Written by contributor Sarah of SmallWorld at Home
Homeschooling high school. Those three little words can alarm the calmest parents. I have seen the stress cross their faces and watched their hands clench tightly. “I know my daughter is only 8, but I am already getting nervous about high school!”
Oh, please don’t get nervous. Don’t throw away those precious years pondering how in the world you will teach algebra and chemistry and essay writing. Enjoy them while they still like climbing trees and making baking soda-and-vinegar volcanoes.
But one of these days, yes: you will have to think about high school.
It used to be common in our homeschooling support group for kids to go to public school for high school for various reasons. Some parents felt that they could no longer meet their kids’ academic needs at home, that their reasons for homeschooling no longer applied, or that adequate social opportunities just weren’t available.
Times have changed in the 12 years since I started this journey. Our co-op classes offer an extensive variety of subjects, easily covering the basics (math, sciences, English, and history) as well as electives (art, drama, computer skills, personal finance, study skills, etc.). Rather than a mass exodus after 8th grade, we now see only a few students opting for public school.
Let me say right now that I maintain it is perfectly acceptable to send your child to public (or private) school at any level. I am a strong advocate of educational choice based on each individual family’s needs and desires. (Check out Jena’s experience in “What About Public School?”) For our family, homeschooling has worked beautifully, and so we continue. But if one of our kids came to us and asked to attend public school for high school, we would absolutely consider it.
I think that we in the homeschooling community need to be careful not to look down our noses at fellow travelers who decide to put their kids in public school. These families haven’t “failed” at homeschooling any more than we have “failed” at public schooling, and to express dismay or disappointment in friends who choose a different path is dangerous territory.
So while for some families putting kids in public or private school for high school is intentional, for many the decision is made with great reluctance because of a lack of self-confidence or that perennial fear of “missing something.” It is a response to that nagging voice (whether our own or a well-meaning friend’s) saying, “You’re not going to homeschool for high school are you? How can you possibly teach all those subjects?”
You really can. Or if you can’t teach them, you can find the resources to do so.
- If your kids are still fifth grade and under, just keep enjoying them. Tuck this article away for the future and snuggle on the sofa with a good read-aloud.
- If you have a sixth or seventh grader, you should start doing some research, talking with other homeschooling parents, and getting a general idea of the path you’ll take. At the very least, you should look into your state’s requirements for high school. (See “Transitioning into the Big Kid Years.”)
- If you have an eighth grader, the time has come to get serious about mapping out your high school plan. Our old friends fun and flexibility may become a little less prominent during the high school years, but please don’t leave them by the roadside altogether!
Resources for Homeschooling High School
Absolutely packed full of information on everything from curriculum choices to testing to college admissions. Here’s a great place to start: “Can you give me an example of a typical high school program?”
Lee Binz has one central focus on her website—to help parents homeschool high school. This is a tremendous resource. The HomeScholar has loads of free information, but there is also a Gold Care Club that offers support to its members. This might be particularly important to those who don’t have a local support group available.
With over 2,600 videos on everything from algebra to physics to art history, and with practice exercises to go along with many of the videos, Khan Academy is a dream-come-true for homeschooling at the high school level. Oh, and it’s all free.
Homeschooling co-ops come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a few families to hundreds of students. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a homeschooling co-op, but if you have one available to you, high school is a fantastic time to consider joining. It’s more than just the academics offered at a co-op: the social factor and the accountability become very important. (Read more about this in my article “The Road to Independence.”)
College Dual Enrollment
Dual enrollment programs can be a fantastic way for students to be accountable to another teacher and to get accustomed to a classroom. Why not get college credit and high school credit at the same time? If you don’t have a local college or university that offers dual enrollment courses, check for online options.
The bottom line: Don’t be intimidated by secondary education. You can homeschool through high school if you have a plan!
And the inevitable question: Are you planning to homeschool through high school? If you already are in the midst of high school, what advice do you have for others?