extracurricular

053. Teen Independence and Life Skills including Driving

053.

Teen Independence and Life Skills including Driving

Fostering independence in homeschool teens is a pivotal aspect of their educational journey. As they navigate their academic pursuits outside the conventional classroom setting, they have the many opportunities to develop self-reliance and a strong sense of responsibility. Today we are talking about helping your teenager gain independence and life skills including steps to becoming a driver making safe decisions on and off the road.

This is the 10th episode in our HIGH SCHOOL SERIES

Episode 053:

TWO WAYS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE:
1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Homeschooling not only offers a unique and personalized education, but also fosters a strong sense of independence in our teenagers. As homeschooled teens navigate their academic pursuits outside the conventional classroom setting, they have the opportunity to develop self-reliance and a strong sense of responsibility. Homeschooling takes a fraction of time compared to a traditional school day and combined with newfound independence, teens are able to explore their interests and shape their own learning experiences, preparing them for the challenges of life in an empowering way. In today’s episode, we’re talking about teen independence and how to make sure your teenager learns all those essential life skills including driving before leaving home.

Fostering independence in homeschool teens is a pivotal aspect of their educational journey. The unique nature of homeschooling provides a safe space for teens to develop essential life skills, self-motivation, and autonomy. Parents can empower homeschool teens by allowing them to take ownership of their learning, encouraging them to set goals and manage their time, and providing a diverse array of learning opportunities. Also, engaging in open and constructive communication with your teen, as well as offering guidance and support rather than rigid control, can nurture their self-reliance. This emphasis on independence not only equips them with the tools they need to succeed academically but also prepares them for the challenges and opportunities they will encounter in life.

How do you foster independence in your teenagers? (5:25)

The teen years are a time of personal growth. Teenagers typically feel an intense desire to establish an identity for themselves apart from their family. This often begins in middle school. While this sometimes manifests itself in expressions of teenage “rebellion”, it doesn’t have to be like that. Children should be encouraged to learn about themselves, practice introspection, and grow with intention. Guiding them towards independence is crucial for their personal growth and preparing them for adulthood. 

As high school draws to a close, it is a time to let your children spread their wings. Let them dip their toes into the water of the adult world. Your active homeschooling might be winding down, but you are always going to be mentoring your child, especially as they start dabbling into adulthood. The more supported your child feels in this regard, the more successful they will be—intellectually, professionally, and emotionally. 

How do we do that? For one, allow your teenager to make age-appropriate decisions. This might include choices about clothing, hair, extracurricular activities, or their own schedules. You want to provide guidance, but let them have the final say in non-critical matters. Choose your battles!

Assign age-appropriate household chores and self-care tasks. This teaches them to take care of their living environment and personal needs. Hygiene is super important- taking care of your hair and skin and teeth is something you’ve been working on all along, but as they get older there may be puberty related challenges- body odor, greasy hair from increased oil production, acne.  Make sure you are sharing products and information about these things in a supportive way. 

When your teenager faces challenges or dilemmas, guide them through the problem-solving process. You can ask open-ended questions to help them analyze the situation and encourage them to make the decision. Establish clear but reasonable rules and guidelines in your home. This helps them understand the importance of rules and boundaries in society. Teach them to speak up for themselves and communicate their needs and concerns effectively, whether it’s with teachers, peers, or adults. Be sure to foster open and honest communication. Make sure they know they can discuss their thoughts, feelings, and concerns with you without judgment.

It’s also really important to teach them how to manage their time effectively. Encourage them to create their own schedules, set goals, and prioritize tasks. Allow them to take ownership of their education by completing assignments, studying for tests, and managing their own academic responsibilities. And remember, they are still learning, so be sure to offer support when needed. Don’t just assume that you need to tell them one time and you’ll never have to tell them again. 

Support their interests and hobbies, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, pursuing a sport, or engaging in creative activities. This helps them develop passions and skills on their own. Encourage them to explore their interests independently, even if it means self-directed learning outside of formal education. Provide access to resources and encourage reading, research, and curiosity. Encourage volunteer work or even a part-time job to help them gain real-world experience, build their resume, and understand the responsibilities that come with employment. Download your FREE Extracurricular and Volunteer Workbook.

Be a role model by demonstrating independence and responsible decision-making in your own life. Teens often learn by example. Fostering independence will be a gradual process, and it’s essential to strike a balance between providing guidance and allowing them to learn from their experiences, including making mistakes. Encourage them to take responsibility for their actions and to learn from both successes and failures. Remember Einstein’s quote, “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”

How do I teach my teenager to drive? (11:20)

This is when things start getting real! Learning to drive is a  huge  milestone in a teenager’s journey towards independence. It marks the transition from relying on parents for transportation to having the freedom to explore the world on their own terms. The ability to get behind the wheel not only opens up new opportunities but also comes with profound responsibilities. For many teens, it’s a rite of passage that symbolizes their burgeoning adulthood, offering a taste of self-reliance.So, Let’s talk about the significance of learning to drive in the context of teen independence, as well as the essential skills and steps required to help them become safe and responsible drivers.

BTW, Some kids don’t feel the need to learn to drive right away- I was itching to get my license the minute I turned 16.  But with uber and social media, a lot of kids today choose to wait.  My wise friend once told me though that she’d rather her kids make big mistakes with her car and on her insurance.  She didn’t want their beginning driving experience to be at 18 while they are also navigating adult life and maybe a new city, college, etc.  Some kids, on the other hand, are eager to drive and start Drivers Ed at 14 to complete the course right when they turn 15. That can give you a little comfort to know that they would have an entire year with a learners permit to practice under your watch. 

Aceable Driver’s Ed
Aceable 
is the most effective (and least expensive) Driver’s Ed for Homeschoolers!

Preparing your teen for driving involves a combination of educational, practical, and safety steps to ensure they are well-equipped to handle the responsibilities of being a safe and responsible driver. First, you need enroll your teen in a state-approved driver’s education course. There are often several options for this.  Here, we can use an independent driving school, or you can do a parent self-taught course, like Aceable.  These courses cover essential traffic laws, road safety, and often include hands-on driving practice.

Whichever you choose, your teenager should thoroughly read and understand their state’s driver’s manual. It covers the specific rules and regulations they need to know to pass their written test. And these tests are not very hard and everything they will need to know will be taught in the course. A lot of it is common sense. Don’t forget to get your New Driver Magnets! Also, help your teen study and pass their test with these Road Sign Flash Cards.

The Driving Book for Teens: A Complete Guide to Becoming a Safe, Smart, and Skilled Driver

Ensure your teen meets the age and educational requirements to obtain a learner’s permit and a driver’s license in your state.  A trip to the DMV is always an adventure.  Have them help you gather up all the identification and information you will need. This will be a great lesson in patience and bureaucracy.  If you have to wait for a really long time, also make sure your teenager notes how awful this is so that it encourages them to never lose their ID. 

Once they get their learner’s permit, it’s time to start practicing. Start with parking lots and quiet residential streets. Then gradually progress to busier roads. You also want to be sure to provide opportunities for them to practice various driving scenarios and conditions. Spend time discussing and demonstrating defensive driving techniques, including how to anticipate and react to potential hazards. Spend a significant amount of time supervising their driving to help them gain experience and confidence behind the wheel. Teach them how to drive at night and in adverse weather conditions, like rain, snow, and fog. Emphasize the importance of obeying traffic laws, using seat belts, avoiding distractions, and never driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – or even riding passenger with someone under the influence. Uber gift cards are a great gift for new graduates!

Teach your kids basic auto maintenance like checking tire pressure and oil, and performing routine safety checks. 

Auto Repair and Maintenance: Easy Lessons for Maintaining Your Car So It Lasts Longer

Many states have a graduated licensing program that includes restrictions for new drivers, such as limits on nighttime driving and the number of passengers. Ensure your teen complies with these restrictions. Here there are rules about how many unrelated people are allowed in the car, too. You may have some personal family rules regarding new drivers.

You can include your teen on your auto insurance policy and explain the importance of safe driving habits in keeping insurance rates manageable. This varies from state to state- you don’t have to do that here until they are licensed so you usually have a free pass during the learner permit time. This can be so expensive!

If they need to, have them take practice written and driving tests to help them prepare for the actual exams. We did the driving test through a local independent school- they have a youtube video of the driving test so we went and practiced it.  And lots of parallel parking!

It’s important that they know what to do in case of an accident, breakdown, or other emergency situation so be sure to go over all of that with them. Test out how empty your tank of gas really is when it’s on E. Show them how to call roadside assistance if you have it.E doesn’t mean enough! 

Some families may consider creating a written agreement that outlines your expectations and rules for your teen’s driving, including curfews, passenger restrictions, and consequences for breaking the rules.

They’ve been driving around with you their entire life and learning from you.Be sure that you’re a positive role model by practicing safe and responsible driving habits yourself. Your actions can significantly influence your teen’s behavior behind the wheel. Do you text and drive? There’s a good chance that they will too. Kids are always watching.  You can help your teenager become a competent, responsible, and safe driver, ensuring they are well-prepared for the challenges of the road.

Even after taking driver’s ed and passing that dreaded road test, there are so many things new drivers need to learn about the practical aspects of driving that will only come from experience. Handing over the keys is a traumatic rite of passage for parents, and they will sleep better knowing that The Driving Book is in their teens’ glove compartments. Covering virtually every scenario a new driver may face, from changing a tire to negotiating privileges with parents to handling a car in bad weather, Karen Gravelle helps teen drivers navigate through tricky new territory.

How do we teach essential life skills? (22:34)

Have you ever seen people online complaining about “adulting”? The term adulting has become a catch-all phrase describing the tasks and responsibilities characteristic of adulthood. The latter years of high school are a great time to introduce your child to some of the skills a person needs to be a competent, functional adult. 

And really, you’ve been teaching them life skills all along. But now it’s time to step it up. Now it’s time to teach life skills like opening a bank account, home and auto maintenance, the basics of tax preparation, filling out a FAFSA form for college, how to fill out a job application and talk to prospective employers. These sorts of skills are the things a child should learn as they transition into adulthood. They aren’t all about job skills or higher education, but just about navigating the adult world in general. This is one of those things where Homeschool teens really have an advantage. People often complain that these skills are not taught in school – well, they are taught in my school! And you can teach them in your school, too.

Teaching important life skills to homeschooled teenagers is a critical part of their education. These skills equip them for independence, self-reliance, and success in various aspects of life. Here are some essential life skills to teach homeschooled teenagers:

Financial Literacy

Teach them the basics of personal finance, budgeting, saving, investing, and managing money. You can cover topics like understanding credit, taxes, how to make informed financial decisions, and how to improve and maintain your credit score!

Financial Envelope System
This system was invaluable to me as I taught my kids about budgeting and learning how to manage money. If you’ve never heard of it, I really encourage you to teach them this essential life skill.

Time Management and Organization

We’ve talked about this a lot in other episodes, study skills fall in this category, too. Help them develop effective time management skills, including setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and creating schedules. This skill is crucial for academic success and managing responsibilities. We want them to know how to learn new skills and how to research information critically. Also, having confidence in their ability to learn new things. Taking notes and independent learning is so important. 

Communication Skills

Teach effective verbal and written communication, including active listening, public speaking, and how to write emails and formal documents. Using technology – we live in a tech world. I get it you want to restrict but learn how to use the tech around us, typing, making presentations, how things work, etc.  

Teach them how to stand up for themselves and be a self advocate.  Talk about the importance of boundaries and consent. We talked about this in our recent high school episode about High School Socialization Friendships, and Dating.

Critical Thinking

Encourage them to think critically, analyze information, solve problems, and make decisions based on evidence and logic.  Problem solving, recognizing fallacies, debating properly, how to recognize propaganda.

Life skills form the foundation of the future you’ve always dreamed of and admired. While learning and developing these skills is a continuous process that never ends, the bulk of it occurs during your teen years. Essential Life Skills For Teens: 13 Different Ways To Use Your Critical Thinking, Manage Your Time Better, Set Your Smart Goals, And Navigate Social Media Safely is a guide designed to help equip teenagers with the tools they need to maximize their potential and enjoy a fulfilling life.

Self-Care and Well-Being

Instill the importance of physical and mental health. Teach them about nutrition, exercise, stress management, and the ability to seek help when needed.  Teach them about basic first aid, how to learn where to find information, survival skills-such as identifying plants, how to tell time and direction from the sun, how to survive, avoid an animal attack, etc. Take a CPR course. And really, some of these basic skills are things you’ve been teaching them all along.

Help them learn how insurance works and how to navigate the healthcare system. Filling out medical forms and calling and making a doctor’s appointment. Teach them stress relief and meditation.

Cooking and Nutrition

This is another topic we have talked about a lot. Teach cooking skills, meal planning, and the importance of a balanced diet. Understanding food labels and dietary needs is also essential. Meal planning and grocery shopping,  gardening, and preserving, too. In a previous episode, we created a free meal planner for the homeschool mom. Download it and have your teenager start doing some of this meal planning. Start by doing it with them until they can independently make a meal plan for the family. This is one of my favorite things about having teens! Get your FREE Meal Planner.

I made my kids cookbooks with family recipes and had a very basic list of all things  they should know how to cook- things like an omelet, rice, boiled eggs, a simple cream sauce, gravy, etc.  If you know a few basics, you will never go hungry.  My youngest watches a lot of tiktok cooking videos and you should see and smell her ramen!

CREATE YOUR OWN RECIPE ORGANIZER with this Recipe Binder: This recipe books are super user-friendly and convenient for teens, making them easy to customize by organizing pages into categories. Just open to write in 3 ring binder and reorganize the pages to suit your needs. Leather 3 ring binder is designed with 12 blank dividers that are conveniently labeled for you according to recipes’ type, meaning they’re easy to find based on what kind of meal you want!

Household Maintenance

Ensure they know how to perform basic household chores like laundry/ironing, cleaning, and minor repairs. They should also be familiar with home safety measures. Basic home repair- like using an anchor to hang a picture, how to unclog a toilet, change the fire alarm battery, switch out the AC filters. Lawn care, gardening, and snow shoveling/winterizing the home would fall under this category, too, if these are things that apply to you.

Networking and Social Skills

Teach them how to build and maintain relationships, navigate social situations both in-person and online. Teaching them the difference between growth/ fixed mindset, staying true to their word, social media etiquette and how their reputation will precede them.  Being considerate of others’ feelings, doing the right thing even when it’s not the popular choice. Again, these are things that you’ve been teaching them all their life. We have an entire E guide that helps guide you and teach your teenager about healthy relationships, consent, and spotting red flags among other things.

