Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homeschooling Through High School

One of my blog followers ask me in an email one day if I had any tips for homeschooling through high school. Although I haven't actually homeschooled someone through high school, I was a homeschooled high schooler myself, so I offered some advice on the matter. I thought you all might like to hear it also, and I've thought about it some more and have more to add, so here it goes.

The first thing to remember is that it is not rocket science. Dear people, do not let anyone tell you that you cannot homeschool a high schooler. It's possible. Completely. I know a couple people who have homeschooled their children though high school without even having a high school diploma themselves. Their children have gone on to rock the college world without a problem. So remember, you can do it!

I was blessed to be homeschooled (and still live in) a state with great homeschooling resources and networks. Not all of you may be as lucky, but these should hopefully be some ideas that will help jump start your research and make your journey of homeschooling though high school a little less daunting.

We are blessed to live in a state with a huge statewide Christian homeschooling network. This network provided sports teams, field trip opportunities, and things such as prom and graduations. If you happen to live in a state with a homeschool network, this can be an awesome connecting point for your teen, especially if there are not to many other homeschooling families that you teen interacts with on a regular basis.

Under our network was a series of co-ops that were independently run and varied in what they offered. Ours was extremely academic and by middle school we went two half-days a week. The co-op offered a range of math, science, English, literature, foreign language, and history classes, many taught by paid, certified teachers. Some were taught by moms who just happened to have a degree in one area.

Honestly, our family would not have continued to homeschool if it wasn't for this co-op. This was a life saver for us, and allowed me to learn and interact with other homeschoolers in a school like setting, without the school like schedule. I still was responsible for much of my own education though, even with these classes.

If you happened to be blessed with something like this, I strongly recommend looking into it as one of your options. If you are currently part of a co-op that doesn't offer this, maybe talk with the members to see about making it an option. That's how the strong high school curriculum came to be for our co-op. Many parents were approaching high school with their first child and were looking for more options. Some also knew teachers who were looking for part-time work and/or tutored their own children and wanted to offer them to the group as a whole.

Some Christian schools, and even public schools will also allow students to come in and take specific classes with their students. If the co-op route just isn't working, this could be another option.

If you don't wish to participate in something so large scale or don't have that available to you, consider a small co-op with just another family or two. My boyfriend's family (currently on their 18th year) does not have a strong co-op in their area, so for years they have work with one to three other families trading off teaching certain subjects to each others kids. His mom often teaches English and literature while another mom might handle science or a foreign language. This can greatly help lighten your load, especially if your homeschooling many at once.

Also check into your community colleges to see what they offer. Many community colleges love homeschoolers and offer various programs specifically designed for homeschoolers right on their campuses. Our community college offers what they call a "Parallel Enrollment Program" designed for 11th and 12th graders who want to take college courses and earn double credits at the same time. It was open to all high schoolers, but I found it's mostly homeschoolers who take advantage of it.

This is great for those of you who might have a budding genus on your hands and just aren't sure how you are going to cover calculus 3 and advanced physics. But it's also nice to be able to knock out the basics such as English, college algebra, sociology, biology, psychology, etc., all those classes that your student will have to take no matter where they decide to go to college. My boyfriend was able to know out his freshman year and a bit of his sophomore, while still in high school; I wasn't as ambitious on the other hand.

Another plus, many offer a substantial discount to those still in high school, on top of their already reasonable cost per credit. Your looking at a really cheap college education, folks, which is quite hard to come by these days. Some community colleges also offer programs for upper elementary and middle school homeschoolers in the basics such as math, English, and science, as well as extracurriculars, such as music, art, dance, and sports clinics.

Back in the day, most textbooks that homeschoolers used were actually designed to be used in a classroom setting. This can make it particularly difficult, especially in the science and math departments. Sometimes a math formula isn't explained in plain English, and you just don't have all the chemicals on hand for a science experiment. Now days, with the number of homeschoolers rapidly increasing, more and more authors and publishers are paying attention and providing easy to use curriculum designed just for the homeschool family. Many also provide things like live online assistance and/or lessons on DVD, which can allows for more independence and can lighten your load. I'm not to familiar with homeschooling designed curriculum, but I know I wouldn't have gotten through chemistry without the help of the wonderful people at Apologia, and my boyfriend's family are huge fans of Teaching Textbooks. When deciding to homeschool through high school, carefully consider your curriculum options and look for those that offer you the most free support and resources.

Lastly, remember you don't have to do it all. It's unrealistic to assume you can to do math, science, history, geography, literature, writing, grammar, music, art, health, logic, and a foreign language, all in one day. If you can, I'm impressed. But mostly I've seen people attempt it, and then freak out when they can't seem to do it all. It's okay to take things semester by semester. If you want to accomplish all of the above, run math and science all year, then split the rest between the fall and spring. Same workload accomplish, less stress. Your not superman, and you don't have to be.

And remember, I you feel God is calling you to homeschool through high school, he'll help you get through it. He never gives us more than we can handle, we just have to remember to rely on him for strength.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me using the button at the top of the sidebar, or leave a comment.


Kathy said...

That's great feedback, and hearing it from someone who WAS homeschooled through highschool, it helps us Moms hear what was important for you, and made it a success in your house. I too have a friend whose Mom who had not finished highschool homeschooled her all the way through highschool. It's doable. We do have a strong city-wide (so to speak) co-op that also offers many classes 2 days a week. Alot of moms in our homeschooling group use it. Thanks for a very encouraging and helpful post!

Carol Topp, CPA said...

Homeschool co-ops can be a life saver for many families, especially at the high school level. I am grateful for my co-op offering Spanish and biology dissection. In return I have taught study skills, career exploration and personal finance classes at my co-op. It's been a great experience for my family.

You pointed out that co-ops can come in all shapes and sizes and they can be started easily and on a small scale. As they grow larger, leaders may need some help, so I offer my book, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out and my website HomeschoolCPA.com as helpful resources to homeschool leaders.

Carol Topp, CPA
Author of Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Oh -- unless you might be willing to let us publish this as a guest post at The Homeschool Classroom. If not, that's okay. But, if so, drop me an email. Thanks!

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

This was a fabulous encouragement! I'll have to post about it in my next links post! :)