10 TED Talks Your Teen Needs to Watch Before Graduation

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(Please note: This post is being republished for the benefit of the many "all-of-a-sudden homeschoolers" who may find it useful. Whether or not you homeschool in the future, I hope it inspires and encourages you to discover the educational benefit of wherever you are right now. These videos, and the companion post "TED Talks for Aspiring Student Leaders," may be the start of some interesting and educational family conversations! )

So, say you've been rolling along with this homeschool thing for years...  You've managed to teach the kids to read, had a blast doing hands-on projects and engaging unit studies, and managed to max-out the educational value of even your most-fun vacations. Arriving at the middle school portal, you've tweaked your approach and curriculum to their learning style, when all-of-a-sudden, it's here.

High-school looms around the corner!  "Oh no," you think, "now what?"

Well, let me introduce you to TED...


These TED talks cover foundational principles to help your teen enter the larger world around them with confidence!Many families who started homeschooling when their kids were young weren't necessarily thinking this far down the road. As a matter of fact, many parents I know - myself included - started homeschooling with the intent of sending their children back to "the system" when high school arrived, intending, of course, for them to get a "real " education.

Well, I think I can also say that by the time these years roll around, these same parents realize that the "real" education is not to be had "out there." But it still begs the question "How do I handle high school?"

Let me present a different approach to that subject.

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While your teenager may very well be college-bound and thus be required to cover certain subjects, there are far more important skills that should be presented to help your teen be prepared for life on their own. These TED talks cover foundational principles to help your teen enter the larger world around them with confidence. So here they are:

10 TED Talks You Need to Watch With Your Teen Before Graduation

How to Speak So That People Will Listen

1. I know many adults that could benefit from this talk. This goes far beyond the public speaking course that your student may be required to take their freshman year - this is character training that describes a true life skill.



How Frustration can Make Us More Creative 

2. Dealing with frustration is part-and-parcel of life. In our culture of immediate gratification and internet-instant information, if our kids can learn how to creatively deal with the "unexpected advantages of dealing with a little mess"....well, can you just imagine?!?



How Great Leaders Inspire Action

3. How awesome it would be to see your own son or daughter become an inspirational leader in years to come!



The Surprising Science of Happiness

4. I'm not saying that the ultimate aim of life should be happiness, but it is true that a positive, happy outlook on life does make a difference on many, many levels...  Actually, if you have a child struggling with "what do I do for the rest of my life...watch this one a few times... (Note: He does talk from an evolutionary perspective.)



How to Spot a Liar

5. Face it: the world is full of liars and hoaxsters. Knowing how to recognize them can help your student be "in the world, but not of it."

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Don't have time to watch all these videos now?

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The Happy Secret to Better Work

6. This guy is a great speaker! We, too, might need to change the way we define happiness and success. The "happiness advantage" works to give us advantages on oh-so-many levels... He also presents some practical, real-life activities to incorporate to re-train our counter-productive thoughts patterns.



Looks Arent' Everything - Believe Me: I'm a Model

7. This talk - given by an absolutely gorgeous model - is totally relevant for both our sons AND daughters. It's so important to deal honestly with the issues of appearance, femininity, race, beauty, and image. (Note: there is some "skin" and suggestive poses from her own modeling shots in this, so you may want to preview it before showing your sons. But the message...oh, the message...) Make sure you talk about this one together - it's great fodder for discussion!



What Makes a Good Life? Lessons From the Longest Study on Happiness

8. He describes a fascinating Harvard study started in 1938 that tracks the correlation of relationships and, well, life. His lesson is simple and true.



Why The Best Hire Might Not Have the Best Resume

9. Our kids are under such pressure to succeed. Encourage them to take note of the "scrapper's" characteristics here.  However you define the concept of success, this is so encouraging to anyone who struggles with adversity.



How to Stay Calm When You're Stressed

10. Practical, scientifically-based insights and suggestions to help minimize stress in your life. Your teen may not be able to identify with some of the examples given, but in those cases, you may want to have a post-video discussion of some of his or her current stresses, or suggest some that might come up during college or their new job, or in future relationships, or...and how they might deal with them ahead of time.

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It bears repeating: these aren't the type of videos to have the kids watch while you go fold laundry. These are all watch-'em-together and talk-about-them-afterward videos.  Use them to engage with your teen!

What other qualities or character traits do you think are important for your child to learn as he or she prepares for life after high-school? What other TED talks would you recommend? Share them in the comments!

Ready to homeschool high school?

Be ready to "rock n' roll" after 10 short days! Join us May 4-15th as we work together and get ready to help your teen thrive during those all-too-short high school years... Enroll TODAY!

You may also be interested in taking a look at the companion post to this: TED Talks for Aspiring Student Leaders.