How to act when pulled over by the police or questioned by them. These are things we hope don’t come up, but they might and your teenager needs to be prepared.

Job Search and Career Development

Help them create a resume, search for jobs, and prepare for interviews. Discuss career goals and pathways to achieve them. How to fill out forms, taxes. Learn more about Internships, First Jobs, and Entrepreneurships.

Emotional Intelligence

Teach emotional regulation, empathy, and conflict resolution. These skills are essential for healthy relationships and emotional well-being. Managing relationships, making phone calls,public speaking, coordinating and planning small events, etc…How to utilize public transportation. 

Life Skills Books to Guide Your Teen:

By incorporating these life skills into your homeschooling curriculum, you can empower your teenagers to navigate the challenges of adulthood with confidence and competence.

This Week’s Freebie:

Download your FREE Teen Driver Car maintenance and Repair Guide (pdf)

052. Education Vacation

Education Vacation

Keep on Learning

Travel offers so many great opportunities for homeschoolers to expand their horizons beyond textbooks and traditional classrooms. Learn how educational travel empowers homeschoolers to learn through direct experiences and create lasting memories that will enrich their education in profound ways.

Episode 052:

TWO WAYS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE:
1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

Travel offers so many great opportunities for homeschoolers to expand their horizons beyond textbooks and traditional classrooms. By venturing out into the world, homeschool families can bring their lessons to life through immersive experiences. Whether it’s touring landmarks and historical sites, experiencing different cultures & cuisine, or exploring the natural world, educational travel ignites a sense of curiosity and wonder in students of all ages. 

Homeschoolers can customize their itineraries to align with their educational goals, fostering a deeper understanding of subjects like history, science, and geography. Additionally, these journeys provide real-world lessons in independence, problem-solving, and adaptability, helping homeschoolers develop essential life skills. In this episode, we are going to talk about how educational travel empowers homeschoolers to learn through direct experiences and create lasting memories that will enrich their education in profound ways. 

One of the reasons that we made the choice to homeschool was so that we had more flexibility to our schedules and could fit more travel in. A lot of people feel that being tied to a traditional school schedule feels really restrictive. We’ve always loved to just pick up and go whenever we wanted.  And it’s great to be able to travel to those busier tourist places when it’s the off season. 

There are so many opportunities to be had for an educational vacation that fit any budget. All it takes is a little planning and organization and today we’re going to tell you just how to do that! Learn about World Schooling.

How do I begin to plan an educational vacation? (5:59)

Designing the ideal educational road trip or vacation is an opportunity to learn about new places, cultures, history, and science in a fun and interactive way. We’re going to lay out a step-by-step guide to help you plan an educational road trip or vacation. 

Determine Your Educational Goals:

  • What are your specific educational objectives and goals? What subjects or topics do you want to explore? Is it history, science, art, culture, or nature? Have you been studying caves and now it’s time to experience them in person and go spelunking? Think about what you want your kids to learn or experience. 
  • Consider the age and interests of everyone going. Tailor the trip to engage everyone. Even us moms get to have fun!

Don’t feel like you have to wait on this kind of thing until your baby is older.  It’s easy to come up with a reason to put a trip off at every stage.  A toddler may not remember going on a cruise, but they will always remember being part of a family that always did fun things together.

Choose a Destination:

  • Select a destination or route that aligns with your educational goals. Research places that offer opportunities for hands-on learning and exploration.
  • Consider both well-known attractions and hidden gems that may be less crowded but equally informative and fun. Sometimes those off the beaten track places are the best experiences and memories.
  • Consider eco-friendly tourism- visiting the not-so-busy areas or take the non-commercial tours and sightseeing options.  

Plan Your Itinerary and budget:

  • Create a detailed itinerary that includes the places you’ll visit, their hours of operation, and any special events or exhibits.
  • Allocate sufficient time at each location to explore and learn without feeling rushed.
  • Include downtime for relaxation and spontaneous discoveries.
  • Include the kids in this process.
  • It’s really important to figure out a budget for all the things you will want to do on your trip- room and board, entry tickets for adventures, souvenirs, etc.

Choose your housing wisely:  

  • This is often the most expensive part of your trip so consider your options.  Do you want to stay in an RV, an Airbnb, a hotel or hostel? Or maybe even a tent? 
  • Do you want something cheaper outside of town, or something in town and very walkable? This could mean that you don’t have to rent a car or pay a lot for shuttles. 
  • Do you need a kitchen? We try to eat out and experience local cuisine, but not every meal because it can really add up.

Sometimes all you really need is just a place to stash your belongings. Find luggage storage.

Educational Materials:

  • Prepare educational materials such as guidebooks, maps, and relevant worksheets or activities.
  • Consider using educational apps or audiobooks for interactive learning while on the road.
  • Podcasts, too.

 Study in Advance:

  • Encourage your family to study in advance. Read books, watch documentaries, or engage in online courses related to the destination or topics of interest.
  • Create a list of questions or research topics to investigate during the trip.
  • Save on top cultural experiences – shows, museums, galleries, workshops etc with Viator.

Explore Nature:

  • Incorporate outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife observation, or visits to national parks. Nature provides numerous opportunities for learning about biology, geology, and ecology.

 Visit Museums and Educational Sites:

  • Museums, science centers, historical sites, and cultural institutions can offer valuable educational experiences.
  • Look for hands-on exhibits, interactive displays, and guided tours.
  • We also often like to purchase some of our guidebooks or other supplemental materials in places where that money is going back to the site.

Cultural Immersion:

  • Experience the local culture. We love to experience traditional foods and interact with locals. You may even attend a cultural festival. Learning about different cultures fosters global awareness and appreciation. 
  • Find local guides, especially when visiting a place that is foreign to you, that may place emphasis on respecting the cultures and traditions of your destination.

Learn more in Around the World in Your Homeschool

You can even explore geography and culture from home with Universal Yums

Document the Journey:

  • Encourage everyone to keep travel journals, sketchbooks, or even blogs to document their experiences and reflections.
  • Take photos and videos to create a visual record of the trip. I like to take an actual camera especially when we’re out experiencing these, so I’m not distracted with my smartphone which stays in my bag.
  • Don’t forget to bring educational tools like binoculars, magnifying glasses, field guides, or a telescope for stargazing, depending on your interests.
  • After the trip, engage in follow-up activities like creating presentations, reports, or art projects to reinforce what was learned.

Flexibility and Spontaneity:

Allow room for flexibility and spontaneity. Sometimes, the most valuable learning experiences come from unexpected discoveries.

Safety First:

Prioritize safety by following travel advisories and taking necessary precautions, especially when traveling with children. During covid this was absolutely necessary for a while- we still always check travel restrictions.

Enjoy the Journey:

Finally, remember that the journey itself is an educational experience. Embrace the opportunity to learn and bond as a family or group.

An educational road trip or vacation can be a memorable and enriching adventure that inspires a lifelong love for learning and exploration.

What kinds of activities should we include on an educational vacation? (17:03)

An educational vacation provides a unique opportunity to learn while you travel. There are so many activities you can partake in to make the most of your educational journey:

  • Join guided tours of historical sites, museums, and cultural landmarks. Knowledgeable guides can offer in-depth information and context, enhancing your understanding of the place you’re visiting.
  • Many museums and cultural institutions offer hands-on workshops and interactive exhibits. Participating in these activities can help you gain practical skills and a deeper appreciation for the subject matter. 
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture. This can include attending traditional ceremonies, trying local cuisine, and interacting with local residents to learn about their way of life.
  • If your educational vacation takes you to a natural setting, consider activities such as hiking, birdwatching, or guided nature tours. These experiences can teach you about the local environment and ecosystems. If your destination is in a natural setting, consider activities like geology lessons, stargazing, or even survival skills training.
  • If you’re visiting a place with a different language, consider taking language classes or engaging in language exchange programs to improve your communication skills.
  • Attend historical reenactments, if available. These events can transport you back in time and provide a more vivid understanding of historical events.
  • Check local event listings for lectures or talks on topics of interest. Universities, cultural centers, and libraries often host educational events open to the public.
  • Attend local theater productions or live shows.
  • Explore local libraries and archives to delve deeper into the history, culture, or specific topics related to your destination. Presidential libraries are a really cool place to visit, too.
  • Take a cooking class to learn about the local cuisine and how to prepare traditional dishes. This is an excellent way to explore culture through food. A lot of cities offer food tourism, too.  You can do a progressive dinner through several restaurants.
  • Seek out specialized educational centers and institutions related to your interests, such as botanical gardens, science centers, and historical archives. If you have a membership to a museum with a reciprocal program, you can save on visits!

Learn more about getting out in communities in our Field Trip Page and download your FREE Field Trip Bundle.

Travel Journal

This Travel Journal for Kids keeps kids working on their creative writing skills during your education vacation in a fun and easy way. The daily adventure questions provide structure and routine and kids look forward to their daily ritual. Kids will begin to observe and appreciate the details of their travels, helping them become curious explorers.

See Page Examples of this Journal

American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Program and ASTC

Explore on your own with pre-researched materials or audio guides. Self-guided tours can be flexible and tailored to your interests. I also love doing walking tours on our own when we first arrive. GPS My City

The key to a successful educational vacation is to strike a balance between structured learning experiences and free time to explore and absorb the culture. It’s important to tailor your activities to your specific interests and the destination’s unique opportunities.

What are some of the best places to visit in the US for an educational vacation? (23:15)

The United States offers a wealth of educational vacation destinations, catering to a wide range of interests. We did a search online and these came up as five of the best places to visit for an educational vacation in the U.S.:

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital is a hub for history, politics, and culture. Visit the Smithsonian museums, explore the National Mall with its monuments and memorials, tour the U.S. Capitol, and learn about the American government at institutions like the Library of Congress and the National Archives. Do a Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Washington D.C.

Boston, Massachusetts

With its rich colonial history and prestigious universities, Boston is a great destination for history buffs and scholars. Walk the Freedom Trail to explore key historical sites, visit the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, and learn about American literature and culture at places like the Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University. Boston History for Kids.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum where visitors can step back in time to experience life in the 18th century. You can witness historical reenactments, interact with costumed interpreters, and gain a deep understanding of American colonial history. Colonial Williamsburg: The Guide: The Official Companion to the Historic Area.

San Francisco, California

Explore the history of the Gold Rush, the tech industry, and social movements in this vibrant city. Visit Alcatraz Island, the cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the many museums and cultural institutions, including the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences. San Francisco: Fun Facts and Amazing Discoveries for Kids

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is known for its diverse cultural institutions and architecture. The Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago are just a few of the educational gems in the city. Additionally, Chicago’s architectural history is showcased through guided tours and river cruises. Chicago: Coloring The Windy City: Coloring Book: Illinois’ Largest City, Landmarks and Urban Life, Great for Kids, Teens and Adults

These destinations offer a diverse range of educational experiences, from history and science to culture and politics, making them excellent choices for an educational vacation in the United States.

Every Kid Outdoors Program

Remember that the best place for an educational vacation depends on your personal interests and the subjects you want to explore. Whether you’re interested in history, science, culture, or a combination of these, there are numerous destinations around the world that can offer enriching educational experiences.

This Week’s Freebie:

Download your FREE Education Vacation Planner (pdf)

051. Homeschool PE, Health, and Sex Ed

051.

Homeschool PE,
Health,
and Sex Ed

Health, fitness, and Sex Ed are crucial components of a well-rounded education. Today we’re talking about the importance of teaching your children to make lifelong healthy habits that will reduce their risk of chronic diseases and ensure their overall well-being. 

Episode 051:

TWO WAYS TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE:
1. Click PLAY Button Above ^^ to listen here.
2. OR Listen on your favorite podcast platform:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

It’s hard enough sometimes to fit all the regular subjects of reading, writing, math, social studies, and science into a busy homeschool schedule.  Add in all your electives and you might wonder if you even need to make time for Health, Physical fitness, and Sex Ed.  Maybe your kids are already active in sports or dance classes.  Perhaps a healthy diet is already a part of your lifestyle.  If so, great!  You are already one step ahead.  In today’s episode, we are talking about how health, fitness, and sex ed are crucial components of a well-rounded education. We all get so busy and maybe you’ve let a few things go and your kids have been watching a lot of TV or playing video games a little more than you want, or you’ve been too busy for those evening family neighborhood walks like you wanted and you’re ready to incorporate a healthier lifestyle. We’re going to be giving you tips on how to make these subjects happen in your homeschool.  Teach your children to make lifelong healthy habits that last!

Fitness tends to be an easier subject for us- we are both active and we’ve mentioned several times that we both are lifelong athletes. Naturally, we’ve encouraged our kids to also be active.  For many kids this is natural- especially when they are young.  Kids love to play!  But not all kids enjoy being super active and as they get older, that may become even more true. Promoting healthy habits from an early age instills lifelong habits. And this doesn’t just create healthier bodies and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, but it also ensures an overall well-being. 

Physical education also fosters social skills, teamwork, and discipline. It also provides an outlet for physical energy and helps combat sedentary lifestyles, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s digital age. Even before the Covid, inactivity was on the rise in a major way. Kids around the world are really suffering from inactivity. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you’re not tied to a desk all day. We have the freedom to move around and take breaks whenever we want. Regular movement has been proven to help kids stay focused and improve cognitive function. We’re not big on testing (especially in the younger years) but studies have shown time and time again that students perform better on tests with regular physical activity.

How to Include Physical Education and Fitness into Your Day (5:57)

Structured PE Curriculum: A lot of us have memories of PE class in school. For kids that are not into sports, this is a great option. Some homeschool families do use a structured PE curriculum or program designed for homeschoolers. These resources often include lesson plans, fitness activities, and assessments. These can be self-taught or sometimes you can find an actual class locally. 

There’s a group here in DFW that I know runs PE programs in several cities.  We’ve actually participated in two PE programs in North Texas over the years. They do drills, flag football, and other games. It’s great to get the kids out in groups while somebody else organizes the activity. 

  • Daily Exercise: Make physical activity a daily routine. Set aside time for activities like stretching, yoga, calisthenics, or even have a dance party in your living room.
  • Outdoor Play: Encourage outdoor playtime for younger children. Activities like running, biking, playing tag, or sports in the backyard with siblings or friends or climbing the jungle gym at a park are great ways to keep kids active.
  • Sports and Recreation: Enroll your child in sports leagues or recreational programs. Many communities offer homeschool-friendly sports teams, swimming lessons, martial arts classes, or dance studios. 
  • Home Gym: Create a home gym. And you don’t need anything special. You can do this with basic exercise equipment like jump ropes, resistance bands, dumbbells, or a yoga ball. And the best part about having a home gym is that it’s always open and so it’s easy to walk over and incorporate that into your homeschool day. 

