Got older kids? Once we reach the point where we’re homeschooling older children, our job as a homeschool parent completely changes. Suddenly, everything seems a lot more serious. We see how quickly our kids have grown up and we are keenly aware of how short our time left with them at home has become. We ponder more and more about college plans, test prep, and eventual careers for our kids. We hope and pray that we’ve done everything well enough up until this point that they will be ready for the next phase of their lives.
Yes, our older kids take on much more responsibility for their own education. However, it’s easy for them to get derailed, distracted, or just plain discouraged. So, what’s the best way for us to hold older kids accountable during this phase of life without completely taking over?
Once our teens become more independent learners, it’s important for us to put some accountability systems in place so that we can be sure they are prepared for whatever it is they want to pursue after their homeschool days. Whether that’s college, an internship, a gap year, trade school, or entering the workforce directly, our kids will be more likely to make their dreams come true if they have a detailed plan in place as well as the accountability to help them realize their goals.
Helping Our Kids Realize Their Goals
Whether or not you’ve taught your kids about goal setting in the past, the teen years are an excellent time for a refresher course. Here are 5 important steps to helping our kids set and reach their goals:
1 – Make it Compelling
When we set goals that get us excited, we’re much more likely to do the work that it takes to get us where we want to go. When helping our kids set goals, we should encourage them to come up with things that will make them want to get out of bed in the morning. Help them to dream big!
2 – Make It Specific and Measurable
We should teach our kids to set goals in such a way that they’ll know once they’ve achieved it. It’s impossible to reach a goal which is vague such as “Get into the college of my dreams someday.” A much better goal would be “Get accepted to the University of Michigan by May 1st.” Including a deadline is an important way to make a goal measurable.
3 – Come Up With a Step-by-Step Plan
If our children have large goals such as getting accepted to a specific college, we should teach them how to break these goals down into smaller steps. For instance, if your child wants to play basketball for U of M, he should come up with daily, weekly, and monthly steps which will help him to achieve this large goal. These steps would include things such as eating healthy foods, specific fitness goals, practicing for X number of hours per week, etc.
4 – Find Ways to Remember Their Goals
It doesn’t do any good for our kids to come up with goals and detailed plans for reaching their goals if they are soon forgotten. We need to teach our kids ways to keep their goals fresh in their mind. Show them how to make vision boards. Have them post goal lists somewhere that they will see them often. We should also make a point of talking to our children often about their goals and dreams. Ask them what they’re doing to achieve their goals. Be sure they aren’t stuck.
5 – Take Action Every Day
Our kids will be much more likely to achieve their goals if they work on them regularly. We should encourage them to work on their goals every day – or at least weekly. Teach them to create To Do Lists and to ask themselves what they can do right now which will move them closer to their goal.
So, now that our kids have set some goals and have created a detailed plan to get them there, what types of systems should we put in place to help hold them accountable?
Ways to Hold Our Kids Accountable
Older kids do much of their schoolwork, chores, and other various tasks without much intervention on our part. Because of this, it can be easy to get lax and to think that they are completing more than they actually are. We all benefit from having accountability in our lives, no matter what our age. Our teens definitely achieve more when they know they are answerable to someone than if they are left completely to their own devices.
Here are some tips for holding our older kids accountable:
1 – Do Some Things Together
Just because our teenagers are capable of working independently doesn’t mean they should be doing all of their work without any input from us. Even though our roles are often more of a mentor than a teacher, our kids still appreciate some togetherness from time to time. Believe it or not, reading books aloud to our teens is extremely beneficial for them and is a great way to make some fun family memories.
If your teen is a kinesthetic learner, working on projects together can also be a great experience. Dads come in handy in this area. We need to give our kids opportunities to see someone do something and to attempt to do it themselves rather than expecting them to learn everything by reading about it in a book.
Learn how to do things together. Watch YouTube videos, take a community education class, or hire someone to teach both of you. Have fun with this!
2 – Talk to Them
If your teen is learning about a specific topic, have a discussion with them about it. Ask them to tell you about something new they’ve learned. Have them explain something to you or show you what they’re working on. Find out if they have anything that’s currently frustrating them or making it difficult for them to proceed. Brainstorm solutions together and then check back later to see if that actually helped.
3 – Check Their Work
Whether they are doing schoolwork or chores, it’s important for us to spot check our teens from time to time. Are they doing a thorough job or putting forward their best effort? Are they remembering to do what we’ve asked them to do? There are a variety of ways to do these checks, but it can be helpful to have dads check up on kids when they get home from work. There’s something about knowing dad will be inspecting their work that will help motivate kids to do their best.
Having dad involved is especially important for our teenage sons. Boys have a much easier time taking direction from their fathers so having dad take the lead in some of these areas will be more pleasant for everyone.
If you are homeschooling an older child, don’t feel that you need to take a completely hands-off approach. Our teens may not always admit it, but they do still appreciate our guidance and involvement in their education from time to time. Try implementing a few of these accountability systems in your homeschool and you will have the greater peace which comes with knowing that your kids are learning as much as you think they are. And you will be helping them strive toward achieving whatever goals they have set for themselves.
Are you homeschooling teens? What methods have you put in place to help hold them accountable and to help them realize their goals? Please leave a comment below!