School (or a schoolish approach to homeschooling hasn't bee a good fit for your teenager.
Could unschooling a teen really work? Let's talk about it.
First... The Facts
Here are some facts that we need to bring to the front of our minds. And, then I’ll get to your questions, because I know you have them.
- Everyone is hardwired to learn and be curious - even your teens. It’s in our human nature. You may not see it. It may not look the way you expect it to. But it's a biological fact.
- We all learn best when we are engaged and playing. When lessons are drudgery or out of context, they’re not retained. No one is listening. And it turns quickly to a power struggle.
- Unschooled kids who are allowed to explore their hobbies are developing skills that will help them in adulthood. Maybe they’ll turn a hobby into a career path - or maybe they’ll bring the “soft” skills they learned with that hobby to another career. But those skills they develop will be with them no matter what they choose.
- Unschooling through the adolescent years CAN be translated into an acceptable transcript.
- Colleges accept unschoolers - all the time.
- Unschooled kids who choose college do well there.
- Unschooled kids who choose a career that is more entrepreneurial or doesn’t require college, also do well.
- While all teens are learning how to become independent, unschooling families usually don’t experience the rebellious phase that society believes is unavoidable. When parents show their teens that they’re partnering with them, listening to them, and helping them achieve what they’re looking for - what’s to rebel against?
Don't Want to Do This Alone?
You don't have to!!
The Creating Confidence Membership is fabulous for anyone who needs more support with unschooling. But in addition to all the benefits, parents of teens also receive:
- Twice a month coaching calls with specific teen topics
- A Collection of articles, blogposts, videos on parenting teen topics
- Recording of Transcript Workshop (and the accompanying workbook)
- Recording of Book Club discussions about unschooling and parenting teens
Even if you're children aren't teens YET, and you have worries about that stage, you'll have access to everything too!
2 Common Questions
What if all they’re doing is playing videogames?
I’ll probably do an entire (separate) email on this, but the short answer is that unschoolers are playing a long game. We don’t know what is happening in their brains as they do this. But as we learn more about unschooling - and learn to trust that children will move in the direction they need to go - we can ease up a little. Your next step as an unschooling parent is to focus on partnering, get your fears in check, and keep communication open, learn more about what they're doing with technology.
How on earth would I make a transcript from their daily life - something that a college would accept?!
Subjects weave throughout our daily activities. We simply have to set our fear aside and examine what’s happening. If we’ve had a chance to do this with our younger kids, we’ll be more able to see it with our teens.
Here’s an example from a recent coaching call:
The family decided to plant some trees in the backyard. So, let's talk about all the learning that happens in this simple activity.
- Research is required to see what trees do well in the area. Comparing and contrasting tree types or species is necessary. (Language arts, math, science)
- Figuring out how much they’ll grow and then knowing how far apart to plant them, how tall they will get, (math & science)
- Looking at the “lay of the land” to assess the sunlight and rainfall - and maybe factoring in how that changes with the seasons.(Geography, Earth Science)
- Will we need soil amendments? (Chemistry, geography)
- Price comparisons, estimates, budgeting (math)
All these little life experiences and projects - like planting a few trees - are full of learning opportunities. They add up! We have to notice them though. We don’t have to write everything out like this. I’m simply trying to help you reframe how you see learning. And remind you that everything counts!