Honoring the Highschooler

I have two teenagers in my house of seven kids. And talking real straight with you all — I love these teenage years of homeschooling. So often we read about the beginning years and phonics {which I’ve taught for, oh my, almost 11 years straight}, addition, math facts, and more, but forget to look ahead to those years of biology or chemistry or algebra 2.

This post isn’t about those advanced subjects or how I teach them. That’s another post entirely — one I will write and will share with you — but not today. Rather, this post is about the beautiful benefits and blessings of having teenagers in my home who are also homeschoolers. And this post is really about the mindset that we, as their parents, should consider adopting whether we homeschool or not.

my 15 year old daughter’s journal — used with permission

I respect my teenagers, my young adults. I do not look at them like they are annoying, or frustrating, or going to get into trouble or more. Honestly, that’s how part of the world portrays people in those 13-19 year old age brackets. And that portrayal? That would hurt. I refuse to believe it, and I refuse to look down on my kids or other kids who happen to be in those teenage years.

I’ve told my kids since they’ve been very young how much I’ve looked forward to these years of their lives — and I told them that often they’re told that these years need to be filled with us butting heads and irritation — and that picture? That’s a lie. A flat out lie that attempts to erode away at these crucial years of life.

Since my kids have been young I’ve also shared with them how excited I am to walk with them during the teenage years. Excited, not afraid, not dreading, not fearful, not worried, not talking bad about it, but actually eager.

Now, a bit about homeschooling. Here’s the truth — I love having them in my home. Yes, our homeschool day is very, very different from the years when they were young and we were learning about different kinds of sentences. There are times of me admitting that I don’t remember an answer and then looking up answers with them — learning along side. There are deep discussions and encouraging of dreams. In fact, in our family, I’ve seen the freedom of homeschooling open doors of possibility in my children.

They have the time to delve into discovering who they really are and time to cultivate their talents.

That means not comparing. It would be easy for me to think that my highschooler needs to do this or go to that or attend this or finish that. But, I’ve had to step back, to re-evaluate our plan, and to continue boldly forward. As the years have passed I’ve seen these beautiful young adults, full of drive and vision, emerge from all those years of homeschooling.

Moms, especially those with littles, do not dread these highschool years. Instead, pray about these years, speak highly of these years, plan for these years. They will come — time keeps moving — so put the groundwork down now so that the relationships during these years will be as strong as possible.

These highschool years are a gift. A complete gift.

Remember that.

Rachel lives in the half-a-year frozen land of Minnesota. She’s a Christian home schooling momma to seven fabulous kids, and is the wife to an amazing cancer-surviving husband. In January 2011 her youngest son, Samuel, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease so you’ll also find her passionate about gluten free living and Celiac Disease awareness. Between home schooling, blogging, running her family, and, of course, drinking coffee, you’ll also find her driving her girls to classical ballet or her boys to soccer. She’s passionate about seeking joy and living a faith filled, intentional life. You can find Rachel blogging at Finding Joy

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  1. WONDERFUL post! I am really looking forward to the teenage years.
    I have been so impressed with my homeschooled nieces and nephews during THEIR high school years.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. One of the leaders of our church talked about the “myth” of teenagers. He reminded us that the word “teenager” wasn’t coined until the fifties, but every member of the human race for how many thousands of generations passed through those stages despite not being “teenagers.” There’s a difference between a “young man” and a “teen boy.” Between a “young woman” and a “teen girl,” and those differences depend largely upon how their parents treat them.

    Great post, and a great reminder to us all! 🙂

  3. thank you for this article! i get a little frustrated with the online home school community at times because 99% of what i see being discussed is about new home schoolers, or the home schooling of prek – elementary years. there’s not enough talk about those later years, so i really enjoy this. i have a 15 yr old and 12 yr old and i agree with your take on the teenage years. while there are always going to be some annoyances and frustrations involved in parenting, there is so much to love about these years, and i find that my boys don’t fit the typical “teenage” stereotype either. i hope that has something to do with home schooling:). the biggest challenge right now is being able to keep up with them, academically! again, keep these teen posts coming!

    1. Apryl, Thanks for the encouragement about writing about the teen years and homeschooling. I do feel like it can be an isolating place to be in the homeschooling world because sometimes the number of homeschoolers decreases. That being said, I love the community that can develop and the absolute beauty of watching these teens mature into amazing adults.
      Bless you!

  4. Oh gosh, Rachel, this is JUST EXACTLY what I needed and wanted to hear. When we decided to homeschool everyone told me the girls would hate me in their teen years, even more if we homeschooled because they would be with me more. But, honestly, we have our ups and downs (who doesn’t?) but I really feel like I have a better relationship with the girls and maybe because they are not influenced by all the things that say “this is how you are supposed to act–you are supposed to disrespect authority and not like your parents” or whatever.

