I had the very fun opportunity to teach an online, 4-week seminar called Homeschool Start-Up at Athena’s Advanced Academy this spring. It was great fun for me and my students asked all sorts of great questions. One of the perennial questions that comes up is about homeschooling high school. For some reason, even seasoned homeschoolers sometimes quake at the approach of high school, and end up sending their students back to school. In some families, the students might lead the charge back to school for social reasons, but I think in a lot of cases it happens because neither students nor parents feel confident.
We, however, are having a fabulous time doing high school, so below are my recommendations for what all homeschooling parents should do before they give up on the idea. It’s really not that hard, and for a student who commits to this path, it is extremely rewarding and empowering.
#1: Connect with parents online
Get yourself onto a high school homeschooling email list. There are many—each with an emphasis on different types of kids and different homeschooling approaches. (The one I take part in, homeschool2college on Yahoo Groups, is very college-focused, lots of kids who are quite academic and advanced, for example—not a great place for a non-college-focused unschooling family.) There are so many different homeschooling high school options, and they change so quickly, that it’s really important to get up-to-date information. These lists are fabulous resources.
Here’s my warning, however: Don’t get on one of these lists until very soon before your child starts high school. If you get on when s/he’s 6, it’s going to Freak You Out, and we don’t want that!
#2: Find local resources
Lots of what you do is probably going to depend on your local area. My most valuable resource locally is our homeschool program teacher, who has guided hundreds of students through high school. She knows all the ins and outs of the local community college. This is really important because on your national email list someone will say very authoritatively “of course concurrent students can take art classes,” but at your local CC suddenly you’ll find out that’s not true. A local network can save you a lot of work.
#3: Authoritative resources
If your student is looking toward college, a good, straightforward book like College Prep Homeschooling (Byers) will give you a good picture of the sort of bookkeeping and other concerns you want to be prepared for. Again, this is a good book for my family, but yours might be more unschooly (e.g. Forging Paths (Beach) or College without High School (Boles)) or Christian/structured (Homeschooled and Headed for College (Boiko)).
#4: Online resources
There are tons of Facebook groups for different flavors of high school homeschoolers. They’re free – check them all out! Search for “homeschool high school” and choose a few that seem like ones you’d be interested in. Look at the quality of their posts and leave if they’re not helping you. I haven’t used many of the websites much, but Let’s Homeschool High School comes with a high recommendation. In general, I don’t recommend joining groups till you actually need them because you’ll just start running in circles like a rat on a wheel, and then who will homeschool your kids??
And that last comment is key: Don’t go crazy looking for resources when what you need to do is focus on your student’s needs and goals. Don’t think you can plan four years of high school when your student is in eighth grade. And don’t think you won’t have unexpected twists and turns in your path.
Do know that you can do this successfully, and whatever your student’s ultimate goals, you can do it well.