Through strength training, kids as young as 7 can safely develop a strong musculoskeletal system. Youth Strength Training provides 100 illustrated exercises with teaching safe techniques using various types of training equipment. This book is a great place to get your kids started off on correctly:

Youth Strength Training
  • Family Fitness: Include the whole family in physical activities. Go for family hikes, bike rides, or play active games together. You can even go for a family walk around your neighborhood after dinner. Just make it a habit. You don’t have to go far, and it doesn’t have to take your whole evening. This will really foster a culture of fitness within your household.
  • Field Trips or hiking/nature groups: Plan educational field trips to places like museums, nature reserves, or science centers that offer interactive exhibits related to health, anatomy, or physical fitness. Dallas Perot Museum Sports Hall.
  • Physical Challenges: Create physical challenges or fitness goals that align with your child’s interests. For example, they can aim to run a mile without stopping, or do 20 push-ups without stopping, or go a certain distance on a bike. You could also try to throw together a Field Day with friends and do competitions and sports games.
This Outdoor Game Pack is perfect for created your own Field Day!
You can set up your Spikeball game set and play Roundnet on any surface, whether it’s grass, sand, or indoors. This is so much fun to play and it is great exercise to boot!
  • Health Journals: Encourage your child to keep a health journal where they record their daily physical activities, meals, and reflections on their overall well-being. This can be a useful tool for tracking progress and setting goals.
This Fitness Journal is a great tool for younger kids to take ownership in their own health

Remember that fostering a lifelong love for physical activity and healthy living is the primary goal. Tailor your approach to your child’s interests and needs, and make PE, health, and fitness part of each day. Be sure to make it an enjoyable part- that doesn’t mean that they don’t work hard but you want to give them attainable goals and help to make them feel accomplished and empowered. This is our favorite Fitness Journal for teens and young adults.

How to Teach Health (15:54)

Teaching health to your child can be both educational and fun. There are so many great resources available that cover a wide range of health topics and cater to different age groups and it’s easy to integrate health education into your homeschool curriculum. You will want to cover topics like nutrition, hygiene, anatomy, and the importance of a balanced lifestyle.  You can also involve your child in meal planning and preparation. Teach them about healthy food choices, cooking techniques, and portion control. Gardening can also be a fun way to learn about growing and harvesting fresh produce.

If you work solo in the kitchen and you send them to go play when it’s time to cook, I really encourage you to bring them to the kitchen and teach them now because let me tell you, it’s awesome to walk in the door and your teenager just cooked dinner. We started when they were very young when they were toddlers, climbing up in their learning tower and helping to tear lettuce for a salad. And if you feel lost on where to start, there really are a ton of resources available.  You can use textbooks, online resources, and educational videos to teach these subjects. We will talk about a few of these options but will have tons of resources in our show notes, so be sure to check that out. 

Two great free resources:

  • Khan Academy: Online courses on health and medicine that cover various topics suitable for middle and high school students.
  • KidsHealth in the Classroom: This website provides lesson plans, activities, and videos on health topics, including nutrition, exercise, and emotional well-being.
  • Some people want to go old style school textbook for this topic.  If you are one of those, here are two popular textbook options:
Holt Lifetime Health covers a lot of material. It’s great for educating teens about their personal health and wellness and the choices they can make to living a healthy life.
Glencoe Health: this is an updated version of what many people used in school to learn the basics of health and wellness.
Documentaries and Educational Videos
  • “Supersize Me”: This documentary explores the impact of fast food on health.
  • “Food, Inc.”: An eye-opening documentary about the food industry and its effects on health.

We will caution that with documentaries- you really do need to consider the source- there are a lot of really one-sided sources out there that people quote on diet websites and there is always someone who will point out cherry picked date and offer the other perspective- so maybe watch both and use those things as a learning opportunity.

Health and Anatomy Apps
  • Human Anatomy Atlas:
  • Anatomy Body Facts: This cool FREE app gives you hundreds of fun, odd, weird & useful anatomy facts & trivia. Learn about the brain, heart, liver, bones, blood, muscles, skin, hair,
Websites and Educational Portals:
  • CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a website with interactive games, quizzes, and information about health and safety.
  • MedlinePlus: A comprehensive resource from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that covers a wide range of health topics with articles, videos, and tutorials.

Teaching basic first aid is an important aspect of health education. Consider purchasing or assembling a first aid kit and teaching your child how to use it. You also can teach safety and emergency preparedness- years ago the kids and I put together a bin with essentials. Here is what we have ours:

Emergency Preparedness Kit
  • First aid kit
  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • blanket
  • ponchos
  • towel
  • life straw
  • duct tape
  • freeze dried food
  • string
  • phone charger
  • masks
  • water
  • I also included reading glasses, because that is an essential for me!

If you want to create one with your kids, you can use safety manuals and guides available from organizations like the American Red Cross. Or contact your local health department to see about resources, workshops, and educational programs they may offer to homeschoolers. 

Years ago, in our adventure kids club we did a First aid CPR class at your house with an instructor. We also did another one with our scout troop at one of those stand-alone ERs. Basic Life Support Skills for Kids

And of course, you know we love our books!  We’re going to have great ones listed on our show notes, but you can also visit your local library and find these titles or just explore the health and wellness section for books suitable for your child’s age.  We found it handy to get lots of books about various subjects and keep them within easy access on our shelves.

One book we really liked was Body Book: Easy to Make Hands on Models.  It’s scholastic and you end up going through all the different body parts and making an entire skeleton.  We used this as a spine and then got other books and resources and read those before making the models:

We love Body Book and the way it is designed to hit different levels of learners. You can go as shallow or deep on any given system as you want. Solid information with a hands-on component. Great models.
Look Inside Your Body is truly incredible. Has so many different flaps showing you a lot of different parts of the body and explaining them in terms the kids can understand.
Knowledge Encyclopedia Human Body is packed with facts, charts, infographics and illustrations that cover the human body head to toe with illustrations, photographs and extremely detailed 3D CGI images.

When teaching health, you need to be sure to tailor the materials and resources to your child’s age, interests, and maturity level. Encourage open discussions about health-related topics and answer their questions honestly. You really want to create a supportive and informative learning environment. 

How to Talk About Sex Education (23:31)

Sexual education is essential for empowering your child with accurate information about their bodies, relationships, and safe practices. This will enable them to make informed decisions and navigate the complexities of sexuality and relationships responsibly. These subjects collectively contribute to the holistic development of your child. It’s so important to equip them with essential life skills for a healthy and fulfilling future.

And keep in mind that it’s completely normal for children to worry about their bodies, especially when things start changing during puberty. Reassure them and always remember that you are their role model and your words and actions set an example. The way you talk about sexuality sends messages that last a lifetime. These conversations aren’t just about sharing information – you’re teaching values and attitudes. HOW you talk is one of the first lessons they receive about body image and sexuality. 

Talking about sex and puberty isn’t a one-time conversation. Young kids are curious and have lots of questions. Being open to these questions without judgment shows them that you’re a source of support. Help them create a healthy body image by the way you talk about your own body and others. Encourage other healthy habits too like good personal hygiene and posture, healthy sleep habits, and stress relief.

And I would really encourage you to be proactive. Don’t wait for them to come to you with questions about their changing body. You really want to create a safe space for them to ask questions without shame or fear. Let them know that you’re available to talk but start conversations too. Discuss puberty and the feelings that come with its changes as openly as possible. Some parents might feel embarrassed discussing these sensitive topics, but kids are often relieved to have them take the lead. And I guarantee if you don’t teach these extremely valuable lessons, they’re going to learn somewhere else – and there’s a good chance that these other sources might not even be accurate information. 

Talk to them about the changes their bodies will go through as they grow. Some girls start puberty at 8 years old, and some boys do by 9 so you may need to start these talks earlier than you think. Discuss the physical and emotional changes that come with puberty before they begin. 

Sex Ed Resources

Sex Ed Resources for Ages 4-7

Sex Ed Resources for Ages 6-12

  • Where Did I Come From? Ages 6+. Another good book teaching the basics with accurate illustrations. It is a higer level of information provided to elementary kids, but it answers all the right questions and teaches anatomy presented in picture book form.
  • It’s So Amazing! Ages: 7+. Helps answer questions younger kids have about reproduction, babies, love, sex, and gender. Provides honest answers with age-appropriate, reassuring words and accurate, inclusive art.
  • The Care and Keeping of You Ages 8-10 (Girls) by Valorie Schaefer: This series is particularly useful for girls and covers puberty and personal hygiene topics.
  • Sex is a Funny Word Ages 7-10 by Cory Silverberg (Book): This book is aimed at kids aged 8 and older and explores topics like bodies, gender, and relationships in a way that is inclusive and affirming.

Sex Ed Resources for Ages 11-15

  • What’s Happening to My Body? Ages: 11-15 (Boys). This book is made for boys and touches on all the bases including steroids, acne, diet and exercise, romantic feelings, voice changes, and more. It’s straightforward and touches on what puberty is for girls. A good way to introduce a book like this is You should read first, then present the book to your child, and then once they are finished, come to them, and discuss and answer any questions they may have 
  • What’s Happening to My Body? Ages: 11-15 (Girls). This book for girls touches on all the bases including breast development, reproduction, menstruation, growth and growth spurts, body hair, diet and exercise, romantic and sexual feelings and more. It uses a straightforward writing style and it touches what puberty is for boys. You should read first, present book, and answer questions.
  • It’s Perfectly Normal: Ages: 11+. This series is one of my favorites. One reason I love it is because it answers questions appropriately and accurately. It is a no-nonsense book and is a thorough guide to changing bodies, growing up, sex, and sexual health. It does a great job covering all the bases, including embarrassing things happening to their bodies! It also includes a chapter on Internet safety. The illustrations are for older kids. A must read for middle schoolers. 

Sex Ed Resources for Ages 14+

  • Consent: The New Rules of Sex Education. Ages 15+. This book is for older middle schoolers and high school. It covers an overview of human sexuality, common scenarios, and healthy ways to handle them. It gives tools for communicating and understanding consent and abuse. You should read first, present book, and answer questions.
  • Cycle Savvy for teens Ages 14+ (Girls) by Toni Weschler This is by the same author as Taking Charge of Your Fertility It’s the first book specifically designed to teach young women about the practical benefits of charting their cycles. Explore the fascinating world of ovulation, fertility, and why you even have periods at all!

Online Sex Ed Resources

There are also a number of progressive sex education resources online that prioritize comprehensive, inclusive information. These resources promote open and informed discussions, they emphasize consent, and they provide a safe space for kids to ask questions.

Scarleteen (Website): Scarleteen is a comprehensive online resource for sexual health and education. It offers articles, guides, and forums that cover a wide range of topics related to sexuality, relationships, and consent. The content is LGBTQ+-inclusive and sex-positive.

Amaze (Website and Videos): Amaze creates animated videos that tackle a lot of aspects of sex ed, including puberty, body image, consent, and healthy relationships. These videos are designed for young people.

Planned Parenthood (Website): Planned Parenthood’s website provides a wealth of information on sexual health, including educational articles, videos, and interactive tools. They offer resources for teens and parents, covering topics such as puberty, birth control, and consent.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) by Unitarian Universalist Association (Curriculum): OWL is a comprehensive, age-appropriate, and inclusive body/sex ed program for all age groups, from young children to adults. It is a year long program and covers topics like anatomy, relationships, and consent and so much more. My daughter did the middle school program.

Advocates for Youth (Website): Advocates for Youth is an organization that promotes comprehensive sex education. Their website offers a wide range of resources, including lesson plans, fact sheets, and toolkits.

Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs): If this group is available in your area, they provide a supportive environment for discussions on gender identity, sexual orientation, and other related topics. It’s a really safe space for a lot of kids that need it. 

Always review the content of the resources to ensure they align with your values and the age-appropriateness for your child. It’s also important to create a safe and non-judgmental space for your child to ask questions and discuss sensitive topics. Open and honest communication is key when teaching progressive sex education.

This Week’s Freebie:

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Outschool: What is it and should I use it in my homeschool?

What is Outschool?

Outschool is an education platform that connects teachers of any subject with students around the world for a variety of engaging small-group classes online.  It gives kids the opportunity to explore their interests via interactive, live video by experienced, independent educators.

How Many Courses Does Outschool Offers?

Outschool offers variety of classes and over 100,000 Interactive Online Classes for every age group from 3 to 18 years. You can use it as full academic classes or supplements. You can also have your kids choose their favorites and dive into their interests. Below is the vast list of subjects your kids might be show interest in. The content appeals to all different types of learners and there are countless subjects.  To name a few: life skills (like Future Chef’s Baking Club), social studies (like indigenous studies taught by members of First Nations), organization (like Conquering the Clutter), the arts (like Dance with Me and crochet), Study Skills to get ready for high school and college, and a First Grade Sight Word Bootcamp taught with fun and games.

What Type of Courses Does Outschool Offers?

  • Arts – Drawing, photography, dance, Theatre, Film, Sewing
  • Coding & Tech – Coding, Video Game Design, Robotics, Engineering, Internet Safety, Animation
  • English – Creative Writing, Grammar, Spelling, Book Club, Essay Writing, Poetry, Literature
  • Health & Wellness – Hygiene, Emotions, Exercise, Mindfulness, Nutrition
  • Life Skills – Cooking, Financial Skills, Study Skills, Social Skills, Critical Thinking
  • Math – Elementary math, Algebra, Numbers, Geometry, Fractions, Calculus, Statistics, Probability
  • Music – Guitar, Piano, Singing, Composers, Music Theory, Composing, Recording
  • Science & Nature – Chemistry, Biology, Zoology, Physics, Astronomy, Anatomy, Marine Biology, Psychology
  • Social Studies – Geography, World History, American History, Anthropology, Economics, Politics
  • World Languages – Spanish, American Sign Language, French, Japanese, Latin, German, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Mandarin
  • Leaner Favorites – Dungeons And Dragons, Fortnite, Lego, Pokemon, Minecraft, Cats, Dogs, Unicorn, Adventure

How Are Teachers at Outschool?

I personally know several friends that teach classes on Outschool. Many are homeschoolers, and many are classes that my own children have taken and loved. In general, you can find varied teachers with different personalities and backgrounds. You can choose a teacher that fits best with your teaching preference and style. Some of the teachers are retired teachers and others are passionate parents who are passionate about a subject and are really good at teaching. 

