Keeping Enchantment Alive in High School

Keeping Enchantment Alive in High School

by Stephanie Elms

Homeschooling high school has been one of my favorite parts of our homeschool journey. It has been such a fascinating (albeit nerve-wracking!) process to watch each of my boys come into their own.

So how do you keep enchantment alive in high school?

You do your best to get curious and excited about seeing how this will all unfold for your kids, rather than feeling like it is test you are going to pass or fail.

The trick is trusting yourself and what you know about how your kids learn best, resisting the urge to make high school focused too narrowly on checking off boxes on a transcript (which is where enchantment goes to die!) Yes, all those traditional high school requirements get thrown into the mix, but remind yourself that you have a lot more flexibility than you might think.

What is going to stand out on your teen’s transcript is not all the things that they did in high school that look exactly like what every other high school kid has done, but rather their deep dives into their interests. And it is those deep dives which will be what reveals the best path forward for them as well.

When Jason, my oldest, was applying to liberal arts universities as a history major, they were much more interested in the variety of history (many of them independent study credits) and other humanities credits he had than whether he had completed three high school lab sciences (he only had completed one.)

My youngest son, Kyle, is less traditionally academic. It has been his deep exploration in and excitement about photography that is guiding us to a clearer picture of what he wants to do after graduation which, in turn, is providing the motivation for him to work on his weaker academic areas.

I made a conscious decision early on to do what made the most sense for my kids at that moment, rather than worrying too much about some nebulous “they might need this later” worry (or at least tried to do my best to balance the two, often opposing, pressures.) My approach was to take the “next right step” and trust that we always had a path forward, even if we had not completely figured it out yet.

At times this approach has meant that we made choices which “closed doors” for them. Interestingly, it has often been these choices that pointed us to alternative paths that worked extremely well. Jason never took the SAT because at the time it just did not make sense for him. This decision meant that he started at community college before transferring to a four year university as a sophomore. This path turned out to be a perfect transition in many ways from our more relaxed homeschool to a more formal traditional classroom.

I also focused on finding schools that would value and appreciate my teen’s less traditional high school experiences rather than trying to change them to fit a particular college’s requirements. It is okay, and indeed preferable, to honor who your child is instead of trying to mold them into who you think college admissions people want them to be.

If you can hang onto your curiosity and excitement about watching your teen come into their own and approach high school as a journey you get to share with them as you both figure it out, the high school years can indeed be full of enchantment and discovery.

Stephanie Elms has homeschooled her two boys for ten+ years and is a coach for Brave Writer’s The Homeschool Alliance. She blogs at Throwing Marshmallows.

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