When it comes to
high school, most homeschooling parents approach these years with fear
and trepidation. I will admit that I did, as well. But I
am so pleased that we decided to take the plunge and continue home
schooling our oldest daughter rather than pursuing private or public
school for these final four years.
Are the high school
years approaching in your home? I encourage you to stop, take a
deep breath, and consider the possibility that homeschooling your high
schooler might be a tremendous boon for you, your student and your
whole family. Here are some reasons why...
1. This is when homeschooling really
begins to pay off. Your student has become an independent
learner and can schedule and manage his own work load. High
school level work should not require a great amount of your time
(although more of his than he might be used to!).
2. Ideally, your student, who is
approaching high school, has become a real helper to you and her
younger siblings. This is a wonderful time to have your teens
home by your side, learning to cook, garden, manage a home, build a
deck, balance a checkbook, etc. Often high schoolers enrolled in
public or private school do not have time to learn practical life
skills because of the excessive class time and increased home work
that their teachers demand.
3. High Schoolers are fun to be around.
This is when your children become your friends. Now, don't get
me wrong, you still need to be their parent, BUT you are beginning to
let go, little by little, letting them make their own mistakes,
letting them learn from their own successes and failures. This
is a time when kids can really begin to open up and talk - talk about
real life issues, debatable topics, philosophical or theological
differences, social pressures... Wouldn't you like to be the one
that he or she turns to? Wouldn't you like to be the one that he
asks advice from? Wouldn't you like to continue developing that
life-long heart-to-heart friendship? Homeschooling the high
school years can foster and grow this relationship because you have
time to just "hang out" together.
So these are just a few reasons for you
to consider as you decide whether or not you will press on. But
how can it practically be done? This is a good question because
we all know that high schoolers are learning material that is often
above our heads. We often do not remember our Algebra 2 courses
or advanced grammar exercises.
Here are some ideas that you can think
about that might make homeschooling high school a more do-able
scenario for you and your student:
One of the intimating factors about
homeschooling high school is that it is most likely a 4 year decision.
It is alot easier to pull your student out of public high school than
it is to stick him back in. Do your research before you make
this big decision. Find out what type of subjects and the number
of credits that your state requires. You can probably just do a
google search to find this information. Find out what needs to
be recorded on a transcript and begin keeping this information from
year 1 - when your student is finishing her freshman year. Find
out what kind of programs are offered in your area for high school
teens. That brings me to my next point.
I don't know about you, but there are
just some subjects I would rather not teach. I have found out
that there are many, many classes out there that my teens can take for
high school credit, such as science, math, writing, speech/debate,
spanish, etc. Most of these classes are taught by private
instructors in a traditional style classroom setting (although smaller
than a public school classroom - usually 8-10 students). Many
classes can be taken from our local junior college for dual credit.
Tutors are available to teach one or more subjects that I do not want
to teach. And classes can also be found online, taught through
virtual conference rooms and corresponding through email. Think
outside the box and find out what types of programs are available for
MAKE A PLAN
You do not have to plan everything out
in advance, but jot out a rough plan for your high school student's
education, knowing that it will change as he specializes in certain
subjects as high school progresses. If you know that your son
dislikes foreign language, then just plan for 2 years of Spanish,
instead of 3 or 4. If your daughter wants to work for NASA, then
four years of higher math needs to be planned into the schedule.
If you have a student that wants to work in Bible translation, then
continue with grammar and even beginning linguistics all the way
through the four years. So, make a plan, but stay flexible for
changes down the road ahead. Your teen doesn't need to know
right now what his career is going to be, but he should be thinking
Help your students to understand that
their classes are their responsibility and that you are not going to
hand them an "A" or a 4.0 on a silver platter. Good grades must
be earned. This is the time to get your teen a planner where she
can break down her assignments and write them into her day's schedule.
Let her make some decisions about how and when she will study her
subjects, as long as she completes her assignments on time (she still
reports to you as teacher). You will no longer need to hover
over every assignment, but do insist that she turn in her work on time
(whether that be once a week or something else that you decide).
Tell your student up front what is required to gain an "A" in a
particular subject. Then place the responsibility for earning
that "A" in her lap. Now, that said, you can decide that a 1
credit course is not quite complete in May and give your teen a month
or two more to finish the requirements. Again, you are the
teacher and can make these critical decisions along the way. Or
you might choose to give half a credit now and the other half during
the following year if those requirements are finished up later.
It is so hard to know when your student
is entering his freshman year, whether he will attend college or not
at the end of four years' time. However, it is important to
choose a route at the beginning so that all requirements are finished
during the high school years. In other words, unless you are
certain that your child will not attend college, it is best to choose
a college bound course of action. In this way, all the
requirements that he will need to apply for and be accepted into the
college or university of his choice will be completed. You may
even want to look into the requirements of specific colleges and
universities that your son or daughter might be interested in
attending so that you can plan to meet them in the next four years.
Often your student can take courses at your local community college
and earn dual credit during his junior and senior year. This may
be an added benefit for acceptance into his college of choice or may
hurt his chances. Best to find out before he takes dual credit.
Your child may also want to take some CLEP (College Level Entrance
Placement) tests along the way in order to test out of some college
classes that are general in nature and cover material already learned
during the high school years (i.e. general biology).
You may be certain that your son or
daughter will not pursue a college degree, but rather apprentice or
start his or her own business, or take another path. That is
fine and then you can plan for more freedom or focus during the high
school years. If carpentry is the career of choice, then by all
means, put some of the school books aside and get out there and build
things. But remember, carpenters use math every single day!
If in doubt about whether your child needs a class, have him take it
to be on the safe side!
Do not fear the high school years.
They are delightful, focused and rewarding. Consider
homeschooling your high schooler. I think you will be pleasantly
surprised. I was!
Enjoy your summer
and school preparation!
Knowledge Quest, Inc.