My ultimate goal as a parent, including my homeschooling – in a broad sense – is that my kids are prepared for adult life; whatever that may look like for each of them.  It may mean adult education, apprenticeships, employment, and/or volunteer service.  Whatever they do in years to come, they will need the life skills to cook, clean and dress themselves, to manage their money and look after their possessions It means they need the skills to maintain relationships – family, friends, work colleagues and possibly romantic relationships as well  It means they need the skills to look after their inner-self, their emotional and spiritual well being.  There is a lot to do in these last few years.

Highschool needs to be Different

One of the joys we found in homeschooling is that during the primary school years if an opportunity (aka interruption) came along, and we knew it would teach our kids something we would put aside what we where doign in order to move on with the new opportunity. This is one of the backbone ideas to lifestyle-homeschooling. Study would be replaced with relational issues, trips to the library, day at the pool, planning a birthday party, a visit to the hospital.
 
One of the things I have become aware of as my older kids have graduated from homeschool/highschool is that I need to be very careful with what I allow to interrupt their studies. Will that same interruption (or activity) teach our highschool student anything?  It may – it may not.
 
The key is to know our teens, to know the goals they have, and to know how you (and your child) intend to meet those goals.  It is from this foundation, that we consider the life opportunity and whether it will be beneficial or not.   Once we know where our student is at we can then say “No” to some of the interruptions.  Not every opportunity needs to be taken. Not every experience is going to be valuable – to this child.
 
As our children move into highschool years their broad education starts to become narrower.  When our kids were young our goal was to give them a broad general knowledge, to expose them to the world and its people.  As they were introduced to something that excited them, they were given the freedom to dig deeper – in my experience this happened towards the upper primary / highschool years (and it happened at different ages for different students).  When they found something that they delighted in this became their focus.
 
  • For Joshua it was history and worldview
  • For Jessica it was about writing, technology, business, and helping people (even her narrow was broad)
  • For Naomi it is about Art
  • For Daniel – at the moment – it is about Science and how things work (Daniel may or may not settle long term on this as he is starting to be responsible for his learning)
 
I delight in seeing the variety in my children! Though their passions dictated a lot of their choices, they did also study beyond that as there were some subjects that we felt were important to learn.

Protect your Highschool Purpose

When faced with a lifestyle learning opportunity for my highschool student I would ask myself these questions.  Will this activity –
 
  • Help them in their walk with God, or as a Christian?
  • Give them opportunity to grow in their character based responses to life or people?
  • Encourage them grow as a person within themselves: personal identity, personal management, leadership skills, and relational skills?
  • Teach them practical skills that they need?
  • Inspire them in the unique things that I see God has created in them?
  • Help them walk towards a goal they/we have set?
 
What I am asking is: Is there anything in this activity that will help my child grow? Will this opportunity help my teen reach their potential?
 
It is not an automatic yes.  To be honest, in primary school years, it often was an automatic yes – if they didn’t learn something from the activity, it was a good opportunity to practice something, or to support our family as they learnt or practiced something.  But the highschool years need to be a little more focused on the individual.
 
This doesn’t mean we isolate them from family activity it just means we need to be more discerning. It means we have to be more focused on the individual and their needs. It means we need to be aware of the goals they’ve set themselves. Our role as a parent of a highschool student is to support and encourage them in their chosen path.
 
We don’t need to walk away from the joy of lifestyle learning, we just need to be aware of priorities and consider purpose in the activities we allow to interrupt or change our plans.
 
 

Further Reading:

Do you know the Purpose for Highschool? The highschool years are for more than just preparing for employment – they are the years where we fine tune the character and skills for adult life.
Are you Aiming for your student to be an Independent Student Children become independent students by building on their natural curiosity and developing skills – one layer at a time. Don’t rush it.
Stop Micromanaging the Highschool Homeschool Students When we stop micromanaging our homeschool highschool student they start to take responsibility and learn skills that will be needed in their adult life.
Family Life Creates Learning Experiences Everyday family life creates learning experiences that teach relationship skills, life skills, character and academic learning.

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