Are you homeschooling upper grades this year? Here are 5 important, but often overlooked things to include in the high school years.
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It’s easy to enter the high school years of homeschooling with a “let’s get down to business” mindset. That makes sense in a lot of ways because time is fleeting and there’s much less of it available to be sure we cover all that needs to be covered before sending our kids into this big world.
Even so, I’m not just learning about how to assign credit for my high schooler. No, I’m learning more and more that teens need so much more than an all-business approach to education. Instead, they need inspired learning, enchantment, and fun just as much as they did in the younger years.
Don’t get me wrong, academics are front and center in those final years of homeschooling, but we’d be wise to not underestimate the value found outside of the areas of focus usually found in the high school lineups.
Today we’ll look at some often overlooked, but important areas and explore why they’re valuable in the high school years.
5 Overlooked Things to Include in Your Homeschool During the High School Years
1. Homeschool Groups or Co-ops
Whether opting for a homeschool group with relaxed gatherings or a structured co-op, don’t underestimate the importance of regularly gathering with likeminded families. That’s crucial throughout all the years of homeschooling, and maybe even more so in the high school years.
Think back to your own teenage years for a moment and you’ll quickly remember how important it is to have people around who understood your day-to-day life. That’s nothing to take for granted when you’re going against the cultural norms and saying no thank you to all that public and private schools offer.
All that to say, don’t skip regular gatherings like co-op or just-for-fun homeschool get-togethers. There’s nothing like having a place to belong and having a group of people to turn to for help and encouragement. All of that’s true for you as a homeschooling parent, but it’s also true for your homeschooled teen.
2. Nature Study
Public education definitely gravitates toward STEM-like sciences, especially by the time middle and high school roll around. That shouldn’t be the case for homeschooling.
Hear me out: it’s important to spend time studying chemistry, biology, and other scientific disciplines, but that doesn’t mean we should leave nature study behind when the elementary years end.
After all, time in nature reduces stress, allows time together as a family, and builds observation skills. It also nurtures connections and fosters appreciation for the world around us.
There is a real world, beyond the glass, for children who look, for those whose parents encourage them to truly see. – Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Need help finding resources for nature study in the upper years? Keep it simple with resources like On the Go Science Labs.
This print-and-go resource is ideal for ages 8 to 13, but can be easily adapted for older students using instructions in the guide. I’ve found it to be a great fit for the high school years because the labs provide all the benefits that come with nature study without compromising time required for other areas of science.
3. The Arts
The arts can also be pushed aside in the teen years, especially with today’s focus on technology. This sad fact is all the more true if you’ve got a big kid who shows little artistic confidence. That means we as parents have to be intentional in providing creative outlets like art and music in the high school years.
If we fail in this area, our teens are likely to believe the lies that there’s no room in their lives for creative expression and that creative expression is reserved for the professionals.
What’s worse is our teens are likely to forget how we’re all wired to create because we’re made in the image of the Creator.
Be the voice that reminds them of that beautiful fact by making time for the arts in the high school years. The best part about all of this is that you can incorporate the arts into your homeschool plans by simply putting the right resources in front of your teenager.
Not sure where to start with those resources? For artist study, I recommend Masterpiece Society’s Art Appreciation Bundles; to inspire creativity and strengthen art techniques, I recommend Masterpiece Society’s incredible video art courses. Your teen can choose from seasonal courses, instructional art school courses, and mixed media artist study courses.
Have you heard? You can add all of those art courses to your high school plans through a Masterpiece Society Studio membership for one low price!
4. Read Alouds
Think reading aloud is something reserved for little kids? Think again. Reading aloud to teens helps with vocabulary, pronunciation, and listening skills.
Reading aloud in the high school years also develops critical thinking skills, builds empathy, and provides valuable opportunities to see the world from someone else’s eyes while discussing difficult topics.
Even without those benefits, there’s no reason to stop reading aloud once our kids reach the teen years. Think about it, reading aloud goes hand in hand with family culture as much as it does with homeschooling. Why would that change when the upper grades are on the horizon?
Looking for read aloud ideas for the high school years? Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family, Jamie C. Martin’s Give Your Child the World, and Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Teen’s Heart are all packed with great book suggestions to enjoy with your big kids.
See Common Sense Media's 10 Reasons You Should Read Aloud to Big Kids, Too for more on the importance of read alouds in the upper grades.
Lastly, it’s important to build margin into the high school years. That’s the way to actually pull off all the other things I mentioned here. After all, these things are often overlooked for a reason: sometimes because they’re deemed unnecessary; sometimes because there’s no blank space in our lives.
Simply put, we forfeit the most lifegiving parts of the homeschool lifestyle if we go about our days running the same rat race as everyone else.
Homeschooling allows us to plot an educational path for our kids that lets them do what needs to be done and still have time for what makes them come alive. Embrace that and protect it by building white space in your homeschool plans.
In closing, know that you can absolutely give your teen a well-rounded high school experience that’s beautifully different from what’s available elsewhere. All it takes is margin in your schedule and some intentional planning on your part.