Life Schooling and Homeschooling High School -

Summary: This article is about following our child's interests in our homeschool, and also how to encourage your teen in leadership, if that is where their gifts are. This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy #childled #homeschooling 

Today, I'd like to share, and look back, on how my kiddo happened to develop leadership skills, by following her interests through the years.

This week my husband and I got to go watch our daughter do her Capstone speech, to finish up her Global Leadership Honors minor, as a college junior. (Brag alert, lol). We had no idea that she would develop an interest in leadership, when she was young and just getting started in our homeschool.  

My daughter, who liked to stand back and watch others when in a group, now was rockin' it in her leadership program in college!  Here she is presenting her project. 

My daughter presenting her capstone project to students and her professors.

She is in front of a large crowd, speaking with confidence.  

How did this happen?  

I think that the electives that she had did during homeschooling high school, may have helped a lot. Through her high school activities, she built up confidence and leadership skills, too.  And now she is enjoys public speaking…

I had no idea that my daughter would want to do that, when she was young..... 

Homeschooling allowed us to go at her pace, re socializing, learning, when she needed more challenge, etc, so that she could take things at her own pace.  We could meet her needs for quiet times in ways that public school just couldn't. 

And we could take wild active breaks, with gymnastics done across the living room floor most every day!  At the same time, she could step her toe in, re social/group interactions and take her time as needed, re her shyness and her anxiety issues, too.  That was our goal.

And we didn’t know that we were growing a leader, even…that was a nice surprise…
Well, it all really started with lots of cardboard and tape.


Following her interests early on, required a lot of cardboard and tape.  Above is one of her big cardboard projects, but she started making little things, when she was just a preschooler.  I could never buy enough tape!  This was our daughter go-to activity during preschool and into the primary years, too.

We worked to support her in her efforts, in making things, doing things, and exploring things.....

First it was all about art.  There were tons of art projects to be made.  Painting, finger painting with pudding, and coloring were her go to favorites.  Then, as a preschooler, she asked if she could learn ballet.  She had seen a story about ballet in a book from the library.  

I found a ballet class for little ones nearby. We were able to work that into our week, so she began soon.  She loved going to her class.  It was so cute.  None of the kids really knew the routine, but their efforts were glorious and that was all that mattered.

We often went to the park afterwards, or with our homeschooling friends on park day.  

What better way for a preschooler to discover and develop, than through following their interests?  Yes, she was all about exploring academics, too.


You just gotta color!

Amid many art projects at home, we soon found a wonderful contest, called Creative Kids (Many other states have these, too) It was sponsored by our annual Spring Fair, which included competitions in animal care, cooking, art, writing, photography, and even knitting.  My daughter entered it starting in 3rd grade, and ended up continuing all the way through 10th grade.  

It became a very supportive environment for her to try out her new skills, and get feedback from more adults than just mom.

She started with an entry in art the drawing of a toucan above.  It gave her chance to get feedback on her projects, a big step in getting out in the world, for a young child.  My daughter entered this picture the first year, and was thrilled to win second place.  They also gave her a little paragraph about her artwork, which she treasured.  She loved getting feedback for her work. 


Science was popular in our house, especially in middle school.

She went on to enter many projects in the Creative Kids contestincluding essays, photography, knitting projects, and then one year she to entered a knitting contest.  hey competed as to how fast they could knit!  (how funny!)  To do this, she was up in front of an audience...This was held at our local spring fair, and included a lot of 4H activities.  Does your area off one of these contests for kids?

Later, she entered a poem, and when they asked the kids to share their poetry aloud, she decided to participate. This was her first experience in public speaking.  Little did I know that she would come to want more.  She loved it.  

Then she got interested in science...

My daughter loved watching her Science DVD's. And elementary science projects were very popular at our house ....

She wanted to learn about marine science, and spent a lot of time at our small marine science museum.   Then, in middle school, her interest in science centered around aviation.  There were lots of trips to the Museum of Flight, which became a long standing favorite.  

At home, most of her essays that year were geared toward aviation, the history of it. Her Oak Meadow curricula asked for a biography of a famous American, but we adjusted that to let her do one on her strong interest in aviation instead.  It was still a report on history, just the history of aviation!  (Note - Oak Meadow is a creative, hands-on, strong-in-academics curriculum that we loved using for English and Social Studies from 4th grade on.)

And many of her reports were written on  the different types of airplanes.  This was easy to accommodate in our homeschooling, as I just geared her English assignments to her interest!

HIGH SCHOOL - Volunteering

Volunteering can be a great way to build confidence and leadership skills, as we all know.  We just geared our volunteering to my daughter's interests.  Sometimes as a whole family, other times, with a group of homeschooled teens, at a food bank, humane society, or making holiday boxes, etc.

In 9th grade, my daughter had a chance to help out in an elementary science class.  She jumped at the chance to help out, as it was science.  She loved setting up the science labs, and got to lead a lesson once a semester.  A great opportunity.

After a few years of assisting, she had gained so much in confidence...but decided that teaching was not her calling.  But this was still a wonderful experience for her.  She knew, however, that she wanted to become a leader somehow.  And when she needed a college reference, she had a great one, from this volunteer experience.  (And that helped her get into college.)


Then, in high school, we heard about the Youth and Government program. (This link is to their WA program, but most states also have one, through their YMCA.) My daughter started it in 9th grade, then ran for office in 10th grade. This gave her a lot of chances to develop her leadership skills in another setting.  

This program teaches about state government, where the teens actually enact the work of the legislature, each choosing a role to play, such as Page, Legislator, or Senator, etc.  They even write their own Bills!  

She found her niche here, realizing that she liked leading groups of her peers, such as committees, or serving as VP to her delegation.  And she couldn't wait for the state meeting in May, where she got to be a mock youth court justice!  Such a great program for her.  The teens gather each year at their state's capital, to put on their own Youth Mock Legislature.

Where are your kid's interests leading them?  

Learning at home gave my daughter a supportive anchor, that allowed her to step out and explore the world, one day at a time. 

And then, returning home for quiet time with family, and for my daughter, that always included our cat....

It is so important for our kids to have a soft place to fall...That's part of why we chose to homeschool.

My daughter just started what will soon become her summer job (as a campaign manager for a local city councilperson, who is running for re-election.)  She loves the opportunity to meet and interact with a number of local leaders in politics. 

What are your children exploring these days?  It is such a pleasure to hear from you.
If you like this post, you will also probably like my pinterest board on high school.

Thanks for stopping by,


Betsy is mom to her college grad whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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