How to Help Teens Explore Interests, Interview with Samantha Shank

This week on the Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Help Teens Explore Interests, Interview with Samantha Shank. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

How to Help Teens Explore Interests. Samantha Shank of shares her story of developing her interests and goals in homeschool high school. #HomeschoolHighSchool #CareerExploration #SamanthaShank #LearnInColor #ExploringInterestsForTeens

How to Help Teens Explore Interests

One of the most important tasks for homeschool high schoolers is learning about themselves so that they can fulfill who God created them to be. Vicki is joined by our friend, Samantha Shank of Learn in Color and the Learn in Color Podcast  for a lively discussion about the ways she explored her interests and learned to be an entrepreneur while homeschooling. You don’t want to miss this episode!

Samantha is the oldest of her six siblings, all homeschooled for at least part of their educations. Her parents were working parents who allowed and encouraged Samantha to explore interests. One of her earliest interests was history. As early as fourth grade, Samantha was impacted by the tragedies of the Holocaust. The more she learned about it, the more she wanted to share with others.

She started blogging when she was 14 years old and developed an audience among homeschooling families. She began sharing resources and ideas for teaching World War II, the Holocaust and other history topics.

While still in high school, Samantha started exploring the ideas of entrepreneurship. During her mornings, she would attend community networking meetings and learned about business from business people.

Today, Samantha is a college graduate who is a full-time entrepreneur. She creates curriculum supplements at such as:

Make time for teens to explore interests and ideas. It's good education!

During her homeschool high years, Samantha learned how to explore interests by:

Exploring rabbit trails

When Samantha had a random thought or was curious about something that was inspired by what was learning, her parents encouraged her to stop and explore that idea. This required the courage to set aside curriculum for a while and allow her to research these interests.

*Advice for Homeschool Moms: Try not to be overly bound to the curriculum and syllabus. We all know our homeschool high schoolers must complete their credits for graduation, but we also want to them discover who God made them to be. That often comes in the off-curriculum explorations in life.

Asking questions

Do not be afraid of questions. Take time to research the questions, explore options and idea. This takes time, but finding some answers gave Samantha the ability to take next steps as she explored her interests.

This might take the form of doing interviews. Samantha frequently met with business owners and interviewed them for their entrepreneurial stories.

Sharing what she learned

Samantha shared on her blog. Homeschool high schoolers can share what they learn as they explore their interests on their own blogs or with co-op, family and friends.

*Advice: Trust your trustworthy teens. Samantha’s parents were trusting of Samantha to get her work done.

*Advice: Prepare to be busy. Samantha’s parents were willing to drive Samantha to interviews and experiences. They believed in her and God’s plans for her.

*Advice: Avoided helicopter parenting. Don’t run the show for your homeschool high schoolers. Let them do the exploring. (Check out this HSHSP episode on Heavy Equipment Mothering.)

Finding networks

Samantha found KidBlogger network which also helped her grow her blogging skills and influence.

Learning to set goals

Samantha developed the goal to graduate from college debt free. She realized her blogging business could help with that but that she should diversify her income streams. She looked into college scholarships for her academics (she had good SAT scores) and also found beauty pageants (we’ll talk about that on another podcast interview later).

Showing interests on the transcript

Her advice: Take college choice seriously. Look into college search and majors and spend some time on it. (Download this freebie from Vicki’s Coaching website about choosing college majors and check out our blogpost on starting college search.)

For more ideas on showing interests and unique gifts on the transcript, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with our friend, Sue Sobczak.

Working hard

Samantha graduated college in two and a half years. She pushed because she wanted to stay debt-free taking 17-24 credits at a time, with some of those online at another college. She kept her goals in mind and worked hard.

In her homeschooling high school years, Samantha also worked hard doing several things:

  • Managed Pinterest accounts for bloggers (Samantha began doing this at 15 years old)
  • Create content for other bloggers (Samantha designed products and wrote for other bloggers from high school and through college)
  • Kept up her blogging and networking

Building relationships

Samantha chose well for her goals with her small college. She was able to communicate with her professors and had good mentoring relationships with them. She was open about her goals and work schedule. Often, they could work with her to help her achieve her goals.

Join Vicki and Samantha Shank for a fun episode on helping teens explore their interests.

Different teens have different interests. Read how Noah Tetzner explored his interest in viking history.

If your teen is interested in the military, read this interview with Gretchen Mahoney.


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How to Help Teens Explore Interests

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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