I’ve been really happy with every teacher we have used. They have kept my kids engaged and wanting to learn more about what is being taught. Most teachers offer a demo class for $20 or even less ranging between $10-15. You can use multiple trial and error demo classes to choose the best teacher that suits your requirements. When looking for a class, I would really recommend reading all the reviews about the teacher. Parents are pretty honest, and kids are pretty vocal when they’re not happy with a class. 

Most of the teachers love teaching and are exceptionally good with kids. 

Outschool offers small size classes and recommended class size to teachers as below:

  • For kids ages 6 and below – class size should be up to six learners in one class.
  • And for kids ages between 6-12 – maximum of 9 kids at a time is a pretty good class size.
  • Finally, Kids ages 12 and above – up to 12 learners are recommended.
  • The flexible schedule classes are capable of teaching 18 students at a time.

How Much is Outschool Classes?

Students can sign up for classes at a variety of costs.  Most one-time courses go for around $10.00 to $15.00 per student, depending on the length and content. Students can also sign up for ongoing and semester courses, which are priced comparably to one-time courses.  One-on-one classes and tutoring go for between $15.00 and $130.00 per session. Teachers’ charges vary as per subject, age range, content, and time.

What are the potential drawbacks of Outschool?

Here are some reasons that Outschool might not be a good fit for your family:

  1. Teachers: Some of the teachers are individual contractors which can make the classes hit or miss. There’s no guarantee that the teacher is going to be a good fit for your child.
  2. Special Needs: If your child has special needs, it is up to the teacher to decide if they will accommodate your child in their class. This is very inconvenient since some kids have different learning abilities at different levels. However, you can always reach out to the teacher before registering to address this issue to see if it’s a good fit.
  3. Payment: Payment is required upfront. If you encounter a problem and want a refund, you need to make a strong case to get one approved.
  4. Technical Problems: Technology isn’t perfect and if you I have tech issues, you may miss a live class. Fortunately, many live classes are available after, so your child can catch up if they miss. The best way to avoid this is to test out your equipment before class begins to make sure everything is working properly. They’ve made this system pretty streamlined. 

Is Outschool Right For You?

Outschool is a good resource and opportunity for learning something you may not want to teach and outsource or learn more about a special interest topic. It’s also a great way to learn something new from somebody other than mom. 

Personally, we have had a great experience and loved all the classes at Outschool. My kids have enjoyed both the group classes as well as one-on-one classes. They both prefer live classes but have also enjoyed pre-recorded classes because they can do them at their own pace. 

Outschool has been a great time-saver tool and has allowed me time to work one on one with my children while my other child is in a class. There are also several classes my kids have done together. 

I recommend that you try a class before you choose an 8-week program. Read all the reviews and sign up for a one-time class and see if the teacher seems engaging and is a fit for your family.

045. High School Socialization, Friendships, and Dating

045.

High School Socialization, Friendships, and Dating

Tune in today as we answer these questions and more!

Episode 045:

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Show Notes

Socialization, friendships, and dating are such important roles in the holistic development of high schoolers, and this holds true for homeschooled students just as much as their traditionally schooled peers. During the teen years, friendships become even more important as our children are growing in their understanding of the world and where they fit in it. Recognizing the significance of nurturing meaningful friendships and exploring healthy dating relationships can empower homeschooled high schoolers to build vital life skills, emotional resilience, and a strong sense of identity as they transition into adulthood. 

The Youngest BTDT Babies on Campus for Dual Credit Courses
November 2014 vs. August 2023

These socialization aspects of teenage life are not merely about having fun and passing the time; they are essential for emotional, social, and psychological growth. While homeschooling provides many advantages, such as personalized education and flexible schedules, it can sometimes present challenges when it comes to social interaction. But we need not fear that our teens will be “limited” socially by being schooled at home during these years. That is short-range thinking. The social possibilities for homeschoolers are endless, really. All it takes is a bit of creativity and willingness to make it happen. 

How much time should my high schooler spend with friends? (6:12)

The amount of time your high schooler should spend with friends can vary greatly depending on their individual personality, needs, and commitments. Not every child has the same need for interactions. And the same goes for parents.  If you are an introvert and your child is not, you are going to have to make some effort to facilitate social interactions for your child.  That may mean stepping way out of your comfort zone! 

Family Dynamics

Also, consider your family dynamic.  If you have more than one child, or those of varying ages and interests, this sometimes requires some massive scheduling on your part. Likewise, don’t forget the importance of family time. It’s essential for your child to maintain a connection with the family unit. Consider setting aside specific times for family activities and bonding. 

I have been a fan of The Chicken Soup Series forever. I love that they made a teen version. Being a teen is hard – and this book makes them feel like they are not alone. This book is filled with stories that will make you laugh and make you cry. It will act as a best friend, keep you company, motivate you, and reassure you that other teenagers have been through the same ups and downs and have come out okay.

Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

Academic Responsibilities

High school students will have academic responsibilities that should be a priority, especially if they are college bound. Encourage your teen to establish a balance between schoolwork and socializing.  Luckily, as homeschoolers, we do have the flexibility of setting our own schedules, so social activities don’t have to be limited to weekends or evenings.  

Extracurricular Activities

If your child is involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, theater, or music groups, they may naturally spend more time with friends during these activities. This is beneficial as it combines socializing with personal interests and skill development.  Socialization needs will vary from kid to kid, and as your child gets older, they may naturally want more independence and private time with friends, outside of these activities. It’s essential to strike a balance between allowing them this independence and ensuring they still meet their responsibilities and obligations at home and school.

Open Communication

You really want to make sure you maintain open communication with your high schooler about their social life. Encourage them to share their plans and needs with you and be willing to listen if they have concerns or questions about how much time they should spend or want to spend with friends. There are definitely times when we feel over scheduled and over socialized, and we had to dial everything back in and then there were times where we felt the opposite.  

Opposing Schedules

High school gets tricky because a lot of kids have fine-tuned their interests, everyone is going different directions, and doing different times of schooling or classes, and sometimes you may even stop seeing some of your best friends due to opposite schedules and activities, or if they’ve chosen to go to public school at this point. When that’s been the case, we have always encouraged our kids to try to schedule times to hang out with those friends and to open the door to new friendships. That happens to everyone – even us as adults. Friendships come in and out of our lives. Gone are the days of easy park days where you just show up.  Sometimes you really have to make an effort to plan things and stay on top of schedules to ensure it happens.  If you kids can’t or don’t want to do that, you may have to!

Healthy Relationships

You really want to ensure that the time spent with friends is healthy and positive. Know the company your child keeps, and discuss any concerns you may have regarding peer pressure, negative influences, or unsafe behaviors. Take an active role in meeting their friends and chatting with them – and their parents. Keep an open dialogue with your kids. They’re starting to branch out and spend less time with family and more with friends. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is establishing a strong bond from a young age, so that we always have an open dialogue. You want your children to feel safe telling you things.

It’s also more important for your high schooler to have a few close, meaningful friendships than to be constantly surrounded by friends. Encourage them to focus on nurturing these deep connections.  We always try to stress quality over quantity.

Safety and Setting Boundaries

You also need to make sure your child understands the importance of safety and setting boundaries in their social interactions, both online and offline. Teach them to make responsible decisions about where and with whom they spend their time. This is especially important for kids who spend a lot of time online.  We try to talk a lot about not oversharing information, being cautious of potential scammers and fake people, and just guarding your online interactions, in general. We have a responsibility to teach our kids to think critically. Teaching them online safety can sometimes be especially hard for us because our kids usually know way more about tech and online things than we do!  So do your best to stay current so that you can discuss this stuff with your kids. 

Overall Well-Being

Pay attention to your child’s well-being. If they seem overwhelmed, stressed, or exhausted from socializing, it might be a sign that they need to scale back and prioritize self-care.  Talk to your kids about stress management – nutrition, hydration, healthy sleep habits. If they seem lonely, down, or moody, you definitely want to address that and do what you can do to help them-some of these highs and lows are completely normal with teenagers as they feel all the feels. But pay attention when things seem off more than normal.  Even though they are older, they often need guidance navigating relationships and activities.  

If your teen is new to homeschooling and maybe came out of a difficult school situation due to bullying or negative social interaction, this is even more important and can be a huge adjustment.  Keep trying and do what you can to assist.

Different Needs

Lastly, remember that every teenager is different. Some may be more introverted and prefer less social interaction, while others may be extroverted and thrive on frequent social contact. Respect your child’s personality and adjust expectations accordingly. Again, this is one of the many advantages to homeschooling, that we can customize our approach to socializing just like we can with academics. Ultimately, the amount of time your high schooler spends with friends should align with their personal needs and interests. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between socialization, academics, extracurricular activities, and family time while allowing your child to develop the social skills and connections that are so important for their well-being.

What can I do to help my high schooler develop meaningful friendships? (16:24)

Helping your high schooler develop meaningful friendships is important for their social and emotional development. But where do you even begin finding friends and developing these relationships?  Like we mentioned before, high school can get tricky even if you aren’t new to homeschooling because kids tend to split at this age- their interests are more fine-tuned, they may be involved more heavily into other groups and activities, and their time is precious, too.

Look for local homeschooling groups or co-ops where your high schooler can meet other homeschooled students. These groups often organize activities, classes, and events that provide opportunities for social interaction.  Even if you have been involved in a group for a long time, you may want to consider branching out to other groups and seeing what else is out there. We belong to a lot of groups and they all have a different dynamic and vibe, and bring something else to the table.

Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports teams, music groups, art classes, and community service clubs. Not only are these essential for just being a well-rounded person, but these activities can also help them meet like-minded peers who share their interests. 

In today’s digital age, online friendships can be just as meaningful as in-person ones. A lot of parents who really limit online interaction and are very strict about kids not having phones, social media, etc. While you do want to make sure your child is protected, technology is our future and kids are going to find their way to it eventually- with or without your blessing. Ensure your child has access to safe online communities, forums, or social media groups where they can connect with other homeschoolers or friends who share their hobbies and interests. 

One service that I’ve used for years is called QUSTODIO. When my kids first got devices around middle school age, I really struggled with online safety and protection, and I eventually found this great tool that allows me to monitor apps and websites from my phone. I can even see what websites they visit and block sites from my phone! As they’ve gotten older, I’ve dialed back the monitoring as they have learned online safety but if you’re struggling with this, I would highly recommend this.

Keep your kids safe online:
Learn more about Qustodio>>

Engaging in volunteer work is another great opportunity. It not only allows your child to give back to the community but also offers more chances to meet people who share their passion for making a difference. We also really like scouts for this. It’s great for kids who want organized opportunities with a lot of fun and group activities. 

Look for local classes or workshops related to your child’s interests or hobbies. This can be anything from dance classes to coding workshops. These environments often foster social interaction. Your local recreation center is a great source for this, as well as your local libraries.   Library classes and activities are typically free even if you don’t have a card and a lot have reciprocal programs with neighboring city libraries, too.

If your child is old enough, a part-time job can be an excellent way to meet new people. Working with peers can help develop social skills and build friendships. Sometimes these are great learning opportunities to help your kid figure out what they want to do- and what they don’t want to do! 

One challenge for homeschoolers that do dual credit, is that their on-campus peers are often a lot older than they are.  While we are ok with them swapping numbers or meeting up on campus after class for study related things, we do let our kids know that they need to be upfront about the fact that they can’t really socialize with them outside of class. 

Make sure your child has the necessary social skills to build and maintain friendships. Teach them effective communication, active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution. And while it’s important to support your child in building friendships, it’s also crucial to respect their autonomy. Allow them to choose their friends and give them space to develop these relationships, while still talking often about positive interactions and safety. This can be hard for some parents! Just do your best to keep communication lines open with your child. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, experiences, and any challenges they may be facing in the process of making friends.

This is a bit older but still a relevant and helpful resource for parenting in our “Tech World”. In iRules, Hofmann provides families with the tools they need to find a balance between technology and human interaction through a philosophy she calls Slow Tech Parenting. In the book, she educates parents about the online culture tweens and teens enter the minute they go online, exploring issues like cyberbullying, friend fail, and sexting, as well as helping parents create their own iRules contracts to fit their families’ needs.

iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing up

Building meaningful friendships can take time, so be patient and don’t push your child too hard. It’s normal for the process to have its ups and downs. And when you’re a teenager, these shifts can sometimes feel very extreme from happy to sad. Like we mentioned earlier, the quality of friendships is more important than the quantity. Encourage them to focus on building deep, meaningful connections with a few individuals rather than trying to be friends with everyone. Building friendships is a skill that takes time and practice, so continue to provide support and guidance.

Should my high schooler date? (24:46)

Deciding whether or not your high schooler should date is a personal and often complex decision that depends on various factors, including your child’s maturity level, values, and your family’s beliefs and guidelines. 

You really need to assess their emotional and social maturity. Are they capable of handling the responsibilities and potential challenges that come with dating Like communication, compromise, and understanding boundaries? I would encourage you to sit down and have an open and honest conversation about dating. Ask them about their thoughts and feelings regarding dating and really listen to them. In a couple of years, they’ll be young adults and they’re going to be off doing their thing without consulting you, so use this time to help them and influence them in a positive way.  As your teen grows, you can be there to help them work through different situations or challenges. Talking to them about relationships and consent will help them understand how to take care of themselves and others. Remember that your child may not always feel like talking or opening up. Be patient and make sure they know they can speak to you about anything. 

Sheldon and Amy’s Relationship Contract

Mentioning consent always makes me laugh thinking about Sheldon and Amy’s relationship agreement in The Big Bang Theory. It’s so funny when he draws up the contract about when they can and can’t hold hands. Or that short video about tea and consent (*warning F-Bomb) when somebody changes their mind about having tea.  

Tea and Consent

Give your child some examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviors – watch these videos with them. They are humorous, but it’s a serious topic that needs to be addressed. Chat with them about how consent comes across in words and body language. If someone seems uncomfortable with something or says no, it’s important to listen.

Discuss with them what a healthy relationship is. It’s when both people are:

  • Caring
  • Considerate
  • Kind
  • Encouraging

You want to teach them about red flags in a relationship like:

  • Controlling
  • Isolating the other person (they might discourage them from seeing friends)
  • Passive-aggressive or unkind
  • Self-centered, not considering the other’s needs.

Talk to your child about respect. Speak about gender equality and spotting sexual harassment It’s our job to educate our kids well beyond academics. These are conversations that should be happening from when they were young, but if they weren’t, start today. This goes well beyond dating. These are things that teach them about respecting others and themselves.  Be sure to get your FREE Healthy Relationship E-Guide>>

Be aware of potential peer pressure or external influences that might be motivating your child to date. Encourage them to make decisions based on their own feelings and values, not solely to fit in or meet others’ expectations. This is another positive of homeschooling. Many homeschooled kids haven’t really had to succumb to peer pressure. From early on, they were encouraged to have a voice and be heard, and that carries through not only in their teen years, but for the rest of their lives.

