A call to homeschool high school

Homeschool high schoolWritten by contributor Cheryl Pitt of the 2:1 Conference for homeschoolers

When we began homeschooling in 2001, we decided to take it year by year.  Don’t get me wrong.  I felt homeschooling was a calling, something I was supposed to do.  But that didn’t make it any less overwhelming.

So, being the level-headed, open-minded, easy-going mom I thought I was, I lived by the motto:  We’ll homeschool until it doesn’t work for us anymore.  We’ll let our son decide if he wants to go to public high school.

Now, honestly, I’m not here to judge anyone.  I firmly believe that every family has to do what they feel called to do as a unit. But for me, for my family, that motto is a cop out.  It’s a non-committal stance based on fear.

Again, each family must follow their own path. I know circumstances change and homeschooling high school isn’t an option for everyone.

But for those of you who have been afforded that option, consider this your rallying cry to HOMESCHOOL HIGH SCHOOL.

Do not give up

I’ve been homeschooling for 13 years.  This year, I have two seniors.  Allow me to share a few bits of wisdom I’ve picked up along this homeschooling journey as I’ve examined (again and again) my heart and my family.

1. Teens need you as much as infants.

While they can now take care of their own physical needs, the emotional support required to help navigate a child through their teen years multiplies exponentially.

They need your wisdom (even if they act like they don’t want it). They will come to you for advice and midnight conversations.

2) Hold on to your influence and authority.

I’ve watched as too many parents have lost the precious footing of influence and authority in their children’s lives once the child is sent to public school.  The opinions of friends, and even teachers, suddenly usurp that of mom and dad.

Even parents who were certain this would never happen to their child have fallen victim, simply due to the teenager’s natural curiosity. Caring about the opinions of friends is great; heeding them above parental authority is not.

3) What’s changed?

Why did you begin homeschooling? Look back and ask yourself if any of your original convictions have changed and why?  For me, I felt called to homeschool – and a calling should not be fleeting.

Also, I wanted my children to have the freedom of a self-tailored education.  So many things had changed over our homeschooling career.  But no change warranted diverting from our path.

Courage

4) What’s hard is usually worth it.

Is it just too hard for you? I don’t blame you, I’ve felt that way too.  I’ve had more than a few “I can’t do this anymore” moments through these high school years.

However, know that whatever is hard, is usually worth it. Don’t give up when your success may be just around the bend! Reevaluate. Make a new plan. Hire help.

Don’t. Give. Up.

5) Why go to high school when you can do more?

Homeschool offers our children so many more options than attending public school. The flexible schedule allows more time for interest led learning.  Or, they can attend college for dual credit, volunteer or intern.

If you’re diligent, your homeschooler will graduate more prepared for their career, or life in general, than if they had spent 6 hours a day in public school.

Homeschooling high school isn’t the right choice for everyone. But it’s the right choice for my family, right now.  

I hope you’ll consider staying the course.  Do not be intimidated.  You can do this!

About Cheryl Pitt

Cheryl has been homeschooling since 2001; she home educates 5 children from baby to teen. She is a brand consultant and avid social media user. Her heart for strong family values and the companies that promote them, led her to found the 2:1 Conference - the only conference for homeschooling parents active in social media. You can find Cheryl at her blog Cheryl Pitt.

Comments

  1. With one special needs homeschool high school graduate and three more kiddos in the homeschool wings, I couldn’t agree with you more. I love that courage statement. I needed that this morning.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. I am at the beginning of our second year of homeschooling (1st grade). Although I sometimes answer “we’ll see” when people inevitably ask about high school, I know better: no way! We’ll be together for all of it! For many of the reasons you give above.
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  3. My journey with homeschooling has been a little different than most. I have taught public school for 17 years and always thought that I would NEVER homeschool (i’m sure we make God chuckle sometimes when we say never!) We actually started last year with 9th grade – so I’m only homeschooling high school! As a former kindergarten teacher it has been a challenge but I am loving every minute of it and know it is the right thing for our family :)

