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Is Homeschooling the Answer for My Son?

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q: I am single parent and I work 40 hours a week. I have a 15-year-old who is failing eighth grade for the second time. Can I homeschool him and still keep my job? I live in a remote area where there are no other children. I worry that he will get bored and miss his friends, but I can't seem to reach him about his schoolwork — he just does not care. I am hoping homeschooling maybe the answer for him. Any suggestions?

A: This is so difficult to answer, not knowing your son and your relationship with him. It's obvious school is not working for him. What are his interests? Is it possible for him to mentor with someone during the day? For instance, if he likes animals, maybe he can spend some time in a veterinarian's office, helping out. I have a friend whose teen loves horses. She volunteers at a horse farm each day and gets free riding lessons and a wealth of information about caring for horses. Animal shelters, libraries, museums, and parks all welcome volunteers. Perhaps he can spend a portion of each day performing this type of service.

Can you adjust or cut back on your hours? Can you work from home? Maybe your son can also begin to work part-time while you're working. One friend of mine was having a terrible time with her daughter. She allowed her to homeschool, but also required her to work. It did not take very long for the girl to realize that if this was what working entailed (it was a boring job), she'd better get serious about her studies and at least obtain a high school diploma.

If you decide to give home learning a try, there are independent study programs and correspondence schools that can help your son work towards a high school diploma. Perhaps he might want to obtain his equivalency diploma (GED). To find online support for the GED test, visit www.gedonline.org. Another good resource is Cafi Cohen's book, Homeschooling the Teen Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 13- to 18-Year-Old. You'll also find helpful information about homeschooling by visiting our How to Homeschool Information Center. Be sure to read Leaving School and Learning at Home. Good luck!

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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.


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