Homeschool through high school is both possible and exciting! When the time comes, or even if you find yourself in that season now, use this guide to ensure this experience is enriching for both you and your child.Read every part of the series: An Easy Guide to Homeschooling High School

Part 1 - Get a Plan

Part 2 - The Power of Creative Electives

Part 3 - Beyond Books: Developing Leadership Skills in Your High Schooler

Part 4 -  Your High Schooler Needs to Watch These Before Graduation

Part 5 - Tools for the Teacher: How to Ensure Your Teen Has a Thriving High School Experience

23 thoughts on “10 TED Talks Your Teen Needs to Watch Before Graduation”

    1. Yes, Joanne, they are! I have to admit that I didn’t agree with everything I heard, but overall the messages were sound – and important! I wish I knew HALF of this stuff when I was starting out. Our kids will have a real advantage in life just working through some of this material…and when placed in context, in a discussion with parents…well, just wow!!


  1. Well, I hopped over here from The Art of Home-Making Mondays…and felt like I’d come home! 🙂 I am still rather shocked that I have to pay attention to posts about things my teen needs to do/watch/read/learn/experience before graduation BECAUSE I HAVE A TEEN WHO WILL BE GRADUATING NEXT YEAR. Breathe…just breathe. But thank you for this helpful reference. I’m a little worried that I’ve never heard of TED, though. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed. (Cue Learner Child Mistakes.) Thanks for sharing this wisdom!


    1. Elizabeth, SO GOOD to see you again!!! Can’t believe you have a graduate next year, too!! How fun – and crazy and unbelievable, too, right?!
      Well, I wouldn’t worry about “missing out” on TED, but I would be careful: those little 20-minute gems are usually so engaging and interesting that they will suck you into the black-hole abyss of cyberspace and kill half a day before you even know what’s hit you! Which may or may not have been my personal experience…
      Anyway, I’ve been feeling a need of a chocoholic hit these days, so I’ll be heading over your way now…
      Have an amazing week, friend…and don’t be a stranger 😉


  2. Love these! These are absolutely amazing! So very perfect to illustrate the points listed. Thanks so much for sharing these. I have passed them along to our daughter who home schools.


    1. Yay, Pam, so glad you found us and are sending them on… These are great for any teen, tho, but I’m sure your daughter will put them to good use 🙂


    1. I hope you ALL enjoy them, Michelle – I found them really good as an adult, too! Let me know if you find any others. I know there’s a TON of great TED talks…but finding them sometimes can be just a “tad” time consuming…LOL


    1. Oh my goodness, Marilyn, you will LOVE TED!! There’s tons of stuff in there for almost everybody’s interests!! Let me know if you find something especially wonderful 😉


  3. I’m arriving late to this conversation, but I totally agree with sharing TED talks with your children.
    My all time favorite – I absolutely love it and it’s required watching for my children – is Ted Urban’s ‘Inside the mind of a master procrastinator’.


    1. Dawn – better late than never!
      AND…I took a look at Ted’s TED talk, and thought it wonderful myself! So I’m including the link here and suggesting it as a #11.

      Go look at this, people – https://youtu.be/arj7oStGLkU

      Helpful to encourage us all to start going after our dreams: “Long term procrastination makes us feel like a spectator in our own lives…”


    1. Carol,
      What a great “add” to this list! My husband has been saying for years that one of these days plumbers and electricians and carpenters will be able to bring in the big bucks…’cause everyone else will be in tech, and who’ll fix the toilets then?!
      Thanks for the suggestion…


  4. Oh My Goodness! I already had my list ready to go for teaching a TED Co-op class then I find your list. Now what do I do? Haha! Thinking I may skip the paperwork I was going to have them do and just watch them all. We learn better that way anyway, right?
    In case anyone is interested, these are the ones I found.
    1. Getting stuck in the negatives by Allison Ledgerwood
    2. Inside the mind of a procrastinator by Tim Urban
    3. 10 ways to have a better conversation | Celeste Headlee
    4. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth
    5. Overcoming hopelessness | Nick Vujicic (This is more of an “If I can do this, so can you” video)
    6. Neil Pasricha: The 3 A’s of awesome
    7. Your body language may shape who you are | Amy Cuddy
    8. Memory — Unlocked | Chester Lian

    I found that if you look on Youtube for it, you get better results than looking on the TED talk webpage. Go figure.


    1. A TED Co-op class?? What a wonderful idea, Sherri! I may have to pick your brain for the details! And those suggestions you made…why, I know what I’ll be doing/watching this weekend! lol
      I only get better results on YouTube when I know what I’m looking for, tho. TED has an alphabetical listing by topic, and then another section for “new releases” and you can usually find good stuff either place…

      I will SO be emailing you for more info on your class, Sherri! Thanks so much for your comment and contribution!


  5. These are some great Ted talks and I use many of them with my senior class throughout the year. I also add my favorite lecture by the late Dr. Randy Pausch titled the Last Lecture.


  6. Is there a discussion guide for these talks, like your Aspiring Leaders talks?
    Thanks for posting these, love them all!


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them…I keep thinking I need to add to them, tho. There are oh-so-many good speakers out there, with important messages for our teens!!
      Anyway, no, I haven’t put together discussion guides for these. But I do think that many of them might organically lend themselves to great discussions as you watch them together. “Looks aren’t everything” is a great one for both guys and girls to watch, and ohmygosh, Simon Senek is absolutely wonderful!!
      Have fun watching them with your teen 🙂


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