Consider your family’s values and beliefs regarding dating and relationships. Different families have different approaches, and it’s important to align your decision on dating rules with your family’s values. Model healthy relationships and communication within your own family. Your child will learn a lot about relationships by observing how you and your partner interact.

Sometimes, focusing on building strong friendships during high school can be a more suitable approach for teenagers who are not yet ready for dating. But if you decide to allow dating, set age-appropriate boundaries and rules. Depending on your child’s age and your comfort level, you might choose to supervise their early dating experiences more closely. These could include curfews, group dates, and guidelines for physical affection. Or no closed doors when in bedrooms, and not being at someone’s house when parents aren’t home.  As they demonstrate responsibility and maturity, you can grant more independence. Be clear about your expectations.

Ultimately, the decision to allow your high schooler to date should be based on their individual readiness and your family’s values. Keep in mind that every teenager is different, and what works for one may not work for another.  Emphasize the importance of maintaining a balance between dating, academics, extracurricular activities, and family commitments. Ensure that dating doesn’t interfere with their responsibilities. It’s crucial to maintain open communication with your child, listen to their concerns, and provide guidance and support as they navigate the complexities of dating and relationships.

This Week’s Freebies:

FREE Teen Healthy Relationship E-Guide (18 pages)
Get your FREE Extracurricular and Volunteer Workbook

We created this group as a way to share FREE resources all over the world with NO SPAM:

BTDT Homeschool Free Resources
Join the Group for Free>>

Show Notes

If you’re brand-new to homeschooling, be sure to visit our GETTING STARTED Page

This is the 8th Episode in our
HIGH SCHOOL SERIES

Socialization, friendships, and dating are such important roles in the holistic development of high schoolers, and this holds true for homeschooled students just as much as their traditionally schooled peers. During the teen years, friendships become even more important as our children are growing in their understanding of the world and where they fit in it. Recognizing the significance of nurturing meaningful friendships and exploring healthy dating relationships can empower homeschooled high schoolers to build vital life skills, emotional resilience, and a strong sense of identity as they transition into adulthood. 

The Youngest BTDT Babies on Campus for Dual Credit Courses
November 2014 vs. August 2023

These socialization aspects of teenage life are not merely about having fun and passing the time; they are essential for emotional, social, and psychological growth. While homeschooling provides many advantages, such as personalized education and flexible schedules, it can sometimes present challenges when it comes to social interaction. But we need not fear that our teens will be “limited” socially by being schooled at home during these years. That is short-range thinking. The social possibilities for homeschoolers are endless, really. All it takes is a bit of creativity and willingness to make it happen. 

How much time should my high schooler spend with friends? (6:12)

The amount of time your high schooler should spend with friends can vary greatly depending on their individual personality, needs, and commitments. Not every child has the same need for interactions. And the same goes for parents.  If you are an introvert and your child is not, you are going to have to make some effort to facilitate social interactions for your child.  That may mean stepping way out of your comfort zone! 

Family Dynamics

Also, consider your family dynamic.  If you have more than one child, or those of varying ages and interests, this sometimes requires some massive scheduling on your part. Likewise, don’t forget the importance of family time. It’s essential for your child to maintain a connection with the family unit. Consider setting aside specific times for family activities and bonding. 

I have been a fan of The Chicken Soup Series forever. I love that they made a teen version. Being a teen is hard – and this book makes them feel like they are not alone. This book is filled with stories that will make you laugh and make you cry. It will act as a best friend, keep you company, motivate you, and reassure you that other teenagers have been through the same ups and downs and have come out okay.

Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

Academic Responsibilities

High school students will have academic responsibilities that should be a priority, especially if they are college bound. Encourage your teen to establish a balance between schoolwork and socializing.  Luckily, as homeschoolers, we do have the flexibility of setting our own schedules, so social activities don’t have to be limited to weekends or evenings.  

Extracurricular Activities

If your child is involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, theater, or music groups, they may naturally spend more time with friends during these activities. This is beneficial as it combines socializing with personal interests and skill development.  Socialization needs will vary from kid to kid, and as your child gets older, they may naturally want more independence and private time with friends, outside of these activities. It’s essential to strike a balance between allowing them this independence and ensuring they still meet their responsibilities and obligations at home and school.

Get your FREE Extracurricular and Volunteer Workbook
Open Communication

You really want to make sure you maintain open communication with your high schooler about their social life. Encourage them to share their plans and needs with you and be willing to listen if they have concerns or questions about how much time they should spend or want to spend with friends. There are definitely times when we feel over scheduled and over socialized, and we had to dial everything back in and then there were times where we felt the opposite.  

Opposing Schedules

High school gets tricky because a lot of kids have fine-tuned their interests, everyone is going different directions, and doing different times of schooling or classes, and sometimes you may even stop seeing some of your best friends due to opposite schedules and activities, or if they’ve chosen to go to public school at this point. When that’s been the case, we have always encouraged our kids to try to schedule times to hang out with those friends and to open the door to new friendships. That happens to everyone – even us as adults. Friendships come in and out of our lives. Gone are the days of easy park days where you just show up.  Sometimes you really have to make an effort to plan things and stay on top of schedules to ensure it happens.  If you kids can’t or don’t want to do that, you may have to!

Healthy Relationships

You really want to ensure that the time spent with friends is healthy and positive. Know the company your child keeps, and discuss any concerns you may have regarding peer pressure, negative influences, or unsafe behaviors. Take an active role in meeting their friends and chatting with them – and their parents. Keep an open dialogue with your kids. They’re starting to branch out and spend less time with family and more with friends. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is establishing a strong bond from a young age, so that we always have an open dialogue. You want your children to feel safe telling you things.

Get your FREE Teen Healthy Relationship E-Guide. Learn strategies to help your teenager find meaningful friendships, navigate dating, learn how to set boundaries and spot red flags, and empower them with skills to form deep connections:

FREE Teen Healthy Relationship E-Guide (18 pages)

It’s also more important for your high schooler to have a few close, meaningful friendships than to be constantly surrounded by friends. Encourage them to focus on nurturing these deep connections.  We always try to stress quality over quantity.

Safety and Setting Boundaries

You also need to make sure your child understands the importance of safety and setting boundaries in their social interactions, both online and offline. Teach them to make responsible decisions about where and with whom they spend their time. This is especially important for kids who spend a lot of time online.  We try to talk a lot about not oversharing information, being cautious of potential scammers and fake people, and just guarding your online interactions, in general. We have a responsibility to teach our kids to think critically. Teaching them online safety can sometimes be especially hard for us because our kids usually know way more about tech and online things than we do!  So do your best to stay current so that you can discuss this stuff with your kids. 

Overall Well-Being

Pay attention to your child’s well-being. If they seem overwhelmed, stressed, or exhausted from socializing, it might be a sign that they need to scale back and prioritize self-care.  Talk to your kids about stress management – nutrition, hydration, healthy sleep habits. If they seem lonely, down, or moody, you definitely want to address that and do what you can do to help them-some of these highs and lows are completely normal with teenagers as they feel all the feels. But pay attention when things seem off more than normal.  Even though they are older, they often need guidance navigating relationships and activities.  

If your teen is new to homeschooling and maybe came out of a difficult school situation due to bullying or negative social interaction, this is even more important and can be a huge adjustment.  Keep trying and do what you can to assist.

Different Needs

Lastly, remember that every teenager is different. Some may be more introverted and prefer less social interaction, while others may be extroverted and thrive on frequent social contact. Respect your child’s personality and adjust expectations accordingly. Again, this is one of the many advantages to homeschooling, that we can customize our approach to socializing just like we can with academics. Ultimately, the amount of time your high schooler spends with friends should align with their personal needs and interests. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance between socialization, academics, extracurricular activities, and family time while allowing your child to develop the social skills and connections that are so important for their well-being.

What can I do to help my high schooler develop meaningful friendships? (16:24)

Helping your high schooler develop meaningful friendships is important for their social and emotional development. But where do you even begin finding friends and developing these relationships?  Like we mentioned before, high school can get tricky even if you aren’t new to homeschooling because kids tend to split at this age- their interests are more fine-tuned, they may be involved more heavily into other groups and activities, and their time is precious, too.

Look for local homeschooling groups or co-ops where your high schooler can meet other homeschooled students. These groups often organize activities, classes, and events that provide opportunities for social interaction.  Even if you have been involved in a group for a long time, you may want to consider branching out to other groups and seeing what else is out there. We belong to a lot of groups and they all have a different dynamic and vibe, and bring something else to the table.

Encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports teams, music groups, art classes, and community service clubs. Not only are these essential for just being a well-rounded person, but these activities can also help them meet like-minded peers who share their interests. 

In today’s digital age, online friendships can be just as meaningful as in-person ones. A lot of parents who really limit online interaction and are very strict about kids not having phones, social media, etc. While you do want to make sure your child is protected, technology is our future and kids are going to find their way to it eventually- with or without your blessing. Ensure your child has access to safe online communities, forums, or social media groups where they can connect with other homeschoolers or friends who share their hobbies and interests. 

One service that I’ve used for years is called QUSTODIO. When my kids first got devices around middle school age, I really struggled with online safety and protection, and I eventually found this great tool that allows me to monitor apps and websites from my phone. I can even see what websites they visit and block sites from my phone! As they’ve gotten older, I’ve dialed back the monitoring as they have learned online safety but if you’re struggling with this, I would highly recommend this.

Keep your kids safe online:
Learn more about Qustodio>>

Engaging in volunteer work is another great opportunity. It not only allows your child to give back to the community but also offers more chances to meet people who share their passion for making a difference. We also really like scouts for this. It’s great for kids who want organized opportunities with a lot of fun and group activities. 

Look for local classes or workshops related to your child’s interests or hobbies. This can be anything from dance classes to coding workshops. These environments often foster social interaction. Your local recreation center is a great source for this, as well as your local libraries.   Library classes and activities are typically free even if you don’t have a card and a lot have reciprocal programs with neighboring city libraries, too.

If your child is old enough, a part-time job can be an excellent way to meet new people. Working with peers can help develop social skills and build friendships. Sometimes these are great learning opportunities to help your kid figure out what they want to do- and what they don’t want to do! 

One challenge for homeschoolers that do dual credit, is that their on-campus peers are often a lot older than they are.  While we are ok with them swapping numbers or meeting up on campus after class for study related things, we do let our kids know that they need to be upfront about the fact that they can’t really socialize with them outside of class. 

Make sure your child has the necessary social skills to build and maintain friendships. Teach them effective communication, active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution. And while it’s important to support your child in building friendships, it’s also crucial to respect their autonomy. Allow them to choose their friends and give them space to develop these relationships, while still talking often about positive interactions and safety. This can be hard for some parents! Just do your best to keep communication lines open with your child. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, experiences, and any challenges they may be facing in the process of making friends.

This is a bit older but still a relevant and helpful resource for parenting in our “Tech World”. In iRules, Hofmann provides families with the tools they need to find a balance between technology and human interaction through a philosophy she calls Slow Tech Parenting. In the book, she educates parents about the online culture tweens and teens enter the minute they go online, exploring issues like cyberbullying, friend fail, and sexting, as well as helping parents create their own iRules contracts to fit their families’ needs.

iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing up

Building meaningful friendships can take time, so be patient and don’t push your child too hard. It’s normal for the process to have its ups and downs. And when you’re a teenager, these shifts can sometimes feel very extreme from happy to sad. Like we mentioned earlier, the quality of friendships is more important than the quantity. Encourage them to focus on building deep, meaningful connections with a few individuals rather than trying to be friends with everyone. Building friendships is a skill that takes time and practice, so continue to provide support and guidance.

Should my high schooler date? (24:46)

Deciding whether or not your high schooler should date is a personal and often complex decision that depends on various factors, including your child’s maturity level, values, and your family’s beliefs and guidelines. 

You really need to assess their emotional and social maturity. Are they capable of handling the responsibilities and potential challenges that come with dating Like communication, compromise, and understanding boundaries? I would encourage you to sit down and have an open and honest conversation about dating. Ask them about their thoughts and feelings regarding dating and really listen to them. In a couple of years, they’ll be young adults and they’re going to be off doing their thing without consulting you, so use this time to help them and influence them in a positive way.  As your teen grows, you can be there to help them work through different situations or challenges. Talking to them about relationships and consent will help them understand how to take care of themselves and others. Remember that your child may not always feel like talking or opening up. Be patient and make sure they know they can speak to you about anything. 

Sheldon and Amy’s Relationship Contract

Mentioning consent always makes me laugh thinking about Sheldon and Amy’s relationship agreement in The Big Bang Theory. It’s so funny when he draws up the contract about when they can and can’t hold hands. Or that short video about tea and consent (*warning F-Bomb) when somebody changes their mind about having tea.  

Tea and Consent

Give your child some examples of healthy and unhealthy behaviors – watch these videos with them. They are humorous, but it’s a serious topic that needs to be addressed. Chat with them about how consent comes across in words and body language. If someone seems uncomfortable with something or says no, it’s important to listen.

Discuss with them what a healthy relationship is. It’s when both people are:

  • Caring
  • Considerate
  • Kind
  • Encouraging

You want to teach them about red flags in a relationship like:

  • Controlling
  • Isolating the other person (they might discourage them from seeing friends)
  • Passive-aggressive or unkind
  • Self-centered, not considering the other’s needs.

Talk to your child about respect. Speak about gender equality and spotting sexual harassment It’s our job to educate our kids well beyond academics. These are conversations that should be happening from when they were young, but if they weren’t, start today. This goes well beyond dating. These are things that teach them about respecting others and themselves.  Be sure to get your FREE Healthy Relationship E-Guide>>

Be aware of potential peer pressure or external influences that might be motivating your child to date. Encourage them to make decisions based on their own feelings and values, not solely to fit in or meet others’ expectations. This is another positive of homeschooling. Many homeschooled kids haven’t really had to succumb to peer pressure. From early on, they were encouraged to have a voice and be heard, and that carries through not only in their teen years, but for the rest of their lives.

Consider your family’s values and beliefs regarding dating and relationships. Different families have different approaches, and it’s important to align your decision on dating rules with your family’s values. Model healthy relationships and communication within your own family. Your child will learn a lot about relationships by observing how you and your partner interact.

