As a homeschool mom, one of my biggest concerns is how to prepare my homeschooled teen for life in the “real world.”
Like most of you homeschool moms, I attended public school and thought this was the only way to get an education.
All of that changed when I discovered homeschooling and Charlotte Mason back in 2006. Suddenly, I realized there was a whole ‘nother way of getting an education.
I was fascinated and excited at the prospect of teaching my children and giving them the best education they could possibly have.
Thirteen years later, I’m still excited and fascinated with homeschooling.
While I still see homeschooling as a great way to educate my kids,deep down,I wonder if I am doing the right thing.
At times, I ask myself the following questions:
“Am I preparing my kids for life after homeschooling?” “Are they going to be ready to not only survive but thrive when they leave home in a few years?”
These questions are becoming more important to me now that I have a teenager.
It doesn’t help that my folks keep asking me when I am going to send the children to school or try to convince me that homeschooling doesn’t prepare you for college or real life.
Talk about pressure!
Although homeschooling is growing and becoming a popular alternative for many families, it’s by no means mainstream.
A lot of people are still suspicious of its effectiveness and many focus on the negatives.
So what is a mom supposed to do? How do I know that I am doing the right thing?
How do I ensure that my child will become a success story?
Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers because just like most things in life, there are no guarantees.
But, after a lot of thought and reflection, I came to the conclusion that along with a big helping of faith and optimism,there are some things I can do to increase my child’s chances of success.
Once I came to that conclusion, the next step was to figure out what those things are so I can prepare my homeschool teen for life in the real world.
First, I spent some time thinking about some of the skills or habits my child needs to succeed in the real world.
Next, I started brainstorming ways I can help him develop those skills/habits.
Before I share what I came up with, let me say that my list is by no means exhaustive.
What you choose to focus on may be different from mine (depending on your unique situation), but I hope my list can be useful to some of you.
Here’s my list:
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5 WAYS I AM PREPARING MY HOMESCHOOL TEEN FOR THE REAL WORLD
1. HOLD HIM TO A HIGHER STANDARD (FOR HIS AGE)
One of the ways I am preparing my teen for life after homeschooling is to encourage him to pursue excellence in whatever he does.
What this means is that I am setting age-appropriate high expectations for my teen.
A few examples of how this plays out include: he can’t turn in sub-standard, untidy or shoddy work, and he can no longer get away with doing the bare minimum instead of doing the best work that he can.
Does this mean I am going to turn into a dictator or drill sergeant or stand over my kid while he’s doing his work?
Not at all.
Holding my teen to a higher standard just means I will encourage him to be more thoughtful and careful in his work. It means being diligent in whatever task he is doing.
Basically, I want my child to care about his work. To put in the effort to do good work.
I don’t want him to see his school work or chores as something to just get through to stop me from nagging or whatever.
This doesn’t mean that I expect perfection from my teen. Far from it.
Like everyone else, he has strengths and weaknesses and he loves some things more than others.
And that’s perfectly fine.
But it isn’t unreasonable to expect him to write neatly. To take care of his school books. To be more attentive.To put in more effort.
These are all reasonable expectations for a young teen, and they are some ways I am holding him to a higher standard.
Some day, I expect my son to go to college, get a job or start his own business. All of these would require him to meet an acceptable standard (whether it is to graduate from college, keep a job or run a business).
How does this work in practice?
- Give clear instructions
- Let him know what is expected from him.
- Tell him what is acceptable and what isn’t
- Provide feedback, offer support and help him when he is stuck
The biggest benefit of holding my teenager to a higher standard is that he’s adopting what I call the “First time rule.”
This simply means doing your best work the first time around so you don’t have to do it all over again!
It saves me from nagging and it leaves him with more free time to spend as he likes. It’s a win-win for everyone.
2. TEACH TIME MANAGEMENT
Learning how to manage your time so you can get things done and meet deadlines is something everyone of us needs to learn. That’s why I’m working on this with my homeschool teen.
Good time management skills is essential for anyone who wants to accomplish a lot.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. You can do school anytime you want and don’t need to be too structured if you don’t want to.
While flexibility is a good thing, it can lead to inconsistency and procrastination if you’re not diligent.
My son tends to dawdle a little bit and sometimes he takes too long to complete his lessons or chores (because he thinks he has all the time in the world to complete them).
To combat this, I decided to assign a time period for each lesson. For example, 45 minutes for math, 30 minutes for history and so on.
We are also more serious about the “Principle of alternation.”
I noticed that when my son does all his written work one after the other, he gets a bit fatigued compared to when he alternates his subjects and activities.
What I mean is, he likes to do his math, followed by grammar, followed by copywork, then Latin before he does any reading.
A better way is to do math, read a chapter from his history or literature book, followed by grammar etc.
This method is less taxing on the brain and keeps it fresh.
Here is a very good article on the subject if you’d like to learn more.
Another way I am teaching time management is by giving deadlines for assignments (like writing reports or completing a chore).
I am also going to start giving him some timed tests so he can start getting used to them.
We also use timers and verbal reminders/warnings to help him keep track of time especially when we have outside appointments.
Finally, we are going to minimize distractions.
For him, that means giving him his own dedicated space for his lessons, encouraging him to leave his devices alone during school hours (except when he’s reading his Kindle books).
There are lots of ways to teach time management to your teen, but these are just some of the ways I am helping my son develop good time management skills.
3. GUIDE HIM TOWARDS BEING MORE RESPONSIBLE
As my teenager gets older, I am easing the reins and giving him more control of his life and school work.
I’m letting him make some decisions and giving him more choices.
