Can you name one surprising thing influential leaders such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and others have in common?
They all spent their teen years in a similar fashion. Check out this intriguing article from Time about How Successful Leaders Spent Their Teenage Years.
Without intending to, the article basically gives a checklist of things that homeschooling allows teens to do. Now, we might not want our children to grow up to be just like Steve Jobs. (I've heard he was not exactly the kindest man around.) But if we want to help our teens be equipped to change the world, consider how homeschooling makes it easier for teens to pursue these activities.
Many great leaders read a lot during their teen years.
Influential leaders tend to be well-read. They used their teen years to broaden their understanding of the world through reading a huge variety of works. That means they read things they're comfortable with, and things that pushed them out of their comfort zone a bit. We created the upper-level Sonlight programs to help teens do just that. Your teens will read way more than their average public-school (or even private school) peers. And they'll have you, plus extensive Instructor's Guide notes, to help them navigate the new ideas they encounter. It's a purposeful way to prepare teens to engage the world.
Most leaders spend a lot of time alone as teens.
Teens face enormous social pressures. As they try to form their own identities and figure out where they fit in, it really helps to have plenty of time to just be on their own and think, and dig into their passions. That could be photography, writing poetry, building robots ... you name it. Homeschooling makes it easier for teens to have such time at their disposal. Teens who are always in the social pressure cooker of school, activities and social media may not get the chance to step back and just be themselves.
Great leaders put a priority on creating over consuming. They spent their teen years creating.
Homeschooling makes it easier for teens to continue to explore new areas of interest. In school, it can be easy to get locked in to one identity (as a theater person, or a musician, or a jock). But with homeschooling, it's easier for a musician who loves sports to also get really into computer coding. I can't tell you how many homeschoolers I've heard of who wrote novels in their high school years. My son Luke spent countless hours making films. Homeschooling provides extra freedom to pursue these things. You can even incorporate such pursuits into your student's official curriculum!
The sheer act of creating something as big as a film, a novel, a musical composition, or a computer program teaches countless lessons and prepares teens for future challenges. It preps teens to know that they can actively engage with the world, instead of just passively receiving what comes their way.
Of course, I think the teen years should also include learning to serve others and strengthening relationships with family and friends. And so, it seems homeschooling is a perfect setup to give your teens the gifts that many influential leaders enjoyed in their foundational years.
What do you think are the biggest gifts homeschooling affords your teens (or teens to be)?
Want more encouragement?
Sign up for Sonlight's bi-weekly e-newsletter
You'll be encouraged by the words of founder Sarita Holzmann, inspired by real-life stories from other homeschoolers, pick up practical tips for the journey and more.