How do you balance what you feel they need to know and do with what they feel they want to know and do? There are not enough hours in the day!
This question is actually TWO questions!
Q1: How can you get more hours in your day?
To some extent, homeschoolers will ALWAYS feel like there aren't enough hours in the day! It's part of parenting, and even more a part of homeschooling. There are some things that can help. I read the book "Managers of Their Homes" and it really helped me. It is a book about scheduling your homeschool, so that you do the most important things FIRST. Determine what your priorities are, and then start with priority #1. The less important things may need to be less frequent.
A schedule will sometimes tell you what is going wrong. Sometimes parents will tell me what they are "trying" to do each day. When I add it up, they are trying to do too much! I remember one mother I met with was doing nine and a half hours a DAY doing academic subjects with her 9th grader. Maybe you are simply trying to do too much! So prioritize, and make sure you aren't attempting too much.
It can also help to cut back on some of the things you do outside the home: co-op classes, sports teams, and music lessons, volunteering, employments, Boy Scouts, and church. Sometimes it's all just too much! Again, try to decide what you really need and what's important to you. Scale back your activities if you can. I encourage you to have your teen be part of the conversation, though. Their interests should carry a LOT of weight.
Q2: What do they need to know?
It's important, as you say, to balance what they need to know, with what THEY want to do. If you can focus on just the basic, core classes, with limited fluff, then even in high school you can still get their schoolwork done in a reasonable amount of time. Math does take a long time each day, and it's important because it builds on itself, so you can't quickly regain math skills if you don't keep up with it. Other things can be handled a bit more quickly, and with less stress.
Core subjects means one hour (not more) on English, social studies, science and math. Add some foreign language or PE or fine arts or electives. But focus on the core classes, and let the other things be more delight-directed, so that the child hardly even realizes they are doing school. Fine arts could be knitting and crochet. Foreign language may be successfully learned in 15-30 minutes per day. PE can be what they do for fun; dancing or sports.
Electives are the things you don't assign - the things they just want to do! Maybe that's animal husbandry or interior design - let them decide as much as possible. What do they need? Core classes, and the freedom to choose the supplemental classes that will encourage their love of learning.
I hope that helps!
If you enjoy this blog, please vote for "The HomeScholar Helper" in the 2008 Homeschool Blog Awards. Voting ends on Friday! We need about 20 more votes to win! Please help!