This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Own Their Education, Interview with Meryl van der Merwe. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
Helping Teens Own Their Education, Interview with Meryl van der Merwe
Homeschool high schoolers need to develop independent learning skills. As they do this, they start to own their education. That’s why Vicki is excited to talk with our friend, Meryl van der Merwe from the Homeschooling with Technology Podcast. (BTW- If you have not checked out that podcast, you are missing out SO many good resources! Check it out.)
Meryl and her family moved to the United States from South Africa. They started homeschooling because they moved to the US in the middle of the school year. However, the family loved homeschooling so much that three of her four graduated from homeschool high school. (Look for an upcoming interview with her daughter, Rachel, who is a homeschool graduate and is now a college professor.)
Even though Meryl’s own children are all graduated, Meryl stays connected to the homeschool community through the podcast and FundaFunda Academy (online courses and academy for homeschoolers).
One gift Meryl gave her teens was a voice in their education, so when her youngest approached high school age, she asked to go to a traditional school. Meryl allowed her to own her own choice and give it a try!
Which brings us to this episode’s topic: Helping teens own their education
Most homeschool parents want our high schoolers to own their education, to become independent learners and independent adults. With that in mind, let’s check out Meryl’s tips that have worked for her family.
Give teens a voice in their education
As we mentioned, Meryl’s youngest went to a traditional school. That was what she wanted to do. On the other hand, her older three children homeschooled through graduation because they wanted to.
Also, Meryl gave her homeschool high schoolers a voice in the selection of courses and curriculum. Parents need to create the framework based on state graduation requirements and what they are planning on doing after high school.
For some guidance on a high school framework, here are some helpful posts:
- College Attractive Transcripts
- Interview with Associate Provost Dr. Renae Duncan on what colleges are looking for in incoming freshmen
- Discussion with Lauren Patrick: How I Prepared for Competitive College
- Interview with Angela O’Shaughnessy: How to Help Non-College Bound Teens Find Success
- Advice from Susan Stewart on Careers that Don’t Require College
As you work with your teens on choices for homeschool high school, help them look at:
- Electives– they can explore interests and earn elective credits
- Specific History and Science course topics (for instance, Meryl’s daughter liked art so she earned some Art History credits).
- Internships, camps (and more ideas for developing unique interests in this interview with Sue Sobczak)
To help homeschool high schoolers make curriculum choices, try doing some research. Then present it to your teens
Collect some curriculum and elective ideas and allow your teens to rank them according to their interest as:
- Love it
Meryl has found that her teens like online courses. To make it even better, online courses are available all over the place:
- FundaFunda Academy (of course)
- Moocs such as EdX
- Teaching Company’s Great Courses
- (Hey, and now 7Sisters is starting to roll out asynchronous courses, such as Psychology)
Remember: Relationship is more important than academics
Try to keep in mind that choice-making is part of relationship building. As teens become part of their educational choice-making process, they gain confidence in themselves and in you. (Not only that, but if they make a choice and later on find they do not like it..it was their choice!)
Teens need to make mistakes, it is part of their growth process. This builds a growth mindset, which helps them own their education.
Help teens learn to own their own schedule
Help them understand their own rhythms and needs while learning to set goals (download this SMART goal freebie). Teach them time management skills. Then let them experience the consequences if they make a mistake.
Of course, keep in mind the framework of the family’s needs (mealtimes, events, etc).
Use as much YES as possible
Whenever possible, give a “yes” to teens. That way, when you must say “no” it will bring less pushback. You will have to step in sometimes with more information. For instance, if a teen wants a light academic schedule but wants to go to a competitive college, have them research admissions requirements and costs for those colleges. That might change their goals.
BTW- For the college search, Meryl’s FundaFunda Academy has a gamified college search summer project each year. It’s open to the public. Check out her Summer Challenge on her Facebook group, Homeschooling College-bound Teens. (7Sisters helps provide material for this each year. It’s fun!)
Help them choose extracurriculars
Teens need a well-rounded lifestyle to be healthy. Also, college-bound teens need extracurriculars on their transcripts. Here are some of Meryl’s for owning their extracurriculars.
- Meryl has her teens choose some sort of physical activity whether they are athletic or not
- They also choose service projects or organizations
- Some of her teens also chose musical instruments
- Jobs count too (here are some tips on how to get jobs on the transcript)
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