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The Drawback to Homeschooling a Teen

hannah in green

I’ve spent many, many hours (and posts) talking about how fantastic homeschooling can be.  It really is, and I have no regrets.  My kids are happy, smart, inquisitive, have tons of friends, tons of play time, tons of time to explore the world- and that is priceless!   But today I am going to talk about the one drawback so far that I have found in my eleven years of homeschooling…

My teen’s inability to be spontaneous and make her own plans with her friends.  Now, lets get one thing straight before someone waves the “socialization” flag:  all of my children have buckets of friends and sleepovers, playdates, field trips and park days.  They spend a huge chunk of time in groups of friends (large and small) and I know they are not lacking in that department.


My eldest daughter is fifteen now, and I have recently noticed an issue that doesn’t seem to affect just her, but most of her friends as well.  They suck at planning things to do together.  They like hanging out, and are quite happy to do so, but seem unable to call/text/or facebook each other with a simple “hey lets hang out!”  Instead, they rely on their parents (usually the moms) to fill in their social calendars with parties and teen nights.

I think that part of the reason she waits for me to plan things is because this is how it has always been since we started homeschooling.  I would tell her about various things that were going on that we could choose to do, or in some cases I would just say “we are doing this today, get ready.”  When you are homeschooling, your kids don’t see their friends in class every day, and in most cases their friends don’t live nearby, so it is up to the parents to put together opportunities for kids to see each other.

In the past few months, Hannah has told me several times that she is bored or lonely, and I say the same thing each time: “Plan something with your friends!”  I have no problem taking her wherever she wants to go, and her friends are always welcome here.  She can do whatever she likes (Within reason, of course) but she doesn’t do anything!  At first, I took pity on her and would plan things for her.  I would pop on our homeschool group and say “hey!  Let’s plan a teen night or something!”  And someone would offer to host, or I would, and the kids would have a great time.  But I recently figured out that this is just prolonging the issue- which is that they NEED to learn to plan their own shit.

So now I coach Hannah through it.  I make suggestions, but leave the time/date/details to her.

It seems to be working.  She is planning a movie night with her friends.  They wanted to do it this weekend, but not everyone can make it so they moved the date.  This morning I introduced the novel idea that she could still plan to do something with the ones that ARE free this weekend.  She looked at me and I could see the light bulb go off in her head.  Now she is texting and sorting things for this evening.  Hopefully this is the start of her taking over and making her own plans from now on.


Final thought:  I can only go by my own experiences and what I see in my own kid and those she hangs out with. Of course, it could also be that she is hanging out with other kids like her…..


14 Responses to The Drawback to Homeschooling a Teen

  1. That isn’t really a universal characteristic of homeschooled teens. The teens around where I live a TERRIBLE about making plans amongst themselves without checking with their parents first or even letting their parents know their plans until the last minute (or sometimes they forget to say anything at all and the parents just see it on Facebook posts), just like kids that go to school. I’m sure there is a wide array of social skills in this area, just like any other area, and it isn’t just an issue of “homeschooled” vs “regular school” kids.

    • Well, I can only go by my own experiences and what I see in the teens my kid hangs out with.

      Of course, it could also be that she is hanging out with other kids like her…..

  2. Well, it’s good that you’ve identified an area she needs to work on, and it’s GREAT that she is figuring it out. It’s a learning process, for those who homeschool *and* those who send their kids to private or public school. My daughter wants and needs more time with kids, and I’m always at a loss about how to make that happen without completely draining my own energy and leaving all of the chores undone. Hopefully *I* can get this figured out soon so she can get enough time with other people. Of course, in my situation, it’s largely because I’m an introvert raising an extrovert … o.O

  3. I’m curious whether or not the kids who live in the mom planned playdate age (and I’m part of that, I’m not being a snit) will have the same issues. We don’t live in a city/neighborhoood where it’s safe to send the kids out to play….we don’t go to school with the neighborhood kids, our friends live in many different neighborhoods, we’re by a public transportation train track and people drive down our street and alley like it’s Indy…so everything is planned. We’re not homeschoolers and neither are the families we play with, but we all plan things for the kids (8, 7 and 3). It will be interesting to see if these kids make the switch naturally or if the parents have to sorta make it happen. I’ll be interested to see how she works it out.

