By Leah Courtney of As We Walk Along the Road
When my children were in preschool, we had tons of homeschooling friends. Many of the moms I knew from church were homeschooling their very young kids instead of sending them to a preschool or traditional kindergarten.
When we headed into elementary school, a few of these dropped off. Some families began enrolling their kids in traditional schools. Even fewer homeschoolers with children the age of mine were left when my oldest children hit the middle school years. But we did have a small core group of fellow homeschoolers that we could do academic and social activities with.
And then came the high school years for my oldest children. Many of the families who had remained homeschooling up to that point enrolled their children in traditional high schools.
Although we still had homeschooling friends, it was more difficult to find homeschool families who were homeschooling through high school. As more and more of my fellow homeschool moms decided to enroll their kids in traditional schools, I questioned why high school seemed to be the point at which homeschool families felt a need for more traditional education.
I heard many reasons for the drop in homeschooling in the high school years. Homeschool moms were concerned about kids missing out on the “high school experience.” They were afraid that the kids wouldn’t have access to extracurricular activities. They were unsure of how to keep up with high school credit hours and prepare their kids for college. They didn’t know how to find high school courses or curriculum. They wanted to make sure that their kids could score well on the SAT and ACT and get into the college they chose.
And I have to admit that heading into the high school years with my homeschooled kids was a scary prospect. There were so many things I wanted to get right and so many things that I worried about doing wrong.
Now I’m on the other side. I have two high school graduates and am homeschooling two who will begin high school this year. I’m not nearly as worried about the second set I have entering high school. I know that many of my fears were unfounded, and I know that finding the resources we needed throughout the high school years wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had anticipated. But I also have realized there are several very compelling reasons to keep homeschooling through high school- even when it does seem overwhelming at times.
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Homeschooling through high school has allowed me to customize my kids’ education.
If you’ve been homeschooling- or parenting- for any amount of time you know the fact that all kids are different. No matter that they’ve been parented the same way since birth, no matter that they’ve grown up in the same environment, no matter that they’ve had many of the same experiences throughout their lives- each of our kids is different. They have different needs. And they learn differently.
Throughout my kids’ kindergarten and elementary-school years, I used a literature-based approach to homeschooling. I love great books and love teaching with them, so this was a natural fit. When my two oldest kids approached high school, one wanted to continue with a literature-based curriculum. The other didn’t. He really didn’t. He’s never been a strong reader, and he’s never learned as well by just reading. And so, we took a different approach to high school for him.
If my kids had gone to a traditional school, we wouldn’t have had this option. Both kids would have had to take the classes laid out for them by the school, using the same materials that every other student used. Having been a traditional high school teacher myself, I know that there are few options for customizing high school classes there. Homeschooling gave us this freedom, and it helped to make for a successful experience for my kids.
Homeschooling through high school has prepared my kids to be independent workers.
After my oldest daughter started classes at a liberal arts college, she was talking one day about how surprised she had been at the lack of preparedness of many of her fellow students. They didn’t seem to have any concept of scheduling their time and getting work done independently. This was strange to her because she had been working independently through most of her high school career.
In our homeschool, we move gradually from most of the material being read or taught by me, to the kids working independently through their high school years with me checking on their work and being available to work through problems. As early as upper elementary-school, my kids are learning to budget their time; and by high school, as long as there are no problems with completing work, they are completely in control of their schedules.
This is a huge thing when they begin college. College professors don’t want to hold students’ hands. They don’t want to give constant reminders. They don’t want to have to break assignments down into steps for the students. They want and expect kids to be able to handle these things independently. And when you are homeschooling in high school, you can ensure that you’re working toward this and that your kids are prepared.
Homeschooling through high school has given my kids the freedom to be themselves.
High school can be rough socially- especially if you are “different.” I taught in a traditional high school briefly when my husband was out of work some years ago. There was teasing. There was bullying. There were aggressive students. There were depressed, withdrawn students. There was so much pressure for kids to fit in, to be a part of a group. I saw many kids who would change their likes and dislikes, their attitudes, their behaviors just to fit in with a group and be accepted.
My kids are free to be themselves as they grow. That has meant that they don’t try to act “grown up” too soon. It has meant that they are free to ask questions and not fear sounding “stupid.” It has meant that they don’t have to worry that what they like or don’t like isn’t “cool” and doesn’t fit in with the crowd.
I’m not saying that homeschooling prevents all of the awkwardness that kids go through as they hit the teen years. But it has given my kids freedom as they go through these sometimes difficult years. It’s given them confidence in themselves and freed them from the necessity to always fit in with a crowd.
Homeschooling through high school has strengthened the relationships in our family.
The absolute number one reason that homeschooling through high school is worth it is because of the relationships that my kids have developed with me, their dad, and their siblings. Being together all throughout the day, having the opportunities for good conversations, being able to listen to the struggles my kids are having with life, friends, and school have all contributed to close, strong relationships.
Yes, I have friends with kids in traditional school who work to make a point of building good relationships with their kids. So I know it is possible. But homeschooling has given us an advantage because of the amount of time we’re together and because of the absence of continual peer influence. Homeschooling has helped us to create strong relationship bonds and really, truly enjoy our time together.
I will admit that homeschooling through high school hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had to research and ask questions to make sure that I’m not missing something that I need to be aware of to prepare my kids for life after high school. But for these four compelling reasons, homeschooling through high school has been worth every moment.
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