Planning for High School Part 2 – Filters & Guiding Principles

Written by Shannon

Recently I was watching a video by author Kristen Tiber, and to illustrate a point, she shared a story about making choices for her son’s high school years, that sums up what I think a lot of us feel so well. She said she was…

“Feeling afraid of making the wrong decision, and being overwhelmed by information and deadlines and all the options.”

For me, this speaks to the heart of what most of us feel at some point or another.

We care deeply about our teen’s future. We feel the responsibility.

We want the best for them. We don’t want to mess up. We don’t want to make the wrong choice. We want them to have options going forward.

And yet, all the options and choices, as well as the internal and external pressures, can feel overwhelming.

Even the most confident among us have the niggles and doubts that arise.
Am I doing enough?
Is this the right decision?

Sending out our equivalent of the silent prayer, “Please show me the way.”

The truth is that no two homeschools are the same. No two educations – even delivered by the same exact person, materials, and methodologies – are the same.

We are all individuals. And we all filter life, communication, information, experiences through our own worldview, bias, perceptions, motivations, memories, interests, and where we are in our own human development.

As we continue our series on Planning for High School, let’s talk today about Identifying and Creating Filters for making decisions for your homeschool and your teen.

Not the how or what – not yet – but the Big Picture criteria – or guiding principles or considerations – that make it easier to filter and sort through for all the choices and options you and your teen have for the high school years.

Over the teen years, a lot of life happens. A lot of maturity and development happens. A lot of growth and experiences take place. Interests grow and change. Options come and go.

If we are aware of, cognizant of, what is truly important for our decision making, then it’s easier to filter through the options and make decisions and pivots based on what is truly important to the bigger picture.

When I talk about a Customized Education, I usually start with the four main considerations or factors:

  • The Laws that apply
  • The Adults who are legally responsible for your teen’s education
  • Your Teen
  • The Goals.

Over this series, I’m going to look at these from the standpoint of creating filters – or criteria – for the multitude of choices you and your teen have available to you.

The Laws that Apply – last time I shared the three laws that I suggest being acquainted with when homeschooling teens. These are your “have to’s”.

So for today, let’s discuss: The Adults who are legally responsible for your teen’s education

✴️ One way to look at this is, “who has a say in your teen’s education – other than your teen?

For us, while my husband and I were both legally responsible for our teens’ educations. We had different roles. I was the primary facilitator, but he had preferences and ultimate veto power.

We came to the high school years with different perspectives. He was raised and indoctrinated in the idea that a college education was necessary for getting a good job and being successful in life.

I grew up in a family of self-educated entrepreneurs, who are always learning something – either from need or because it sparks their interests.

I could not tell my teens that in order to be successful in life they had to go to college, not given the examples from their grandparents and uncles. But I still needed to honor my husband’s perspective.

And it was important for our relationship and family dynamic – which is important to me – that I could translate what my teens doing – what they were learning and experiencing – into something my husband recognized as “learning” or “school” and could share as he had conversations with others.

Each family dynamic is different. Some homeschools need to factor in two sets of parents, or extended family. Some single parents are on their own and trying to navigate the process by themselves – just them and their teen – and their personal support system.

For some, the courts are involved, or are likely to become involved, and there is a certain need to meet the court’s decrees and documentation requirements.

So my prompts for you today are:

➡️ Who is ultimately legally responsible for your teen’s high school education?

➡️ Who are the primary decision makers or facilitator’s for your teen’s high school education?

➡️ Who else has a say in your teen’s education? And how much say do they have?

➡️ Are there external legal considerations that factor into your teen’s education?

➡️ Are there other extenuating circumstances or considerations that factor into your teen’s education?

✴️ Now, for those who are responsible, what is important to you? Not the what or how, but the bigger picture.

  • Is it a love of learning?
  • Is it the ability and freedom to explore who they are and what they love?
  • Is it gaining the skills to become self-sufficient?
  • Is it being ready for a college education? Or even completing part of their college education while still in high school?
  • Is it to have the high school years to look to a certain extent like a conventional high school education – academically and/or events/activities wise?

There’s not a *wrong* answer here. And your answer might not even be on this list. There are multitude of answers available. But getting clear on your big picture helps you sort through the options and decisions, especially when life happens and dynamics change.

✴️ A lot can happen over the high school years, what are your guiding principles?

You may know the answer for now. You may need some percolating. It may become clear as you navigate and go along. Your answer may shift as circumstances come up and as you grow as a parent and as a homeschooler. And that’s okay.

But for now, in the present moment, for the options you are sorting through right now, for the decisions you are making right now, what is the bigger picture?

Next in this series, we’ll get to what I consider one of the most important considerations – your teen – who they are, where they are at, what’s important to them. But as part of this conversation, another question to ask is,

✴️How much say do you want your teen to have in their high school education?

They will have their own opinion and preferences. But for the adults responsible for your teen’s education – how much say do you want your teen to have? Or how much input are you willing to let your teen have?

✴️At this moment in time, how much are you willing to listen to and respect their preferences, even if they differ from your own?

✴️ And, how important is relationship and connection to your family culture and methodology?

I’ll admit, these can be hard questions. For some they may flat out easy at the moment, and shift under circumstances. We grow as parents and homeschoolers during the teen years, just as our teens do.

I will not tell you how to homeschool your teen. There are too many factors, it’s too individual.

But I will say, I love the teen years. I loved all the wonderful conversations, the explorations, and all the growth, even when it wasn’t easy.

I love how much I grew during the teen years because of my teens. I love how much I learned during the teen years because of what they shared with me, what they explored, and what I needed to learn to support them on their journey.

There are choices I made, that I would not have otherwise made, to honor those who had a say in my teens’ education. There are choices I made because life happened and we had to adapt and do the best we could in the circumstances, trusting that it would all work out.

Each of my four kids had a different high school experience, customized to who they are, to what was happening in our life at the time, and their personal interests and deep dives.  

The opportunities that were available to each of them were different from each other, just as my husband’s education was different from my own.

Knowing what was important to our homeschool and family, being aware of what our guiding principles were, made a huge difference in how we planned for – and lived out – the high school years.

If you haven’t already done this work as part of your planning for high school process, I encourage you to do so.

That’s it for today. It’s more than enough. 😀

Next in this series, we’ll explore the third – and all important – consideration for a customized high school experience, the reason we are even having this conversation –  Your Teen.

Until then, Happy Learning!

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