Homeschool High Schoolers Learning to Meet Deadlines


I have quite the gap between my oldest and youngest homeschool ‘student’ (my youngers are preschoolers), and we spent quite a few years on Unit Studies, Charlotte Mason, and an eclectic brand of Accidental Unschooling after the little ones came along unexpectedly. And so, here at the bee-hive, we have not had as many deadlines as a more classical or traditional schooling method would require. Mama has made many executive decisions to carry on with schooling through summer months and to ditch the tail end of programs and workbooks that we weren’t able to finish. Despite this, the kids have learned… but the restrictions finite deadlines place on you have not been felt by them in any real sense until this school year (they are 9th and 10th graders now, by the way).

As the children have gotten older, the work load has increased, and the time is running thin to fit all of the hopeful curriculum and enrichment courses in before graduation. There comes a time when you need to start preparing for college and beyond. Part of this preparation, I think is the life-skills and self discipline that teens must learn to be ready to face their future as independent, self-starting, intrinsically motivated people. One such lesson is multi-tasking and meeting deadlines. Life doesn’t discriminate in this area – no one is immune.

This year our big kids are learning hard lessons about how to break down large amounts of work and spread them out so that everything gets done. They are learning through failure as well as success. I believe it is important to allow kids to experience consequences and not save them from every mistake… and so this year mom has also learned the hard lesson of watching her kids make some poor choices and had to tie her hands behind her back to let them grow from the results. That’s not easy for a homeschool mom who is used to being the ONLY teacher in her child’s life.

My kids are attending a once-a-week co-op this year with classes in Biology, Writing, Spanish, Art, and Drama… and they attend an online class once-a-week in Medieval British Literature (History and Literature mixed in to one class with discussion and lectures for an hour each week). They also have Math, extra History reading, Bible and other various assignments that I require from them at home each week.

Our problems:

* these classes take up a full day

* they fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays (mid-week) rather than beginning or end of the week (splitting the week awkwardly)

* in addition they have many distractions at home with toddlers underfoot

This gives them a difficult set of circumstances to navigate. Kind of like that Angry Bird level you just can’t seem to beat.

Birdie Bros. #angrybirds

Mama never said they didn’t have a challenge… but it remains a fact that life is not always easy (for anyone) – and distractions abound in almost any situation (public school and the workforce included)… so their GREAT task has been to set goals and find ways to minimize distractions, keep alert to the deadlines set on them by each teacher and course, and prioritize their time so that they can spread the work out evenly and not end up cramming everything on Mondays and Wednesdays just before it is due.

Making matters even harder for them was the fact that they tripled up on electives this year. Spanish, while an elective, is also a difficult academic course; and their teacher expects them to comply with deadlines (no wiggle room). Drama was my thirteen year old’s first choice and BOTH of my children got picked for lead parts in the play this December. Art, while not being the most demanding class, still provided another deadline by way of the exhibit showing at the play… and my kids ended up being asked to play piano at the music recital before the play as well. Needless to say, the ARTS in our weekly schedule took precedence this semester.

Day 10 #twinkle #trendytreehouse ♡ Friends since they were 4.

Mama watched as the holidays drew nearer and her homeschool kids fell farther and father behind with their non-deadlined courses (Math, Biology, and History are much less demanding because MOM is the one in charge). To my chagrin, the big kids didn’t seem to have the same amount of distress about the backlog of assignments. The urgency of the looming play, art show, music recital, and Spanish semester exam pushed out all other worries.

Now that the play is over, they are seeing the coming Christmas break – full of catch up work – with new eyes; none too happy about the situation. I’m sorry that they are having to work through our break, and am aware that they have worked very hard in all these other subjects, but I’m making myself stand strong and require “homework” for the first time in their homeschooling career (even over a holiday). It hurts to be the bad guy.

Detective Mimms and his police force gang #theater #teens

I’m proud of them for their accomplishments this year, despite our scheduling issues. I have seen them really grow as people – and they have put a lot of effort out this year on fighting distractions and getting their work done. There is much room for improvement, and I’m anticipating a hyper-productive second semester after this learning experience… but I’m certainly going to reward them for making it to the half way mark with such amazing accomplishments. [Hopefully that statement extends to the final exam results for Spanish – we’ll find out what they made soon!]

I’d love to hear about your homeschool growing pains – how you tackled the difficult lessons of prioritizing, meeting deadlines, making sure that the important work gets done. It is truly a balancing act making sure that a child’s education is well-rounded and their heart is pointed towards Christ! What a task we have, and what an honor that God entrusts us to it.

{ Here’s to completing the first half of the school year, and to a great second half in 2013! }

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P.S. If you want to see the play, you can start here –Detective Mimms & the Snaffler– and watch all 5 video parts on YouTube!

P.S.S. If you click the graphic up top, you can sign up for a free high school webinar (with Lee Binz of the HomeScholar) for homeschoolers that the Homeschool Post is putting on January 11th. Hurry because the attendance is limited. First come, first serve!


  1. says

    My oldest is in 8th this year and I realized he had no idea how to handle a deadline because we usually just do what we can when we can (which is a lot) in our eclectic delight driven school adventure. This year I started giving him deadlines for assignments. I am hoping he catches on a bit soon or he will be in a world of hurt when he is older. Great post.

    • says

      Yeah, it is a constant struggle teaching the discipline and character part. And a constant struggle for mamas to keep themselves consistent as well. 😉

  2. says

    Heather, I really needed to read your post today!! We are missionaries, traveling a lot this year. My oldest homeschooler is 9th grade and the homeschooling has been spotty. I keep trying to impress upon her the importance of self-starting and pursuing her education… even if mom is busy. We have done plenty of work together so that she knows the expectations and assignments. I hate to be the bad buy but even I came to the realization this past week: We will have to school into what would normally be our summer break because of all the breaks the children have chosen over learning. Which, children will naturally do! It isn’t that I haven’t prodded them to their reading and math assignments or nature journals or drawing exercises, I have… but they have chosen the “later” mentality and “later” never comes!

    We are settled in a location for the next few months and blessed with many resources at our fingertips. My goal this week has been to finish settling in and pray over direction to pick up and begin fresh next week. Reading your post today was a God-send, a perfect inspiration for the path ahead! Thank you!