Home Educating Your Teen


Did you know that HENB currently has a Teen Coordinator to support families home educating their teens?

If you would like to be on the mailing list and find out about events and resources pertaining to teens in New Brunswick, please email Dawn Cumberland who will be glad to help you out in your journey.

Tips for Home Educating Your Teen

1. Keep the lines of communication open, create time to talk and listen

  • Decide which issues are worth fighting for and which ones are simply expressions of a teen’s personality
  • Barbara Coloroso recommends three basic questions to ask when evaluating how an issue should be approached:  Is it illegal? Is it immoral? Will it grow back?

 2.  Let them Grow Up (a Little)

  • Every moment is a gift
  • More investment means that they will have more ownership in their education
  • Let them choose some of their courses, curriculum and books
  • Let teens have a say in what their length of blocks/holiday time should be
  • Give them jobs and let them participate in extra-curricular activities
  • Be sensitive; they want to hear that we are proud of them

3. Help them build their own support network

  • The nuclear family is important but there is a great need for a larger community too
  • Choose 1 or 2 special activities for your teen to try out as they decide their career path

4. Academics

  • Explain to your teen that education is an amazing gift as it open doors and opportunities
  • Hard work is important and because they did the work, they are proud of it
  • Anything less than 80% is a fail; keep going over something until they get it
  • Why is high school such a big deal? We are creating adults that will impact the world. We can help shaping that impact
  • How do I know my child is learning the right stuff? Each family will need to determine this on their own, based on the child’s goals and gifts
  • Find out what the expectations are for New Brunswick. NB has a high school program called “Handbook” which lists requirements for universities

5. Which curriculum do I need?

  • Be creative with how you fill the title of a course (eg. Teaching swimming lessons could be called, “Leadership Physical Education.”)
  • Consider being involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards/Air Cadets etc which can be used as a credit
  • Life guarding/Red Cross courses are a recognized high school credit with Royal Conservatory Music
  • The best curriculum is the one that works the best for your family
  • What works for one child doesn’t work for another child

6. What about testing?

  • Many universities have stopped using ACTs, SATs or other standardized tests for determining scholarships or admissions. However,  there are many universities who will still rely on a standardized test to help put the student’s transcript in perspective. Please contact the schools your student is considering to see what their requirements for home-educated students are
  • The value of a test shows us what still needs to be worked on; it is not a reflection of how smart our children are
  • Teach your teen how to take a test
  • Evaluate the results so you know if you need to reteach something, then follow up!
  • Visit http://www.actstudent.org to find out where the ACT test can be written. There is a $100 fee to write the exam. If your teen is not happy with the results, he/she can re-write the test within a certain time period
  • Please be aware that some Canadian universities (ie, in our experience, University of Ottawa), will ask for external corroboration of marks in certain courses, ie, the SAT subject tests for science and/or mathematics

7. Adjust the Standard

  • You can expect more from your child in middle school and even more if they are in high school
  • Grade 8 and 9 years are a transition time where they can start to assume more responsibilities
  • If you require all your children to complete Biology 10 (eg. three labs and 16 chapters), you have to be ready to accept different abilities and standards for each child

8. Independent Learning

  • It is more important to know “how to learn” than it is “what to learn”
  • Teach your teen to STOP and THINK first; through teaching them HOW to learn, you empower your teen to be a critical thinker
  • Home educated students that go on to university are often recognized for their independent thinking
  • By grade 10, 11 or 12, teens should know that if they don’t know the answer, they can figure out how to find it

9. Beyond Academics

  • Kid need to be invested in in what’s important to them
  • If we have not poured into the lives of our children and helped develop their character, it won’t suddenly appear in their teenage years

10. Final Thoughts

  • Home educating a teen is no different than parenting: it is a journey
  • By purposing to build a relationship with a young adult in the making, you are helping to shape their future

The above points were taken from a talk by Stephanie Jackson (homeschooling mom of 5 from Nova Scotia) during the HENB Professional Development Day on Nov 7, 2014.