Remember the days when teaching your child took an hour or so a day? The fun of ABCs and 123s, storybooks, and nap time? Most homeschool parents feel pretty confident about their ability to teach their child in the early elementary school years.
Then you blink and have a ninth grader on your hands. Your heart races, you break out in a sweat, and you wonder if you can make it through the next four years.
Don’t worry! It’s common to feel a sinking sensation in your stomach at the thought of homeschooling through high school. In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the most common challenges homeschool parents face in the high school years, plus ways to cope with them to ensure you (and your teen) make it to the finish line of graduation.
Parents all have self-doubt, but homeschooling parents seem to have an extra helping. Worry that your limitations will hold your student back is common. You feel responsible for everything she needs to accomplish.
Solution: Home educators should help their children set goals for their education and work together with them to achieve those goals. When the burden isn’t all on your shoulders, your self-doubt will lessen. Using the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) to set goals will ensure that both you and your student understand exactly what’s needed to reach the finish line.
For example, a specific goal is that your student will graduate with four credits of English, math, and science. You’ll put a plan in place to describe exactly how you’ll get there. Remember, if you don’t know much about British literature, higher math, or science, part of the goal will be to find someone who is qualified to teach difficult subject matter to your student.
2. Conflict with siblings
Generally, homeschooled siblings get along well with each other and conflicts are easily resolved. If your children are squabbling, sending them to school will not teach them the skills they need to resolve their difficulties with each other.
Solution: There are a variety of videos, books, and online resources that can help you teach your kids the relationship skills they need so they can resolve not only the conflicts they have with each other, but with others at college and work in the future. Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish is a fantastic book that helps parents help their children live more harmoniously with each other. Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages has helped to improve and heal many relationships. He’s even written a version specifically for teens that parents of battling siblings may find helpful.
Just as in their younger years, worries about your student’s socialization continue. This doesn’t have to be a reason to let go of homeschooling.
Solution: Finding volunteer activities, helping your high school student find a youth civic group to join, and allowing your child to spend time with good friends will fill the need for socialization. True socialization is not when a person only spends time with people of the same age, but when a person can interact with people of different ages, races, and sexes. Volunteering in the community exposes your student to a variety of interactions in a supervised setting where he can learn skills and make friends that will last a lifetime.
A youth civic organization such as Scouts, 4-H, or Campfire allows your student to learn leadership skills, explore and develop new interests, and even have opportunities to earn scholarships for college. High school students who volunteer, are active in youth organizations, or who are involved with positive role models of their own age seem to find more satisfaction with homeschooling than those who aren’t as involved.
Quite a few homeschool families cite sports as a reason to enroll their children in public high school. This is based on the mistaken belief that homeschoolers lack access to quality sports opportunities.
Solution: The good news is that homeschoolers have a myriad of options for sports for their high school students. Tim Tebow, anyone? It’s now common for big name colleges to scout homeschooled athletes. There is even a website called Homeschool Sports Networkthat has a team locator by state. AtoZHomesCoolis another informative source online of information for sports-oriented homeschoolers.
5. Figuring out everything on your own
This can be a huge stumbling block for homeschooling through high school. Should your student do dual-enrollment at community college or take advanced placement courses, and if so, how would she do that? What about applying to college? How about trade school? How does a homeschooler take the SAT? These considerations can be so overwhelming for parents that many enroll their child in public high school.
Solution: The good news is that other homeschool parents who have already gotten their student through high school are only too happy to help someone else. Many have created support groups to share what they’ve learned. Getting plugged in to local and online homeschool groups will save you a lot of time and frustration.
A support group can provide not only valuable information about particulars—such as where a homeschooled high school student can take the SAT—but also offer social activities such as a prom or high-school graduation. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association has a search function on their website to assist homeschool parents with finding local support groups. Facebook is another good place to find local support groups.
What should you use for math, science, English, foreign language, and other subjects? How should these courses be taught? Online, private tutors, homeschool enrichment academies? Concern that your student will have gaps in her education due to your curriculum choices is almost paralyzing for some parents. Regardless of where or how a person is educated, gaps will occur.
Solution: Rather than attempting to cover all the bases and cram your student’s head full of knowledge, make sure that he knows how to learn. When he encounters an educational gap, he can resolve it by locating the information he needs to fill that gap.
7. High school transcripts
Even the most confident homeschool parents feel stress about creating a quality high school transcript. Every college application must have a transcript submitted. While you can create one on your own from scratch, there is a much easier way.
Solution: Instead of adding one more time-consuming task to your already full schedule as a homeschooling parent of a high school student, I highly recommend giving Transcript Maker a try. Transcript Maker is a high school transcript creation app developed by a homeschool graduate for homeschool families. Transcript Maker offers a no-obligation 14-day FREE trial so that you can evaluate the app to see if it meets your needs. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying it for yourself!
Yes, homeschooling through high school has it challenges, but the rewards are well worth it. Homeschool support groups exist specifically to help you succeed in educating your child from home. Stay connected, get advice from those veteran home educators who have gone before you, and use technology to make your record keeping as easy and professional as possible. Good luck!