You are NOT the only one! My 7th grader is currently "anti-academics", and firmly set against college. She loves to read, look things up on the internet, and talk about anything unrelated to math, history, science, grammar or language. I assigned a report (1 page, nothing too fancy) and she was able to find a book (by an excellent author, no less) within 25 minutes, locate a library and a bookstore that had it, and figure out how long it would take us to get there (consequently calculating whether we would make it before it closed). But she is completely paralyzed at the thought of writing 5 paragraphs about Joan of Arc. I think you're best off making sure they know how to locate the information they need: basically make sure they know how to learn. Can they make an appointment (time management)? Cancel a subscription (inter-personal skills)? Dispute a credit charge (2 for 1 - math & behaving graciously under pressure)? How about file a witness report with the police (observation & conveying clear, concise facts in writing)? These are everyday uses of common academic skills, but few people teach them. My best math advice is to let them see you use it. Figure up how much your car REALLY cost. Decide whether it's better to finance a big-screen TV through the store at 0% interest (with the fine print, of course!) or on your credit card. Find out what their dream job is, how much it pays, then see if they can afford the house they want on that amount of money. Adjust it for inflation from the last however many years. Have them balance an old ledger, or fill out a tax form. If you've had to do it during your adult life, they should know how to do it, too. Call it Applied Mathematics, or Consumer Math. If they can find out how much they need to earn to buy their dream house and figure out what job they need to get there, I'd say they've got a good handle on things.
The problem is... not all kids are interested in algebra or precalculus, chemistry, etc... and get overwhelmed when they are expected to do it themselves--they sit for hours lost or just give up and go on Facebook or iTunes. Yet, they are forced to take it as a graduation requirement in case they go to college. (Fortunately I can afford a tutor). Not all kids are meant to go to college right out of high school or ever. Some may need or want to go into a trade. It's frustrating for parents who don't have children who take the initiative to self learn or have "ADD", or have kids that just have other interests-I wish I had good advice for that kind of situation, because I have the opposite situation. Am I the only one?
I love this article! My son has been teaching himself for years, now. I help when needed. We discuss what he has learned, mainly because he loves to tell me about it! He is 15 years old and currently he is learning Physics online with the Thinkwell program. The lectures are great and my son loves to share them with me, because quite often, they are funny. He is learning Algebra 2 from a textbook of his choice. We are a part of a charter school. The teacher that we work with says that we let him follow his own course and it must be working because he will be graduating a year early. His grade point average was 3.875 last semester.
Awesome article. This year I have given the learning reigns to my 10th grade daughter. I am a little nervous but it is all good.
I totally agree with everything you have said about children teaching themselves at the high school level. Something that hasn't been brought out yet (but you have addressed it in other blogs)is the fact that you need to choose a curriculum that is "self-teaching." A lot of popular home school curriculum are actually created for a classroom setting. I used one for a while for all my subjects and just about totally burned out because of the load on me, and the fact that my child and I butted heads constantly. Luckily, it was in the junior high years and not in high school. When I found that there was curriculum such as Apologia Science that speaks directly to the student so that they can teach themselves from the textbook, I was elated! My child learns best by teaching anyway, so why not have her teach herself? She will do much better that way. I think it is wiser to spend your time as a homeschooling mom doing research into what curriculum you should use rather than trying to learn a subject and teach it to your child. I have had a burden lifted from me by doing this, and my child is pretty much a totally independent learner. I just keep her on task and tell her what she can get by with and what she can't...because that's what a mom does! Thank you so much for all your wisdom that you share with us about being a homeschooling mom.
Amen! Thank you for this. My sons taught themselves Physical Science, Physics and Biology this past year and did great. What a blessing. Once in a while that feeling creeps in that I should be teaching this material. It's nice to hear the confirmation. You are right they must learn to learn. Thank God they are.
I am glad you suggested that, because HE chose to go with Jacob's Elem. Algebra this year, from several options. The conversational style and the interesting way the lessons are introduced will (I am hoping) hold his attention better than just dry instructions and a page of problems. I want him to see Math as applicable to his life and think this is just what the 'doctor ordered'!
Try having your son choose his own curriculum. Sometimes the one mom chooses just isn't the right fit. Here is a blog post on some ideas for math:
I've been reading the blogs about 'not' teaching your children. We have the opposite problem. My son is starting the 9th grade and has had problems in Math, teaching himself. After a year or so of bumping heads in the subject, we had him do Math online last year so he could be more in control. It went okay, but he wasn't doing the equations on paper (much)like I told him he should (therefore he wasn't learning the formulas/patterns). He mostly could do them in his head. So when the problems got a bit harder, he didn't do so well and got stumped. I think turning them loose to teach themselves is a process. I thought he was ready.. but he wasn't as ready to go solo as I'd thought. Now, we're starting again with me helping explain the lesson, making sure he writes the problems out and understands the process. Letting him explain the lessons to me and then showing me how they are done will be my goal for this coming year. I don't want to 'teach' him Math this year, I long for him to be more independent, but what option do I have? If he isn't naturally self motivated in Math, he has to be taught. I know he has self discipline because he's an accomplished violinist. He says Math just isn't his thing. Any suggestions?