The purpose of this is to help him develop self-discipline and to be more responsible. Being responsible is essential for success both in his academics and in the real world.
If you really want to prepare your homeschool teenager for the real world, teach him to accept ownership for the things he needs to do like his lessons and chores, and discourage him from making excuses when he fails to do them.
Let your teen learn how to take the initiative. Not waiting to be told what to do before he does it. That’s what responsibility is.
Like a lot of parents, I am guilty of doing too much for my kids because I don’t want them to fail.
But, I am learning to back off and I am more willing to let them fail or make mistakes (because it’s all part of the learning process).
I am still going to be there to provide guidance or support for my teenager when he needs it. But, I have decided to give him a bit more space so he can find his own way of doing things.
This is one way I am helping my child to be more responsible.
Another thing he’s learning is that actions have consequences.
For example, there are consequences for not completing your assignment on time (you may lose some privileges). There are consequences for spending all your pocket money at once (you won’t have money to save or buy some other stuff).
There are consequences for not adding your clothes to the laundry pile (you run out of clean underwear).
I am allowing him to learn these lessons because I love him and I want him to be prepared for life after homeschooling.
Another thing I am doing is, I no longer rush to bail him out of difficult situations. I give him the freedom and time to work things out for himself.
Yes, it means some things take longer to complete than I’d like, but he’s learning an invaluable lesson and that’s more important than anything else.
How much responsibility you choose to give your teenager depends on his age and maturity. So consider that before you assign some tasks or decision making to them.
Please remember that the goal is to guide them into becoming more responsible.
4. TEACH GOAL SETTING AND PLANNING
The first time I handed my son a goal-setting planner and told him I wanted him to start setting daily goals, he looked at me like I had lost my mind.
That was a good opportunity to explain to him the importance of setting goals and having a plan to accomplish those goals.
Our lives are littered with so many unfinished projects because we failed to set goals or take action. I can’t tell you how many projects I have started but never completed because I didn’t have a plan.
If you want your teenager to be among the homeschool success story, teaching him how to set and execute goals is a must.
You can start by helping him set little goals: like reading x number of pages every day or week, finishing his school work before lunch or dinner, waking up an hour early or spending more time practicing his musical instrument.
It doesn’t have to be anything too difficult or life changing. The idea is to get him used to setting goals and making a plan to achieve them.
Let me give you an example.
The other day my son said he’d like to save a minimum of $200 at the end of the year. I told him that was a good goal to have. The next thing I did was ask him how he was going to accomplish that.
He laughed and said I was going to give him the money for his birthday or Christmas present. I gently explained to him that, that wasn’t how goal setting worked.
Instead, I sat down with him and we brainstormed (planned) some ways that he could save up that amount.
I will let you know how he did at the end of the year.
If you have a teenager (or any child) who’s struggling to get things done, help him to set some goals and work on a plan to achieve those goals.
Maybe you have a child who struggles to complete their lessons on time, or a child who is always late or misses deadlines. Learning how to set goals may just be the answer to some of these challenges.
Before I continue, let me share what just happened. You’re not going to believe it.
My daughter just came downstairs where I am writing this post to tell me she plans to finish the book she’s currently reading (Return to Gone Away Lake) on January 10th.
Here is what she did next: She grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down her plan. She plans to read two chapters on the 9th and the last three chapters on the 10th.
She seems to have goal setting and planning down pat.
I am one happy mama right now because it looks like I am doing something right.
Goal setting and planning are skills that anyone can learn and it’s our responsibility to help our children learn these skills.
Since planning involves problem solving and coming up with solutions, it is a good way for our kids to develop critical thinking skills.
I have found using daily to-do lists or making daily goals is a good way to introduce your child to goal setting.
Each day ask them to write down what they’d like to accomplish.
From that list,they should highlight their priorities. Their priorities will be the things that will make them feel happy or satisfied the most even if they don’t get round to doing everything on their to-do list.
This process works really well and can help your homechool teenager stay focused.
Try it and let me know if it works for you.
5. TEACH LIFE SKILLS
Want your teen to be prepared for real life after homeschooling? Start by teaching life skills.
It’s amazing the number of kids who leave home unprepared to face the demands of life because they lack some basic life skills.
It’s important that we don’t put our kids in that position. It’s our duty to teach them life skills and prepare them for what lies ahead.
I want to raise children who can take care of themselves and make good decisions when needed.
There are lots of life skills your kids can learn but right now I am focusing on these areas:
- Financial management (budgeting, saving,spending)
- Health and hygiene (bathing, brushing, hand washing,using skincare products like deodorants and body creams. Staying clean and healthy etc)
- Cooking,cleaning and laundry
- Basic home repairs
- Reading a map/following directions
- First aid
Teaching your teenager some of these life skills will help prepare them for the real world. Don’t send your kids out into the world without equipping them with the tools and knowledge they need to survive.
For more on life skills, check out this roundup post, Life Skills Every Kid Should Learn Before Leaving Home for some very helpful suggestions.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES/PRODUCTS FOR TEACHING LIFE SKILLS
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOMESCHOOL TEEN FOR THE REAL WORLD
Homeschooling teenagers is fun and exciting but not without it’s challenges.
Preaparing your teenager for real life may sound like a daunting task, but you’re capable of pulling it off as long as you’re intentional about it.
I hope the list of things I am doing to prepare my teen will inspire you and give you some ideas of how you can help your kids succeed after homeschooling.
PREPARING YOUR HOMESCHOOL TEEN FOR THE REAL WORLD
- Hold him to a higher standard (for his age)
- Teach time management
- Guide him towards being more responsible
- Teach goal setting and planning
- Teach life skills
How are you preparing your teenager for the real world?