning of this school year. One of the scripture verses we’ve memorized is Colossians 3:23-24:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

It finally clicked that this verse says whatever you do – that means it includes schoolwork. That means that even though everything involved in getting a good education may not be fun or exactly what we want to do in that given moment, we’re to do it to the best of our abilities.

This epiphany doesn’t mean that every single day Josh comes to the table with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, eager to do whatever I set before him, but it has made a huge difference in his overall attitude this year.

Your house might actually be clean again!

I’ve got two kids who, if they were in a traditional school setting, would probably be on ADD meds. For many years, my job was to sit nearby and provide frequent reminders to, “do your work.”

Now, however, even Megan, my youngest, is able to stay focused and work well independently. That means that I frequently have time in the afternoon to do things like: clean house, do laundry, wash dishes, or prepare meals.

Spending time together can involve shared interests

I love the fact that now that my kids are older, we can spend time together doing things that we each enjoy. This means that we can enjoy shared hobbies such as photography or art instead of playing Barbies (which I always disliked intensely). We can cook together or play board or card games that are actually fun for me, too, instead of Candy Land or Chutes and Ladder.

Even our choices in movies and TV show can be mutually entertaining instead of being all kid cartoons – though I do still miss me some Kim Possible and would watch Veggie Tales any day.

Sure, it can be nerve-wracking when high school rolls around and you’ve got to start thinking about things like credit hours and transcripts. Yes, teens can be moody…but so can most adults. That includes me!

I have many precious memories of my kids younger educational years and there are times when I’d like to go back for just a moment or two, but overall, this homeschooling teens (which they’ll all officially be by this time next week) rocks!

Now, you may just not be convinced and neither is Selena at Look! We’re Learning! She’s sharing her thoughts today on why homeschooling little ones is easier than homeschooling teens. And, you know what? There’s a reason why I never was on the debate team in high school. That’s because I bet I’ll agree with just about every point she makes.

The fact is, there are blessings and challenges no matter what stage you’re in. It makes it all a whole lot more fun when you look at the positives of whatever season you’re in. I hope you read each of our points and feel encouraged no matter what ages and stages you’re schooling this year.

To see both sides of other homeschooling topics, check out Dueling Blog Posts from the bloggers of iHomeschool Network. And, if you’re going to be homeschooling a teen soon and are stressed about high school, join me and Lee Binz, The HomeScholar on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 8PM (ET) for a free webinar on homeschooling high school.

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7 Comments

  1. Always lurking, not usually commenting. In fact, have been lurking since before we decided to homeschool! Just loved: I’ve got two kids who, if they were in a traditional school setting, would probably be on ADD meds. For many years, my job was to sit nearby and provide frequent reminders to, “do your work.”

    Sigh.

    Looking forward to teenagehood!

  2. I enjoyed reading this and could relate to so much. My son turned 13 yesterday but still struggles academically due to…well, a laundry list of “issues”. So I have a little while longer to get to the independent stage as far as school work. But we do enjoy watching old tv reruns together, yard saling, and playing board games. Yes indeed, there are pros and cons all along the road of a homeschooling mom.
    Thanks for taking the time to blog.

  3. Well done!! I agree — some days are long (I’m not enjoying having any thing to do with high school math) but for the most part I am really enjoying our teen homeschool years. I love the discussions and, as you said, spending time together with shared interests.

  4. I have yet to homeschool a full fledged highschooler. But my almost twelve yr old is attempting to do 7/8th together this year. And I have a 3rd grader and a preschooler as well. And while I really enjoy many aspects of homeschooling younger ones, I have to say that as my kids get older and more capable of taking on more responsibility for their own educations, the more I have to give of myself to our family and myself in other areas. There are so many tools out there now that can help overcome roadblocks, and there are so many people in our community who have amazing specialities, so me not knowing how to teach or help in a certain area is not something I feel especially stressed about. For me, making sure their foundations are sound has been and continues to be my primary focus. If I teach them HOW to learn, and make learning a natural avenue of curiosity, then they will continue to thirst for it throughout their lives. And that is my aim.

  5. I’m not sure I totally agree with you 😉 — but then again my oldest is just 13 and I’m feeling the weight of a teenager as opposed to those days when mommy is awesome and we did tons of nature walks and snuggled up for read alouds!

    I’m heading to read the opposing viewpoint — thanks for this post, Kris! I appreciate your wisdom and it made me look at my homeschool in a different light today!

  6. I totally agree with you! It’s such a joy to see my 9th grader doing everything on her own. She is so independent. Sometimes a little too much. She is taking a class online and I am “shooed away” when she is on. Ugh
    My son, who’s 11, is a bit more time consuming but, I still am seeing time slots here and there that I previously didn’t have!!!
    Thanks for your article and a fun reminder of how great it is to homeschool teens!

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