High School Homeschool?

So, I came across an article recently from a woman who was pointing out why she could “never” homeschool her child…her teen, specifically.  You can see the full article here:  7 Reasons I’d Never Homeschool My Teen.

I would first like to point out that the author is not putting down homeschoolers, only pointing out why she, herself, could not do it.  Also, I recognize that a child that has been in compulsory school his entire life, as hers may have been, might have a more difficult time transitioning to homeschooling…a fact conceded in my own home with my oldest.  However, her points still seemed worth addressing, so here they are with my comments following.

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  1. I could probably get him through algebra and geometry, but we’d both need a tutor when it came to calculus. Sure, I took it in high school but it was in one ear and out the other as soon as the final was finished.  I have a couple of comments on this one.  First, you’d be amazed at what you “get” when you are studying it as an adult for the sake of your children, rather than being forced to learn it when you are younger.  (I also use the term “learn” very loosely in this context as the author unwittingly makes a perfect point.  Schools no longer teach, they force-feed for short-term regurgitation.  That, and a sense of subject irrelevance, is most likely why you only retained information for finals)  Secondly, by avoiding this factory assembly-line-style education altogether, your child will begin to truly learn.  He could then essentially teach himself, by that point.  With the additional benefit of all the resources now available online, as well, it’s not as big of a stumbling block as you might think.  And third, how often do you use calculus as an adult now?  I would argue that college is not the only path for children and if your child is passionate with a direction that doesn’t include calculus, then why force it on him?  If college is the only way for your family, then I refer to my second point.  If he needs it, he will be able to learn it, because you will have already taught him how to learn anything.
  2. I can’t imagine his first intense classroom setting being a college lecture. Talk about intimidating.  I never had any classroom setting in high school that was “intense” like those in college.  College and high school are two different worlds and one does not necessarily prepare a person for the other.  Was your first college course not intimidating just because you sat in a dull classroom 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, nearly your entire life leading up to that?  I think it just goes with the territory of all things unfamiliar.  You quickly get used to it as long as you are mentally prepared, which I believe a homeschooled child is likely to be.  And, if you are still worried about being unprepared for the level of work, guess what?  You can teach from the college books once they are old enough to understand them…long before the magical age of 18.  Your homeschooled teen would be well-versed in the nuances of an upper-level class by then and might even get some credit for it.  After all, if you have to take, say…that dreaded calculus, why not get college credit for it and get a jump start on those years of upper education?
  3. We’d get sick of each other by week four two.  So, I understand this concern.  I really do.  I wondered about it myself when I first contemplated homeschooling.  I can also admit that there are still (and will likely always be) times when I wish I could get more breaks than I do.  However, that being said.  I am never “sick” of my kids and I don’t believe they get “sick” of me.  This is due, in part, to the fact that we stay busy.  I am not their sole means of socialization and they are not mine.  Your kid would still be socializing outside the home with the activities and extracurriculars you would be sure to provide.  He would be less of an irritant and more of a help as he would be more involved in the process of keeping the home running smoothly…and yes, it is a process.  You and he would find that you both grow by recognizing and (hopefully) participating in each others interests.  You will each need space, of course.  We all do, but sick of each other?  No.  You would actually become closer in a way you might never become otherwise…initial speedbumps, notwithstanding. 
  4. When he complains about his bitchy teacher, he’ll be talking about me.  I’m not sure that he would have cause to complain about you like he might with some other teacher.  Will you be bitchy at times?  Probably.  Aren’t we all?  I promise you, your teen is already complaining about that…even if it’s just to himself.  But, a luxury you have as a teacher that a school system does not is knowing when to push and when to give some space.  When things just aren’t clicking and frustrations seem high, that’s a good day to take off on a field trip or just have a “downtime” day.  You might find yourself pleasantly surprised by the learning and bonding that takes place in those “unproductive” days.
  5. When I complain about my crappy job, I’ll be talking about him.  No, you will be talking about your own frustrations, not him.  I get frustrated, of course.  Not everything can go exactly as I want; when I want it (sadly), so frustration naturally comes.  This is not to say that I don’t like my “job”.  In fact, I don’t really see it as such in the sense that this is just what we do.  We are being a family in a way that includes education…not so much doing school at home. 
  6. I can’t teach him the same survival instincts you learn navigating your way though mean girls, jocks, geeks, or whichever else cliques exist these days.  This one actually makes me snort a little in that “really?” sort of way.  Though I am aware that cliques continue to exist in minor form as we enter adulthood, I don’t feel they are a mirror of what a child endures in school.  Adult life and the cliquey life inherent in high school are worlds apart.  These cliques you speak of haven’t really come into my world since I left high school and if there is some sort of “mean” person that my kids will run into, I will certainly know how to prepare them to deal with it.  Don’t.  Our lives are our own and in no other situation are we forced to endure the exclusion, grouping, and self-esteem bashing that often goes hand-in-hand with middle and high school.  So, the survival skills become simple:  avoid those who would not enhance your life, treat all as you wish to be treated, and recognize that all people are individuals and, as such, generally want the same thing:  to be content in a world full of diversity.  Bottom line:  no compulsory schooling = no cliques = nothing to “navigate”. 
  7. I’m not a trained educator. Parents love to complain about their kids’ teachers but it’s a tough job. Probably one of the toughest. It’s a combo of instructor, counselor, soother, conflict resolution expert, and motivator. How exhausting is that?!  No, you may not be a trained educator, with a degree in secondary education, but you are an educator…and an instructor, and a counselor, and a soother, and a conflict resolver, and a motivator.  You are a mother, which, by my definition, encompasses all this and much, much more.  You are prepared better than any trained educator ever could be.  After all, who knows your child more than you?  Who could possibly bolster him and praise him and guide him and prepare him better than the one person in the world that wants the best for him?  But, yes, it is exhausting.  Motherhood just is.

What can you take from all this?  Every family must decide what is best for them and there are many paths to take.  No one way is the “right” way.  Homeschooling your teen might not be for you, or even me, for that matter…time will tell.  But what I can say is that it is probably not what you think it is and this will become more clear as you learn to rethink education and what it is for.   Step away from the failing model of education we have all become so accustomed to with traditional schooling.  Read more about the alternatives.  Research the many different ways that have worked for other families out there.  Then, give it a try.  You just might find that it is the best thing you ever do for you and your family.