If you are homeschooling through high school, it’s important to keep your teen engaged in his own education. If you’re lucky enough to have a student who is self-motivated and eager to learn new things high school can be fun and exciting for both of you. If you have a teen who would rather play video games, hang out with his friends or gnaw off his own arm rather than read, you are facing a bigger challenge. The good news is you can find ways to keep your teen reading and learning without insisting he give up his other interests.
- Take turns choosing books. Before starting a new school year, sit down with your teen and a list of books you’d like to see him read in the upcoming year. Ask him to bring his own list of books. Go through the lists together. Your list might include classic books that colleges will appreciate. His list might include graphic novels, young adult fiction or a favorite series. Go ahead and compromise. Determine an average time for finishing a book and set up a schedule one of his books followed by one of yours.
- Use audio books. If, like many families, you spend a lot of time in the car, make use of that time by listening to a book your child might not read on his own. The Count of Monte Cristo can be a difficult read for teenagers. The unabridged audio version, however, takes care of pronunciation issues and has an excellent reader that will draw even younger siblings into the story. Check your local library for free downloads, use a subscription service like Audible or try out Librivox, a free online resource.
- Don’t limit yourself to fiction. Many teens find biographies, how-to books and non-fiction accounts of adventures and events more compelling than fiction.
- Start a book discussion club for teens. Reach out to your homeschooling friends and set up a book group (real or virtual) where teens can work through challenging books together. Parents can take turns facilitating discussions and projects.
- Become a team. If a teen book club is not an option, work with your teen to get the most out of reading in high school. Start with a book that outlines how to read various types of materials and how to get the most out of it. The Well Educated Mind and How to Read a Book are both excellent resources to get you started. Read books at the same time and come together once a week to talk about what you’ve learned and share opinions. Make it a fun time by meeting over a special lunch or starting the day at a coffee shop with pastries and your books.
One of the biggest goals of homeschooling is to raise kids who love to learn. Battling over books is not likely to encourage this feeling. Be flexible. Keep in mind that sometimes a book, no matter how great you think it is, may not appeal to your child. (I’ll confess. I am a rabid reader, always have been. I will read just about anything. However, I would sooner eat my own liver than pick up a copy of Moby Dick.) If that is the case with a book you had planned to have your child read, let it go and move on to something else. If you keep the lines of communication open and give your teen a part in the decision-making process, you might discover new common ground through books you experience together.