As the beginning of our 7th year of homeschool draws closer – I am starting to hear these questions more and more:
“Are you going to keep homeschooling through high school?”
“Well, high school’s coming up. What are you going to do about that?”
“Do you really think you can teach high school?”
What I get from these questions is that it’s cute that I managed to make it this far, but am I really crazy enough to gamble with my kid’s high school transcript?
Um, yes actually.
Depending on your background coming to this article, you may think I’m over-the-top protective, foolish, a pioneer, a superhero, or just plain crazy.
I assure you that I have spent a long time thinking about this topic – weighing all the pros and cons.
In this post I am going to share with you:
- A brief summary of why I started homeschooling in the first place
- The top 5 reasons I’m going to keep riding this train through high school
- My very real concerns about homeschooling high school
- How I’m preparing now for what’s ahead
How I Fell Into Homeschooling
I was not homeschooled as a child, and I had no intention of homeschooling my own children.
I was an Emergency Room RN and intended to use the college degree that I worked so hard to get.
My kids were going to go to school like all the other normal kids in our neighborhood. Public school was fine for me, and it was going to be fine for them.
You can read more here about why I took my oldest out of public school, but the summary would be that after she finished kindergarten, I felt very convicted that she deserved better.
And I had to at least try.
I fully believe God led me to homeschool from the very beginning. It was scary at first, but I have seen nothing but lifelong benefits since we started.
And I do not take giving up those benefits lightly.
Top 5 Reasons I’m Sticking With Homeschool Through High School
1. Education Is Too Serious To Risk With Our Current School System
It feels like the most common issue people bring up is that high school is very serious.
There are real-world (and often lifelong) consequences for what goes on during these 4 years.
But I am over here nodding my head and agreeing with these statements! And I am looking at our current education system and thinking it just isn’t good enough for my kid.
Report after report is coming out about failing test scores and the majority of kids not meeting basic standards in reading and math.
You would think that there would be rioting in the streets over the national crisis of education.
But parents are busy fighting other school battles, such as policies that shut them out of their kid’s major decisions, radical social theories being taught in schools, and controversial books in the libraries.
Meanwhile, the kids can’t even read the books!
It is astounding to me that while the nation’s test scores are in a free fall, the only thing we can talk about is pronouns.
Can students explain and give examples of adjectives or verbs? Can they write complete sentences and paragraphs using them?
We are on such a dangerous and foolish path right now as a nation. And our adversaries are likely delighted to see us walk our kids off an educational cliff while feircely debating bathroom policies.
My kid is not going to be part of this circus.
In the last six years, she has learned to read well above her grade level, write better than I ever did in high school, and conquer advanced math concepts that I know were not introduced to me till a much older age.
She is excelling academically and I cannot see how sending her into our current school system for high school would help her in any way.
I intend to stay on our homeschool path and reap the same results.
2. Schools Across The Country Are Failing To Produce College-Ready Kids
Even if kids are doing well in school – meeting the standards and passing all the tests – it is being seen across the nation that kids are still not appropriately prepared for college academics.
I don’t pretend to know why this is.
It could be the devastating teacher shortage.
Or maybe the fact that we haven’t been able to agree on a solid national education approach in decades.
Maybe it’s because standards continue to be lowered.
Or that teachers are forced to pass kids that are failing or not turning in any work at all.
I literally have no idea. All I know is that I was more than ready to attend a private university after graduating from a public school in nowhere Georgia over 20 years ago.
My niece graduated from a similar school a few years ago. She had to take a required remedial class in college to ensure she could keep pace with college work. And she found the class to be extremely challenging.
But when you talk to teachers, you hear the truth. These kids are not ready. Their vocabulary and writing skills are shocking.
Their math skills are far below standard.
One teacher even said to me, “It’s so sad. They earn these college scholarships and you just know they’re going to fail out. They won’t be able to hack it there.”
As I said, I don’t know why. But I’m not enrolling my kid in school and hoping that “it all works out.”
Some may be surprised to hear that colleges are actively recruiting homeschooled kids because they tend to be bright, hard-working, and motivated.
Their parents have been on them like white on rice since kindergarten and heavily sacrificed to make sure every opportunity was available to them.
If this surprises you, check out this article about why colleges like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford want homeschoolers.
3. Private Schools Are Too Expensive And Not A Guarantee
“But what about private schools, Lauren?”
