Homeschooling Tips During Covid-19 for High School Age Kids
Development & Learning
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Advice From a Veteran Homeschool Mom
Let Your High Schooler Shine
Older kids can make their own meals, can be left at home without an adult, and can even drive themselves to the store if they really need something. However, in some ways high school students are the most challenging of the bunch during this whole school-at-home situation. In other ways, they can be the easiest. Before the quarantine, I spent three days with a class of high school seniors and I found them respectful, thoughtful, kind, interesting, and fun. But I also have lived with homeschool teenagers and I realize there are challenges in getting them to get out of bed in the morning, stay focused on their work, stay off of the group chats and social media, and get the volume of work they’re assigned done and turned in without parental oversight. Herein lies the challenge.
Despite how your gut may tell you otherwise, this is a chance to let them shine. Tell them up front what your parameters are and what the consequences will be if they don’t meet them. Just like the younger kids, don’t expect that they will necessarily spend 7 hours a day working on homework. They may. But they also may get it done in less time. Ask them how you can be helpful. Do they want help making a calendar or to-do list? Can you make sure there are easy lunch options available for them to grab on a quick break? They probably will not ask you to nag them about getting their work done, although this may feel imperative to you.
Hopefully they know how to use their school’s online portal. If they don’t, that is lesson number one. Make sure they have time to access the internet and a printer so they can capture all their assignments. They will need time each morning to connect with teachers and/or classmates to ask questions and get help on their assignments. I know it is tempting to have your teenager babysit younger siblings (trust me, I really do know because I have five children and the three oldest are girls), but they really need some time by themselves to focus and work on these assignments, especially if their teachers are available during specific times.
Managing Their Own Work
You can explain to your high schooler that this online school is like a college trial run. They will have a clear understanding of their assignments and it will be their responsibility to get them done and turned in on time. The best thing you can do for your high school student is to encourage him or her to get a good night’s sleep, wake up at a reasonable time to get started, and to take breaks during the day to get fresh air, to eat, and to get a little exercise. Michele Nietert, counselor, says about this time, “I think it is so important for parents to meet kids where they are and help them move toward healthier rhythms. Ask your teen what he or she can do this week to be healthier mentally, physically, or spiritually.”
At this age, students should be managing their schoolwork on their own. “But what if they fail?” you ask. Well, they might. And now is the time for them to learn from that. The consequences are much stiffer in college for not doing an assignment than they are in high school. It is better to trust them to make wise choices and encourage them to do the work than it is to have them lose their college scholarship because they didn’t learn how to manage their own time. That being said, if you are concerned about your high school student’s progress, you can track their assignments online and maintain the consequences or rewards based on their completion of what is due. If you do this, please only do it for a set timeframe and then let them oversee themselves. Trusting them as adults is part of the benefit of this difficult time.
Don’t Forget Time For Play
Allowing students time to FaceTime friends, game, or walk to the store or a restaurant might be good rewards. Encourage them to get out of the house and take a walk or shoot some hoops to get some exercise and refresh their brains. Mental health professionals are encouraging all of us to stay connected. Students don’t need to be connected all day, but allowing them to digitally “hang out” with friends certainly can be a positive part of their day. Just as with younger kids, having a family dinner or a time to connect each day with your teens face to face will be even more important during these weeks of isolation. You might even take some time to teach them a new skill (cooking their favorite meal, home repairs, baking their favorite dessert) or you might want to learn something from them you usually don’t have time for—like gaming or how to make a TikTok.
This time will be challenging for us all. Way more togetherness than we are all used to. I hope we can use it to our advantage and enjoy our teenagers because in a few short months (or years), they will leave the nest and we might even look back wistfully on this “sweet” time all at home together (after we survive it).