This year at the 2 to 1 Conference, I went to a session about homeschooling a high schooler.
It was really inspirational, and I felt prepared to deal with my soon to be teen when I got home. Almost. I was a mess as a teenager. What I didn’t do – didn’t exist for the most part. I still shudder to think of the things I got away with. Apparently payback is a… well… let’s just say there’s payback. The only difference is that I am with my teen every day all day, and I was with my parents just long enough to ask them for some money and the car keys, so I can’t compare my experience as a teenager to his.
I really don’t believe that parents are meant to know EVERYTHING their teen does. We need to know enough to make sure they don’t harm themselves or the community.
As a family, we focus on making sure he doesn’t harm himself…
- Physically – that includes protective gear for sports, teaching him how to kitchen appliances and utensils, the iron, and trying to manage that overall teen awkwardness/clumsiness that could lead to falling down… a lot. I swear sometimes they are like baby deer learning to walk all over again.
- Emotionally – he is so curious about everything these days, but some things he isn’t ready to know about or see, even though he thinks he is. It is tough to monitor all the movies he watches and books he reads, since he does visit friends and family sometimes, but we try to steer him in the right direction. If he does have an experience that is less than age appropriate, we try to help him work through what he doesn’t understand.
- Spiritually – yesterday, he asked me why the church in the Middle ages was so opposed to science. He is a science and history fanatic, so his questions as we go through both subjects are becoming deeper and more complex. I am glad that I am here to answer those questions according to the faith of our family. That is one of the cool things about homeschooling – I get to be there to answer the questions before his teen brain comes up with its own reasoning based on the hormones and other strange influences that parents just don’t understand.
We monitor his impact on the community by…
Making sure that he knows that foul language is inappropriate, and always inappropriate when in front of young children and when directed at adults. He prides himself on being creative. I told him that he can also be creative with his words too. Instead of adding random expletives onto the ends of sentences or just add –ing or –ed to make a word more “colorful”, he should work on finding actual adjectives or adverbs to help him get his point across. I am not at all of the belief that my baby boy will never cuss – but I want him to know that he has options.
- Insisting that trash goes in the trash can – at home, and outside.
- Sharing with him that volunteering and giving inside and outside of the home is important. Often times he will ask me, “are you getting paid to do this?” I tell him no, and he looks confused. “So why are you doing it?” I tell him that not everything he does will have a dollar value attached to it. We don’t pay for chores – those he just has to do as part of a household – but if he helps the hubby set up a printer, helps me with a blog post, or sells his own stuff at a community yard sale, he can earn his own money.
- Encouraging non-violent conflict resolution. In other words – no fighting.
- Making sure that he is educated. He can use his education to make a positive impact on the community of which he chooses to be a part. Recently, a teen in Maryland came up with a new test for pancreatic cancer that will affect thousands of families that are susceptible to the disease. We want to keep him curious, focused, and interested in “connecting the dots” between science, math, literature, history, and language, so that he can contribute to the society at large.
I have no intention of trying to know EVERY single thing that my teen does. Just a few days into homeschooling one, I am pretty sure I have a trying year ahead of me. So if I can keep him safe, focused on school work, busy with sports and peer activities, and tired from chores and volunteering, this first year homeschooling my teenager just might work out fine… for now… Check back with me in June.
For more information on keeping your child safe online, see my post on internet safety here.
Homeschooling or not, how do you keep your teen on track?