Lots of churning and change in grade 8 and grade 9 years, said a homeschool conference speaker.
I didn’t need someone to say that out loud: I have personal experience. (Obviously, because I have a few kids, and also, I was a kid.)
So should I homeschool my high schooler?
I thought these years were turbulent because they were tough times for my parents.
In hindsight, with a little parenting experience under my belt, I can see that these are turbulent years no matter what our circumstances.
Besides surviving this turbulent time in our children’s lives, there are other skills that will help kiddos this age prep for their future, said the conference speaker.
Help them learn to digitize their work (uploading and emailing).
I had to giggle at this suggestion — is there a teenager out there that doesn’t already email or upload stuff? Or teach their parents how to do online stuff?
Enable keyboard skills.
If only they could Snapchat their essays. Goofy smiles and emoticons included.
Learn presentation skills.
Standing in front of a crowd, learning Prezi software or just old-fashioned performances, with violins or choirs, theatre or speeches. This all contributes to their public confidence.
Encourage them to independently engage teachers.
Or other significant adults in their world. Allow them to engage their adult worlds in an adult way, independently.
What do we parents need to do in relationship to these kiddos?
Don’t be judgmental, be realistic.
Perish the thought. Who would judge a teenager?
So many things to judge:
- Don’t talk to your friend that way?
- Do you know that your undergarment is showing?
- I think that’s too much eyeliner.
Get them to reflect on schoolwork.
From my unschooling mindset, this is my default setting.
- Are you scheduling your time well?
- Is there a different framework in which you could think through this topic?
- What do you think of the theme of this book?
Think about each activity and do it with intention.
Help them work through schedules.
Funny that some kids love schedules and create them independently, and others prefer to rise with lunch and assume the world is on their timeline.
Don’t encourage perfectionism.
As a firstborn woman married to a firstborn man, this is tough advice for us. But it has helped me to learn that perfectionism is the bane of happiness. I have learned that letting go of perfect is a requirement and accepting good enough, both for my kids and for me.
I’m learning this for myself still.
When I make a mistake, I prefer getting out the boxing gloves to beat myself up.
On the other hand, what would I say to a friend? Not get out the boxing gloves.
Learn from your mistake.
Then move on with the expectation that you’ll learn what you need when you need to learn it.
Read more about self-compassion for the homeschool mamahere.
Share opinions in respectful ways.
It’s taken me years to learn that in teaching them to share their opinions in respectful ways, I also had to learn to speak mine respectfully. Yelling, “be kind to your sister already,” doesn’t work. (Well, sometimes it seems to at first glance, but long term, it does not.)
Practice empathy: not black-and-white thinking.
The one thing I didn’t realize I was doing to help my kids was to bear more children. Yes, this makes for a busy household.
And no doubt it’s more expensive.
Certainly, it’s more work.
But there are so many opportunities to learn empathy, kindness, gentleness, and respectfully sharing opinions when there are more people to practice these skills with.
Gradually pass over the reigns to your children.
When once I thought I must eventually choose to pass the reigns to my child, I have been challenged by my child and allow her as much independence as she can responsibly handle.
At the end of the conference seminar, the speaker encouraged me not to be judgmental, to remember that my kids are watching and listening, to admit my mistakes, to keep teaching my kids empathy, and to breathe and pray all the way.
Some days all we can do is breathe and pray through the churning of this age.
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Grades 8 & 9 were some of the most tumultuous years of my life! I’m not looking forward to parenting through them LOL!
Homeschooling should be easy though, right? I mean, my kids will be 100% independent by then won’t they?!!!
Great ideas! I’m naively hoping that these years will be easier in a homeschool setting than public school… hoping that my kids’ ability to work at their own pace will reduce at least some of the academic frustrations and allow them to spend more energy on the other issues that come up at this age.
Ha, I once said that I won’t have troubled adolescents because I homeschooled. Mwahahaha. Each of our kids have different stamps of personalities, that clash with ours for different reasons, and homeschooling does definitely give opportunity to expose them all. Having said that, we have a lot of time to process through it all, and come out the other side connected. I have certainly seen the benefits of homeschooling benefiting our kids academically: working at their own pace. All of it is plenty of work (but whatever effort we put in as parents is a lot of work) and absolutely worth every effort!
This is such a great post; thank you! My kids are quite young so it’s interesting to see how this plays out as the family grows up.
I’m so glad to hear my posts have been helpful. I was profoundly benefited myself by a homeschool mentor in my first years of homeschooling.
Can I ask about your homeschool story?
Sure. I am a teacher and have taught in secondary schools in London for 10 years and what I saw worried me. We then moved to a village and I started sending my daughter to the reception year but we met with a number of problems and I felt the management were out of their depth. We withdrew her, initially just temporarily, and discovered homeschooling. Absolutely miraculous; like a different child and we feel different as a family. Now, we homeschool all our children and I work from home, as does my husband, in order to share the homeschooling. Less money but fuller hearts and happier kids, for sure!