Embracing the Teen Years


First steps, first words, first birthday . . .

We celebrate these milestones and look forward to them from the day our children are born. The teen years seem so far away, but they arrive before we know it.

Many homeschool parents look upon the teen years with dread. They worry about how they’ll teach more difficult subjects, how hard it will be to keep track of grades, and [gulp] Driver’s Ed. Unfortunately, some parents believe that they cannot even continue to homeschool the teen years: What if my teen is weird and unsocialized for life?

I’d like to reassure you that:

1. You can teach more difficult subjects. When my oldest was in kindergarten, I began having the inklings of doubt for his high school years. Algebra and upper level science scared me to death. A funny thing happened, though. As my son grew older, he also grew to become more independent. I don’t have to do the algebra and science; HE does. I am here to help him, and I coach him and facilitate lessons, but the real work is up to him. And, thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful homeschool materials out there that make these subjects not only doable, but interesting and even fun.

Some math curriculum is computer based, with a virtual teacher to lead the student through the lessons (DIVE CDs for Saxon and Teaching Textbooks). Dr. Wile’s Apologia science texts are written to the student, so I really only have to help by gathering materials for experiments and discussing the study guide questions with my son. The reading is up to him.

Spanish is pretty much self-taught using a computer based program as well. And, supplementary CDs are benefitting the entire family as we listen to them in the car and all learn new vocabulary. (Rosetta Stone and Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day).

History is similarly written to the student, so he does the reading, and I follow the prompts in the teacher’s guide for discussions (Sonlight, TruthQuest, Beautiful Feet). We’ve learned that there are tons of “helps” out there if we need them, such as supplementary notebooking materials, study aids, and tutors. (Donna Young’s free science printables, Harmony Arts free notebooking pages, and Khan Academy’s free tutorials).

However, even though my son is working more independently, I am finding that I am actually enjoying learning many things alongside him. I didn’t enjoy some subjects very much when I was in school, but I am discovering that homeschooling is producing a love for learning in me as well as in my kids. Don’t forget to sit down with your teen and learn alongside him! It will benefit you both.

2. You can keep track of grades. The only thing I do differently for middle and high school grading is to switch over to a system for letter grades instead of the Satisfactory/Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory elementary grading system. There are many free resources to help you figure out how to do this, but don’t over think it too much. Establish a grading scale in the beginning (see your state’s department of education website for requirements in your state), and use the numerical grade on the progress report and report card. Include the letter grade alongside it if you’d like, but the numerical grade is what you will use to calculate GPA and class rankings.

3. Driver’s Ed is scary, but inevitable, so you might as well face your fears. When your teen is ready to drive, start out slow – baby steps! It isn’t easy to sit in the passenger seat, and I am still learning to trust my teen. I asked our insurance company to send us free materials for teen drivers. They sent us a booklet with mini-lessons based on driving scenarios and a DVD with tips and safety measures, along with warnings about driver distractions. There is also a pledge my son signed before getting behind the wheel the first time, promising never to text and drive, etc. (Some driving schools even offer discounts to homeschool families.)

4. Teens are weird anyway. They are goofy and gangly and want to stay up all night and sleep all day. Their rooms are disaster zones, and they eat everything in sight. They can be moody, stubborn, and too silent at times.

But, they are also delightful.

You will discover how fun it is to listen to their opinions on things, to get to know them as emerging adults, and to just hang out with them. Their independence gives you more room to trust them with greater responsibilities, which is an enormous help with household tasks, caring for younger siblings, and running errands.

Just remember that they are still children, and they still need your guidance, your time, and your love and affection. They never get to old for these!


Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Moments of Grace: Parenting the Homeschooled Child


Moments of Grace:  Parenting the Homeschooled Child

Homeschooling does not come naturally to me. In fact, I think of myself as the Reluctant Homeschooler. I had vision of my life as a mom, and this WAS NOT IT. I was going to drop my two children off at the local public school, take a jog down Hinson and have lunch with my friends at Trios after having spent an hour or two volunteering somewhere. But God had a different plan for me. And I sometimes wonder if He is chuckling a bit at my ridiculous ideas!

Homeschooling is SO HARD. “Normal” people spend a HUGE amount of time without their children every day. And while spending every waking moment with my children….and sometimes my sleeping moments as well since the two year old will NOT stay out of our bed…. IS a great thing (really, I DO mean this. I LOVE that I get the best part of my children’s day) there are things we deal with in an almost nonstop way that others only see glimmers of in the afternoon/evenings & weekends.

Like this morning, as my four year old was crying (for the tenth time) that her big sisters had wronged her in some horrible way while they were playing Barbies. I called all three in and discovered that the 6 yo had stolen back a Barbie that the 4 yo had stolen originally. I looked at my six year old (who is closer to seven than six) and told her that this was a great opportunity to show grace to her sister. Yes, Ryen did NOT deserve to have the doll because she was wrong when she stole it in the first place but we can show her love by letting her have it. We can show love by giving her what she clearly does not deserve. She looked at me with a mix of exasperation and skepticism.

I sighed. “It sucks, doesn’t it?”

She looked a little surprised.

“Showing grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it sucks, doesn’t it? It is hard. It hurts and everything in us wants to scream NO! But we do it because we love.”

She nodded.

“Do you think it was easy for Jesus to go to the cross? To show grace to us? To BE grace for us?”

“Nooooooo.” Quiet, head shaking.

“And it hurt. It hurt really bad. Not just where they put the nails but it hurt His heart because we were so bad and so undeserving. He even asked God to not make Him do it. But in the end, He DID IT. He did it because He IS love. And when we love others, we show them grace because we love and because Jesus is IN us. And He IS LOVE.”

Those thoughts just set on us all for a moment. My eight year old looked up at Ryen and said “Ryen, I am sorry I have been so mean to you all morning. Do you forgive me?”

The six year old gave her the much fought over doll (which the two year old promptly stole – but that is a whole other issue). The four year old dried her tears and hugged her sisters and off they went to play ….

This is a moment I would NOT have had if my older girls had been at school. The four year old would have had the Barbies to herself all day. The big girls would have had friends and connection elsewhere, making a rift with their little sister not seem so important. God had another plan, and it is a good one. I am so grateful that He ALWAYS shows us grace, even when we think we know better. This is a whole lot better than a jog and lunch with my friends!


Natasha JonesNatasha is a homeschooling mom of 6 awesome kids and has been married to Keith for 11 years. She blogs at Keeping Up with the Joneses.