Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Homeschooling High School

I really don't understand the anxiety & trepidation with which so many approach homeschooling high school. Many start their homeschool journey planning to only homeschool through jr high, with the intent of putting the child in public or private school for high school. Those who do homeschool the high school years regularly post about how terrified they are about those years.

I honestly don't get it. I don't find it hard to plan high school courses. Dea did her first high school course in elementary school. By 8th grade, all of her courses were high school level. She should be starting 9th in January (she's a bit behind schedule due to learning to manage her own time better). She will likely graduate after 10th. The only thing I find truly difficult in homeschooling her is dealing with her horrid attitude, and I'd have to deal with that regardless of where her education took place. The combination of severe ADHD, Bipolar, and teenage girl is not a fun one to deal with.

Jay will likely be starting high school Math in 4th grade. I'm sure he'll also be starting high school courses in other subjects well before 9th grade. If I was insecure about my ability to cover high school course work, it would be pointless for me to have even started homeschooling the kids.

I just don't get why people are so worried about their ability to cover high school level work. I didn't exactly attend great high schools. I got stuck with the idiot Science teacher, for both Biology & Chemistry, who refused to involve any lab work at all. I did no lab work in my high school Sciences; it was all read the text & answer the questions. My Geometry teacher did the work for most of the class (he solved the homework problems on the board, step-by-step, before collecting the assignments). Latin was not an offered language at any of the 3 high schools I attended. The work was ridiculously easy, and insanely boring, in pretty much every single class I took. Yet, despite the fact that my formal education was seriously lacking rigor & challenge, I feel totally comfortable covering high school level work with my kids. Why? Because, even when we come to a subject or topic with which I have little or no experience or education, I know how to find resources & materials for us. I have faith in my ability to learn the material, my kids' ability to learn the material, and my ability to find the resources we need.

At least one of the kids will do Calculus. I never took Calculus, as I had no desire to learn it. I have no fears about one of the kids taking it. I've had no problems choosing & setting up labs for Dea's high school Sciences, despite the lack of them in my high school. I've had no problems learning Latin with the kids. I've had no concerns over covering high school Sciences that I did not take in high school, like Anatomy & Physiology or Geology. I don't know computer programming, but didn't freak when the kids asked to learn it, I just found them some materials. I don't know what it is that is different about me, but I have never been worried, overwhelmed, or scared about homeschooling the kids through high school. I have no insecurities about it or fears that they won't get into a decent college. I firmly believe my kids can do whatever they put their minds to. If they really want to go to an Ivy League school, they'll make it there.

There is nothing scary about homeschooling high school. It may require a bit more organization and record keeping, but that isn't hard. It doesn't have to include Honors or AP courses through online schools or at the local public school. Colleges want students to take advantage of what opportunities they were offered. If a student doesn't have Honors or AP courses because they didn't have access to them, it will not be held against them. It doesn't have to involve dual credit courses at the local community college. If that isn't something you can afford or your child isn't ready for it, don't worry about it.

High school doesn't have to include formal Literature programs. Lit analysis can be covered without a formal program. You don't have to try to force your kid through the work faster or earlier so they have more advanced classes on their transcript. I'm sure colleges would rather see that a child did Math through Algebra 2 and mastered the work, instead of seeing that they barely scraped through Calculus. Their transcript doesn't need to include 5 languages and extra-curriculars in every area you can think of.

There is nothing wrong with specializing. Your child is who he is. His high school transcript should reflect that. The extra-curriculars should be things he really has an interest in. If you have too many extras planned, prioritize, and keep just the most important one or few. It's alright for their course load to lean toward their intended career or major. I would try to keep it well-rounded while letting it lean, though (you know, don't cut out History to focus more on Science).

Most importantly, let your child be the one to set their future. This is not your future. It is their future. Their transcript should reflect who they are & who they want to be, not who you wish you had become or who you want them to be. I see so many people who are planning several languages for their child, not because the child is interested or because they'll be needed for the child's planned future, but because the parent enjoys learning languages. Then, they stress about how to fit all those languages into their child's schedule. I see the same with extras. The parent enrolls their child in dance, theater, outside art classes, lessons for 3 instruments, and/or multiple sports, even if the child has no interest in most of the activities. So many seem to be trying to live vicariously through their kids, and it is really sad.

I honestly think that if more people would trust their kids & plan their kid's education based on the child not the parent, less people would stress out over homeschooling high school.