Homeschooling teenagers comes with a unique set of challenges. It doesn’t take long for parents who are homeschooling teenagers to run into some daunting questions, including:
- Will my son or daughter be able to go to prom?
- How will my teen take driver’s ed?
- What if my son or daughter wants to play sports?
- Is there any way to participate in band/orchestra/choir?
Public schools offer some popular and interesting events that may intrigue homeschoolers. Many teens will want to go to dances, learn how to drive, play on a team, or explore music. So, what are the answers to those challenging questions? There are several options:
Work Through the School District
Contact the local school district and see what its policy is on permitting homeschoolers to join the school’s events, teams, or groups. Be specific in what you are asking when you call. Schools might allow a teen to attend driver’s education classes, for example, but not permit attending the prom—or vice versa. Some schools are happy to accommodate homeschooling families with access to all activities, while others choose to completely restrict it. In addition to contacting the local public school, consider reaching out to area private and charter schools to see what their policies are on incorporating homeschoolers.
Look at Community Programs
While schools do offer some great activities, they are rarely the ONLY place to offer them. Look around to see what other choices you might have.
- If your teen wants to join a local sports team, check out the local YMCA to see what sports it has to offer. You can also see if there are any local leagues sponsored by businesses or community groups. Be sure to contact community centers, as they frequently offer a chance to play a variety of sports. Look at resources online such as Craigslist or Meetup.com to find clubs, teams, and other activities.
- Students who play instruments or sing can look into private lessons, as well as explore city orchestras and local music groups. Choirs are available through churches and other independent groups. Community theatres offer a chance to explore drama.
- Driver’s education courses are offered by many groups, including police organizations and independent companies. School enrollment is not necessary to participate in most of these courses. Parents can also purchase packaged driver’s education programs online and teach the subject themselves. National Driver Training Institute offers homeschooling programs. Just make sure you’re aware of the driver education laws in your state.
- Homeschoolers can typically attend prom if their partners are enrolled in the school. Perhaps your son or daughter’s main goal is just to dress up and go to a dance, rather than specifically the prom. If so, community dances are available in many cities.
Start Your Own
One trait homeschoolers tend to be known for is creating their own activities when they can’t find what they need within their communities. Support groups often have enough members that they are able to start a small sports team, a choir, a band, or an acting troupe. It takes time, effort, and dedication, of course, but many parents are willing to do it to help their children.
Homeschool proms are becoming more and more popular across the country. A 2 Z Home’s Cool lists a growing number of states that host these dances annually, including:
- North Carolina
(For parents who are starting from scratch to organize a prom in their area, there is a helpful site with many resources on it at http://home-school.lovetoknow.com/Homeschool_Prom. It offers information on how to find the best location for the prom, how to budget the money, where to find flowers, food, and beverages and more.)
Homeschooling teens—and just parenting them—can be a complex combination of challenging and delightful. Having the answers to the most common questions that can arise is one way to make the trip a little easier—for everyone involved. To learn more about homeschooling, check out Homeschooling 101: An Introduction to the Laws and Legalities of Homeschooling and The Most Important Questions to Ask Before Deciding to Homeschool.
Tamra Orr is the author of six books on the topic of homeschooling, including Homeschooling FAQs: 101 Questions Every Parent Should Ask, The Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling, and After Homeschool: Fifteen Homeschoolers Out in the Real World. In addition, she homeschooled her four children from Kindergarten through high school graduation.