Homeschooling High School, Part 1

Spunky of Spunky Homeschool asked the other day about homeschooling during the high school years:
Why do many homeschoolers put the kids in public school for the high school years?
What does it take to “finish well”?
What are the options for high school?

I have some thoughts on the high school years, although I don’t have it all figured out. Here’s what I wrote in Spunky’s comments:

Dual credit, online classes, homeschool co-op classes are all options we have used. I think finishing well requires looking at the options and weighing them carefully. My eldest could not have received nearly as good an education in our public high school as she gave herself at home. She’s very self-motivated and studious. She will graduate next year from a private college that she attended on full scholarship. Second child is different, lots of potential but not very disciplined. He taught himself guitar and web design for his ninth grade year—that’s all he did. Not that he didn’t have other assignments; he just didn’t do much of anything else. So he’s had to play catch-up, and he will be graduating this month at almost-19 years of age. For a child like this one, you need to be very clear about what your requirements for graduation are and then encourage them to meet those requirements in a way that achieves the goal. Public school would not have been any better for him. First, the public high school would not have required as much of him as we did, and he could have coasted through. Secondly, if he did as little his ninth grade year in public school as he did at home, he would have been placed in remedial classes–a disaster for an intelligent, but undisciplined, young man. So our options were limited to homeschool, homeschool, and homeschool. So far, for two children, we’ve done what we needed to do to make it work. I have two more in high school, and they’re doing some things at home, some classes online, and some classes outside the home.

I still think I can put together a better education with their cooperation than the public school can. I’ll post some more about this subject soon; I know lots of parents are looking ahead to the high school years with conflicting emotions: fear, trembling, hope, ambition.

4 thoughts on “Homeschooling High School, Part 1

  1. We’ll start homeschooling high school in August with my son. While I have recurring bouts of anxiety, I’m also excited about the possibilities and the flexibility. Thanks for mentioning this subject along with your experiences. It really helps to hear from those who have “been there, done that.”

  2. Kim in ID

    Thanks again for your blog. I love it! I’ll be doing high school soon, and so this topic has really been in the forefront of my mind. Would you be willing to share your plan of classes, or did you just follow your local high school requirements? I’ve got my local list, but in my state I’m pretty free to do what I want. But I’m a planner, so I’m starting to formulate my plan. 🙂 Thanks again, for the time you put into this blog! God bless!

  3. Deborah

    We are about to graduate our first of seven who have never been to school. We are extrememly casual about schooling and I admit I was very nervous when my eldest took the all-important SAT the first time, but she scored an 800 on the verbal section and a respectable 610 in math. She is a studious type, but prone to spend all day reading classic novels rather than doing math or science. She read reams of classic literature and plodded through math books, though only halfway through Algebra II. She took a few community college courses, did Constitutional Law online with Michael Farris and used Apologia Science books. We have never tested or graded, and other than choosing her books with her at the beginning of the year and providing some guidance as to what she should cover that year, I have pretty much left her on her own to learn how to learn.
    She earned a decent scholarship at the college of her cohoice (though not nearly enough to bring the $28.000.00 price tag down to our level. . . ) but she has decided to do a missionary year in India before heading to college in order to have more time to devote herself wholly to God before she plunges into the rigors of college academics. We could not be more proud of her.

    My next child is a junior; just turned 17 yesterday. He was much less motivated his first year of high school, but got into a once a week class using David Quine’s Worldviews Curriculum and just blossomed. He has always been a natural in math, and has pretty much learned it on his own. That, plus Quine’s course (which is amazingly comprehensive) was the core of his curriculum. His first try at the SAT this spring his three tests were all in the 700’s, so I think he has taught himself well. He is taking six months of his senior year to do a DTS in New Zealand with YWAM. He hopes to attend Wheaton College and major in philosophy or political science.

    Our third is 15, a serious ballet student and a natural organizer and “finisher.” She was a late reader and I worried about how she would do academically, but she is the most disciplined and detail oriented of the three and manages her work load like a pro. She spends 15 -20 hours at the studio each week, but still maages to finish her lessons – most of which she has chosen herself.

    We have many friends who have sent their kids to school in high school. The main thing we have observed is that most of them become peer centered; that the biggest part of their school experience is not academics but social life (as it was for me as a teenager). They don’t seem to learn a lot more than our kids, though they do a lot more assignments and homework. They lose contact with their younger siblings; their parents’ influence diminishes and they choose school events over church. We are educating for eternity, not college or career success, and while we value learning for its own sake and have a deep respect for the arts and the classics, we have higher goals in mind.

    I have no answers, just a testimony of God’s grace in our family. I don’t really think your methods are nearly as important as your attitude and your heart.

    That’s just my experience, so far. I am sure I could have pushed these bright kids to accomplish more than they have, but I believe that their experience learning to learn and to teach themselves has been extremely valuable. They are well-prepared to succeed at college because they know how to take responsibility for their own learning. They don’t have a lot of experpeience with tests and deadlines and research papers, but I think they will be quick learners.

    Keep your kids at home. There are so many resources out there to use. Don’t be intimidated by high school subject matter. You don’t have to “teach” them; if you have done your job so far far they can teach themselves.

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