My Child Doesn’t Want to Homeschool
Convincing a Teen to Consider Homeschooling: A Thoughtful Approach
You’ve decided to pull your child from public school, and she is rebelling against the decision. Or, you’ve been homeschooling for a few months, and your teen is fighting you on everything because he doesn’t want to homeschool. “This was your decision, not mine”, so he wants nothing to do with it.
What do you do?
It is important for our children to have some ownership in their education. As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” So, yes, children should be able to express their concerns and desires regarding their education openly. However, as the parent and primary educator, you make the final decision. Just as you would not give in if your child came to you and said, “I don’t want to learn math” or “I don’t want to go to school at all.”
Our decision to homeschool was based on what our children need and not on what they want. We must ask: Is homeschooling best for their spiritual and intellectual growth? Is it what is most safe for them? Is it what is best for their emotional and/or physical health?
Making Your Case
That said, any legitimate concerns a child has should be factored into your homeschool decision. Give your children the opportunity to state their case fully. Conversely, they need to allow you to state your case fully. Set a time to sit down together. Set a positive tone. Make their favorite meal or go to their favorite coffee shop. And make sure that the parameters are clear: “I will respectfully hear your concerns, and I expect you to give me the same courtesy.”
Homeschooling can be a viable and rewarding educational option for teenagers, offering flexibility, personalized learning, and an opportunity to explore interests deeply. However, convincing a teen of these benefits requires a thoughtful and open approach:
- Respect Their Concerns: Start the conversation by hearing their worries. Listen without interruption. Maintaining a positive and supportive atmosphere throughout the process is crucial.
- Address Concerns: Listen carefully and address their uneasiness with facts and solutions. For example, if they’re concerned they won’t see their longtime school friends again, don’t discard it. Instead, offer a solution. For example, make a special weekly date with friends and follow through.
- Be Open to Adjustments. If your child expresses a legitimate concern, you may be able to address it with an adjustment to your homeschool plan. For example, if your child is a star athlete, he or she may be able to continue participating on the school team as a homeschooler. If they love competing in Science Olympiad, see if there is a local homeschool team (or start one!). Note that teens usually balk at homeschooling over “socialization” concerns. Ensure they understand that homeschooling provides socialization opportunities through clubs, co-ops, and extracurricular activities.
- Involve Them in Curriculum Decisions: Teens should actively participate in the decision-making process. Ask them about their educational goals and how homeschooling can align with those objectives. Ask how they would like their education delivered (online classes, co-ops, hands-on projects, field trips, etc.)
- Discuss the Benefits: After you have thoughtfully listened to their concerns without interruption, it will be their turn to listen to you. Emphasize the ability to tailor the curriculum to their interests and pace, which can lead to a deeper understanding of subjects. It will help them to be more successful in college or trade school, as well as help them to become life-long learners.
- Showcase Success Stories: Share stories of successful homeschoolers who have excelled academically and socially. (Can you say Tim Tebow!) Introduce them to other homeschool families locally. This can help dispel common misconceptions about homeschooling.
- Flexibility and Freedom: Highlight the flexibility homeschooling offers. Formal lessons at home take less time so children can pursue passions, hobbies, and travel while continuing their education. For example, homeschooling will allow them more time to practice coding if they want to be a computer programmer. Or, if they love shooting sports, they’ll have more practice time at the range.
- Trial Period: Suggest a trial to test the waters and set a date to revisit the conversation. This can help alleviate fears and give your child a sense of control. I suggest six to nine months so everyone has time to get into the homeschooling rhythm. It is crucial that the child promises, in return, to give homeschooling an honest try and will not fight you on the decision throughout the trial period.
- Support and Resources: Assure your child that you’ll provide the necessary support and resources, including access to quality educational materials. Also, make sure to connect with other homeschooled children.
- Weekly Meetings. Set a day and time to sit down together every week. Start with prayer. During this meeting, review their planner, make sure they’re getting their assigned tasks done, and ask if they need your support in anything (academically, socially, physically, or emotionally).
By approaching the subject of homeschooling with empathy, understanding, and a focus on the benefits, you can help your teen see that you have made an informed choice about their education and that your decision is all about what’s best for them.
- Student Cafe. If you are a HomeschoolConnections.com family, your teen can join our Student Cafe. This is a monitored online forum for Catholic homeschooled teens to connect. It offers several online clubs and other opportunities.
- Accountability Mentoring. If you want (and need) someone to help motivate your teen to be independent and get the most out of homeschooling, this is an excellent service. Another option is to find a friend or family member to mentor your teen.
- Personalized Homeschool Consultants. Sometimes, it’s Mom who needs a mentor. Here are two great Catholic homeschool consultants that I highly recommend. They can assist you with your curriculum choices and homeschool plan. Or, if you’re connected to a local homeschool group, see if a veteran homeschooler is open to meeting with you regularly.
- Catholic Life Coaching. If you need help focusing on your personal relationship with your children as well as your spiritual relationship with God, check out Fiat Life Coaching.
- Catholic Homeschool Podcast (scroll down for episodes). Homeschooling Saints was created just for you! You can also find it on your favorite podcasting app.
- Catholic Homeschool Conference. This annual conference gives you access to the best curriculum providers and speakers. Provides encouragement and practical assistance.
- Catholic Homeschool Community. Connect with over 9,000 Catholic homeschool families. Led by Paola Ciskanik, the community offers a host of helps for parents. You can also find other homeschoolers who live in your neighborhood.
- When a Child Resists Homeschooling. An article by Phillip Campbell.
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Do you have tips to share or questions to ask? I invite you to join our Homeschool Connections Community and start a conversation.