When my big kids were younger, homeschooling was WAY less mainstream than it is now (we started homeschooling in 2001!!). However, my non-homeschooling friends seemed to accept my idiosyncrasy of wanting to homeschool. Accepted it up to a point. Because they always anxiously asked, “But what about high school? You’ll send them to school, then, right?” This implied to me that it was okay in their minds to homeschool my kids as long as they were little. It was like they were trying to tell me that high school is IMPORTANT and I would seriously mess up their futures by homeschooling them in high school.
Spoiler alert: I may still mess up the next four kids, but the first two were both accepted into their college of choice, have friends and jobs, and seem mostly normal, given that I’m their mom. 🙂
Anyway, when our oldest got to high school age none of the reasons we were homeschooling had changed, so we simply continued along our path. We probably weren’t as prepared as we could have been that first time around and we still don’t know everything we ought. But life has a way of teaching us through trial and error, right?
My oldest two have graduated high school, and my third kiddo is about to begin high school. So, I have been pondering what I wish I’d known nine years ago and what I might do differently this time. (And in another eight years when the next youngest starts high school, I’m sure I’ll want to change MORE things!)
Here’s my list of what I’ve learned about homeschooling high school so far:
1. Chemistry is pretty much just math. So don’t try to conquer it without first understanding Algebra I. Baking is pretty much just chemistry. If you can bake a cake and do basic algebra, you’ll do great!
2. Encourage your child to figure out what their gifts are: What do they love to do? What are they good at doing? Find ways for them to learn more about the things that interest them. This will help them decide if they really want to make a living out of that interest.
3. If your child is even remotely considering going to college, have them volunteer outside the home. Keep track of all the community service hours they’ve performed. Use this printable Teen Volunteer Hours form from the Free Resource Library. You’ll need the information for college scholarship applications. Read my post about creating leadership opportunities to learn about the less conventional volunteering that my kids have done.
4. Visit the colleges on your child’s list their junior year so that you can spend their senior year narrowing the list by matching their interests with the degrees and scholarships offered.
5. Write a general application essay and a general scholarship essay the summer between their junior and senior years. Then edit and modify them to fit unique applications. Having the main body of the essays done during the summer helps tremendously! They will be very busy during their senior year.
6. Don’t panic about writing a transcript! I once attended a transcript workshop where the instructor showed us how she created a 27-page transcript for her son!! I was truly stressed thinking that was necessary for acceptance into college. However, after talking to several college admissions counselors, I discovered that all colleges are now not only familiar with homeschooled students, but actually are happy to accept them because homeschool students usually have better study skills. I used a one-page template from HSLDA for both of my oldest girls and both were accepted at all the colleges to which they applied. As long as your student’s GPA matches up with their ACT or SAT scores and they have all of the credits needed, colleges will most likely be satisfied.
7. Freshman and sophomore
8. Even if your kids are not college-bound, please don’t short-change their education. They still need to understand basic algebra, be financially literate, know how to think critically, and know about the world in which they live. Make sure they know how to balance a checkbook, how to plan and cook meals on a budget, and how to care for a car and house. A well-rounded education will always be beneficial to them in the long run. You don’t want them to end up on a late-night talk show episode of “Stupid People on the Street” just because they don’t know on which continent Germany is located! LOL
9. Outsource classes that you either aren’t confident about teaching or classes like Public Speaking, that really require a group of students. Smaller, local colleges are likely to have reasonable dual credit rates. In very rural areas, many universities have dual credit televised, distance-learning classes through local high schools. Even if your students aren’t college-bound, the classes can still be a positive experience.
10.Let them select their electives according to their interests so that they can pursue their passions. This is a good opportunity to explore possible career options as well. See what classes the local Vocational-Technical School or Career Center has to offer.
11. If they are even the slightest bit interested in college, educate yourself, during the freshman year, on the differences between dual credit, CLEP, and AP testing. Knowing about these will equip you to better plan which classes your child should take during their high school career. This also makes it easier to plan which classes you want to outsource. For example, if the thought of advanced biology dissection labs makes your queasy, plan to do that through dual credit.
12. Not all students should or need to go to college. If your child isn’t interested that’s okay, help them to explore technical schools and other job options. There are many jobs in the medical field that don’t require a bachelor’s degree like physical therapy assistants, phlebotomy technicians, or radiology technicians. I truly admire Mike Rowe’s campaign to bring pride back to skilled blue-collar jobs. We need plumbers and electricians and welders!! Check out his scholarship program at MikeRoweWorks.
13. Make your kids get involved (even if they resist and give you push back about it) in a local co-op with a strong teen group or at least make sure they are regularly (every week) hanging out with a group of kids with similar interests and values.
What are other concerns you have about homeschooling high school? There are so many options and resources for homeschooling high school, we just need to share what we know with each other. Please feel to share in the comments below!
Look for the rest of this series of Hope and Help for Homeschooling High School:
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This is an updated and revised version of an article that I originally wrote for homeschoolhelperonline. Reused with permission.