Homeschooling Older Children

This post is the third in my series on homeschooling. The first post covered our homeschooling philosophy and the second covered what it looks like for young children. If you haven’t read those, I would encourage you to take the time before reading this post. Here is what we envision for when our children are older.

What we would like to do is teach everything in a way that it is all connected in the minds of our children. As I said in the first post, isolated facts are meaningless. We plan to connect everything through the history of the world.

This doesn’t mean that history is more important than any of the other subjects (especially not God!), just that it provides a logical organization for all subjects. We will start with a period of history and branch out to the other subjects. For example, Creation and ancient history would first be studied through what the Bible has to say. Then, we would break it down by continent. For each continent, we would study each culture during that time period. We would learn about their religions, politics, art, food, language, science and math discoveries, as well as their landscape, flora and fauna.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

We plan to be very flexible about how in-depth we go, allowing plenty of time to delve into any topic they are curious about. There will be no set timetable. If it takes six months to get through it, that’s fine. If it takes three years, that’s fine. When we get all the way through to current history, we’ll start over, focusing on new aspects. Remember, the goal is to teach them to love to learn and to teach them how to learn.

Don’t Waste the Teen Years!

The teen years are a golden opportunity. I know, most homeschooling parents see it as a hopeless battle to try to get their kids to “learn” (memorize tons of random facts so they will score high on tests). I see years that can be devoted to giving them the opportunity to explore their interests and find what they are passionate about! Think about it. How much time and energy does a teen really have to figure out what gifts and talents God gave them if they are spending all their time trying to plow through a rigid curriculum? Giving them the freedom to dig deeper into something may bring out a side of them we’ve never seen. They have a much higher chance of discovering what they love if they are encouraged to nurture their interests.This is the perfect time for apprenticeships! They can try out a possible career choice without having the responsibility of a family depending on them. If they discover they don’t like it, it’s no big deal. They can try something else. If they discover they love it, they have the chance to focus the remainder of their education, rather than wandering aimlessly.

Keep On Learning

For balance, they also need to be stretched. We all need to step out of our comfort zones and try new things. If one of our kids is passionate and talented in music, that doesn’t mean they get to spend all of their time on music. It means we will make special time for it. They will still spend plenty of time learning and experiencing other new things.

There will be lots of hands-on activities, just like with younger children. They will have the opportunity to experience cultures through creating art and foods the way the people did in that time and place. We will conduct science experiments and include words from other languages into daily speech. We will listen to (and maybe learn to play) music from different cultures. We might chart the stars, build a teepee, weave a rug, make homemade dyes, make and paint pottery… there are countless ways to make it fascinating and unforgettable!

One key element we plan to incorporate is to read literature from or about the time and place we are studying. To experience a culture through somebody else’s eyes by reading is one of the best ways to learn about that culture.

We don’t plan to use a set curriculum, but we do plan to have plenty of interesting and educational books in our own library. We also hope to have a good local library to borrow from. The internet, with proper supervision, is an excellent source of information.

Of course, we will also continue to focus on learning in real life. Older children can create a food budget (math and finances), do building projects (geometry and the algebra that goes with it), garden (science- PH, minerals, nutrition, biology) and cook (chemistry, nutrition, math and culture). Those are just a few examples off the top of my head. Everyday life is full of opportunities to learn!

Although I have shared our plans, they aren’t set in stone. I love to learn, so if I happen to learn something that I think would make our children’s education even better, I will be eager to incorporate it.

Next week, I plan to share websites (and maybe some books) that would make good homeschooling resources. 🙂




6 thoughts on “Homeschooling Older Children

  1. KatieC says:

    I REALLY like the way this sounds! It kind of makes me excited to think about how flexible you could be and how far you could go in one area or another. Thanks so much for sharing this idea!

  2. Maria says:

    I have really been feeling called to homeschool our children with the turn the world has been taking, but don’t know how to start. The problem is we have 6 kiddos, and the older kids are in 8th, 7th, and 5th grades. They are NOT wanting to be homeschooled. The younger one that is in school is in 2nd and she is okay with tthe idea. The younger two re 3 and 2 months so not an issue (other than adding to how hectic our home can be andwe live on a farm as well). Question is should I make them?? Should I not?? Should I just start with my 2nd grader as the guinea pig?? Plus I have NO clue how to start cause I have no experience with homeschooling??

    • Whew! It sounds like this could be a very big undertaking, especially with the older kids being less than pleased about the idea. I would first recommend talking and praying privately with your husband. If you two are agreed (about homeschooling all or just some), it would be better to say, “This is what we’re doing” rather than sound like you aren’t sure or as though it’s open for debate. I would invite them to tell you what exactly they would be missing and then strive to find a good compromise. For example, if they are upset about missing out on music class, barter with a music teacher for lessons. If they are afraid they won’t get to see their friends, make plans for family activities that the friends can join in on or just expect Saturday to be an “everybody has friends over” day. Don’t let them manipulate you, but do try to meet their real needs. 🙂

      Unless there is a serious issue (bullying or a bad influence), I’d recommend letting them finish out this school year. It makes for an easier transition for them and that gives you time to prepare. The more prepared and confident you are, the more peaceful the experience will be for everybody.

      If the kids aren’t 100% on board, it is going to be harder. What they need is to see that this is not a punishment or negative change. Make it fun and keep it relaxed. With so many kids, you’ll need some structure, but try not to be obsessing about how much time to spend on each subject or accomplishing everything on your list for the day. Remember that this is about teaching them to love to learn and teaching them how to learn. Discuss things together, research things together, do experiments together… keep it fun! 🙂

      As far as how to get started, I’ll share links to some good resources. The eldest three children can learn most subjects together, which will make things easier. There is no need to buy a bunch of curriculum, but you can if you’d feel more comfortable. You can also just go to the library and borrow books on whatever subject (astronomy, ancient civilizations, etc.) and get on-line to learn more. Whatever works for your style!

      Here are the links I mentioned. The first one, especially, looks like a good starting point.

      I’d be glad to answer any questions that come up (to the best of my ability!), so feel free to comment here or e-mail me.


  3. Gwen says:

    To Maria,

    I started to homeschool my daughter in 8th grade. She was not happy at all. She had many friends at school. She cried. I knew it was the best thing for her. My daughter is now 20 years old. She has thanked me several times for homeschooling her. She said she wouldn’t be the person she is today if I hadn’t. So, if you decide it is something God is calling you to, don’t be afraid. When I began homeschooling, I had one in 8th grade, one in 2nd grade, one in 1st grade, 2 in preschool, and a baby. It can be done! 🙂

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