HEN has recently created a Facebook group for Victorian families with at least one child between the ages of 12 and 18, who are already actively home educating. The purpose of this group is to support and inform as well as being a place for families of teens to share ideas and experiences, to discuss further education options, and make social connections for teens. You can find the group here on Facebook.
Parents of home educated teens sometimes feel pressure to put their children into school for the high school years. ‘What about VCE, TAFE and University?’ people ask. Other parents feel a little apprehensive, unsure how the way they home educated during the primary years will work now their children are older. New home educators removing a teen from school may share the concern about future options, as well as worrying about friendships, resources, and how on earth they will teach Year 12 physics.
Rest assured, home educated students are accepted into university all the time. They also get jobs, travel, study at TAFE or follow other paths of their choosing. Because they don’t have to spend hours studying subjects that are not relevant and interesting, they have more time for volunteering, work experience and hanging out with their friends – a balance which promotes good mental health.
A positive family relationship is one of the common reasons families choose to continue, or begin, home education in the teenage years. Kids at school are increasingly under so much pressure. Of course, home educating your teen will not solve every problem! We are still regular families, with our own ups and downs, tears and challenges, but so many home ed parents will tell you that their relationships with their teens was a key part of why they continued with home ed through secondary.
Having kids at home for the teen years can be easier than having them at school and dealing with the school-fallout at home. Often struggles at school are more about managing stress, irrelevant content, unrealistic expectations and the pressure to conform, rather than about learning itself. The freedom to be oneself at home is liberating, and learning can be targeted and engaging. Quirks are celebrated, not suppressed.
Deschooling, or decompression, is a period of adjustment, almost like a ‘holiday’ that allows both teen and parent to refocus and discover what a tailored education will look like in their family. Don’t feel you have to make your child read textbooks or write essays, just let them decompress. Talk to them, spend quality time together and just be. A focus on mental and physical health, confidence building activities and positive experiences through time spent in the community, outdoors, following interests and recapturing the love of learning will pay dividends – whatever style of home education you decide to pursue.
There’s no one right way to home educate a teenager. If you’ve been home educating all along, you don’t have to change what you do, but be sure to remain receptive to any changes your child may wish to make. Some teens may prefer to be completely self-directed, others may feel happier with a parent outlining tasks. It all comes down to doing what works best for your child.
Home ed parents are facilitators, not classroom teachers. Just as they helped their children to learn to walk and talk by providing models and guidance, parents of home educated children help their older children by providing tools and resources. Home educators soon learn to say, ‘I don’t know, but we can find out’. There is a world of resources available and family, friends, and even tutors and external classes, can all be used to round out a child’s education, and teenagers also become very efficient at finding their own resources. The best teachers for all children are people who love and care about them, and who respect their particular way of learning– people who have the time and the patience to provide one-on-one attention. This involvement is at the heart of home education.
To learn more about options for home ed teens entering the workforce, please see our article Home ed teens and entering the workforce.
If you’re in Victoria and on Facebook, feel free to join our HEN Teen Families group.