Sometimes, focusing on building strong friendships during high school can be a more suitable approach for teenagers who are not yet ready for dating. But if you decide to allow dating, set age-appropriate boundaries and rules. Depending on your child’s age and your comfort level, you might choose to supervise their early dating experiences more closely. These could include curfews, group dates, and guidelines for physical affection. Or no closed doors when in bedrooms, and not being at someone’s house when parents aren’t home.  As they demonstrate responsibility and maturity, you can grant more independence. Be clear about your expectations.

Ultimately, the decision to allow your high schooler to date should be based on their individual readiness and your family’s values. Keep in mind that every teenager is different, and what works for one may not work for another.  Emphasize the importance of maintaining a balance between dating, academics, extracurricular activities, and family commitments. Ensure that dating doesn’t interfere with their responsibilities. It’s crucial to maintain open communication with your child, listen to their concerns, and provide guidance and support as they navigate the complexities of dating and relationships.

We created this group as a way to share FREE resources all over the world with NO SPAM:

BTDT Homeschool Free Resources
Join the Group for Free>>

Freebie

Get your FREE Teen Healthy Relationship E-Guide. Learn strategies to help your teenager find meaningful friendships, navigate dating, learn how to set boundaries and spot red flags, and empower them with skills to form deep connections:

FREE Teen Healthy Relationship E-Guide (18 pages)
Get your FREE Extracurricular and Volunteer Workbook

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041. Gaining Confidence as a Homeschooler

Gaining Confidence as a Homeschooler

Whether you’re a new homeschooler or have been homeschooling for years, every one of us has encountered fear and worry at some point. In today’s episode 041, we are going to be talking about building the confidence in yourself and giving you the tools you’ll need when you’re struggling and needing assurance.

* How do I know when to start homeschooling?
* How do I teach subjects I don’t know?
* How do I build up my confidence as a homeschool mom?

Episode 041:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes:

We all want the best for our children. Whether you’re a new homeschooler or have been homeschooling for years, everyone experiences fear and worry at some point. Sometimes when we have friends whose children are excelling in a certain subject, or sport, and we see their highlight reel on social media, it can be intimidating. But we all have these moments! We all feel uncertain about all our life choices at one point or another, it’s not just homeschooling.

There are a lot of reasons why people feel uncertain. This may be a brand-new road for them or sometimes it’s a matter of how aware we are of our own shortcomings. I struggled in math for years, and now I was taking on the responsibility of TEACHING math?! Or we struggled wondering if we would have the patience required to sit through lessons. Was I capable? How in the world was I ever going to teach upper-level science when I didn’t even understand it myself? It’s completely normal to lack confidence in something that you’ve not experienced before. Even if you’ve struggled with a subject in the past, you can be an exceptional teacher because you’re passionate about learning and teaching it now.

A big reason that people struggle with this is when a concerned and unsupportive friend or family member, or even a spouse puts doubt in their heads and tells them that they are incapable of such an undertaking. There are all kinds of stereotypes about homeschoolers out there, but most are simply NOT true. You are capable of homeschooling your children, and setting them up for success in homeschool, in college, and in life. It may be best to spend less time with unsupportive people.

We talk about dealing with naysayers in Episode 011. All About Family

If you have an unsupportive spouse, it’s important to listen to each other and your concerns – both of you. Homeschooling is a family decision and it’s an entire lifestyle. Let the results of all that you and your kids accomplish speak for themselves. Be patient with your partner as they grow to accept and hopefully embrace this new life. Have confidence in yourself and move forward and know it takes some people longer than others to get on board. Remember, they also have your kids’ best interest at heart.

Socialization: Episode 047. Socialization: Will My Child be a Weirdo?

Remember that there is no one more qualified to teach your children than you are. You’ve been teaching them all their life. In this episode, we are going to be identifying some strategies to help build your confidence but really the best way to grow in confidence as a homeschool mom is to DO IT. When we’ve decided that this is the best path for our children, if we are so terrified of making mistakes that we never try homeschooling or quit at the first sign of challenge, that is the real failure. If you are new to homeschooling, check out our Homeschool FAQ Guide.

There are so many reasons that families choose to homeschool.  Some families have concerns about safety and their child’s well being and want to have more control over their socialization (possibly they have gotten caught up in the wrong crowd or bad influences that are affecting them negatively)  or they may want to incorporate their beliefs, whether that be religious or cultural beliefs. Children who have had negative experiences in traditional schools, like bullying or social challenges, or feeling like a failure when they couldn’t keep up can thrive in homeschool.

Some parents are interested in customizing their child’s educational experience to meet their child’s individual learning style, pace, and interests. Some parents believe that they can provide a higher quality of education than what is available in the local public or private schools or theory may prefer alternative education philosophies. This personalized approach can lead to better academic outcomes.

Especially for children with special learning needs or learning disabilities, homeschooling can provide a more supportive and tailored educational experience. Gifted children also benefit since you can provide a more challenging or advanced curriculum. 

Families with non-traditional lifestyles, such as frequent travel or remote living, may find homeschooling to be a more practical educational option.  Homeschooling offers flexibility in scheduling, allowing families to create a learning environment that accommodates travel, family commitments, and other activities. Homeschooling allows for increased family bonding and more time spent together, strengthening parent-child and sibling relationships.

Every family’s decision to homeschool is unique and personal. Each family’s reasons and motivations may differ based on their specific circumstances, values, and beliefs. We always like to point out that every homeschool family is different.  A lot of the time, we may be homeschooling for completely opposite reasons. But at the end of the day, we believe ALL parents CAN homeschool.  You really just have to want to.

Create an entire Homeschool Lifestyle!

How do I know when to start homeschooling? (13:23)

Deciding when to start homeschooling is a significant decision that depends on several factors, including your child’s age, developmental readiness, family circumstances, and your personal preferences. Here are some indicators that it might be the right time to start homeschooling:

Maybe you have always planned to homeschool?  Consider your child’s developmental stage and readiness for formal learning. Some children may be eager to learn and show signs of readiness at an early age, while others may benefit from more time in a less structured learning environment. Once you’ve made a decision to homeschool, I know how exciting it can be, but I would encourage you to not let your eagerness overshadow your child’s readiness. We see a lot of parents wanting to start formal lessons when their child is clearly showing signs that they aren’t ready. This can often lead to frustration for both you and them. Young children learn and retain information best through play-based learning. 

If you have concerns about the traditional education system, such as the curriculum, teaching methods, or class sizes, and safety homeschooling can provide an alternative approach that addresses these concerns.

If your child has specific learning needs or interests that are not adequately met in a traditional school setting, homeschooling can offer a more personalized and tailored learning experience.

Consider whether you have the time, energy, and willingness to take on the role of a homeschooling parent. Homeschooling requires dedication and active involvement in your child’s education. Lessons may not take long, but homeschooling is more than academics. Your kids need to get out in their community and be with friends hanging at the park or playing board games, getting hands-on at the museums. Remember, learning doesn’t stop when the school books close and choosing to homeschool is a lifestyle. 

Assess the availability of support networks, such as homeschooling communities, co-ops, and online resources. Connecting with other homeschooling families can provide valuable support and social opportunities for both you and your child.

Ensure that you are aware of the homeschooling laws and regulations in your country or state. Familiarize yourself with any necessary paperwork or reporting requirements.

If you’re unsure, you can start with a trial period of homeschooling to see how it works for your family. This will allow you to assess whether homeschooling is a good fit before committing to it long-term.  If you’re pulling your child from a school environment that was not working for them, it’s important to spend some time going through the process of Deschooling.  We have an entire episode about that but in summary, it is a process to help your child transition into homeschooling if they’ve been in a school environment. If you are deschooling, download your FREE 90 Deschooling and Boredom Ideas List.

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the decision to homeschool should be based on what you believe is best for your child and family. Take the time to research, reflect, and discuss the idea with your partner and any other involved parties before making a final decision. But also remember that like we talked about in our deschooling episode, don’t be afraid to take that plunge. You don’t have to keep your kid in a bad situation because you feel like you don’t have a plan. You aren’t going to ruin a 4th grader by pulling them now and going through the process of Deschooling while you figure things out. 

How do I teach subjects I don’t know? (19:00)

You do not need to be an expert in any subject to adequately teach your children.  Teaching subjects you don’t know as a homeschooler can be a bit challenging, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for both you and your children to learn together. Here are some strategies to tackle this situation:

Scripted Curriculum:  Many curricula are totally scripted- the entire lesson is laid out for you with your questions and answers. This takes so much of the pressure off! And speaking of curricula- there’s a million options out there (we just did an episode on the 7 steps to choosing curriculum) so don’t feel like you need to come up with something on your own. Visit our Curriculum Guide>>

Hands on Learning:  So many children, especially young ones learn best with hands-on activities. We did so much of this with my kids. With math for instance, If you can count and recognize numbers you can teach a 3 year old math. Use objects to help your child visualize counting. Read books with numbers and counting. Point things out in everyday life.

Online Resources: Use online learning platforms, educational websites, and tutorials to learn the subject with your child. There are numerous resources available for various subjects, including math, science, coding, languages, and more. Khan academy is one we use often when we have trouble with a math or science problem and need a better explanation.  BrainPOP is an excellent resource that we have used for years.

BrainPOP
We LOVE BrainPOP!

Along with that is….Educational Apps and Software: Explore these tools that provide interactive learning experiences for your children. Many of these are designed to be self-guided, making it easier for your kids to explore subjects independently. While we don’t advocate for online programs for little kids, there are a lot of cute supplementary apps and programs that can help with things like reading. Starfall is a good option for younger kids.

Online Courses and local classes or tutoring: Consider enrolling your children in online courses or outsourcing to a local teacher or tutor who specializes in the subject you are unfamiliar with. This can provide them with expert guidance and support in their learning journey. We used both Outschool for all kinds of subjects and Thinking Reeds for upper-level science and math.

Co-ops with Other Homeschoolers: Connect with other homeschooling families who have expertise in the subjects you’re less familiar with. Organize study groups or cooperative learning sessions where kids can learn together under the guidance of parents with more knowledge in those areas. 

Library Resources: Utilize your local library to find books, DVDs, and other resources related to the subjects you want to teach. Libraries often offer educational programs and workshops, which can be beneficial for both you and your kids. Use Libby at your local library

Field Trips and Real-Life Experiences: Whenever possible, incorporate field trips and real-life experiences related to the subject. Visiting museums, science centers, historical sites, or nature reserves can enhance learning and understanding. We have an entire resource page on field trips that is totally awesome! Download your FREE Field Trip Packet

Documentaries and Educational Videos: Use educational documentaries and videos as supplementary learning materials. They can provide valuable insights and explanations on various topics. We love Crash Course, and Horrible Histories Videos, and Donuts and Documentaries Monday!

Horrible Histories explores the side of history that they don’t teach you about in school! From the Vicious Vikings and Awful Egyptians to the Slimy Stuarts and Terrible Tudors, Horrible Histories covers the funniest, yuckiest and most gruesome bits of history for kids.

Horrible Histories
Horrible Histories Video Series >>>
Horrible HistoriesBooks
Horrible Histories Book Series>>

Encourage Independent Learning: Foster a love for self-directed learning in your children. Provide them with the necessary tools and resources, and encourage them to explore subjects on their own with your support and guidance. Encourage your children to ask questions and explore their interests. Facilitate their curiosity-driven learning, and let their interests guide the direction of their studies.

Learn Alongside Your Children: Embrace the journey of learning together with your kids. Show them that it’s okay not to have all the answers, and that learning is a lifelong process. While you may not be an expert in a particular subject, you can still teach core skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and communication. These skills are valuable in any subject area. It’s important to model that we are also continuing our education as adults- we never really stop.  Remember, homeschooling is about creating a nurturing and supportive learning environment. Embrace the opportunity to learn alongside your children, and you’ll not only gain knowledge in new subjects but also set a wonderful example of lifelong learning.

How do I build up my confidence as a homeschool parent? (27:18)

Building up your confidence as a homeschool parent is essential for creating a positive and effective learning environment for your children.  A lot of homeschool parents talk about how they NEVER believed they were capable! Maybe you didn’t do well in school yourself, but you are your child’s parent and the person who loves them the most in this world, so you are the best person to be teaching them! You will know what’s best for them and the fact that you know you want to homeschool is a sign of that.

  • Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives for homeschooling. Knowing what you want to achieve will give you a sense of purpose and direction, making it easier to stay confident in your decision.
  • Educate Yourself: Continuously learn about homeschooling methods, curriculum options, and child development. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to handle challenges and make informed decisions. Top 10 Books Every Homeschool Parent Should Read
  • Create a Supportive Learning Environment: Organize your homeschooling space to foster a positive and engaging learning environment for your children, which will also boost your confidence as you see them thrive.
  • Start Small: Begin with manageable tasks and gradually expand your responsibilities as you gain confidence. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once.
  • Be Flexible: Homeschooling may require adjustments along the way. So Stay open to trying different approaches and adapting your methods as needed.
  • Join Homeschooling Communities: Connect with other homeschooling parents through online forums, social media groups, or local support networks. Sharing experiences, tips, and encouragement with like-minded individuals can be very empowering. Don’t hesitate to seek advice or guidance from experienced homeschooling parents, educational consultants, or even therapists. Having someone to talk to can help you gain perspective and new ideas. 
  • Attend Workshops and Conferences: Participate in homeschooling workshops, conferences, and seminars to gain new insights, meet other homeschooling parents, and stay motivated.
  • Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate both your children’s and your own accomplishments. Acknowledge the progress you make, no matter how small it may seem.
  • Embrace Mistakes: Understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. Instead of being discouraged, use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • Reflect on Your Children’s Progress: Keep a record of your children’s achievements, their academic progress, and personal growth. Sometimes just Reviewing these positive outcomes can remind you of how far you’ve come and the significant value you bring to their education. 
  • Trust Yourself: Remember that you know your children better than anyone else. Trust your instincts and intuition when making decisions about their education.
  • Self-Care: Take time for yourself. Set aside time for relaxing, hobbies, exercise, and activities that recharge you. You know I love my sports! A well-rested and balanced mom is better equipped to handle all those homeschooling challenges.
  • Practice Patience: Be patient with yourself and your children. Homeschooling is a journey, and progress may not always be linear.

By incorporating these strategies, you can gradually build your confidence as a homeschool mom and provide your children with a fulfilling and enriching educational experience.  Confidence is a journey, and it’s okay to have moments of doubt. We all have these feelings at one time or another! Embrace the challenges, celebrate the successes, and enjoy the process of learning and growing together. Take some time to write down all the reasons why you have chosen to homeschool. In these moments when doubt and fear surface, go back and read and reflect on the big picture. It’s essential to remember all the reasons why you chose to homeschool in the first place. Homeschooling is not something you have to do, it’s something you choose to do because you know in your heart this is the right path for your family. 