  4. This is such a fantastic post. It used to be that so many of our support group’s families sent their kids to public school for high school. Now our group is seeing more and more families pulling their kids out of public high school in favor of homeschooling. The benefits for homeschooling in high school far outweigh those of public school. We need to continue to provide parents with the confidence to do so! Thanks for speaking out.
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  5. I have littles right now…..my oldest is in first grade….but I often wonder what we will do when it comes to high school.
    Good wisdom for us to consider. Thank you!!
    Kind Blessings,
    Kate :)
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  6. We used the high school years as transition years for our two oldest. They took a class at a small community college when they were 15. By 16, they were going full-time. I unwittingly, taught them well enough that they were ready for college. They are thriving! I am so happy with the choice we made, and laughed because my 17 year old still refers to herself as being homeschooled. :) We’ve been able to gently guide them through the choices they have made: what to major it, where to work, who to be friends with, what priorities are worth pursuing. It has been a gentle process although not with out hard work and love.

  7. Thanks for the encouraging words! I’m still trying to figure out how to handle high school…we have a 7th & 6th grader this year so time is ticking. My biggest obstacle is wanting them to have a “real diploma.” I really need to hook up with others who have or are currently homeschooling high school to figure what we need to do. Life was so much easier when everyone was k-5 in the house….lol
    I currently have been finding it difficult meeting those who are committed to going all the way to the end…thanks for the encouraging words to keep going!

    • Yes, please seek out local people who can help. I’m in MD and we are not allowed to have “real diplomas” either. I will be giving a parent issued diploma. But we have a local homeschool support group, MDHSA, that “verifies” credits to give parent issued diplomas more oomph. That might be an option for you as well.
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  8. I assume that when kids reach high school age they must have very definite ideas if they do or don’t want to be homeschooled. It must be quite difficult to homeschooler a highschooler who is very unmotivated so isn’t it more kind of like making the decision together with them?

    • Very true, high schoolers can be very opinionated…in a good way. The way we handle the decision making is this: Mom and Dad will listen, discuss and weigh all their thoughts and feelings, but Mom and Dad have final say. Because, not all high schoolers are mature enough to make the best decision for themselves (whether it’s public, private or homeschool).
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  9. Any thoughts on continuing with a child that says he might like to go to school for high school??

    • Hi Sandra,
      My daughter was adamant about trying high school for Grade 9. (She is in Grade 10 – completely unschooling at home now.) I think she had some definite misconceptions about what high school was like and had a rude awakening. It was difficult for me to send her but we did because she was curious and wanted to know what all the fuss was about and we respected her wish to try it. In return, she was able to respect our opinions throughout the year as she participated in this little experiment of hers. At the end of the year, she admitted that she “liked being told what to do because it took the thinking out of everything.” We had a discussion about whether or not being in school fuelled her love of learning or not. It didn’t. So that was it for school.
      It was a bit of a transition for her to be back at home without being “told what to do” each and every day but she’s happier knowing now at least what the alternative looks like instead of always wondering if school was a better fit for her. We are all happier. Because I homeschool her 4 younger siblings, I always felt out of sorts sending her off in the morning to school. I now answer questions and guide her when she asks. This is her show and she has been able to fill her life with volunteer work, internships, jobs, and workshops galore.
      Hope this helps,
      Rozanne

    • This year my son was questioning me on why he couldn’t “go to school” (he’s 10th grade) – it made me evaluate/re-evaluate my reasons for us to home school. To separate his learning from his sisters. To not make a decision for him, based on how I think she’d do in public school, or what others think, or what he thinks is best – but to stick with what is best for our whole family. I believe my job as parent is to evaluate what is best for the family unit, not just one person. We live in an area where the schools are good – many from our church family are teachers in our schools. But I am now able to confidently stick to “we are home schooling”. We did compromise a bit, for the first time he did a sport this year (daily practice vs weekly class) and is looking forward to another in the spring. He gets his fill of being “part of school” and realizes he gets more done in less time at home. :-)

    • Hi Sandra,
      I think it really depends on the child. I’m assuming you are wanting to keep your child home? Some, all they need is a taste of public school to realize it’s not for them. Others, will love public school – though for all the wrong reasons. (Others will do just fine, but I’m not talking about them in this instance). My eldest wanted to go to PS and I know he would have done well. BUT, he would also have been the class clown and likely gotten into trouble and possibly the wrong crowd. His maturity level has grown exponentially between then (9th grade) and now (senior). So, his father and I had a sit down discussion with him. We discussed all the reasons he wanted to go and told him we’d consider it but the decision was ours, as his parents.
      And we did. We discussed it, prayed about it, and felt he was supposed to stay home. He didn’t like our decision, but it has proven to be a good one for him.
      The main reason he wanted to go to PS was for the “experience”. We told him he could experience college, and he’ll see what it’s all about then ;-)
      Cheryl Pitt’s latest post: A Favorite Science Show – Wild Kratts

