Teaching your homeschooled teen the art of studying is a bit like not having a parent’s manual that comes with your kids when they enter the world. Well – almost.
Resources exist overwhelmingly for teaching teens study skills in public schools, but teaching our kids at home can give us a slight edge.
However, it only becomes an advantage if we tap into teaching them how to study along the way. Teaching a teen study skills can be frustrating if you don’t begin when they are young.
How to Spoon-Feed a Homeschooled Teen
Learning should be active and not passive. Spoon-feeding and hovering over our teens won’t propel them to learn the art of studying.
Look at 3 things I learned when teaching a teen to study.
One/ Self-instruction is a must.
Many kids do not do well in public school because they feel trapped with confinements on what they should learn. Avoiding the popular notion that teens need a lot of supervision gives teens a chance to experience independence.
Raising independent and self-taught learners means bucking the current system period.
I learned as I have homeschooled longer to give up the control while supervising them. It begins with self-instruction in what your child is interested in.
Starting out, this doesn’t mean a child guides himself completely because not all children are inclined to even attempt learning the boring things.
Many days teaching my three teens has been more difficult and mentally taxing then when they were toddlers because you have to talk with them not at them as they learn self-governing independence.
And yes there should be sanctions when a teen is not self-studying and is wasting time. But there is a reason a teen is wasting time and it’s called unmotivated.
Two/ Motivation is a GREAT incentive.
Motivation for studying what interests a teen comes first, then self-instruction, not the other way around.
In other words, you can’t expect a teen to be self-taught and independent without him having a compelling reason to be. You can’t just heap subjects onto him, like when he was in elementary grades and then expect him to do them. That was your job then, but it’s not when he is a teen.
Micromanaging in the teen years breeds rebellion and you may end up having an adult child that won’t speak to you. Don’t let that happen.
And don’t make the mistake of swinging to the other end of the pendulum and give him total self-governing.
Teen Study Skills
Don’t stress over it, but look at these sanity-saving tips to gradually dole out independence, which then teaches your teen the art of studying.
- Choose a topic in a subject. As soon as your child demonstrates a bit of independence, recognize it by allowing him to choose a topic in a subject that you require. Don’t ask him to cover science, but require it. But give him the choice, for example, of studying about rocks, magnets or a bird. For us this happened close to second grade for one child, close to sixth grade for another and closer to middle school for another son.
- Then, choose subjects. After you have exposed your child to well-rounded out subjects, then give him the choices of which subjects to cover. This normally happens around middle and high school.
- Give him checklists, organize drawers and student planners to gauge progress. Give him a checklist or some way of knowing what he is doing for the day and when he is finished. The art of how to study can be diminished when your expectations are not clear. Not only are you giving your child clear expectations, but you are doing something VERY important lasting him on into adulthood, which is teaching him how to create expectations, goals and standards for himself. How to study includes setting incremental goals and meeting them. He needs accountability to you first, then next to himself. Early on I set up drawers for each child and in the order I chose for him to cover the subject. That model morphed into choices they made later on as to which subjects they wanted to cover first. I also created student planners and my oldest son enjoyed that the most. My youngest son enjoys taking notes on his iPad. And another son likes picture doodling and part words as he note takes. Each child is different.
- Listen. More importantly, teens want to be heard. Listen and back him up by letting him try his idea. The best place and time to fail from an idea he had is while he is living with you so he can learn.
- Take him with you to choose curriculum. My boys made a trip with me to the convention fair each year. If they didn’t have a preference in curriculum, they got a chance to look it over anyway.
- Teach him his learning style and then help him learn that way. Don’t push your way of learning. I know, I’m probably one of the
caringpushiest moms ever, but not all of my boys learn the way I do. Use color coding markers, use a written planner, use an online planner, use an iPad, music in the background works for one son (not me), quiet space for another son, flashcards, index cards and writing in a book (yes allowed). Be willing to move from your comfort zone to the learning zone your child works best in.
Teach Consequences But Evaluate Consequence Too
Three/ Consequences is a must.
Learning how to learn means that your child needs consequences, both bad and good for his habits. Shielding our child or always telling them everything not matter how well-intended can turn to nagging.
When I was a teen, I did learn by example. Not all teens learn that way and some have to experience pain.
Teaching my boys that learning by example is more preferable than learning always by experience was important to me, but my boys have to be willing to accept that mindset.
Teaching teens is not always a two-way street, so be prepared for times when they have to suffer bad consequences.
A bad grade worked for one son, but it didn’t for another one.
Telling my son to think about what others will think about him and the example he set worked for another son. He didn’t want to hear my opinion, but teaching him to evaluate what he was going to do or not do when applying himself to how he studied made him think how he would appear to others.
I’ve found that clear consequences, even writing them down has been a useful guide in prodding my teens in the right direction.
After all, college, life and career are full of on the job rules, regulations and earning respect. Don’t forget to teach them at home.
This is the tip of the iceberg of things I’ve learned as two of my sons have now entered the adulthood.
And when your adult sons tell you often how much they deeply value what you taught them about how to study, you won’t be able to hold back tears.
When you take time to teach your teens how to study, you teach them for a lifetime.
Grab my Free Student Planner, 3 Unique Things a Homeschooled Teen Learns From a Teacher’s Manual and I found this book, The Art of Self-Directed Learning: 23 Tips For Giving Yourself an Unconventional Education very inspirational.
Hugs and love ya,
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