One day your teenager will sit down at the table every morning, pull open the math book, and complete the lesson without any nagging from you. Children do grow and mature. It just takes time.
Teaching the different ages in the well-run homeschool.
Children in the early years of homeschooling can do very little independently. In my house, my youngest children even sit on my lap as we work through their schoolwork. After all, I need to sit down and listen to the children read, explain math, and read directions aloud.
Some things, such as math drill sheets, can be done independently. But little kids want mommy to sit down next to them. They need the reassurance and support to complete their schoolwork.
Don’t worry about trying to teach your children to work independently in the early years.
That being said, I do lay the foundation for future independence by starting a child on handwriting or a math drill sheet in the kitchen. Suddenly I remember I need to move laundry. Dashing downstairs I disappear for a couple of minutes. My small child has the opportunity to work independently for a couple of minutes.
Gradually I’ll extend the length of time I’ve dashed out of the room, or I’ll stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes while my child works. Gradually my child learns to work independently for a short period of time.
By late elementary school, children are able to read to learn. They can read directions, enjoy literature books, and make their way through history assignments.
This is a golden age of education. In the classical homeschool, elementary children haven’t developed the logical skills yet to need long discussions about what they’re learning. However, they read well enough to curl up with a pile of books and make their way through them.
At this stage, I’m working on teaching my children to finish their assignments.
I sit down with my child for 30 minutes every day. The math lesson is explained and taught. We run through grammar and spelling, discuss how writing is going, and I double-check history and science readings.
Most of my late elementary children are able to complete their lessons independently. However, I keep the kids near me and check in regularly. It’s common for the boys to grab a couple of dinosaurs to help them complete their lesson. It’s just as common for the boys to play with the dinosaurs rather than finish their math.
Hovering is good at this stage. Double-check to ensure kids are progressing when they’re doing their math. Use the timer to run races if they’re stuck. Keep an eye on your child reading in the corner.
Middle School and Early High School
Middle school and early high school preteens and teens are still more children than adults. We’re talking about the ages of 11-14 or so. So I still sit down with each child for 30 minutes each day to run through their lessons.
In my house these 30 minutes are critical. However, I’ve found the middle school and early high school kids tend to be more responsible about the lessons they enjoy. These lessons will be completed well in a timely manner.
When a child doesn’t like a subject, they become very resistant. At times even more so than in the elementary years!
If needed sit a child near you and walk them through the lessons just as you did when they were younger.
Do problem 15. Good job! Now read problem 16. What are you to do? Excellent. Solve the problem and show your work. This means write down the problem…. that’s right. Now what’s the next step?
So on and so forth. It’s time-consuming and gets old fast, but don’t let your children get into the habit of skipping subjects. As mentioned, we all hand our seemingly responsible middle school child an assignment to be done at the end of the week, only to find on Friday it was forgotten. Nothing has been done.
Allow middle school and early high school children a bit of room, but keep an eye on their studies. It’s common for kids to avoid work they don’t want to do.
Late High School
There’s a change that occurs in late high school. Our 9th-grade teens are still more children than adults. However look at the same teenagers 2 or 3 years later, and you’re looking at a young adult.
They may bounce off the wall and jump around the house in excitement, but they’re mature. These young adults understand that their education today will make a difference tomorrow. This is the age when kids truly become independent learners.
They’re able to plan their week, follow a list, and get things done.
However, teenagers still need discussion time, even more so than in the younger years. They’re developing their worldview, their understanding of the world, and their place in it.
While you’ll find yourself no longer hovering over your 17yo to ensure that math is finished, you’ll find yourself engulfed in long conversations in the car, over dinner, or while putting younger siblings to bed.
Education changes over the years in a well-run homeschool. One year you’re trying to teach your child how to finish a math worksheet. Turn around and you’re involved in a lengthy political discussion with the same child who’s trying to decide how to vote.
Eventually, children do turn into responsible adults who can be counted on to complete their schoolwork. It just takes time and diligence.
Read more posts in the 31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool series!