High School: Evaluating the Decision to Homeschool
The teen years can be the best part of your homeschool experience. But deciding whether to homeschool your high schooler can be difficult, even if you’ve already been home educating for years. With adulthood just around the bend, the impact of your decision can be momentous. Will your child be academically prepared for college? How can you possibly teach high school math and science? What about the prom and organized sports? How do you produce a transcript?
THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL
IS MORE THAN JUST
POSSIBLE—IT IS A
In this article, we answer some frequently asked questions from parents facing the unfamiliar territory of homeschooling in high school. Whether you’re making the decision to begin or to continue homeschooling your high schooler, we encourage you to carefully and prayerfully identify your questions, evaluate your priorities, and allow God to give you a vision for your child’s future. Homeschooling through high school is more than just possible—it is a rewarding blessing!
My child does not want to be homeschooled during high school, but my spouse and I feel we should continue homeschooling. How do we make the decision that’s best for our child?
The reasons to continue homeschooling through high school are the same ones you probably had when you began homeschooling. The teen years are a time of great change for your child as he matures mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, so your continued involvement in your teen’s life is crucial. The time you spend together provides the opportunity to help him navigate his way through decisions that influence his worldview as well as his future life plans.
Communicating to your teen the benefits of high school at home will help him realize how much he actually gains for his future—customizing his coursework, retaining flexibility in his schedule, and possibly getting a jump start on college classes. Some teens who are initially reluctant to homeschool change their views as they grasp the benefits this option offers.
Elizabeth Smith, wife of HSLDA President Michael Smith and a mom who homeschooled three children through high school, outlines 10 reasons to keep homeschooling that will help you make this decision. Mike Smith’s article “Not in Vain” also contains encouragement and perspective.
Will I need additional resources for teaching high school?
First, and most importantly, you need to invest time. But what better use of your time is there than to prepare your teen for adulthood? Lesson planning, discussing possible career choices, helping with time management skills, and encouraging your teen to explore and then solidify her worldview all take precious time.
Second, homeschooling through high school does require a financial investment, because course options and curriculum will cost more than they did in the early years. However, the rewards will prove greater than the cost when you see your teen well prepared for her future aspirations.
Third, you’ll need to invest a healthy dose of humility. There will be times when you won’t know the answer. Your teen will watch and learn as you seek help by doing your own research or by enlisting the aid of a friend, relative, or tutor.
Fourth, we suggest you pray! As we homeschooled our own children through the high school years, we were stretched intellectually, emotionally, and physically. The Lord proved to be faithful and trustworthy each time we called on Him.
Many of my homeschooling friends stop homeschooling when their children reach high school. Will I have any support, and where do I find it?
A support network is extremely helpful, and we encourage you to find at least a couple of families who are a bit further along the homeschooling journey so that you have the benefit of learning from others.
If your current social circle doesn’t include families who are homeschooling high schoolers, or if the demographics
of the group change, you may need to
look for support groups that include high school families. These new groups may offer activities, classes, and co-op
opportunities that you didn’t even know
existed! To locate these networks, as well
as outside activities for your teen, we
suggest contacting your state homeschool organization.
If your search for a support group does not result in opportunities for your teen, then consider whether you are called to step out in faith. In the early years of homeschooling, many families had to go it alone—or be the ones to begin a new program or invent the solution—but they found that the Lord provided for them in ways they could not imagine. Many of these families were instrumental in encouraging others to homeschool. In the same way, you may be instrumental in encouraging others to keep homeschooling through high school.
Where will my homeschooled teen find friends?
Realize that when teens reach the high school years, most of their day is spent on academics. But evenings and weekends still leave plenty of time for your teen to be involved with friends and activities. In most cases, homeschooled teens have greater flexibility than traditional students do to participate in extracurricular activities and take on part-time jobs. These activities will provide ample opportunities for meeting new friends while maintaining existing relationships. As your teen stretches his boundaries to include outside activities and friends, homeschooling provides you with the ability to help him learn how to develop healthy friendships with peers and interact with adults. For more information, visit the HSLDA Homeschooling thru High School homepage, scroll down to “Beyond Academics,” and click on “Friends.”
Can I really provide an excellent high school program comparable to a public
or private school?
The answer is yes! But why settle for a comparable program when you can provide one that is even better? High school at home allows you the flexibility to provide courses of interest to your child, courses that will prepare her for future endeavors, and courses that may not be available in a typical high school program.
For example, does your child have an interest in learning Greek? We don’t know of many public high schools that offer Greek. But if Greek interests your homeschooled teen, curriculum and online courses are available. Does your student love archaeology? An online archaeology course, complete with possible field trips to Italy to study ancient ruins, is available to homeschoolers! HSLDA’s Homeschooling thru High School website suggests resources and online classes in astronomy, constitutional law, debate, filmmaking, industrial arts, public speaking, and much more.
In addition, if your teen
would like to get a jump start on earning college credits, homeschool students
may enroll in college courses online through distance learning programs or
in a classroom setting through local
community colleges. These courses are referred to as dual enrollment courses
and may count for both high school and
college credit. Read more about it here.
Will homeschooling through high
school limit my child’s prospects
Not at all! Homeschool graduates
have successfully transitioned to college, career, and the military. In 2003, HSLDA commissioned Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute to study homeschool graduates. The results were impressive and show that homeschool graduates are well prepared for the next stage of their lives. You may be surprised to know that homeschool graduates are more involved in their communities, have greater job satisfaction, and attend college at higher rates than other teens (view the research results online). We expect trends to continue showing the positive results of homeschooling through high school.
|About the author
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer are HSLDA’s high school coordinators.