Parents often ask if homeschooling high school is different from homeschooling the earlier grades. They may ask the question directly, or express it through questions like these:
How do you teach everything if you don’t really remember it all?
Don’t you have to know all the subjects really well?
Aren’t you worried your child might not be prepared for college?
Don’t you have to be really smart?
Don’t most kids go back to school for high school?
What do you do if you can’t help with the really hard classes?
Do you worry about screwing everything up?
I’ve listed some articles at the bottom that contain in depth answers to every one of those questions. Today, I want to generally discuss the differences between homeschooling high school years versus homeschooling elementary and middle. (By the way, some refer to high school as “secondary” or “upper” school, in case this comes up in your research one day.)
Please know if you’re concerned about high school, you are not alone. Many parents feel anxious nearing the high school years. Many more parents express concern over “doing it right”. That’s why homeschool advisors like me spend so much time writing about the teen years. We remember feeling this way ourselves, and we want to help others do it successfully (and without worry) themselves.
So, is teaching high school any different?
Yes and no.
In many ways, homeschooling teens is a lot like what you’ve been doing all along. It’s basically the same amount of work, the same commitment and level of responsibility, and you follow the same legal requirements (if any) you did all the previous years. It’s similar in that you care just as much about your child as you did before, and you’re just as invested in your child’s success as you’ve always been.
In in terms of your personal involvement, homeschooling high school is still the full time job it was in the earlier grades.
What changes during high school is the roles you play. Your role changes into that of an administrator, and your student does by himself many of the things you used to do together.
Some of the differences are gradual, phasing in as your student matures, sometimes taking years before your student reaches a certain level of responsibility and independence.
Other changes start smack dab at the beginning of high school because they’re related to the procedures, classes or other expectations that begin on the first day of doing 9th grade work.
It depends on the people, of course, but at some point, parents begin to realize it isn’t elementary any more. They notice high school takes on a a different feel from middle school, too. In my observations, parents can assign a different level of importance to homeschooling the high school years. Perhaps because it’s the end of the journey, high schooling parents seem to view their efforts as being even more serious than in the past, if that’s possible.
If you’ve been down the high school road before, you might see yourself in this next section. You may find yourself nodding in agreement, as I think most parents of homeschooled teens share similar stories.
After high schooling all of my kids and meeting with hundreds of families of teens over the years, these are the things I have noticed we all have in common. I’ve created a list of some of the things you might find yourself feeling and doing when beginning to homeschool your teen.
When homeschooling teens…
- You no longer feel like a teacher, but the coordinator of the whole process.
- You starting thinking more about goals instead of schooling day to day, week by week, and year to year.
- You seldom teach subjects any more. Your student learns more on his own.
- There is less 1:1 interaction than when your student was little. You both spend more time apart.
- You’re not always present during lessons. Frequently, lessons happen entirely without you.
- You do more “checking in” with your student than directly supervising as before.
- You naturally begin encouraging your student to take on greater responsibility.
- You praise her independence, still keeping a close watch from wherever you are.
- You develop trust when your student completes assignments thoroughly and on schedule.
- Your faith in the process increases as your student begins to succeed on his own.
- You feel greater responsibility, because high school is a critical stage of your child’s life.
- You may feel a lack of control, not always knowing exactly what your child is learning and doing.
- You can’t always preview everything your child is doing any more. Prereading books and assignments is a thing of the past.
- Your student’s knowledge might begin to surpass your own, and you’re happy about that.
- You begin outsourcing some of the learning, instead of always purchasing products to be completed at home.
- You encourage your student to take more responsibility over her education and her future.
- You allow your student more participation and decision-making power over what to learn and do.
- Sometimes you feel more like a chauffeur, financier, or social director than a Principal or coordinator.
- Record-keeping and organization become more important than ever before.
- The decisions you make feel more important, and seem to have much more weight than ever before.
- Your record-keeping duties greatly increase in volume and complexity.
- You’re excited for your student, yet you question yourself more than ever before.
Depending on where you started, these changes could seem dramatic or not a big deal at all. But, if you are feeling as though the duties of a high school coordinator and book-keeper seem daunting, remember they’re offset by all the other things you no longer have to do. So, since you’re no longer helping your child finish math problems, you can be working on a high school transcript instead. And, since you no longer have to correct homework assignment and assessments, you can be figuring out high school credits and GPA scores instead.
I love talking to parents who ask if homeschooling high school is different, or more difficult. It means they’re dead serious about doing a great job, and therefore probably going to be very successful doing it.
To your success,
Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT,Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.