This Week’s Free Resource:

040. Homeschool Extracurricular & Volunteering

High school extracurricular and volunteering

Extracurricular
& Volunteering

Adding extracurricular and volunteer hours isn’t only fun, it helps create diverse and interesting students and makes them stand out on college applications and job interviews.

* Should extracurricular activities go on the transcript
* How many volunteer hours should a high schooler do?
* Do hobbies count as extracurricular subjects?

Today, we will be answering these questions and more!!

Episode 040:

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

If your student is college bound, you have probably spent a lot of time agonizing over putting together a transcript of robust classes and grades so that you can showcase the rigor and variety of education experience your child has been busy with.  But colleges and universities are not only interested in academics, but they also want to see well-rounded applicants who participate in a variety of activities and are active members in their community.  Admissions staff are often looking for students who understand how to build into a community because this can help build good college culture. Colleges like to know that homeschool high schoolers are not just sitting at home but know how to contribute to the world around them. There are all kinds of ways to build that “Total College Package” that will make your student a super desirable candidate. Volunteering and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities not only helps build good character, but they build great transcripts too! 

Get your FREE transcript templates>>

But remember there’s only one absolute must in all of this.  And that is to follow your state homeschool law. There are plenty of kids that get into college that were homeschooled without this extra, but it definitely helps you stand out. It’s also important to check the college requirements and put those into your plan. But beyond that, everything you do is your choice.

State Homeschool Law Guide>>

And even if your child is not college bound, participating in extracurriculars and community service is still an excellent way to figure out their future path and to contribute to society.  So don’t discount this important step of their educational journey. It will help create memories that these homeschool graduates can talk about in job interviews, too. Interviews often start with “Tell me about yourself”. Your new graduate that may not be college-bound will have plenty to talk about!

But there are so many more reasons to participate in these activities.

Skill Development:

These opportunities will help your teenager develop a wide range of skills beyond what is taught in the classroom. These activities can help enhance their leadership, teamwork, communication and time management skills. It also helps them home in on those critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • College Applications: Participating in extracurricular activities and volunteer work can significantly strengthen your college applications. Admissions officers often look for well-rounded applicants who have demonstrated their commitment and passion outside of academics. Your involvement in such activities can make you stand out from other applicants and showcase your dedication and interests.
  • Personal Growth: Extracurricular activities and volunteering offer opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Your high schooler can explore their interests, passions, and talents. These things are going to allow them to develop a sense of identity and purpose. These experiences can also help build their confidence. It really doesn’t matter what kind of extracurricular activities your kids choose to do, there are so many options, and each one is going to help them to develop resilience and learn to be adaptable – these are all really important qualities for success in life.  
  • Networking: Participating in extracurricular activities and volunteering can help you expand your social network. You’ll meet people with similar interests, make new friends, and connect with mentors who can provide guidance and support. Networking is valuable not only during high school but also in college and beyond, as these connections can lead to future opportunities.
  • Community Engagement: We have always made volunteering a big part of our homeschool. Volunteering allows your kids to give back to the community and make a positive impact on others’ lives. Volunteering cultivates empathy and compassion. It also gives you a sense of social responsibility, it exposes them to different social issues. These kinds of experiences really help our kids to understand the world beyond their immediate surroundings.
  • Exploration of Interests and Passions: Extracurricular activities provide a platform to explore and pursue your passions. Whether it’s joining a sports team, participating in a debate club, or engaging in artistic endeavors, these activities allow you to discover what you truly enjoy and what you may want to pursue further in the future.
  • Stress Relief and Balance: High school can be academically demanding and stressful. When our kids are involved in extracurricular activities and volunteering, it can provide a much-needed break and serve as a healthy outlet for relieving their stress. It can help create a balance between academics and other aspects of life, and it gives them a sense of overall well-being.

Remember, it’s important to choose activities that genuinely interest you and align with your values. Quality matters more than quantity, so focus on a few activities that you’re genuinely passionate about and commit to them wholeheartedly.

How many volunteer hours should a high schooler do? (10:13)

This number of volunteer hours that highschoolers do varies depending on their personal goals and how much time they have available. While there is no specific requirement, many aim to complete between 50 and 200 volunteer hours. A general guide is to aim for 10–15 hours per month during the school year, and as much as possible over the summer. Remember, there’s no specific number but it’s a good idea to shoot for enough to gain valuable experiences and make a positive impact. 

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Personal Interest: Engage in volunteer activities that align with your interests and passions. Choose causes or organizations that resonate with you and where you believe you can contribute meaningfully. When you are genuinely interested in the work you’re doing, you are more likely to commit and enjoy the experience.
  • Time Availability: Consider your academic workload, extracurricular commitments, and other responsibilities when determining the number of volunteer hours you can realistically dedicate. Is your student working to try to save up for a car? That may be 20 hours a week really cutting into their free time for volunteering. It’s important to strike a balance with all your commitments while maintaining their academic performance and overall well-being.
  • Requirements and Recommendations: Some schools, scholarships, or programs may have specific requirements or recommendations for volunteer hours. It’s advisable to check with your school’s guidance counselor or college admissions offices to see if there are any guidelines to follow. However, keep in mind that the quality of your volunteer experiences is generally more important than the sheer number of hours.
  • Consistency and Longevity: Rather than focusing solely on the number of hours, consider the consistency and longevity of your volunteer commitment. Demonstrating long-term dedication to a cause or organization can be more impactful than sporadic involvement. It shows commitment, responsibility, and a deeper understanding of the cause you’re supporting.

Ultimately, the goal of volunteering is to make a positive impact and gain valuable experiences, so it’s more important to focus on the quality of your volunteer work rather than getting caught up in meeting a specific hour quota.

 Should extracurricular activities go on the transcript? (13:26)

So while you definitely want to include extracurricular activities with your application materials, the transcript is typically not the place for it.  You want to keep academic achievements and coursework as essential components of a transcript, while extracurricular activities highlight their involvement, skills achieved, and interests beyond the classroom.  These activities go on a resume or a second page or often, there is a space on the school application, or Common App where you can list all of this information.  Including this information can give colleges, universities, or future employers a well-rounded view of your abilities, dedication, and character.

High School Documentation Episode>>

Common App>>

When listing extracurricular activities on your resume or in your application documentation, consider providing the following details for each activity:

  • Name of the activity: Clearly state the name of the extracurricular activity.
  • Duration: Specify the period during which they participated in the activity (e.g., years or semesters).
  • Role or position: Indicate any leadership positions or significant responsibilities they held within the activity.
  • Description: Briefly describe the nature of the activity and their involvement. Highlight any notable achievements, awards, or recognition they received.

Remember, the goal is to provide a well-rounded picture of your high school experience, so focus on including activities that demonstrate your skills and passions! Examples of extracurricular activities you may want to include are sports, clubs, community service, volunteering, music or arts-related activities, leadership positions, part-time jobs, internships, or any other relevant activities. All of these can help you stand out and showcase your holistic development and commitment beyond academics.

 Do hobbies count as extracurricular subjects? (15:46)

So while hobbies may not typically fall under the traditional definition of extracurricular activities, they can still provide valuable insights into your interests, skills, and personal development. Especially if your hobbies are particularly relevant to your field of study or demonstrate important qualities, it may be worth considering including them.

Download the ENTIRE list of 105 activities >>

Maybe they align with their academic interests or showcase skills that are transferable or applicable to their desired path? Have their hobbies had a significant impact on their personal growth, character development, or community involvement? If their hobbies have led to noteworthy achievements or contributions, they can and should be mentioned. It’s essential to maintain a balance and focus on including activities that provide the most comprehensive and compelling representation of your abilities, interests, and accomplishments.

Many people worry about extracurriculars because maybe they have a kid who isn’t sporty or particularly artsy or crafty.  That’s ok!  There are so many different avenues for extracurriculars and there are few rules about what counts.  It’s your homeschool- you decide what is important and worthy.

Cameron building a guitar.
Perfect hobby for a musician!

Sports

The first thing that typically comes to people’s minds are sports. And just because your student is homeschooled doesn’t mean they don’t have opportunities for team and individual sports.  While in some places homeschooled kids can participate with local school teams, in other areas support groups have formed homeschool teams in basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, track and field, swimming, tennis, martial arts, dance, cheer, and more. There are also independent teams- rec and club level in many communities that offer these same services.

Golf was a lot of fun for my daughter
My son really enjoys ballroom dancing

Group Activities 

Personal interest clubs – Dungeons & Dragons, board game club, programming club, engineering club. My son was a member of the Texas Robot combat club for a few years and built combat robots from the design and a CAD program to 3-D printing, the chassis to mounting the servo and programming the remote and weapon. He actually won a couple of really cool competitions.

Government groups/Speech & Debate:

Model United Nations (MUN) is an educational simulation activity in which students role-play as delegates to the United Nations (UN) and simulate UN committees or other international bodies. MUN aims to provide participants with an understanding of international relations, diplomacy, and the workings of the UN. During a Model UN conference, students represent different countries or entities and engage in debates and discussions on global issues. They research their assigned country’s policies, they prepare position papers, and engage in negotiations with other delegates to find solutions to complex problems. Participants must articulate their country’s positions, negotiate with other delegates, and draft resolutions that address the issues being discussed. 

Model United Nations: https://www.un.org/en/mun

Model UN Representing Italy
Resolution: Water Desalinization…PASSED!

In a Youth and Government program, participants take on roles such as legislators, judges, lobbyists, journalists, or executive branch officials. They simulate the functions of government bodies, such as the state legislature, judiciary, or executive branch, and work together to propose, debate, and enact legislation, make judicial decisions, or carry out executive functions. The program aims to provide young people with firsthand experience in how the government operates, and it helps foster a deeper understanding of democracy, civic engagement, and public policy. Participants gain insights into the legislative process, develop critical thinking and public speaking skills, learn about policy issues, and engage in debate and negotiation.

Youth and Government: https://www.ymca.org/what-we-do/youth-development/education-leadership/government

youth and government
Our Youth and Government Conference at the Texas State Capitol

These gave our kids “student council” experience, too, which they went on to use in college on their university student council groups or sorority/panhellenic leadership.

Robert’s Rules of Order

Robert’s Rules of Order is a book that outlines the rules of parliamentary procedure. It is used by many organizations to help them conduct their meetings in an orderly fashion. The book is  useful for youth organizations as it can help them learn how to run meetings for their clubs or organizations.

Academic competitions

Participating in academic competitions, such as mathletes, science fairs, and opportunities include Jr. Achievement, Scholastic Bowl or National Quiz Bowl, Math and Spelling Bees, and Odyssey of the Mind competitions, or speech and debate tournaments can challenge and showcase a student’s knowledge and skills in specific subjects.

Odyssey of the Mind: https://www.odysseyofthemind.com

Destination Imagination: https://www.destinationimagination.org

Shakespeare Competition: https://www.esuus.org/esu/programs/shakespeare_competition/about/

Poetry Out Loud: https://www.poetryoutloud.org

National Quiz Bowl: https://www.naqt.com/about/quiz-bowl.html

Mathletes: https://mathleteschallenge.com

Spelling Bee: https://spellingbee.com/faq/how-do-i-enroll-if-there-no-home-school-associationgroupco-op-my-area

Speech and Debate: https://www.speechanddebate.org/nationals/

Junior Achievement: https://jausa.ja.org

4-H Groups

High-school students can form 4 H clubs in your homeschool group. Your children can raise livestock, collect insects, decorate cakes, or learn woodworking. There are literally hundreds of projects for children to try. They can compete at the county fair with their annual project. Parents are closely involved with the whole process. Leadership is carefully taught as each club is run by the children using “Robert’s Rules of Order.” Only children vote in these meetings.

4-H: https://4-h.org

At our recent homeschool expo I met the guy who runs the lone Texas 4 H Center- just 1!  In Georgia we had several and they are worth the trip.  4 H is an awesome organization and they often will do group events for a very small group- like 10 people.  That can be 3 homeschool families!

Texas 4-H: https://texas4hcenter.tamu.edu

Georgia 4-H: https://georgia4h.org/4-h-centers/

Scouting

Scouting can be a great source of leadership training.  Merit badges include excellent units of study and mastery to add to your curriculum. An Eagle Scout for boy scouts is an amazing accomplishment and girl scouts have the Gold Award which is a prestigious honor that recognizes exceptional leadership, project management, and commitment to making a sustainable and positive impact in their community. Similar to the Eagle Scout rank, earning the Gold Award requires a Girl Scout to complete a series of requirements, including identifying a community issue, developing a project plan, gaining necessary approvals, implementing the project, and measuring its impact. It also involves demonstrating leadership skills, engaging with community members, and dedicating a significant amount of time and effort to the project.

BSA also offers Venture Scouting. This is a great option for teenagers that have never been involved in scouts or are continuing on. It is a co-ed program for young men and women aged 14-20. It focuses on adventure, leadership, and personal development through activities such as outdoor adventures, community service, and skill-building. And they offer Sea Scouts as a program that emphasizes nautical skills and water-based activities. It offers opportunities for young men and women aged 14-20 to learn about sailing, boating, and water safety while fostering leadership and teamwork.

Girl Scouts https://www.girlscouts.org

Boy Scouts: https://www.scouting.org

Navigators: https://www.navigatorsusa.org

Sea Scouts: https://seascout.org

Venturing Scouts: https://www.scouting.org/programs/venturing/

My daughter’s Venturing Scout Troop backpacking for 10 days in the Arizona Mountains:

My daughter was the lead navigator!

Civil Air Patrol

If your teenager enjoys the thought of helping others, wearing a uniform, and flying airplanes, then the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program might be a good fit for them. This is an auxiliary organization of the U.S. Air Force. Cadets learn aeronautics, aviation, military drills, marching, survival skills, and first aid skills. Uniforms, gear, and equipment are included at no additional charge. Cadets are promoted on their own merits through testing and achievement.

Civil Air Patrol: https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com

I did this when I was in high school.  I was also part of an emergency services department as a ham radio operator.  I went out on calls and would do things like communicate with 911 and direct traffic.  It was an arm of our county sheriff’s department.  Check and see if your city has a similar program.

Community Programs and Classes, fine arts

Your student may enjoy being a part of a theater production or orchestra.  One of our kids is a musician, and took lessons and performed with School or Rock for years. He has since moved onto classical guitar, but it was a good stepping stone for him to get in front of an audience and learn stage performance. He wants to pursue music, and he loves jazz and classical music so he performs weekly at an open mic night here in North Texas. And he started to teach guitar to younger students. Some of our kids are fiddle players.

