My oldest daughter has spent the last six years homeschooling, from 4th to 10th grade. Now, she is finishing her junior and senior years of high school at the community college, earning college credit, in sha Allah. It’s a new change for us in that I am no longer supporting her studies at home, but rather having to support her as she attends school elsewhere. I’m no longer in charge of the lesson plans (to my and my schedule’s relief, alhamdulilah), so my role is quite different.
I find this situation similar to families that have their older children attend public school as well. You aren’t helping them with their homework as often, but there are still many ways we try to support them as they navigate their way through higher education.
1. Emotional support
Whether it’s high school or college-level courses, the work load for our older students can be challenging. Sometimes they can despair and think, “I can’t do this!” Teenagers are capable of many things that adults can do, but the fact of the matter is that they are still emotionally growing, both through experience and maturity.
Especially when your child is still riding the hormonal roller coaster in the earlier teen years, they need someone who will back them up and be there for them, even when they make mistakes.
Be the one they can turn to for sage advice, and the one who relates with them, helping them feel that what they are going through is normal. Many people get nervous for a test, or beat themselves up after getting bad grades. Sometimes it takes a caring adult to help our teens see that.
2. Navigate relationships
Relationships with both genders in the teen and early adult years can be extremely challenging. The media have painted love as this amazing and idealistic picture, so young people yearn for a taste of what it feels like to be in love. On the other hand, we know as Muslims that we avoid contact with the opposite gender without necessity in order to protect our modesty.
In a world where hugs and male-female friends is the norm, how are our kids supposed to find their way?
Be that friendly voice that reminds them of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Invite your daughters to sisters gatherings. Support them when they struggle, pointing out the lessons we learn from our own experiences, and the experiences of people around us. I think most people slip up in this department, but they have to know that there’s always a way back to Allah. As cliché as it is, you can be “born again” with the right intentions and actions, in sha Allah.
3. Help navigate class choices
In my daughter’s college, they require that students register for their own classes, which has proved to be a challenging undertaking sometimes! There are so many options for fun and interesting courses, but which ones go toward a degree, and which ones are fluff?
I’m of the opinion that college courses should always go directly toward earning a degree. There are far cheaper ways to learn the material from some of the classes than the premium of college tuition. With that in mind, I’ve helped my oldest find classes that fit both her high school and college credit requirements in a schedule that works for us. It’s a bit like putting together a puzzle, but she’s getting practice making those choices alongside me, so she doesn’t end up with wasted tuition money in the end, in sha Allah.
4. Help them with time management
Our family has been super busy over the last few years, so time management has been crucial to making it all work. Now that my daughter’s schedule is filling up fast with school, sports, and work, she’s having to learn another level of time management skills as well.
Even if you aren’t the most efficient with your time, you likely know what you should be doing. You know how to prioritize, carve time out for a specific task, and find times when you work at your peak. An important skill that takes some practice is knowing when to take a break and when to push through. Finding that balance is key.
Help your child realize some of these skills if they haven’t already, and guide them through tools they can use to assist in using their time wisely.
It’s hard sometimes to feel that you are being supportive without overbearing, but keep trying and in sha Allah your children will start coming to you when they need advice. In sha Allah as your child takes further steps toward independence, they will grow and thrive in the roles they are in!
Do you have other advice to support an older student?