Well, I have three kids. In my area, that would be about $35,000 per year. We earn a good living, but we definitely do not have that kind of disposable income.
I would definitely have to reenter the workforce to make it happen.
But I would rather spend our money (and time) on other things, such as being present with my kids during the day.
Homeschooling has caused us to be such a close family. If you haven’t lived it yourself, it’s almost impossible to explain the bond it can build in a family.
More reasons I would steer clear of private school:
- They can lose their accreditation (This happened in my hometown a few years ago. All kids were sent to the local schools and most were behind.)
- They can still fail to prepare your child for college (An adult friend of mine had to transfer out of her Catholic school as a child for financial reasons. She needed a tutor to catch up with the local public school.)
- Private school often offers the same cookie-cutter educational experience that public schools offer. What if your child doesn’t fit the mold?
- Depending on the needs of your child, a private school can be too fast pace and rigorous, creating an unnecessary situation of tears, pressure, and anxiety for your child.
- The high school years are prime years for saving money for college – which is right around the corner.
Once my child is in high school, she will have precious few years left with us before launching.
I’m not wasting that time with an overly expensive private school that may or may not deliver.
4. Not All Socialization Is Good Socialization
Why does everyone always assume the social part of school is good for kids?
School-age kids are dealing with record highs of anxiety, depression, suicide, and screen addiction.
Oh, and let’s not even talk about the horrifying fighting videos online, school shootings, bullying, and lack of social skills.
I personally don’t see high school as a safe space to send my kids. It also is failing its current students miserably in the socialization area.
That comes from:
- Reading articles regularly on the topic
- Speaking to public school teachers who are not afraid to tell the truth about what they see in the classroom
- Watching my neighbors frantically chat back and forth in our neighborhood FB page about the latest school lockdown
- Talking to working parents who have their kids in the classroom and are desperately trying to figure out a way to get them out
My children go to school every morning and don’t have to worry about being judged by their appearance or comparing their work to others.
No school shooters, bullies, or fights breaking out.
Their school is a safe space with a teacher who loves them unconditionally and works tirelessly for their good.
But What About Friends? What About Prom?
When it comes to getting my kids to their friends, there is almost nothing I wouldn’t do. My kids know that friends are always welcome to our house and I will drive them anywhere they want to go.
I will even cancel or delay lessons when friends come to the door.
Their social lives are equal in importance to math or any other subject.
I personally tell moms that if they are not able to meet this need wholeheartedly for their kids – then they have no business being a homeschool mom.
Being the social director comes with the territory.
If you want to know more about that, check out this article – Homeschool Socialization: An Uncomfortable Truth.
As for prom, my kids are eligible to attend in our state. But even if they weren’t, the growth of homeschooling has brought along many fantastic programs for homeschoolers – including prom.
I personally didn’t attend my prom. I went on a white water rafting trip instead with some good friends. No regrets over here.
5. Homeschooling Gives Us So Much Schedule Flexibility During the High School Years
The traditional high school experience affords very little time (or energy) for extra things.
With the flexibility of homeschooling, my daughter can take advantage of all kinds of opportunities.
She is currently interested in doing things like starting a dog walking business in our neighborhood or babysitting during the day (when most kids are in school, but young parents still need help).
My daughter also likes the idea of doing volunteer work in an animal shelter or getting our dog trained as a therapy dog.
She doesn’t want to spend her teen years in a chair listening to a lecture 5 days a week.
Homeschooling will allow her to get her work done much more efficiently, so she can do other things!
Many of which will look very nice on a college application.
Bonus Reason: But What About High School Sports, Lauren?
This is such a complicated question these days, but I will try to answer it as briefly as I can.
First, I would say that the vast majority of high school students do not play high school sports. As you might remember, jocks were just one of the many subcategories in high school.
There are theatre kids, art kids, music kids, science kids, and computer kids among many other interests.
Not everybody gets involved with sports, so making an educational decision based on sports participation is pretty thin.
That being said, my own daughter is heavily involved in lacrosse and hopes to play for a college one day.
She plays for the local middle school because our state says homeschoolers can be involved in any after-school activities. That’s so nice considering our taxes pay for them.
We have also invested in a travel team for her and wouldn’t you know it – they love the fact that she’s homeschooled! That means she has more flexibility with her schedule for workouts, drills, and tournaments.
