A lot of teenagers get fed up with school and wish they could homeschool. Homeschooling has produced some really successful people, and lots of teens love it, but it isn’t right for every teen. There are things you need to think about before trying to talk your parents into it.
- What about socialization?
That’s the first question every homeschooler gets asked, just as if the only reason we send kids to school is because they need to hang out with friends. However, even though it’s hardly the point of school, it is a part of school.
Now, the first thing a homeschooled teen will tell you is that you don’t have to go to school to get socialized. There are lots of homeschool groups where teens can meet, hang out with, and even learn with other teens. Teens also make friends in their neighborhoods, their jobs, and their afterschool activities. So, there is no reason to sit at home all alone everyday just because you’re homeschooling, but you do have to be willing to make an effort. You have to choose clubs and activities that put you with other people.
One thing homeschoolers learn is that people don’t have to be your own age to be good company. Since they’re not in a school only with their peers all day, they often find themselves making friends with adults and even children. This can seem a little weird to traditionally schooled kids at first, when they see their new homeschool friends hanging around talking to people of all ages, but after a while they realize that not all interesting people are teenagers. Learning to interact with people of all ages is an important life skill.
2. What about college?
Homeschoolers get into good colleges all the time, but they have to plan for college a little differently than other students do. There are two choices for college. The first is to attend a community college. A lot of homeschoolers start taking classes there when they are juniors, especially if they want to learn things they’re finding a little hard to learn at home. This is an inexpensive way to get some college out of the way early. If you finish two years and get you’re A.A. degree, it won’t matter where you went to high school.
Students who want to go straight to a university need to be prepared to prove to colleges they learned all the things required by high school students, and that they will be able to handle college. Most colleges have requirements for homeschoolers on their website and teens need to read those as freshmen so they know what to do.
One way colleges evaluate homeschoolers is through the standardized tests given to prospective students. Homeschoolers who go straight to a university need to do very well on their SAT and ACT exams. They usually also keep a portfolio that has samples of their work—papers, photographs, and detailed logs—and a careful list of what they learned and how they learned it. Colleges like teens who helped develop their own courses and planned their own learning. They also like teens who have taken some classes outside the home or done volunteer work to show they can work in a more structured environment. You have to be willing to work hard to get yourself into college.
3. How will I learn things my parents don’t know?
Homeschoolers normally learn how to learn. This means they figure out how to teach themselves things they want to learn, without depending on a teacher. A teenager who wants to learn astronomy will go to the library or bookstore and find books on the subject, visit the planetarium, buy a telescope and use it, and maybe even talk to real astronomers. He may find someone willing to tutor them or they might find a video or internet course. If he wants to learn Spanish, he will make friends with a native speaker and start practicing.
This requires teens to learn how they best learn and to make a plan. It takes discipline and a willingness to find and ask for help. Sometimes the teen and parent learn things together and help each other learn the topic. This all takes more work than just sitting in a classroom, but it is a better way to learn and will help that teen be able to learn his entire life.
Each state has homeschooling laws. It’s important to learn what they are—and if your parents are allowed to supervise your homeschool—and then to follow the rules exactly. While this is partly your parents’ responsibility, it is also your responsibility. Beyond the rules, however, there are usually a lot of variations possible, which can let you customize your education in the way you and your parents agree it should be done.
Homeschooling isn’t for every teen. It requires self-control and a willingness to take responsibility for your own education. If you’re a homeschooler and not getting a good education, you are really the one responsible for that, not your parents, once you’re a teen. If you want to homeschool, make sure you become the kind of teen willing to take responsibility for giving yourself a great education without too much supervision. Learn to love learning, to meet all your responsibilities at home and in your education, practice doing your homework without being told, and learn how to learn. Then you might be ready to homeschool.