    Loved this post!

    1. You know what’s funny, my friend? My girls love homeschooling even more now that they’re this age. It seemed more of a battle when they were 10-12 and now that they are older they wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Thanks! I have two young teens and I love having them around. I love the conversations we have! It’s been hard for me to find good high school homeschool information and inspiration on the ‘net. So much is about preschool and young elementary. So I was particularly thrilled to come across this today.

    1. Margaret,
      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. I’m really grateful. I love that you, too, love hanging around with your teens. I think that’s a beautiful attitude and it really translates into an excellent relationship with your children.
      Blessings to you!

  6. Wow, I admire you for sticking with it through the high school years. I know a lot of home schooled kids who go to high school after being at home. I work with students at my church every week, and I love all of them. They need so much encouragement, something I agree is lacking in society’s view of them.

    Thanks for this post!

    1. When I was first homeschooling I was so nervous about the highschool years. Now that we are in the midst I am truly blessed. It is a time of linking arms versus parting ways and for that gift I am thankful. 🙂

  7. This is such an encouraging message. I have always felt more equipt to handle teens than toddlers. Rachel, would you write a post about the groundwork you mentioned? What can I be doing now to strengthen my boys so that they will hold to their convictions and personalities as they pass through and beyond puberty?

    1. You’ve given me some good thoughts to ponder. Yes, I will work on putting together a post on the groundwork. I think, the first thing that always comes to mind is intentionally deciding to look away from the world’s definitions of teenagers and parents and their interactions. Much of what is shown is simply toxic and does nothing but tear down relationships and trust.
      Thank you for your encouragement.

  8. So very true … I have one teen in the house and one 4th grader … and truth be told – the teen is easier. She gets the learning, she wants to learn, she delves into all sorts of things that capture her attention and she talks about them with excitement and joy.
    She studies because she wants to grow …
    Elementary school is filled with so many ‘we should be doing this and thats’ and high school just seems so much more filled with possibility.
    Either way, I love them both, and having done public school, private school and now homeschool – guess which one I love the most?

    1. Ah, Nicole, this is why I value you as a friend. You make me smile and encourage me with your words. I think something shifts in the brain when they hit about 14 — and if you can recognize their need for independence, growth, creativity, and more and walk alongside them versus against them then these years can be full of wonderful moments. Will it always be easy? No. But, I think so much depends on the attitude that we, as parents, adopt. Love ya, my friend!

  9. What a beautiful post!! I also have seven kids with one on the way. My oldest is just embarking on the pre teen years (she is almost 12) and to hear such positive comments is reassuring. Some days I feel as though there are just too many kids and I cannot provide them all what they need. So thank you for sharing your honest opinions to help out other homeschooling moms!!

    1. Ah, I get that feeling of not being able to provide — but here’s the thing — it’s just a thought and it is far from the truth. My children are always busy, always have a playmate, and have a beautiful interaction with each other. It is rewarding to see my 15 year old reading to the 2 year old — and being blessed by that time together.
      Blessings to you! And thank you for your kind comment.

  10. I’m a Facebook follower of HHM. In regard to this post, where do I begin!? I read this, and immediately pasted its link into an email to my parents, in-laws, sister and brothers-in-law. I’m asking each person with influence in my children’s lives to read your post. I’m struggling to even write a comment that does my thoughts on this article justice! Our kids are 6, 4, 9 months and we have one on the way. I’m such a strong believer in this philosophy, encouraging our kids through each stage, rather than SETTING THEM UP TO FAIL! And your article was so well-written, and from a perspective of SUCCESS that I decided each person that plays a role in my kids’ lives NEEDS to read it. They need to be on the same page here, not undermining what my husband and I will do by making jokes and warning these kids of things that don’t need to happen.

    Oh my. I can’t thank you enough. This is one of those posts that’s a real game-changer. Setting a new direction in my parenting and giving me a new goal. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I just prayed that the Lord bless your family greatly for your efforts.

    🙂 L

    1. Leslie, Thank you for your words. I love how you are intentionally looking for ways to break down the lies of teenagers that the world preaches. That will go so far in the years to come.
      And thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers. I am grateful.

  11. People are mostly supportive when they find out I homeschool the boys, now ages 9. 7 & 5. But when the conversation moves on to highschool and I admit I have every intention of schooling through to the end…..silence, disapproval, doubt, crickets….it’s not encouraging. Thank you, for your words! I’m thrilled to see those boys grown into teenagers and then men….I feel privileged that their dad and I are on the ‘front lines’ so to speak. It IS a gift, all of it, even the highschool years, maybe even especially those!