  10. I came to the realization this year my “we’ll homeschool as long as it works” philosophy was a cop out too – it wasn’t a ‘good enough’ reason when my son wanted to know (out of the blue) why he “couldn’t” go to school. In sorting out my beliefs, answers, reasonings, etc, I realized I really did have an opinion :-) – for our family home school is best.
    A few years back my kids went to a charter school for one semester – so I am confident in knowing I’m not just taking the easy route. I explained that what kind of school you “go to” shouldn’t define you, it doesn’t complete you or detract from you, we are only complete in Christ and how we school is just a personal preference, not a right or wrong way. In the end our compromise is they can do a sport, but school/learning/education and the bulk of our time will be “at home” – living life together, whether or not we are in the home, out of the home, or maybe in another country is ever changing.
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  11. My situation is a little different as we are now a part of a homeschool charter program that we love! My daughter attends campus 2 time a week for project-based assignment and the other days she is home. There is no independent study portion for Highschool as of yet but there are 3 wonderful HS’s in this charter system. The 3 campuses are Science, Design and Communication. I was ok with sending her to the Science campus as she is interested in marine biology. However, I was feeling guilty about copping out!! This post has recharged my thinking and I believe it will be best for her to stay home with us. It just makes more sense. Thanks for giving me the courage to remember all the reasons we chose to answer the call to homeschool!!

  12. Thanks for your recent reply. My son just out of the blue says he might like to go to high school next year (he’s in 8th grade, and been homeschooled his entire life along with his 5 older siblings). He’s the youngest, and at home more and more without anybody but Mom as his next older brother now works part time and is very involved in church activities. Other siblings are married and out of the house. I was a little disappointed, and I also know that he’s being ‘harassed’ at youth group for being one of the few homeschoolers, and I think he mostly wants to do it so he doesn’t ‘stand out’ so much as different. Both my husband and I are not in favor of public school, and we simply cannot afford private school. Do we let him make this decision, or just let it ride for now and consider it again if he brings it up later this school year? I’m convinced again that he is only thinking about it because of the other kids giving him a hard time about it. I don’t think he would like it at all.

  13. Thank you for sharing. We are praying for the same thing. God willing, we will homeschool til highschool :-)

  14. I must admit, I feel daunted by the high school years and I haven’t even officially started homeschooling yet! (My daughter is still a baby). I want to remain open though and not let my fears and doubts get in the way. Thank you for this post, it’s one to save for later!
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  15. I had to chuckle when you said they come to you at midnight for advice, because I related. At a church retreat, my youngest daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her, and she was crying. I tried to go to her during the day, but she had a friend stop me saying that she didn’t want me to come to her. I retreated as she wished. But that night, her cabin leader came to my cabin saying that my daughter was crying, and needed me. I went to her when no one else could see that she still needed mom. :-)

  16. I feel differently. I am a huge fan of alternative education and choice in education and don’t see choosing an option other than HS as a cop out. I also believe that in high school my kids should have even more input into their education-so their opinion on how/where to recieve their education matters to me. There are strengths/weaknesses to each option but I don’t consider high-school (out of the home) an enemy any more than I consider university a horrible place. They are imperfect institutions but potentially beneficial tools. I feel comfortable exploring options along the way, and modifying choices, for each of my children.

    • Forgot to say that my oldest, who began attending our local catholic school a couple years ago, is happy at school and comes home and still talks my ear off. He hasn’t compromised his values nor waivered in his faith. My brothers, who homeschooled through highschool, did walk away from the faith that my parents worked diligently to pass to them. No guarantees and so I will not walk in fear (though respect you holding to your convictions!).

  17. I have younger elementary students, but I have to admit I am intimidated with high school. BUT, I have many mentors who have graduated their seniors and have given me the courage to homeschool until graduation. I’m very blessed!
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  18. I was reading and nodding and being greatly encouraged, and who do I see as the author? I KNEW I was getting sound wisdom! Great article, lady! So proud of you!!
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