Another school year is knocking on the door. My lesson planning is done, books are all ordered and school supplies are stacking up. It's hard to believe I'm down to ONE homeschooler after so many years of multiples. I'm going to miss these days when they are gone.
One heart-ache I have found over the years is when my kids have started high school and found themselves saying "goodbye" to homeschool friends who are suddenly leaving the realm of home education behind to be enrolled in public school for the final 4 years of their studies. The reason? Almost every single time it is parents saying, "I don't feel capable of homeschooling my child through high school" and assuming public institutions are their best bet.
The fear of Homeschool High School usually has everything to do with the higher level of learning and perceived 'requirements' parents fear they won't be able to meet. Whether it is reflecting on that "C" they got in high school Algebra disqualifying them from teaching the same subject to their kiddo or the daunting aspect of Biology and Chemistry with experiments to-boot. Perhaps it is high school level Writing classes, foreign language, or the multitude of electives a parent can't begin to wrap their mind around. Well, I have news:
You CAN do this.
In high school I let the problems at home leak into my studies. I only tried at the things I loved, like writing, history and art. Everything else received my mediocre attention. I half-hearted prepared for college (back then, college wasn't as big of a deal as it is now). I took 3 years of math and science, but I didn't have an aptitude for them and, as mentioned, I didn't work very hard at either. Biology, Chemistry, Algebra I and II, all garnered a solid "D" (I worked just hard enough to avoid "F"s) It's the truth! I even ignored foreign language because they didn't have the one I wanted and I wasn't about to 'try' at anything else.
Later in my adult life,when I finally decided to attend college, I naturally tested low in math. I had to take 098 Algebra before I could move forward. I also took Spanish. You know what I figured out? When I put my mind to it, I could actually get the stuff! I walked away with A's!
But maybe you are shaking your head... maybe you are saying, "I did try in high school and I couldn't get it." Don't worry. I got you covered!
Maybe you are saying, "I didn't go to college, I can't begin to teach my kids at the high school level." Or maybe you didn't graduate high school at all.
Please, trust me... You CAN do this!
#1 Prepare to learn with your kids.
Remember those "D"s I confessed to? Well, when it came time to teach the higher levels of math and science, even after doing well on Algebra 1 in college, I was nervous. So, I found some decent curriculum and sat down with my students. We walked through the problems together. When I was really stuck, I looked up YouTube tutorial videos (there are many) and every single time we were able to figure things out. Kids are surprisingly patient when mom needs to learn with them! If anything, it teaches them perseverance and appreciation of your investment on their behalf. Sometimes they figure it out before you, rewarding them with a boost in confidence!
#2 Enlist help.
Most regions of the country now offer coops with parents gifted in a multitude of subject areas coming together to share their strengths and help fill the gaps of weaknesses. Why is a coop different, and dare I say 'better', than public school? Well, the schedule is much more relaxed, often meeting one to three times a week. Students spend less time in the 'classroom'. More individualized help is readily available. Peers are often like minded and carry the positive values most homeschoolers are praised for. You need not worry about the latest scandalous trends, social pressure and negative values often running a-muck in public/private school.
Also, don't underestimate the power of a friend or family member skilled in a subject area you feel you are not. They can help tutor/teach/mentor your student. It could be one of the main subjects or an elective like fly fishing, oil painting, car repair, carpentry and so on.
#3 Make use of good Resources
A few years ago a friend turned me onto All In One Homeschool and I have been in love ever since. I don't use it for ALL our classes but we have enjoyed some of our extracurriculars through the site. You could, however, plan your entire curriculum, 1st grade through 12th, via this marvelous site. Oh, did I mention it is FREE?!
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has a great site, SchoolhouseTeachers.com, which provides amazing resources for parents teaching at all grade levels as well if you go with the "Ultimate" tier. We used them this past year for Art Appreciation and really enjoyed the well put together lessons. They do have a nominal monthly fee which you can get down to $9.95 a month by using the coupon code "cow".
Tech classes have you nervous? Try Lynda.com. They are a little more pricey, however, it is a worthwhile investment if you have it in the budget ($25-35 per month). The nice thing is that they are professional grade video classes with downloadable practice documents. All my kids shared one account and have learned everything from basic Microsoft Word to Stop-Motion Video Making and Photoshop! If it's techy, chances are Lynda has you covered!
Does foreign language make you break into a cold sweat? Did you learn Spanish in high school and now your young charge wants to take German? You don't need to compromise and you certainly don't need to worry. Whether you choose a program such as Rosetta Stone, pricey but proven, or the FREE Duolingo (which we love for it's ease of use and the fact that it also comes as an app on our phones!), there are a multitude of easy to use programs out there for your student. The nice thing about these; students can pick almost any language they want (as opposed to the limited selection most public/private schools offer). They can even practice using their new language skills in pre-approved forums!