And as a side note, we have discovered that high school sports aren’t what they used to be. If you haven’t taken the time to invest in travel teams and even private coaching from a young age, your kid will likely not be competitive to even make a Varsity team when the time comes.
This is a far cry from what sports looked like when I was a kid.
But it’s something to consider when making a decision about homeschooling vs. high school.
But Lauren, Let’s Get Real. How Are You Going to Teach Advanced Math and Science?
Alright, I’ll put my cards on the table.
This might surprise you, but I had no idea how to teach reading when we first started homeschooling either. I leaned hard on the curriculum that I purchased to teach my daughter with excellence.
Every year I have grown with my student, often relearning material or even learning it for the first time with her.
How is that possible as her teacher?
We live in a wild time where homeschool curriculum options are coming out of our ears!
There are so many phenomenal options out there to teach and learn right alongside your student. As my middle schooler has come along, she has also done many subjects independently.
For example, the curriculum is designed for her to watch a video or read her lesson. She then completes her work and I grade it. We discuss and correct every error she made.
The large majority of homeschool high school families complete their lessons in this way.
They also take advantage of outstanding online classes, online academies, co-op classes, dual enrollment with local community colleges, and other opportunities.
Many people before me and many after me will successfully (and beautifully) educate their kids through high school. Without the help of the government run schools or price-inflated private institutions.
What I Am Concerned About With Homeschooling High School
I’m going to put all my cards on the table again and share the things that concern me about taking on high school.
1. Meeting Deadlines
I want my kid to be college ready in more areas than just outstanding writing, math, and science.
She needs to know how to manage her time and meet deadlines. Consistently.
I have heard of homeschoolers that struggle with this during the transition to college because they were never challenged in this area.
Deadlines in homeschool could always be adjusted to meet unique needs. College professors will not be as lenient as moms.
What do electives look like in the homeschool setting?
How am I supposed to teach them or outsource them?
What if my kid is interested in something that I can’t provide for whatever reason?
3. Building A Transcript That Catches A College’s Eye
This is probably my number one concern.
I have heard chatter in homeschool groups, but I haven’t yet seen how the actual process works.
How do I make my kid stand out and really shine on a transcript? Is it the curriculum choices?
Dual enrollment choices? Are Co-op classes too vague to go on there?
Or will their standardized testing, essays, and extracurriculars be weighed heavier?
It’s a lot to think about because the stakes are high when you’re talking about your child’s future.
Up to this point, I have only given grades for math to give my kid an indication of how she did on tests (we call them review sheets).
How are colleges going to know that I’m honest and she really did get the grades that I write down?
How do I keep from being biased with her writing/projects that I help her with?
What I Am Doing To Prepare Now
1. Understanding The Graduation Law In Our State
Every state is a little bit different in how they handle homeschooling.
I have already looked up the standards and what my child needs to graduate successfully.
That is really step one to make sure a child can secure a diploma.
2. Starting The Conversation With Our Homeschool Evaluator Now
I have already had a conversation with our homeschool evaluator about the high school years.
We have talked about dual enrollment options in our area and which credits look the best on transcripts.
The evaluator knows that I’m serious about going the distance with my kid, and she is my partner to pull it all off with excellence.
3. Talking With Other Moms Who Have Already Done It
I am actively involved in several groups of homeschool moms who are rich in wisdom and experience.
Many of them graduated kids out of homeschool high school and have so much advice to pass on about everything from curriculum choices to graduation ceremonies.
I have intentionally sought out these people so that I have a community around me as I navigate the high school years.
Interestingly, none of them have regrets. They have raised great kids with bright futures and they’re helping me down the path.
4. Educating Myself About What I’m Concerned About
I have already listed things that I’m worried about.
I know that as high school draws closer, I have to dive deeper into those worries and find out the answers.
This book – Cure the Fear Of Homeschooling High School – is a fantastic resource that I will keep closing to my nightstand.
If you have your own set of fears, I encourage you to get the book and start unmasking the “scary things” that are keeping you from homeschooling high school!
Recap Homeschooling Through High School
As you can see, I have put a lot of thought, time, and energy into this decision.
I have experience teaching my kids and I have seen success.
Public school and private school are not options for us, so I am determined to make homeschool work.
There are very real concerns, but I am honest about them and ready to meet them head-on.
What are your high school fears?
What’s holding you back?
Or have you already graduated your kids and want to share your story?
Please drop a comment below!