Every new year brings with it new adventures and new beginnings. Especially in terms of education. The Summer Holidays bring with them a lengthy break from the school year routine and requirements and greater opportunity to spend time with our teens than we have at any other time of the year. We can reconnect with and reflect with our teens. We can enjoy their company and support them in some independent activities and holiday hobbies.
And as we begin the new year we look ahead and consider plans and goals. Needs and dreams. It's the perfect time to start something new and to put into practise a plan that may have been gently formulating in the background of our minds during the busyness of the previous year. Like the idea of home education.
This time of year is when most families make the transition from school to home with the new start of a new year.
Awhile back I shared a post on helping your teen make the transition from school to home in Homeschooling Teens: First Steps. Here I share 5 tips to consider as you begin to build your homeschooling lifestyle with your teen.
How to Homeschool your Teen: 5 Tips
Tip 1: Build Your Home Library
Step 1: Make a regular time each week or fortnight to begin visiting your local library and become familiar with it's layout and what it offers. Read at the library and bring books home. Begin with what you find interesting. Talk to the librarians and find out what is currently popular and what they recommend (their job is to know books).
Step 2: Browse literature lists and highlight books of personal interest or study interest and source them. Here are some of my favourites: 1000 Good Books (12-14), 1000 Good Books (15-17), Newbery Medal and Honor Books 1922-Present, and Ambleside Online.
Step 3: Make friends with your local bookstores and book markets and source books online. My favourite online source is Book Depository (free postage!). Find out when your local Lifeline Bookfest is on and make it a fun morning out with friends and family. When considering which books to borrow and which books to purachase think about the books you might like to share with your family, books you might like to return to, and books you might like to keep for future generations.
Step 4: Start slow and gradually build your collection. Over time as you look back you discover all sorts of memories attached to those books and it's a form of natural record keeping all on it's own as each book reflects your interests, you skills, and what you were thinking about. Begin with a book basket or single shelf and watch it grow one book at a time.
Tip 2: Build Your Daily & Weekly Rhythm
Step 1: Sit down with your teen and a calendar or yearly diary and sketch out what you want your week to look like. Fill in first the appointments that are non-negotiable - this might include medical appointments, youth group times, church times, sport group times, or work times. Next fill in anything you do in your home that is part of your regular daily rhythm like meal times, housekeeping etc.
Step 2: Look at what time your teen wants/needs to spend studying and slot those times into your week - keeping in mind what kind of daily routine you are looking to build and what you will be prioritising. Consider read aloud time, independent reading time, subject learning through textbooks or personal study projects, time to write and create projects and presentations.
We have spent anywhere between 3-5 hours of formal study time 4 days a week. This time changes with the goals and needs of our teen's learning and also generally increased with our teen's ages and study abilities. This does not include learning through personal hobbies, social and community events, or special interest groups like sport or art.
Tip 3: Build A Culture of Meaningful Work & Recreation
Teens need to be productively busy in these years. They have a strange mixture of abundant energy and need for sleep. They want to conquer the world and do everything, yet they need down time. The trick is for them to build a meaningful life of working, learning, and living with family and friends - plus keeping healthy lifestyle habits for themselves. Work can be casual positions, traineeships, entrepreneurial, helping out with the family business or home-based. Being a productive member of the household they live in is also an important factor for growth, maturity, and the goal of creating a healthy and happy home atmosphere. Take time to find the work and roles that help your teen achieve this in a meaningful way.
Tip 4: Build Time for Group Learning & Independent Learning
Independent learning for your teen is very freeing, they can chase rabbit trails of interest and learn at a speed that suits them, dig as deep as they need to in an area of study or spend as much time as they need on an area they are struggling with. But teens need small group learning experiences as well. Find something that your teen struggles to do on their own and find a tutor or study group. Alternatively an interest your teen has they would like to share with others is an opening into a small group learning experience. They can plug into something already existing or consider creating their own. Make time for these experiences weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.
Tip 5: Build Plans & Goals
I've placed this tip last because goal setting is a unique process for everyone and goals are achieved in the step-by-step and day-to-day life. Understanding the priorities and the things that fill your daily life is the first step to creating goals as you consider the dreams in your heart and the realities of your daily life. It helps you grasp what you need to prioritise in your daily life and what you need to let go of in order to begin making plans towards a fulfilling a dream and your goals to get there.
Some people have a dream and a goal and work back from there, for many of us it takes time to know what dream and goal we want to pursue and how we are going to pursue that. A bit like building our home education philosophy - most of us refine our philosophy through the trial-and-error of daily life, and only after walking through learning at home day-by-day can we begin to articulate our philosophy and how we can purposefully guide our daily learning experiences in light of our growing educational philosophy. Life goals and vocational dreams can be the same.
This is why a time of de-schooling is needed as we transition from school to home education, and why we need to settle into the transition of the new before making large commitments to Distance Ed schools, curriculum purchases, or learning experiences.
Self-education is the only possible education;
the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature.
Beginning the homeschooling life with your teen is not a journey that needs to be overcomplicated or over-professionalised. Begin with where you are and commit together to learn and build your goals step-by-step.