Does the idea of homeschooling your children through high school send chills down your spine or butterflies flurrying in your stomach?
(This is the first of a series of posts about homeschooling your high schooler – check back for weekly installments in this series to help you navigate homeschooling the high school years.)
I hear ya! I really enjoyed the elementary and middle school years with all of the planning and the creative projects and field trips we included in our days. I was dreading the high school years (even though I was a middle and high school English teacher) because I was caught up in the idea of scheduling, required classes, credits, transcripts and records, and college applications. I thought high school was going to be tedious and boring.
I was wrong!
Homeschooling high school turned out to be my favorite age level! Boy, was I surprised! Here’s why I thought those were the best years:
- More time and opportunity to explore interests and personal passions
- High school is the time, students explore “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Homeschooling allows these students time to explore their personal interests. This exploration may be through specific academic subjects (especially ones that would not be offered through a local system if your student were to be enrolled there). For example, when my oldest child started high school, Arabic was not a commonly taught foreign language. Even trying to find something online or a program for him to follow was a challenge, but we found one.
- Other opportunities to explore might include a job, internship, apprenticeship or job shadowing position. Extracurricular groups abound with some digging for homeschoolers that you may never have known are out there – there is an entire Explorer program that is a spin off from Boy Scouts that have learning opportunities in Fire, Police, EMS, Aviation, Business, Communications, Engineering and Technology, Healthcare, Law and Government, Science, Skilled Trades, Social Services, and Arts and Humanities. They are for boys and girls.
- Some school systems allow homeschoolers to participate in programs such as JROTC and other programs, while some do not. For those without this opportunity, there are Young Marines, Civil Air Patrol (Ground Team, FEMA, and Ranger training options), Sea Scouts, or 4H Career Exploration opportunities.
- A number of athletes choose to homeschool to allow time for training.
- Students have time to pursue their hobbies and look for ways in which they may turn those into careers and entrepeneurship opportunities. Examples might be crafts and handicrafts, art, and photography. Once they find a hobby they are passionate about, they can determine if they need to take classes to further their skills and knowledge while or before starting their own business or looking for employment in that field.
- Solidify who they are
- Without the day in and day out of exposure to a school setting filled with current fads and peer pressure, homeschooling allows high schoolers more freedom and less pressure to solidify who they are as individuals. Groups I have belonged to have celebrated the “uniqueness” of each child and what they contribute to the group. When adults have modeled this behaviour, the other children have joined in this celebration. Not only do high schoolers learn about their own value and identity, but homeschool also allows more time with the family to establish a firm foundation in family values and spiritual and moral beliefs. High school students will need this when entering the world as an adult or as a student entering college. The more grounded a child is in this kind of foundation, the less they will be swept up in their environmental influences and find themselves adrift and floundering. The extra time with family and siblings is also a great plus in firming up the family relationships and ties.
- Selecting Personal Course of Study and Curriculum
- One of the greatest perks in homeschooling is being able to select specific courses and topics studied and when. Allowing students to have input in their course selection without the limits of what a school offers gives students limitless possibilities. Of course, colleges want to see a specific number of certain types of courses, but the specific topics covered in those courses does have a little leeway. And the elective options open to high schoolers is just downright exciting! I wish I had the opportunities that are available today when I was a student! For example, I already gave you the Arabic as a foreign language option. But, there are other choices that can be made as well like which novels do you want to study for American, British, or World literature. Or, I had one son who wanted to study anatomy in his biology course as well as the other standards typically included, so we found a curriculum that included all of that. He knew he didn’t want to take a separate course for Anatomy and Physiology. Once you’ve covered American History, you can include world governments with your American Government class to make it a year long study instead of just a semester. Or, your world history could include certain parts of the world, not just the western world. Electives have tremendous opportunities!
- Selecting the types of curriculum to be used
- Another wonderful advantage of homeschooling high school is including your student in the selection of the type of learning materials and methods to be used for the different subject areas. I have one son who is very auditory and loved listening or watching lectures and would want to include online materials in his studies. Another son preferred textbooks for some subjects and large tombs of information for other subjects and wanted to just read as much as he could on certain topics. Other times, a workbook approach was preferred. Some electives were hands-on, while others were studied for appreciation or theory. By the time my guys were in high school, we picked out all of their materials together. (Of course, I offered some guidance, keeping in mind requirements that local colleges expected to see on transcripts.)
- Establishing one’s own schedule
- Now here is the icing on top! When selecting their interests and activities to pursue those interests, homeschooling students have the time and flexibility to attend events, hold leadership positions, and work in a job or internship and still complete their studies around those functions. This was the biggest plus for us. My guys had and held tremendous opportunities and leadership positions they would not have been able to experience if they had been in a school all day and then homework requirements after. Not only, did they have the opportunity to pick and choose what time, which subjects, and how long to work on those subjects each day, they learned to work independently! I was no longer the chief instructor. I would help with certain subject areas or offer overall guidance, but I would mostly act as an advisor or mentor. This gave my guys the chance to learn time management and study skills that worked for them and meet short term and long term deadlines – all while preparing them for this type of environment in college. What a great experience it has proven to be. My older son, as a freshman in college, told me that was one of the best preparations for college he had in his homeschooling. A professor handed him a syllabus with readings and assignments that had to be completed with deadlines. And for him, he had already been doing that for the past four years (ninth grade we did that with training wheels) and he felt comfortable with that format. Success!
These were the top benefits we found in homeschooling high school. I will continue with this series of posts detailing how we did it and also the kinds of opportunities that my guys took advantage of to add to their college application to showcase who they were and what kind of student the college could expect if they were admitted. (This is something that a lot of colleges look at.)
Please comment with any questions or concerns you may have with homeschooling your children in high school. After graduating two (both accepted into college), I was very surprised by how easy and thoroughly enjoyable it really was! I hope you find it to be that way for your family as well!
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The next post in this series is Exploring High School Interests in detail and offers a free download of a list of activities from the post and record forms to complete through the high school years with contacts for those letters of recommendation and college transcripts!
If you are interested in what subjects to study in high school, you will find What Should we Study while Homeschooling High School? helpful.
You might find some of these planning and record forms from Not Consumed Ministries helpful with your high schooler and your other little ones as well.