How to begin homeschooling a teen lagging behind is at the tip-top of the list for new homeschooler anxieties.
Whether your teen is behind because of unplanned happenings in life, sickness, motivation, or natural struggles, I have four solid tips to give you an easy starting point.
One/Why your teen is lagging behind is key to where to begin.
When my husband had a massive heart attack, my first son had just started homeschooling high school. He was going to be behind for a while because our family life mattered more.
Homeschooled Teens Behind
Identifying why your teen is behind will give both of you the right mindset for a starting point. Although my teen didn’t want to be in that situation (who does), he knew that it was going to take him longer to finish than we planned.
Family situations like extended sicknesses can’t be helped and a positive attitude is needed first before moving on.
Practical Tip One: Don’t bring more stress than you have now by setting unrealistic expectations for catching up.
Put aside the regular public school schedule and be determined to school year round to catch him up. Even in states where you have to keep the 180 lesson planning days it doesn’t mean you can’t have make up days.
In homeschool we learn 24/7/365. Think outside of the box as to when your teen can learn and then create a doable schedule.
Practical Tip Two: Is he lacking in motivation? There is a reason for that. Success is tied to motivation and motivation is key to success.
The approach used in public school for teens is completely different than the independent model used in the homeschool approach.
You’ll not gain traction by bringing your teen home and duplicating the same process at home. It won’t work. You’ll get the same results you’re getting now in public school.
Motivation can stem from boredom, lack of freedom, continually focusing on what your teen is not good at instead of his passions and strengths.
What is needed first is dialog with your teen to help him understand why he is lacking in motivation.
Getting a Homeschooled Teen on Track
Instead of telling him what needs to do to succeed, you need to draw him out with questions.
Asking him questions about his future stirs his emotion and feeds his motivation to see that his success is dependent on him. Benefits spark motivation. You need to draw him out to list how your new homeschooling lifestyle will benefit him.
I always encourage you to have him take notes and write it down. That way it’s not so easy to forget.
Your list of positives for homeschooling your teen can include these:
- No forced schedule. A teen needs lots of sleep and learning can take place around the need for rest and good healthy food.
- No constant pressure to take drugs or have sex.
- A teen can pursue his passions and take alternate courses for subjects he will actually use in life. For example, some kids will not ever be math minded. Having a solid foundation for basic math with two years of math in high school may be good enough. You decide now as a family what will be your course.
- A teen can take jobs that work around his school schedule.
- Bullying and labeling are not part of everyday homeschooling.
Practical Tip Three: Make a list of the benefits of homeschooling. This is very important whether your teen agreed with the choice to homeschool or not. Benefits and payoffs for a homeschooled teen are huge.
No, he won’t have all the answers to your questions, but you’re giving him control over his future. You want him to learn how to have internal dialog.
You’re changing his future by changing the way both of you tackle this struggle.
Teaching Gaps in Homeschooled Teens
And yes, I know you want academic pointers and they’re coming, but this fine point is the difference between a homeschooled teen who tackles a set back successfully and one who stays crippled into adulthood.
Control over his future doesn’t mean he has to do it with no guidance from you. That would not be responsible for a child at any age. A teen especially benefits from your guidance – NOW. He needs you more than ever.
TWO/ Core or skill subjects are the framework of all successful education. Trim the fat by focusing ONLY on them.
Simplicity is the key to catching up and that means an easy workload each day is absolutely necessary.
Public school would have you think that 10 or more subjects is normal; it absolutely is not normal. More does not equal more better.
There is a difference between an easy workload and easy courses. I’ll mention some resources in a minute that will help your teen to sharpen his skills.
Core subjects (no this isn’t common core) are the framework or building elements your teen needs to succeed. We normally call this the Three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The homeschool law in your state is your FIRST starting point because they will state which subjects are core. That is ALL that matters right now. As you have time to catch up after the setback, you can add in other subjects.