I'm so glad I read your post today! I have stated the very same things, numerous times, to my family. For a few years now, my teens have been teaching themselves. As you said, I have no clue what those math symbols are, but I can see if the answers match those of my students. I allow my students access to the teacher's manual as well - it's been the best way for them to learn.
Also, I feel like my whole day is "out'a whack" when I don't get my quiet prayer and devotional reading in for the morning. I believe my time with the Lord each morning is what keeps me going, keeps the attitude straight, and just gives me strength.
Your article is extra confirmation that I'm doing O.K. as a home school Mom. Sometimes it's nice to hear that it's O.K. not to force 'school at home' - and just have fun with it and let the kids pursue their own interests - learning all the while.
Thanks again for your encouragement.
This idea of NOT teaching your homeschool child brought my 8th grader's interest back into math. We were having a continual struggle with trying to teach him math, and he hated it. Finally, I told him about your idea - he was to teach himself. We bought a math book he picked out, and we help when needed. But now he's learning algebra easily with no struggles and no fights with mom. It feels like a ground breaking concept to me.
I also realized that most of what my husband and I currently do for our careers hadn't been around when we were in school -- such as the entire web, most of the programming languages, shopping carts, online business, etc. So we learned it on our own. Our kids are going to have to be able to teach themselves just to stay up with the current technologies.
I'm just new to your wedsite. As an Australian mum homeschooling 2 highschoolers (sitting down for breakfast while you're probably all asleep over there!), I can feel a little isolated sometimes. Geographically, people are further apart here.
But thanks for reminding me that the
issues are the same anywhere. When I stick to facilitating a good work/study environment for my 2 teens, they are much more self disciplined in their approah to study. Im a much nicer person to be around too!
Blessings from Aussie Land
Your advice here is priceless for moms considering homeschooling high school students. Parents seem to think that they need to be brilliant at every subject that their kids need to learn.
I have always thought that we just need to be good at keeping them motivated and pray a lot!
Thanks for the great advice, as always!
Great points! Reading ahead is a real key for success in college.
In many university courses, the professor will lecture on some concepts but other concepts are learned from reading the textbook. At the college level, professors rarely repeat anything in the book. It's important for students to learn from watching someone speak (in a lecture) and learn from books (like a textbook.) At large colleges, freshman classes will have hundreds of students will little possibility of discussion. I think it's good to be prepared either way. But like everything, take what will work for your family.
I agree that students need to be able to digest the material from the textbooks to some extent on their own, but college profs actually explain a lot of what is in the textbook. The best methodology for college is: read ahead, then you are better prepared to understand the lecture, then review your notes and read ahead for the next lecture.
I think the sciences are particularly important in this way. Having a "teaching" format for them means that the students get a better chance to discuss and get a deeper understanding of the material. When I don't "teach" it to them myself, I don't have the context to have that kind of intelligent discussion that they need.
Thank you for that message. I needed that today. Sometimes I do get frustrated, lost, and intimidated by all the things on the list for a homeschooling mom of kids of many ages. I just need to step back and remember to be consistent with my prayer and personal preparation time, and all things will fall into place. I need to nurture my faith! Thanks for reminding me of that.
I appreciate your messages of wisdom and encouragement.
This post was written almost a year ago, and I'm SO glad that it helped you today! My husband and I were talking about this topic just this weekend, at the convention. One "expert" was saying that you should never show your children the answer key. Huh??? That's how my kids learned physics, Latin, calculus - and went on to engineering school! We simply could NOT have done it without that strategy!
Do what works, Michelle! Do what works!
WOW! that gave me a breath of fresh air...I haven't been teaching math for a long time and was letting them "learn" it on their own....They have always tested well. Now as two of my children are in High School the pressure is ON! And this little blog helped me to breath easy...
Did you know that you can create long course descriptions from Co-Op class info? Yep! Course descriptions describe your homeschool class that even a stranger unfamiliar with homeschooling will understand what
You will need to demonstrate interest in a college if you want to get admitted and get scholarships. Applying to a college without showing a genuine interest in the school
What are colleges are really looking for? Students who really want to attend a particular college need to be able to convince the school that they will stay for all four years at that