Thursday, March 24, 2016

Do Our Teens NEED to Work Independently?

Have you read this article? If You Want to Work From Home Full-Time, Your Teens Must Be Independent Learners I thought it worth checking out since I am trying to work more hours at home while homeschooling my 15-year old son. There's a section that stuck out at me:
Not only do your teens eventually grow up and move out, but long before that time, they should be learning independently with little input from you.
Having independent learners is critical for a work at home mom because you need time to devote to making money. This doesn’t make you a bad mom or a bad homeschool mom to encourage independent learning. Remember that if your children were in public school, they would be doing most of their work on their own anyway.
(Emphasis mine)

Uh, really? Last time I checked, kids in high school had teachers who were providing lessons, other students to work with in class or even during lunch hour or after school... There's a reason high school teachers are paid to be there and it's not to babysit!

This is not, however, an uncommon attitude in the homeschooling community. I once bought into this idea that at the high school level, my kids should just be working independently.

But then one thing hit me earlier this school year: I love teaching and working with kids. It's why I became a teacher. And in school, kids do have teachers to provide lessons, get kids thinking beyond just a textbook, guide them through things. So, my initial plans of setting things up for him to do everything pretty much independently got changed.

Then another thing hit me when it came to my son: He doesn't want to do it all on his own. He also doesn't enjoy doing some of the stuff at all, much less on his own. Which means that if I want to insist that he do all of his learning independently, he is going to hate it and dislike formal schoolwork even more than he already does. This is not what I want.

Yes, if you can't figure out how to get in full-time hours, and you need full-time hours, while homeschooling your teen, definitely, make sure they have an independent program they can follow or unschool them. But don't use this idea that they would be doing most of their work on their own anyway as some sort of support or justification for doing so. And drop the idea that they should be working independently. Don't we live with enough "homeschool Mom" guilt already?

My suggestion would be to figure out something that will work best for your family. Maybe it will be that you won't work full-time hours. (There is a lot out there suggesting that if we learned to really focus ourselves, we could cut our hours dramatically.) Or maybe you'll use part of your weekend and evenings. Or maybe you'll get up earlier than your teen and get a couple of hours in, work with your teen a couple hours, then leave him with independent work he is comfortable with for the rest of the afternoon. Or maybe you'll work your full-time hours during the day, they'll do what independent stuff they can then and an hour or so in the evening or late afternoon for one-on-one.

I've worked out that, when there aren't extra things to do like get groceries I forgot to get on the weekend, take care of things like house repairs and such, I have about 30 hours available to me--using my Saturday mornings--to work each week. This gives me about 10 hours a week to work with my son. I also have to be the chauffeur for my daughter who goes to school, which, if I didn't have to do that, would easily allow me to add another hour or two, so 5-10 hours, to my workweek. All while working with my son a couple of hours per school day.

I like learning with him. He likes learning with me--some things. So, those are the things we do together. He also likes to have lots of time to do the rest on his own schedule. So he does that.

If you want to have full-time hours, having a teen learn independently absolutely makes that easier. But please don't let yourself think you should be having your teen work independently all the time just because that's what they supposedly do in school (not) nor that you should make them learn independently if you want/have to work full-time hours from home. It doesn't have to be that way if you don't want it.