In addition, as you can see two of the Three Rs are language arts related. So it’s possible to use one resource to cover two of the basics of any well-rounded education. It’s that easy to catch up.
If you’re looking to begin homeschooling, my online self-paced boot camp may be for you. It will benefit the 1st and 2nd year homeschooler the most. And of course I always welcome your questions. Click here to read about the self-paced online homeschool boot camp.
Practical Tip Four: The easy starting point for the basic subjects is your state law. Start with the required subjects.
Do not saddle your teen right now with everything to catch him up. He will not quickly progress and it can backfire because it will strip his confidence even more.
Bottom line is that the content information that teens need to learn vary from state to state, but the core or skills subjects are needed for him to succeed across the board.
Three/ Use homeschool resources that are not baby-ish and that equally speed up the body of knowledge needed.
The last thing a homeschooled teen needs is to be reminded daily of his struggle.
And although an all in one homeschool curriculum will get you started homeschooling, it can be better to piece meal the subjects your teens need. You get to the heart of the struggler quicker.
I have found some resources that not only shore up weak areas in the skill subjects, but that are not baby-ish. We have used these when life happens and when we needed to catch up quickly.
This first resource The Language Mechanic: Tuning Up English With Logic, Grades 4-7 is not only a super way to catch up a teen with the basics of English, but it’s fun.
It has short, but challenging lessons. The best part is that there are examples that illustrate the humor in using English incorrectly. Your teens will love the witty examples.
As you can see below in one page of the table of contents there are a variety of basic skills reviewed and it’s a multiple grade resource.
Another resource that works well for teens who may have gaps in their learning are the Quick Study Guides.
Organizing your teen so that he can quickly find the skills he needs without tons of time is how to keep the stress level minimal and encourage independence.
How to Fill Holes In Learning
Add these quick study guides to a notebook and your teen can use them as a reference or basic outline for a subject. Look at how to put together a homeschooled high school writer’s notebook.
Writing tips, English Fundamentals, English Grammar and Punctuation, Chemistry, Research Papers, Math Fundamentals and the list just goes on of these wonderful tiny power packs of information. Also, science and history subjects are available for the Quick Study Guides.
Another quick and no fuss no frills resource to bring up math skills is the Key to series. Each packet of 10 booklets or so is designated with a specific math topic/skill so that you can zero in on the math skill your teen needs to review or learn.
Four/Use Out of the Box Options – Accelerated high School, dual credit, Online Tutors and Online Videos are otherv options.
Bright teens may be lacking motivation because they may want to get on with their goals.
Dual credit at a community college where a teen earns high school and college credit simultaneously can be a great way to capture any time lost learning. The student simply moves forward where he is at, but now has greater motivation for learning when he meeting his future goals. Check with your local community college for the criteria for dual credit.
Also, there is an accelerated high school program by Malibu Cove High School that been around for years. A teen can receive their diploma in 6 to 9 months instead of four years from an accredited school if you need that.
Four/Relationship is more important than academics.
Hear my heart when I tell you that when your kids are grown and gone, they’ll never fondly remember the academics. They will remember how you made them feel when you’re going through stressful times.
Whether you’re determining if your teen’s lagging behind is aptitude or attitude or he got behind because of sicknesses or general boredom in public school, your relationship with him matters the most.
Be patient to find the solution and quick to help him gain traction again.
And of course, if you have any questions drop them below or hit REPLY!
Look at these other ways or tips to help you fill the academic holes:
- Essential Life Skills – A Homeschooler’s Other Curriculum
- Online Homeschool High School Poetry (No Teaching Involved)
- A to Z List: Middle and High School Homeschool Electives
- Get It Over and Done: How Do Homeschoolers Graduate Early How Does my High School Homeschooled Kid Get a Diploma If I Do This Myself?
- How to Use Summertime to Put a Foot in Homeschooling
- Gauging Homeschool Progress – Masters of their Material?
Hugs and love ya,