  4. I enjoyed reading this! I, too, disagree that this has anything to do with homeschooling. I’ve noticed that this process is a normal part of coming into one’s own autonomy and different kids go through it at different ages. I remember going through this with my 8 year old daughter. Up until then, she was used to me planning her life, for the most part. Since she’s an introvert, I don’t think it came naturally to her to be as out-going as her extroverted younger sisters (who never need me to plan a thing…in fact, I have to convince them to *not* participate in things). These days, though, she’s 13 and just as happy sitting around the house reading as she is interacting with her friends. Maybe happier. My extroverted daughters, however, cannot be kept away from friends and plan-making. It is vital to their survival and emotional health, so they contrive all sorts of ways to meet those needs.

    All that to say this may be more about personality types than anything. And, the personality type aspect may align with socialized behavior (ex: Mom makes my plans for me) to produce times when the kids have to figure out how to meet their needs without us. I think boredom is imperative for creative transformation. Whenever I hear a kid say s/he’s bored, I look forward to seeing a new development, because we all must get sick of the status quo before we feel moved to change or create anything. This is normal and good.

    Hope you’re feeling well, today!

  5. I think it’s more a personality thing to be honest. When we were growing up my best friend and I (who lived less than a mile away) were always planning and doing stuff together. We knew what the rules were and we just called each other, made the plans, double checked with our parents and did it. On the other hand my younger sister was part of a group of six girls in the neighborhood (all the same age, all living within a mile of each other) and there was so much angst over this when they hit the tween/teen age it was painful for me to watch.

  6. This was me in high school (I went to public school, not that it matters). My problem was that I hated (and still hate) the phone. I never wanted to call anyone because I have some weird awkward thing about initiating phone calls. The only people I can call without feeling weird are my grandmother and my husband–otherwise, I’ll bend over backwards not to use the phone. Do you think Hannah might feel more comfortable planning through e-mail or Skype?

  7. I don’t yet have a teen, unless you count that my 5 year old rolls his eyes at me all the time. But when I read your post it made me think of this- 15 seems about the age for this sort of thing. Unless you live I the kind of neighborhood where there are always kids outside to play with, kids will rely on their parents to some extent.

    I was public school, all the way. Even college and graduate school were at state schools. And I was about 15 when I had to start learning how to plan things for myself. I didn’t like putting myself out there to ask a friend, I worried about rejection. And there was only ONE other family in my neighborhood. So a 5 mile radius- one family. Luckily, we were friends.

    But my only other social opportunities were the ones I started making for myself at that age.

    I vote, normal!

    Glad she has an awesome momma like you to guide her through!

  8. I think the fact that you care enough to be concerned, and are encouraging her to take charge for herself, is going to be all that is necessary – for Hannah. The other kids are probably going to start turning to Hannah as the go-to party & event planner.

  9. Perhaps it’s just her temperament. I *still* have issues organising or planning social gatherings, even now that I have kids of my own, and I went to private school. I think it’s great that you, as her mother and teacher, see the issue and help her to learn rather than it just continuing, like it most probably would if she were “in school”.

  10. I have always been unable to make plans with people; whether I couldn’t contact them, they weren’t nearby, what have you, I’ve never been able to make plans. I’m nearly 21 now and the only ‘parties’ I go to are video game lans or d&d or pokemon, but I’m not the one planning. My boyfriend does and I just say ‘yeah, we can probably do that’ or ‘yeah, we can make that’. So, it’s not just home-schooled children, I’ve never been home-schooled and I have this problem as well. I hope you guys figure everything out :)

  11. I am finding this too…I remember being better at it than my girls are. I am glad we are not the only ones going through it!!

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