Homeschoolers have long been stereotyped as family-centric, self-isolated, socially awkward individuals who don’t know how to function in society.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Homeschooling has never been an automatic social death sentence. Nor has it automatically equated to awkward behavior or an inability to function in adulthood.
Nevertheless, everyone has had that homeschooled friend who simply couldn’t open their mouths without saying something awkward. The issue often arises when parents and guardians obsess over academic success, failing to emphasize other important aspects of life in the process.
With the COVID-19 crisis pushing so many people to join the ranks of the homeschooled, it’s important that parents ensure that their children still receive everything they need in order to develop into well-rounded adults.
Here are a few of the most important aspects that should be addressed outside of the obvious academic responsibilities involved in homeschooling your teen.
Develop Talents and Skills
Right from the get-go, it’s important to remember that a well-rounded individual has the capability to do as much as to know. In other words, while studying math, English, and science are all important, it’s also crucial that you develop your child’s talents and social skills.
Some of these will be natural inclinations. For instance, if your kid wants to be an athlete, you won’t need to spend time forcing them out onto a soccer field or a baseball diamond. Instead, your job should revolve around facilitating their talent and passion and perhaps helping them learn how to stay safe while playing sports.
At times, it will also be important to help your teen develop skills that they may not enjoy, too. For instance, cooking, cleaning, and practicing personal hygiene are all important skills, even if they aren’t necessarily at the front of your teen’s mind.
In either case, cultivating talents and skills are crucial, often-overlooked parts of the homeschooling journey.
Communicate Early and Often
If you want your teen to grow into a well-rounded adult, it’s essential that you practice healthy communication with them early and often. You can do this by:
- Engaging with them as a peer.
- Practicing active listening and genuinely hearing what they have to say.
- Communicating with lightheartedness, humility, and flexibility.
- Helping them learn to process their emotions and thoughts.
- Making them aware of coping strategies to help them manage common teen and adult struggles, such as stress and anxiety.
Maintaining healthy communication (outside of the classroom) with your homeschooled teen is a bedrock of raising fully developed individuals.
Help Them Interact with Peers
When you opt to bring your teen home in order to educate them, the responsibility falls on you, the parent or guardian, to ensure that they still receive an adequate amount of social interaction.
That’s not to say that you need to cart them around to social gatherings on a daily basis. It simply means you need to look for ways to help them develop their social capabilities. You can do this by:
- Getting involved in local sports leagues.
- Looking for extra-curricular activities such as holiday celebrations, field trips, or youth groups.
- Encouraging them to make friends and hang out with them outside of planned activities.
Regardless of the medium through which they establish friendships, it’s also imperative that you impress upon your teen the importance of making the right kind of friends. That’s not to say that they should be elitist in their choices, but rather that they should look for groups and situations that encourage positive practices rather than peer pressure.
Teach Teens to Teach Themselves
If you want your teenager to be able to function in the ever-evolving, tech-driven modern world, one of the most important things you can do is teach them to teach themselves.
Isaac Asimov said it best when he stated that, “self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
Encouraging self-education helps to create lifelong learners that can properly identify a lack in their own education and then address it through pursuing a solution on their own.
Work Towards the Future
Finally, don’t neglect your kid’s future. Help explain to them the street-smart, nitty-gritty, day-to-day factors of life that can’t be taught through a textbook. For instance, you can:
- Encourage them to volunteer and then help them put the fledgling experience on their resume.
- Teach them to pay attention to the tough stuff, such as accepting responsibility and doing the right thing, even when it isn’t advantageous to themselves.
- Instruct them in the home economics basics, such as grocery shopping, making car payments, tending to insurance, making a budget, and knowing how to choose an apartment.
Properly preparing your child to leave the nest is one of the best ways that you can give them a smooth transition into well-rounded adulthood.
Rounding Out Your Teen’s Education
You may be tempted to over-emphasize academics in your homeschooling journey. After all, it’s hard not to feel judged and scrutinized by those who are participating in the educational system.
However, it’s absolutely critical that you don’t let this insecurity overshadow your desire to give your kid a well-rounded education. From developing talent to cultivating self-learning and everything in between, if you invest in properly preparing your teen to leave the nest, you won’t regret it once they’re out on their own.