How to Cultivate Ownership of Education in Your High Schooler

High school is a time of transition.

It marks a doorway from childhood to adulthood in many ways. 

One of the transitions your student will experience is one of responsibility.

As they grow, they should take more and more ownership of their education. This is a critical transition that will impact their ability to succeed in life after high school. Because, after all, if they learn to take ownership of their education, they will more naturally take ownership of other responsibilities in their lives.

No one wants to raise a childish adult. Students who never learn to take responsibility will face multiple challenges in adulthood.


Ownership implies consequences for irresponsibility. To own something means you are responsible for it.

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A homeowner is responsible for repairs when things break. A renter is usually not held responsible for major repairs. If you borrow a friend’s car for a day, you aren’t expected to change the oil, repair the engine, or add a fresh coat of paint. Because these things are the responsibility of the owner.

Ownership in education operates in much the same way.

Owning one’s education means taking initiative and responsibility for it. You aren’t simply “receiving” instruction from someone else, although learning often does involve receiving instruction and teaching from other people. Instead, ownership requires a proactive approach.

Ownership After High School

Taking ownership of one’s education really gets built and established during high school. But it goes far beyond graduation.

Learning to take responsibility is a transferable and fundamental skill. Taking ownership of one’s education is only the beginning. A successful life is built on responsibility. Helping your student develop this skill in high school, in the context of their education, will lay a foundation that they can build on throughout their life.

How to Cultivate Ownership

As your student’s high school transition develops, your role as homeschool parent and teacher will also adjust. You will begin to fill the role of mentor and guide, rather than teacher or instructor. 

Giving your student the space to direct their own learning will help build ownership and responsibility. 

An important part of this transition is timing. You wouldn’t usually hand over your 9th grader’s entire education to them right away. There’s a progressive transition that happens. Your student will likely need more guidance at first but become more independent with time. 

Here are just a couple ideas for practically helping your student develop ownership for their education in high school.

1. Give them responsibility for their time management.

Rather than blocking out their time for them, consider giving time-management responsibility over to your student. Make them aware of the expectations on them and the rewards and consequences for managing their time wisely or poorly.

You can help them create a school schedule or another similar model to help. But bestow the responsibility to actually manage their time on them.

2. Invite them into curriculum selection.

The farther we advance into “education” the more specific we get. In kindergarten, everyone learns the same thing. Doctorate students on the other hand are expected to create original research and work and learn something very specific that few other people have learned. This specificity in education really begins to come into play in high school. 

It’s most likely during high school that your student will discover they’re a “math person” or a “biology enthusiast” or a “history buff”. They’ll begin to develop specific preferences for fields and subjects. 

You can help your student take ownership of their education by inviting them to contribute to what they want to study. Especially as they approach graduation, you can help guide them but allow them to pursue education in things that particularly interest them.

If you want to learn more about how Unbound can help you and your student successfully navigate the transitions of high school, check out our two new high school programs: Equip and Explore.

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