Your Homeschooled Child Doesn’t Have to Be Exceptional

By Melissa Batai

If you watch the news regularly, you’ve likely seen stories of homeschool families whose children go to college well before they’re 18, like the Harding family . Such stories seem more likely in the homeschool world than in families whose children attend traditional school. But even more common are homeschool families who have their children dual enroll in high school, earning both high school and college credit at the same time. The thought seems to be, why not get some college credits out of the way during high school so kids can save money and time when they reach college age? However, if you homeschool your children, don’t feel your child has to take this path. Your child doesn’t have to be exceptional.

Consider Maturity

Many kids who are 12 to 17 simply aren’t ready for the decisions they must make in college as well as the social scene.

Career Decisions

Not all kids are mature enough to decide when they are still high school age what career they want to have. Even though kids might have the smarts to pass college classes, sometimes the wisest decision is just to let them take their time through high school so they can mature. Then they’re more likely to be successful when they attend college.

A family friend of ours had a very bright son who, thanks to dual enrollment, had already earned half the credits required to graduate college when he was just 17. He graduated high school three months before his 18th birthday and went to a college 1500 miles from home. A semester later, he was back home after a suicide attempt. He took some classes at the community college while he recovered, and then went to a local university. He had a Master’s degree by the time he was 21, but he still had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, and he floundered.

I often wonder how his life journey might have been different if he had maintained a traditional educational path and had had the time to mature before making major life decisions.

Social Scene

The other way your high schooler may not be mature enough for college classes is that she has to interact with college students in their late teens and 20s. The maturity gap between a child who is 14 and a 20-year old is huge. Your young teenager will likely be exposed to a social scene she’s not mature enough to handle. Even though she may only be taking classes, not living on campus, she will still be exposed to discussions that may be well beyond her maturity.

Consider Motivation

Likewise, just because students are very bright doesn’t mean they are motivated. I see this in one of my own children. This child has tested as gifted but is completely unmotivated. The child has often talked about dropping out of high school and jumping right into a low-paying job such as the local fast-food restaurant.

I am of average intellect and maintained a B average in high school through a lot of hard work and discipline. My husband is the same. We see our child’s extraordinary intellect as a gift and look at all the opportunities the child could have, but that’s not really the point. If there is no motivation and no drive to work hard, the child’s intelligence doesn’t really matter.

I’ve worked as a teacher at a community college, so I know that some of the best students are those in their mid to late 20s, or their 30s or 40s, who come back to school well beyond the traditional time students attend college. The difference for these older students is that they are very motivated. Even if they are of average intellect, they push themselves. I am hoping one day our currently unmotivated child will mature and have the drive to pursue education further.

Consider Special Needs and Emotional Issues

Many children who homeschool do so because they have special needs and their parents feel the school system has failed them. These students are labeled twice exceptional—they have a special need, and they are also very bright.

These kids have the intellect to take college classes early, but sometimes they don’t have the emotional discipline to succeed at that level at a young age. These kids might lose interest early, or get frustrated easily.

I myself am a parent of a twice exceptional learner. While she is very bright, I’ve learned that I can’t push her, or she shuts down. Instead, my job as her parent is to help her find opportunities to learn and grow. She created her own YouTube channel when she was nine, and now she’s teaching herself how to edit videos, create thumbnails, use hash tags, etc. Because she discovered this interest on her own and I haven’t meddled, she’s learned so much.

Sometimes when you have a twice exceptional learner, you need to release control and provide the child with opportunities to learn and gain knowledge on their own time, not at an accelerated pace.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a homeschooler who is blessed with children who have a high IQ, keep in mind, you don’t need to push them to earn college credits in high school or go to college when they are only 14. You can let them follow the traditional educational path and graduate high school at 18 and then go to college. Sometimes that’s the best choice for your child’s emotional well-being.


  1. I totally agree with this! I don't understand the push to make our children adults faster. Kids need to be kids!


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