    1. Yes. There seems to be that big sigh about homeschooling highschool. In all honesty, it’s easier, in some ways, to schooling when they are young. It’s less table time and more talk/discussion time. They can read, and do math, and more. The real difference? Keeping tighter records. And that isn’t even that difficult.
      Blessed by your comment.

  12. Since five of my six children are adults, and most of them homeschooled all the way through high school (the one that didn’t – that’s a long story for another day!), I can tell you that I LOVED the teen years. By high school they are so much more independent academically, they can have good discussions, their friends are fun to have around (you don’t have to entertain them), and they can even get to some of their activities on their own! In other words, they are fun people to have around (that’s not to say that they don’t have their moments . . . so do I!)

    1. Marilyn — you are inspiring! I would love to chat with a mom who’s gone all the way through. I’m right in the middle of the highschool years and am totally loving it. I’m so grateful to have continued to push forward with homeschooling. And my kids? My teens? They wouldn’t have it any other way.
      Blessings to you!

  13. Rachel,
    This is such a vital message in today’s culture! It is so easy to negate the undesirable messages that are stated over and over again, and aimed at teens. The fact is, it is a very precious time and depends heavily on a parent’s mindset. I appreciate your thoughts and insights. They are not only imperative, but serve as a stellar reminder. XO, ;0)

  14. I love, love, love this! Thank you for saying it so well! ~Another homeschool mom of seven (three teenagers) who’s loving life!

  15. I love your post! I am the mother of 4 and have 2 teenage boys ages 16 and 14 and I LOVE THEM. We have so much fun together and enjoy homeschooling them. We workout together, share books, movies and so much on daily bases. Our relationship is so awesome they even share their struggles. I am so blessed and it is neat to read that their are other mothers who enjoy their teens as well.

    1. Jessie — I love your description — reminds me of my house. I was blessed reading about your teenage journey as well. I think that the more we talk about how great these years can be the more we can help to change the perception.

  16. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I needed that badly. I needed a reminder of the gift I have in my teenagers. God Bless you sister!

    1. Louanne — you just start praying for those babies now. I started praying with them when they were young about the teenage years. And about their future spouses. And that their future spouses would love their future inlaws! 🙂

  17. What a great and thoughtful post. I feel like this too. I have 3 boys ages 30, 23, and 13, so I have been through the teen years twice and a half (ha!) and I have to say, the Myth of Teenagers is totally true. I kept waiting for my boys to turn into monsters and they never did. They had their challenging moments to be sure, but they were still the same cute, funny, awesome boys as they were when they were young. I really enjoyed hanging out with them and their friends because they were such a fun and interesting group of kids. But I think that has a lot to do with how you raise them. If you teach them a little respect and consideration when they are young, it makes them a LOT easier to live with when they get older and those hormones kick in. It helps to keep the lines of communication open also.

  18. I absolutely loved your post! I currently am homeschooling 3 teens and one sweet 11 year old dying to become a teen! I have to say it is absolutely wonderful learning along side my kids. And you are so right, the teen years don’t have to be this horrible struggle.

  19. Great post! I have two teens as well here at home, and I am loving it! It is so fascinating to see them begin to walk on their own with God in life. These are some of the best years I have had as a parent. I agree with you that if these years are bathed in prayer, they will be a blessing and not a burden. You said it so eloquently!

  20. I’m sure I’ve complained about my kiddos a couple of times, but as I finish my last year as a homeschooler, I have to say, I love my homeschooled teens and their homeschooled friends! I have lots of nieces and nephews the same age, and during the middle school-early high school years our relationships became distant and they are just now coming back to our relationship as they start college…. But not my kids and other homeschooled friends. Sure they got a little more snide and tested their limits, but the hugs and kisses and smiles and joking never, ever stopped. It’s a wonderful thing.

    I think the biggest key has been respect, respect, respect. Me for them, and them for me.

  21. I could not agree with you more! Of our 5 kids, 3 are teenagers! 18 (college freshman), 16 (11th grade) and 14 (9th grade). These years of high school homeschool have been so rewarding. Our eldest graduated in May 2012 and it was such a joy to observe how eager and confident he’d grown to become as it pertained to his future once he would leave our school. Our current junior is reveling in learning Chemistry, participating in competitive essay writing, and driver’s ed and training. And my husband and I are experiencing joy as he, too, starts the college transition process. The 14 year old is truly the family life blood when it comes to generating lively conversation, laughter and epiphany moments. I say all this to say…teenagers ROCK!!! And I am truly grateful to have ours home to teach and enjoy!

  22. Thanks for this post. We are moving into the middle school years next year and I do enter it with a bit of trepidation. Walking into the unknown. But, I have realized how fun and interesting my soon to be 6th grade son is becoming. He’s a great conversationalist, funny and respectful to boot (most of the time!) Anyway, thanks for sharing your heart!

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