How to Help Your Strong Willed Teen Succeed in Homeschool

How to help your strong willed teen succeed in homeschool. Handling high school can be a challenge- and it can be the best years yet!

How to Help Your Strong Willed Teen Succeed in Homeschool

How to Help Your Strong Willed Teen Succeed in Homeschool

God created all kinds of teens and all kinds of personalities. If you have a strong-willed teen you understand God’s gifts often come with blessings and challenges:

  • Blessings include that fact that strong willed teens can achieve great things in life because they have a unique internal fortitude.
  • Challenges include the fact that they like to do things their way, they are not always open to co-operation, and they are sometimes slow to listen.

Rather than mostly focusing on the challenges, let’s take a look at helping strong willed teens gain the tools for success (in homeschooling high school and in life).

Here are some ideas on guiding that wonderful teen of yours!

There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…and there’s DEFINITELY not one right way to homeschool high school with a strong willed teen. That’s okay! It will keep you on your toes…and knees (in prayer).

#1 Strong willed teens need buy-in

At high school level, you will not be able to plan out your teens’ academics for them. There’s no resistance like a strong willed teen’s resistance to being handed a set of books and syllabi and told to “get busy”.

Instead, it is good to work on the buy-in process:

Before each school year, have a planning conversation with your teen. Start with asking if they have some goals or wishes for this upcoming year. For instance:

  • Perhaps, they would like to spend the year learning about a specific topic or skill, like World War II or carpentry
  • Or they might like to do something unconventional like learn Cherokee, although you know that it is not something they will use in college

If they don’t have a clue, be sure to add some Career Exploration activities to help them start visualizing high school and the future. OR have them do some personality tests to get to know themselves.

#2 This means: Sometimes you give up or hold back on your very-good goals for your teen

It can be so hard when you see and know your teen’s potential, yet they stubbornly persist in undershooting their abilities or being interested in things that you cannot imagine being useful to them for the future. On the other hand, strong willed overachievers might need a semester to find out that they will be healthier if they do not unreasonably overload the academics.

Keep this in mind: Your teen’s becoming all God intended is not a race. Rather, it is a journey. Very often, God allows teens (and maybe, their strong willed parents?) to learn by experience (in other words: the hard way). So when your teen is not listening, explain what you need to explain then move on and PRAY!

Therefore, you can let go of some of your measures of success and allow your strong willed teen to explore.

#3 Explain the baseline of academic requirements in your area

Strong willed teens often listen to reality a little better if they get their ideas off their chest first. That part was done in Steps #1 and #2 above. Now it is your time to politely explain the academic requirements for your state (and umbrella school program, if you have one). National Homeschool Advocacy and HSLDA can explain the state requirements for graduation.

If your teen complains about this, you get the opportunity to pull the “I’m sorry, it’s not MY fault!” card. There truly is a part of growing up that facing the requirements of a higher power is good, even for a strong willed teen.

Also, for college-bound teens, discuss college or vocational school entrance requirements. This will vary by college. You might want to spend a bit of time doing some basic online college searches together to get a handle on some of the common requirements.

Also, check out this post on college-attractive transcripts.

#4 Now, plan together

Taking into consideration your teen’s goals and the “It’s not my fault” requirements, sit down and plan together. You can use our post on planning in the Authoritative Guide series to help.

You can also go over some options for earning credits, for instance:

Remember to keep working together.AND be sure that you have created a print copy of the plan for both you and your teen!

Work at being a team with your strong willed teen

#5 Work together to create a basic schedule

Time management skills do not come naturally, so it is a good idea to discuss time management. However, remember, your strong willed teen will take in as much of this as they care to know. Take a breath and let go of what you cannot control. Also, see if your teen will work on a basic schedule that you both agree on. This will vary by personality.

One way to approach a time management process is to start with a time audit before doing your planning together. This can help your teen seen actual personal time usage!

#5 Then discuss a time to hold regularly scheduled check-ins

This can be daily, weekly or monthly according to the level of responsibility a teen is able to handle. Holding one-on-ones is a great way to find excuses to celebrate accomplishments and recalibrate if your teen falls behind.

#6 Remember: Nagging never wins

If you find your teen is behind, do not nag. Retrieve your written plans and discuss how to recalibrate. Here’s a post you can read together about catching up when you are behind.

#7 Remember to affirm

Sometimes strong willed teens feel like they are up against the world (or at least their parents), so catch them doing well whenever you can.

A good principle is “5 to 1” (for every ONE time you need to correct or get tough, find and say FIVE positives…at least by the end of the day). That may sound cheesy but it truly helps.

Also, give yourself an affirmation. If you are raising a strong willed teen, you have a challenging and rewarding job. You need to remember all the times you do well!

Not only that, remember to thank God. He knew that this teen was the right teen for you…and you are the right parent for your teen. You can do this through God’s help!

#8 Use your own resources

There are lots of resources out there to help encourage and support you, such as:

Now you know how to help your strong willed teen succeed in homeschool! You can do this! If you need a little more how-to encouragement, take our freebie online mini-course for parents on how to not be intimidated to homeschool high school.


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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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