We use Duolingo and I require them to log a few modules each day of school if they want credit for the class. Next week I will be sharing our curriculum for the 2018-19 school year and I will be sure to include how I am switching it up for my daughter's French class this coming school year!
#4 Check out state requirements
As with all of homeschool and making sure you meet the state requirements to home educate, we also checked into what public/private high schoolers were required to have for the state to approve graduation (I believe, technically, that is what we are suppose to do anyway!). Then, using this form from the very resourceful Donna Young, I filled in subject areas with our state's required info. For example, our state requires 2 years of math, one of which must be Algebra 1, and 4 years of English. I slotted the generals in their designated area and then, like public school, I let my kids pick the specific track they wanted for each.
In the spring we meet, like a guidance counselor and student, and discuss their goals and what classes they would like to take to fulfill needed requirements while equipping them for beyond graduation. I write down what they are thinking while considering resources we will need for the fall. If they are required to take English, I might ask what course they would like to take to fulfill that component: Composition? Poetry? Literature? Last year we combined Modern History and Literature to knock out two classes at once. They read quality assigned historical fiction and non-fiction pertaining to the periods we were studying. Then they would write reaction papers and do other projects related to their reading and history studies.
#5 Consider college
First of all, is your student even remotely interested in college? If so, proceed with this in mind. I told all my kids to take all the necessary college prep classes (3 years math and science, 2+ years foreign language) so IF they decided to attend college, they were ready to go. If they did not attend, no biggy, at least they were prepared if they wanted to. Now, this isn't to say college is a no-go if they don't prep... community college enrollment is much more laxed on prerequisites than university. So, even if your student doesn't take college prep in high school, they can always start with a transfer degree at a 2-year institution.
Second, and best for those college-bound students... most colleges are now accepting high school students as early as 11th grade in, what is basically called, a dual credit program. Different areas have various names for the program but here is how it works: you enroll your high school student in college, taking classes which can fulfill both high school and college requirements at the same time. Students earn dual credits working towards both degrees. It is an affordable way to knock out some college credit because the classes are offered to high school students at a discounted rate, often as much as half the usual price per-credit. I have heard of many high schoolers graduating with both a high school diploma AND associates degree because they were covering both bases at the same time!
#6 Realize others value your homeschooled-through-high school student
For years there was a certain stigma with homeschoolers which overwhelmed many families and exasperated kids as they tried to 'integrate' into society post-graduation. This stigma is dying out and the few who perpetuate it, quite honestly, are either jealous or extremely naive to the current trend.
Colleges WANT your hoeschooled student often times more than the public/private schooled peer. They know that homeschoolers tend to be good self starters, more mature learners, well rounded and very serious about their education. If given the choice between the local high school's valedictorian and your graduate with good grades, college entry boards would likely scratch their heads for a while before they could decide! In the same thread, homeschoolers often test higher on college entry exams like the ACT and SAT, proving that mom isn't just writing them an "A" because they like 'em!! These kids really work hard for and earn what they get.... colleges know this.
Employers WANT your homeschooled student. First off, many homeschool families allow their kiddos to work jobs during hours their peers are typically in school. Employers love this! But even if you stick to evening and weekend hours of availability only (like we did), most homeschoolers have a reputation of being hard workers, taking their jobs more seriously, respecting their bosses and being better socially adjusted across the age spectrum than their peers.
People really aren't asking to see your kiddo's high school transcript at every turn and doubting their learning capacity. If anything, most people are intrigued, they ask a lot of questions and often recognize your student's knowledge base and communication abilities as being superior to many others their age.
#7 Don't sweat it!
Homeschooling through high school is really no different then elementary or middle school. I think, those of us parents who went to public/private school, tend to feel like there is some measure of standards we need to live up to. But there really aren't. Labs don't have to be done with a highly polished Bunsen Burner, the kitchen stove can suffice. Dissections do NOT need to be performed at all, videos and diagrams can meet this standard. No expensive high-power microscope in your classroom? Don't fret, we don't have one either, though we do have a hand-held magnifier. I still taught my kids how to handle a microscope and we then logged into YouTube for some demonstrations of peering through into the microscopic world of various organisms.
In short, watching your child approach the threshold of high school shouldn't fill you with fear or second thoughts. It is simply the next natural step in a commitment to give your child the best possible outcome for all of life ahead. There are so many other areas I could speak into here, to tell you, YOU REALLY DO HAVE THIS!! But for now, I hope these 7 will encourage you to take that bold step forward!
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to comment below or email. I'm hoping to have more regular high school themed posts throughout this school year, including 'Why we grade schoolwork' and how we navigate our days. If you are a homeschooling-through-high school family, drop a line below and share some of your most helpful tips for making it work!
I pray the school year ahead is blessed with every measure of peace and goodness you need, right when you need it!
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