Many people who home school give up when their children reach ninth grade. However, high school may be the most important time to home school, because the final preparation for adult life happens during the teen years. Even if you have never educated your own children, you can teach your teens at home.
Not as Scary as It Sounds
Home schooling high school is not as scary as it sounds. It is just the next step after eighth grade, which was the next step after seventh grade and so on. If you plan well and partner with your teens, you can design a great high school program that will not only prepare them for adult life, college and/or a career but also give you the joy of relating to your children at an adult level in every area of life and thought.
The main difference between eighth grade and high school is that is counts for college. Don't let that worry you. In my survey of 263 colleges, over 90 percent had accepted home schooled students. Most of them wanted a transcript, which you can make yourself. (I give detailed instructions in my book Homeschooling High School.) Others asked for samples of student work or a portfolio. If you keep up with your record keeping each year, providing the information colleges require will be easy.
As for academics, you may feel inadequate to teach all the subjects your teens want or need to take. Don't worry. An enormous number of resources are available for home schoolers of every educational philosophy, learning style and budget.
Even with that, you don't have to do it all. In high school, your main job is to prepare your teens to live and work independently after high school. By their senior year, they should need very little help from you.
In the meantime, alternatives you might consider include:
- online courses
- video or audio courses
- group classes with another home school parent,
- group classes through a home school co-op
- classes at the local high school or college
- self-taught courses
- dual enrollment (to earn simultaneous high school and college credit) at a community college
It is even possible for students to finish high school early and earn a college degree online or by correspondence during their teen years.
Even if your students study independently, try to work through a few subjects with them each year. Consider especially courses in literature, history, cultures or the arts. Interacting with your teens in these areas will be valuable for them because of your adult perspective. You will enjoy strengthening your relationship with your children and revisiting interesting topics armed with the wisdom to comprehend them better than you did in high school.
What about Socialization?
Often people who do not understand home schooling will ask about socialization. Home schoolers generally are among the best socialized of all youths, because they regularly interact with people of all ages. Most of them actively participate in their churches and communities.
Still, colleges want to see that your teens know how to get along and work with people outside the home. Many colleges I surveyed mentioned that home schooling high schoolers should be involved in activities such as volunteer work, jobs, music, scouting, clubs or sports, but colleges expect this from all their applicants.
In some states, it is possible for home schooled students to participate in high school sports teams, bands and other activities, and some areas offer home school teams, choirs and orchestras.
Well-chosen extracurricular activities serve to enhance the learning process and develop leadership and social skills. Encourage your students to get involved in group projects, jobs and community service, especially in their areas of keen interest. Such experiences also can help students define their goals for the future.
Is it Legal?
Home schooling is legal in every US state. If you have never home schooled before, you will need to find out what the law requires in your home state. The Home School Legal Defense Association Web site gives information about state requirements. If you live in another country, you will need to find out the law in your area.
A Worthwhile Challenge
Home high schooling is a challenge and a tremendous responsibility. Even the best home educators have periodic doubts that their children's education will be strong enough for them to compete with traditional high schoolers.
However, surveys have shown that home schoolers' accomplishments usually equal and often exceed those of their traditionally-educated peers. Experts in the field attribute this success to the many advantages home schoolers enjoy, including:
- more hours of parental involvement
- parents' commitment to their children's education and character development
- the benefits of personal tutoring by a parent
- the strengthening effect home schooling has on family relationships
- the time students have to explore their areas of strength and interest
- the ability to slow down their learning in weak areas
- extra time available for community involvement, travel, volunteer work and church activities
Your Family's Choice
Is high school at home the right choice for your family? Only you can decide. The teen years can be some of the most enjoyable years you spend with your children, because home high school provides the opportunity for parents and students to relate to one another on a new level. As your teens mature and shoulder more responsibilities, the parent-child relationship matures as well. Home schooling during high school often provides an atmosphere of mutual love and respect that fosters deeper friendship between parents and their children.
If you choose to home school your teens, proceed with your eyes open to the realities — the advantages, disadvantages, possible consequences and, most of all, priceless rewards that await you. For when the going gets rough, as it almost always does, you will need the commitment to press on to the finish line. Just remember that nothing offered in traditional schools can replace the unique benefits home schooling high school has to offer your family.