Navigating Homeschooling Challenges: A Guide to Fostering Teen Mental Health

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By Katie B.

More teens may be struggling with mental health than you may realize. 2021 data from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that 29% of U.S. high school students were living with poor mental health, with 42% reporting persistent sadness or hopelessness. In addition, 10% attempted suicide and 22% seriously considered it.

There isn’t just one cause of mental illness in teens. For example, homeschooled teens, in particular, may feel they’re missing out on the regular socialization teens in traditional educational institutions get to experience. Or, they may be struggling to balance it all, like most teens.

The chances of your teen finding balance while also nurturing their mental health and well-being successfully are significantly lower without your intervention. But with it, they’re more likely to achieve mental and emotional stability that helps them navigate their education and build a fulfilling life.

Use this guide to ensure your teen stays emotionally and mentally well while balancing school and life.

Create a Nurturing Homeschool Environment

Unfortunately, many teens don’t have a positive experience at school, whether because of bullying, conflicts with teachers, or curriculum issues. This can lead to anxiety and stress, significantly impacting their mental and emotional stability.

Thankfully, the homeschool environment is in your hands. You can make it nurturing and supportive of your teen so that they have a positive education experience that reinforces strong mental health and emotional well-being.

First, determine your teen’s learning style. Do they learn by seeing and reading information? Do they learn through conversations? What about reading and writing? Or, do they need to be moving and hands-on to learn?

Once you understand how your teen learns, you can tailor their education and learning environment to that.

For example, let’s say your teen is a hands-on learner. They’ll feel good in an environment that allows them to move freely and create. They’ll also resonate with a curriculum full of hands-on activities and field trips where they can get a lot of real-world experience.

Tailoring their learning environment to them will help your teen associate positive emotions with education, fueling strong mental and emotional health.

Give Your Teen Some Autonomy

A lot of teens want to be treated more like adults. They don’t want their parents to make every decision for them anymore and they want to have more control over what they do with school and in their personal life.

Teens need some autonomy for their mental health and development. Being incredibly strict can make them feel so pressured and stressed that it triggers mental health challenges like anxiety or depression. It can also stunt their emotional and behavioral development because they can’t experience things for themself and learn from them.

Give your teen room to be independent to help them be stronger mentally and emotionally. Incorporate student-led lessons regularly in their curriculum. Allow them to choose field trips and other real-world work experiences they’re interested in.

As far as their personal life, give them the space to choose their friends and social experiences. You may choose to let your teen borrow your car for periods of time, or consider buying a new one, if it’s in the budget. But set ground rules to keep them accountable, such as a curfew and what’s appropriate and what isn’t when driving.

Encourage your teen to lean into their independence to help them grow personally and academically.

Learn About Mental Health Conditions and How You Can Support Your Teen Through Them

There’s a lot of research out there with mixed results on the state of homeschooled students” mental health. But what we can say with certainty is that they aren’t exempt from the mental health challenges most common among teens, like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Learning how to recognize symptoms of various mental health conditions is critical to getting your teen the support they need as quickly as possible. As you learn about different mental health challenges, you also discover how to best support your teen through them.

For example, let’s say you notice your teen isn’t interested in their usual activities. They’re irritable and have frequent crying spells. The quality of their schoolwork is also declining.

You know that these are signs of depression from your studies. You can then immediately begin to support your teen through depression by reconstructing a healthy parent-teen dynamic. Implement routine family-based activities like eating dinner together every night. Shower them with praise. Grant them the autonomy we mentioned above.

You can also rely on therapy if you need extra support. Attachment-based family therapy, for example, has proven to be beneficial for suicidal and depressed teens. Solo therapy and medication can also help teens cope healthily with depression.

Study common mental health conditions teens experience and make notes about how you can provide support as a parent and educator.

Help Your Teen Live Healthier Overall

Teens can balance their academic responsibilities and personal lives a lot better when they’re healthy overall. They can do more, navigate challenges confidently, and make more informed decisions when they’re firing on all cylinders emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Encourage your teen to adopt healthier habits to feel better and boost productivity. These mental health and educational productivity-boosting habits can include:

  • Working out regularly
  • Reading 10 minutes a day
  • Meditating to cope with stress
  • Implementing a sleep schedule
  • Eating a nutritious breakfast every morning
  • Organizing and updating the look of their room
  • Socializing with friends and loved ones as often as possible

Living a healthier life all around will only contribute to your teen’s mental and emotional wellness.


Homeschooled teens aren’t exempt from the common mental health struggles teen students face. Their mental and emotional wellness is crucial to help them successfully navigate the challenges unique to a homeschooled student, get a high-quality education, and build a meaningful life. Use the tips shared here to become the guide they need to achieve wellness.

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