Over the years, I have often thought that homeschooling seems quite a bit like running a really long race. For me, once I’m all done homeschooling, it will be a 16 year long race. The sad part about the race, though, is that when I started on the homeschooling track, I had a LOT of company. Truly, when my children were all little, it sometimes seemed like everybody I knew was homeschooling.
Then, over the years, there were fewer people running with me. People stopped homeschooling for various reasons, a few at a time, here and there. But nothing prepared me for the dramatic drop-off in homeschooling once 9th grade hit. Around here, it is fairly common to homeschool up to 8th grade and then to send high school age children to a brick and mortar school.
Looking around and finding so few folks running with me through the high school years can definitely make me worry (or completely freak-out) about our decision to continue homeschooling all the way to high school graduation. While most of the time I feel really great about homeschooling through the high school years, doubt can descend on me when I hear about yet another homeschooled student who is being sent to high school or we get asked about homeschooling through high school…again.
What do I do to lessen my doubts, anxieties, and worries? Here are some practical ideas that work to lessen my worries about homeschooling through high school that may help to lessen your worries about homeschooling through high school as well.
- Talk to your high school age child about the pros and cons of homeschooling through high school. Honestly, if my daughter desperately wanted to go to a traditional school for high school, my husband and I would be supportive. Our desire is for all of our children to continue to homeschool through high school but we also want to take their feelings into consideration. Talking to your high school age child honestly about the pros and the cons of homeschooling through high school can help to find out your child’s true feelings. Ideally, these discussions would begin during the 8th grade year to avoid any quick decisions.
- Actively seek out ways for your child to do the activities he or she wants to do that would be offered in a brick and mortar school. For example, my daughter is a competitive swimmer. Through USA Swimming, she can continue to swim even through high school season. If playing a particular sport is really the only or main reason that your teen wants to attend high school, perhaps there are other options available.
- Remember that all of the reasons you love homeschooling still apply during the high school years…and perhaps even more so. At this point, with college a mere four years away, every day with my daughter seems so precious to me. One of the main reasons that we chose to homeschool was to encourage family closeness. Family closeness is crucial for teens – even as they are gaining independence, they still need lots of family support.
- Cherish any homeschooling friends that you have that are continuing to homeschool through high school. I have one good friend who is homeschooling her son through high school. Last year, we got our teens together for Biology labs. She is a continuing source of support and information to me. Definitely take time to nurture friendships with any “fellow runners.”
- Seek out bloggy friends who are homeschooling high schoolers. Several of the writers right here at The Homeschool Classroom are homeschooling high schoolers. You can find support and information at their blogs to encourage you along your way.
- Read books. Some of my very favorites are High School @ Home, You Can Do It! by Diana Johnson and Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission by Jeanne Gowen Dennis
- Watch seminars. My very favorite DVD seminar is Transcript Boot Camp. Inge Cannon is a wealth of information and is so very encouraging!
- Make a plan for academics. Sketch out a four year plan for the classes your high school student will take. Just having a plan (which can certainly change) is quite comforting to me. You can find lots of advice about how to do this in the great online course, Upper Level Homeschool.
- Familiarize yourself with all of the different options available for your high schooler to take classes. DVD courses, online courses, community college courses, correspondence courses, private tutors, co-ops, courses designed by you – you have so many options when it comes to designing your child’s unique plan of study during high school.
- Work on keeping very detailed records. Knowing that you’re keeping excellent records should add to your peace of mind. If you’re not organized, now is the time to get organized regarding records.
- Visit college websites and read the information they have posted about admissions for homeschoolers. I have found this to be quite encouraging. Many colleges also have suggestions for a college-prep sequence of classes.
- Start thinking about how you will celebrate the big milestones. What will you do for a graduation ceremony? Having any sort of plan should help to alleviate anxiety and questions from others.
- Seek support from your husband. I definitely would not have made it this far in our homeschooling journey without my husband’s support. I lean on him…a lot.
- Pray…a lot. As my children get older, I feel more than ever that so much of what happens to them is out of my control. Blessedly, it is not out of God’s control.
Samantha writes about homeschooling and family life at To Be Busy At Home.
Thank you to digitalart at Free Digital Photos for the racetrack photo. This post also contains affiliate links.