Homeschooling the Teen Years is my personal pick for the absolute worst book on homeschooling. In fact, this book alone has done a great disservice to most homeschoolers by making us look like we’re not actually educating our kids.
The Cohens are a ranching family that live in California and have successfully sent a kid to college. They belong to a homeschooling group and surveyed 104 of these members by email. The results are incorporated into the book. If you are one of them, then this will be an easy read. For the people actually interested in learning how to homeschool their teens it won’t be helpful.
On p. 29 a few of the topics of study listed for teens are:
- historical costume design
- recreational mathematics
- model rocketry
- family history
- Civil War reenactments
By the teen years, you are either preparing your children for college or to enter the workplace. You’re teaching them life skills and independence. Most importantly you’re helping establish their value system so they can withstand some of the incredibly hard choices ahead. None of the topics above are going to do that. They’re fluff. Although it’s okay to include some fluff, it should be more as a recreational activity than a credited course of study. And therein lies the problem. The Cohens gave their kids credit for a lot of “courses” that were family chores and recreational activities rather than actual learning. Here’s an example.
On p. 30, the author lists various activities and how you can equate them on a transcript to an actual course of study.
- Reading the daily paper = Social studies
- Playing Monopoly = Math
- Traveling in the car = Geography
- E-mailing friends = Language arts
- Church geneaology = History
- Feeding the pet = Science and Physical education
- Talking with Grandpa = History
- Shoveling snow = Physical education
If you read this and get angry because someone has asked you if you’re one of those homeschoolers who teaches your high school kids math with Monopoly, you can thank the Cohens and this awful book for that. The negative stigma associated with homeschooling is thanks in part to books like this that make it appear that all homeschoolers are cheating the educational system. We’re not.
By high school, your children should be beyond Algebra and into Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, and Linear Equations. Monopoly is second grade. And using texting acronyms like LOL, btw, and 411 is not even close to high school level Language Arts. In high school they’re doing research papers, pie charts, and college essays.
By p. 95 the author is listing books that are the “teens’ top twenty book picks” which include some obscure books that I’ve never even heard of (and I’m very well-read).
Much of this book is devoted to ways your kids can contribute to your household and how they can contribute to their community. The rest of the book is about getting your kids independent and out the door. I have much higher hopes for my children. I want them to have every educational opportunity they would have lost in public school. They don’t spend their days doing household chores and calling it “History” or “Social Studies”. They learn. They read books, watch videos, research topics on the internet, go on field trips, watch college presentations, and prepare PowerPoint presentations and research papers complete with footnotes and bibliographies.
If you aspire to very little for your kids, this is the book for you. However, if you want a quality education for your teenagers, avoid this book and please don’t judge homeschoolers by its content. We don’t all teach our high school kids Math by playing Monopoly. 🙁
Overall Grade: F