School of Irish Music: http://schoolofirishmusic.org

School of Rock: https://www.schoolofrock.com

Here is Cameron performing with one of his School of Rock Bands

Check your local recreation center catalog for a variety of classes. Fitness groups like Crossfit or a weightlifting class can be great, too.

Book Discussion Groups

Many homeschool students form book discussion groups. Book selection can be made by the students, with parental input. This gives the students a chance to learn more about “give and take” or Socratic discussion, public speaking, and how to defend their position in a non-threatening atmosphere.

Community Service

There are many ways teens can become involved in serving their community, such as hospital volunteer work, helping at an animal shelter, visiting a nursing home, doing yard work for an elderly neighbor, reading to neighborhood children, etc.

 They can get great experience working on a political campaign. We canvassed for a very popular senate election a few years ago.   Kids as young as 15 can be poll officials in our county election office.  During the 2020 presidential election the most experienced clerk was actually a young man in his 20s who had started working there in high school as a teen.

Journalism and publications: Students can create or join in a school newspaper, join a yearbook committee, or literary magazine, where they can develop their writing, editing, and design skills.

Leadership programs: Leadership programs such as Junior ROTC, National Honor Society, or leadership clubs provide opportunities to develop leadership abilities and contribute to the school community.

ROTC: https://www.usarmyjrotc.com

National Honor Society: https://www.nationalhonorsociety.org

Entrepreneurship or business clubs: Students interested in business and entrepreneurship can participate in clubs that focus on developing entrepreneurial skills, organizing business competitions, or engaging in fundraising activities.

Apprenticeships or Internships or part time jobs

Activities abound, but don’t overlook the unique opportunity you have to involve your teens in your adult life! Do you own a business? Train them to be your assistant. Are you a craftsman? Take on an apprentice! Our lovely podcast jingle was written and recorded by my lovely 16-year-old apprentice. Students can seek internships or part-time jobs in fields related to their interests or career goals, gaining practical experience and skills. Like I talked about my son teaching guitar lessons. 

So hopefully, if you aren’t already encouraging your child to explore extracurriculars and community service, we gave you some ideas of where to start!  These are the kinds of activities and experiences which really stay with you your entire life and have so many benefits all around.

This Week’s Freebie:

Workbook Lists 205 Activities with Links>>

Homeschool Lesson Planner and Ultimate Organizer

BTDT Homeschool Lesson Planner and Ultimate Organizer

Introducing the BTDT Homeshool Lesson Planner & Ultimate Organizer – the essential tool for every homeschooling family! This 187-page planner is all about tailoring it to your unique needs and making your homeschooling journey a breeze.

A homeschool planner is a tool designed specifically for homeschooling families to help them stay organized and track their progress. It typically includes various sections and features to assist with lesson planning, scheduling, record-keeping, and tracking academic goals. 

Whether you have one child or a bustling homeschooling household, this organizer is here to keep you super organized and on top of things. It’s like having your personal homeschooling assistant! Completely customized and flexible planner that adapts effortlessly to your homeschooling needs. Say goodbye to scattered records and hello to an all-in-one solution! With everything in one place, you can easily access all your information as you move through the school year.  

Planning your homeschool lessons has never been easier. Our user-friendly design makes planning a breeze, allowing you to map out your curriculum with efficiency and precision- whether you are a child-led unschooler or a scheduled parent, the flexibility will work for you and your kids.  

Stay on top of your homeschooling schedule effortlessly, empowering you to focus on what truly matters – educating your children.  

Our planner empowers you to track anything and everything related to your homeschooling journey. From attendance and grades to extracurricular activities and field trips, you’ll have a comprehensive overview of your children’s progress.  

Page by Page view of the BTDT Homeschool Lesson Planner & Ultimate Organizer

What is included in this planner?

We’ve taken the time to include detailed instructions on how to use this planner effectively, but let me give you a friendly overview of how it’s organized: 

PART 1: REFERENCES  

  • Resources list from BTDT Homeschool- Including: BTDT Homeschool podcast, getting started in homeschooling, tips, free downloads, and more to help in your homechool journey.  
  • Password Tracker 
  • Membership/Subscription Tracker 
  • Field Trip Tracker 
  • Attendance Tracker 

BTDT Homeschool was created with a heartfelt mission: to empower and give back to the secular homeschool community.

Through our informative podcasts, blog posts, daily inspiration, and a wide range of free printable tools, we aim to empower you on your homeschooling journey.

New to Homeschooling>>>

PART 2: MAKING A PLAN  

  • Curriculum & Resources Brainstorm 
  • Literature Selections and Rating 
  • Planning For the Year Ahead 
  • Monthly Goals and Accomplishments 
  • Quarterly Term Goals 

PART 3: BUDGETING  

As parents research how to get started homeschooling, budgeting is a top concern. Families want to know how much it will cost to homeschool. Preparation for the costs will minimize the stress that can affect your homeschool efforts and overall success.  

Several factors determine how much it will cost to homeschool. These include the number of children, the grade level, the type of curriculum you select. Each family will have different homeschool requirements, so providing a dollar figure before evaluating your family’s needs is difficult. Your Homeschool Budget is listed in an organized way so you can stay on track and not bust the bank:  

  • Curriculum Budget by Subject  
  • Outsourced Classes/Workshops/Etc.  
  • Summary Budget  
  • Annual Household Bill Tracker  

PART 4: THE SCHEDULE  

  • Monthly Focus Dashboard 
  • Monthly Schedule 
  • Weekly Lesson Planner for 12 Months 
  • Grade Tracker/Student Checklist 

PART 5: REFLECTIONS  

  • Year-End Reflections 
  • Year In Review 
  • Notes 

Get yours today!

Transform your homeschooling journey by staying organized and on track with the ultimate organizer! With 187 pages, staying on top of your schedule has never been easier, giving you the freedom to focus on what truly matters – educating your children.

Homeschool Lesson Planner and Ultimate Organizer

$11.95

High School Electives for Homeschoolers

volleyball, ball, player-520093.jpg
volleyball, ball, player-520093.jpg

High School Electives for Homeschoolers


Visit our HIGH SCHOOL SERIES for more guidance as you navigate homeschool for 9th-12th grades and prepare for college or the workforce:

When it comes to electives, your imagination is all that limits you! Typically, there will be one to three elective courses in each year of high school. Too many electives can overshadow the core academic courses, so you need to find a healthy balance.

Elective courses require less work from your student than core academic courses. While some electives fit within the core academic subjects of Math, Language Arts, History, Science, Foreign Language, others are not core subjects at all – for example, PE, Auto Maintenance, Theater, and Cooking.

You will be able to find existing curricula for many of the elective courses your student might want to take. However, you can easily design these courses yourself. This is the fun part, and the possibilities are endless!

Your student’s electives should reflect who they are and what they are all about.
Planning out your Core Subjects and Electives>>

When we think of electives, some things come to mind:

  • This is one of those places where you can incorporate their talents, interests, and achieve that stand out status.
  • Electives can allow them to explore career options.
  • Calls for authentic experiences- they can oversee their own education and incorporate many different ways of learning.
  • Electives leave room for unconventional experiences like internships and more.
  • They don’t have to require a lots of book work.

BTDT Homeschool was created with a heartfelt mission: to empower and give back to the secular homeschool community.

Through our informative podcasts, blog posts, daily inspiration, and a wide range of free printable tools, we aim to empower you on your homeschooling journey.

New to Homeschooling>>>

This is by no means all the options, but this list may inspire you to think outside the box of possibilities:

Business

Accounting
Advertising
Business law
Business management
Consumer education
Business math
Entrepreneurial skills
Financial management
Intro to economics
Marketing

Language and Writing

Advanced composition
African literature
Asian literature
British literature
Cinema studies
Contemporary literature
Creative writing
Debate
Film study
Gothic literature
Humanities
Journalism
Poetry
Popular literature
Practical writing
Public speaking
Rhetoric
Yearbook
Works of Shakespeare
World literature

Family, Life Skills and Consumer Science

Chemistry of foods
CPR training
Culinary arts
First aid
Early childhood development
Early childhood education
Family studies
Fashion and merchandising
Fashion construction
Home economics
Nutrition
Auto mechanics
Driver’s ed
Speech/Communications
Financial management
Home economics and management
Industrial arts
Interior design
Electricity
Plumbing
Gardening

Office skills

Communication
Creative writing
Communication skills
Debate
Journalism
Public speaking
Research skills/writing
Speech
Study skills

Computer

Animation
App development
Audio production
Computer repair
Computer applications
Desktop publishing
Film production
Media technology
Music production
Typing
Video game development
Graphic design
Keyboarding/word processing
Computer Programming/Languages
Web design

Fine Arts

VISUAL ARTS:
3-D art
Architectural design
Art appreciation
Art history
Ceramics
Digital media
Drawing
Filmmaking
Jewelry design
Painting
Photography
Print making
Sculpture

PERFORMING ARTS:
Band
Choir
Dance
Drama/theatre
Guitar
Jazz band
Marching Band
Music theory
Percussion
Piano
Theater technology
World music
Instrument performance
Music appreciation/history
Orchestra
Voice performance

Physical Education

Aerobics
Volleyball
Track & Field
Fencing
Dance
Lifeguard training
Pilates
Tennis
Racquetball
Squash
Pickleball
Ice skating
Yoga
Individual sports
Gymnastics
Team sports
Weightlifting

Vocational Education

Auto body repair
Auto mechanics
Building construction
Cosmetology
Criminal justice
Electronics
FFA
Fire science
Heating and cooling systems
Hospitality and tourism
JROTC
Metalworking
Networking
Plumbing
Refrigeration technology
Robotics
Woodworking
Landscaping

Science

Agriculture
Astronomy
Biotechnology
Botany
Earth science
Environmental science
Forensic science
Geology
Horticulture
Human Physiology
Marine biology
Meteorology
Oceanography
Physics
Sound and acoustics
Zoology

Social Studies and History

African studies
Asian studies
Civics
Current events
Economics
European history
Human geography
Archeology
Anthropology
Critical thinking
International relations
Latin American studies
Middle East studies
Political studies
US government
Women’s studies
LGBTQ+ history
Logic
Philosophy
Psychology
Sociology
World culture
Comparative religion
Mythology

Foreign Language

American Sign Language
Ancient Greek
Arabic
Chinese
French
German
Hebrew
Italian
Japanese
Korean
Latin
Portuguese
Russian
Spanish
Hindi
Turkish
Tamil
Vietnamese
Thai
Romanian
Mandarin
Bengali
Lahnda
Urdu
Indonesian

012. Q&A Special Episode

012.

Q&A Special Episode

We meet so many people that ask random homeschool questions all the time and we decided to do a special Year End Episode to answer YOUR questions!

Tune in this week while we answer all your questions and more!

Brand New to Homeschooling?
GETTING START PAGE >>
Kindergarten Page >>
High School Series >>

Show Notes

We put out a request for listeners to send us some questions for a Q&A episode and we actually received some! We appreciate you all listening and please keep sending things you’d like to hear us talking more about in future episodes.

How do you introduce a foreign language? (4:23)

Studies show that the earlier children are exposed to a foreign language, the more likely they are to become fluent as opposed to when they begin to learn another language in their teens or as young adults. Some reasons for this are that they are in a stage when they have a more
natural acquisition to learning language, in general, and they have more space in their brain for new ideas. Kids are already learning speech and grammar just as they are learning to speak, and that is often the hardest part of beginning to learn another language.

Here are 7 ways to introduce a foreign language in your home, whether you have other native speakers or are doing something totally new:

  • Learn together
  • Play games in a foreign language
  • Watch cartoons and shows in another language
  • Sing songs
  • Read books
  • Include in your daily activities
  • Learn online

There are tons of resources for online Foreign Language learning:
DuoLingo
Mango Languages

Rosetta Stone is now HALF Price at Homeschool Buyers Club!

Many homeschoolers tend to start with Latin. Even though it is considered a “dead language” 50% of all English words are derived from Latin along with 80-90% of all polysyllabic words. It could also help with career fields that include law, medicine, science, music, theology, philosophy, art, and literature.

We really liked these series of books. They are a great little 10-15 minute a day lesson and review:

Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Learners of all Ages by William Linney

French

German

Spanish

Usborne First Words:

French

Spanish

How to approach art with young children? (10:58)

I remember the time as a young homeschool mom, when I asked where to find art ideas, like handprint turkeys and feet reindeer like we made in school and a friend turned me on to Susan Striker. She’s the author of a series called the “Anti-coloring books.” There is a huge difference between craft projects and actual art. Things like
coloring between the lines are not art and it is not a necessary skill. We want to encourage creativity.

It’s the process not the product! Letting kids experience different mediums and methods is a great way to “teach” art. And it does not have to be super structured. Having a dedicated art space in your home, maybe a corner or table or shelf with a variety of supplies and paper accessible will attract young artists. We liked programs that may introduce an artist or style and then let you create something with those mediums (oil, charcoal, watercolor) or in that style.

Preschool Art by Maryann Kohl

“Young at Art” Susan Striker

Anti Coloring books:

The Anti-Coloring Book: Creative Activities for Ages 6 and up

The Second Anti-Coloring Book for Ages 6 and up

It’s never too early to expose kids to great art and artists. Visit local museums, follow local art studios or exhibition places. Many museums also have free or low cost classes, sometimes even just for homeschoolers.

I make artist study really simple in my house. I like to grab art calendars on clearance and cut out the high quality prints to frame for when we are studying a particular artist. I got really cute magnetic frames that open from the front and I can switch the pictures out weekly. I actually hang these in the bathroom. You’d be surprised how much learning happens with a captive toilet audience. I’ll link these frames in our show notes:

Open from Front Art Frames

If you could choose to spend money on one extracurricular, which would be most important? (15:29)

It is totally possible to homeschool without spending a lot or really any money on extracurricular activities but if you do have the money to spend and feel this is important, what would you choose? There are people who place different values on certain things, sports is a good example, and others who may solely focus on academics and college prep. There really is no right or wrong answer for this, it’s going to vary for each family.

Extracurriculars can make for a more well-rounded student. Dedication and commitment, teamwork, following directions, learning from another person, are all benefits to extracurricular activities.

I would say the most important one is the one that your child wants to do. There are things that look good on a college application, and things that can open a door to scholarships or other opportunities, but ultimately, it is up to the child. Follow their passions. But we did have a rule that your “passion” couldn’t change until we were done paying for that 8 week session! It’s ok to try a lot of things but also ok to set boundaries about how long you must commit.

This Week’s Freebie:

Year-end Reflections

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