Maybe you’ve met parents who homeschooled all the way through 8th grade, then enrolled their children in school for 9th-12th. Years ago, before the homeschool market expanded and learning options became so plentiful, it wasn’t uncommon to hear about teens going to public high school for those last 4 years.
Fast forward to today, when some families are doing the exact opposite.
I’m meeting more and more parents turning to homeschooling for high school after using schools for K-8.
Whether it’s about safety, learning goals, or logistical matters like travel or distance, homeschooling high school is an increasingly popular path to graduation today. What’s new is that there are now families who’ve used the system straight thru middle school, but then decided high school isn’t the right way to get their students to the finish line.
Just last week, I spoke to a mom about homeschooling high school after her daughter completes middle school in the spring. Surprisingly (to me), that was my third request for that specific information this year.
Parents ask, “Can I homeschool high school if my child was in public school for K-8?”
The answer is yes. Homeschooling can start at any time — even in high school. There are no laws, no procedures, or no rules preventing home education from starting at any time that is necessary or practical. The only dates that really matter are when you’re able to get started, and remembering to file paperwork on time, if any is required where you live.
Parents also want to know, “Will it work out okay if my teenager has never been homeschooled before?”
Again I respond, yes. In fact, I tell them, it will probably work very well if they have a student where great work habits, independence, and maturity are involved. Even if not, with a little direction (and especially if they’re given choices), all kinds of teens can be highly successful in homeschool, no matter their experiences so far. All teens, I add, seem to appreciate the added freedom, not to mention sleeping in a little later, too!
Will there be challenges? I’d be lying if I told you homeschooling teens is always easy, particularly if teens have never done it before. Missing friends, missing activities, and feeling stuck at home all day are common complaints for many a newly-homeschooled teen. Adjusting to changing roles once they realize you’re in charge can be an issue (if authoritarian is your style). True or not, wondering why they have to do all that work when things were easier in public school is another common narrative I hear.
Bottom line, homeschooling is an adjustment period. Like with anything, learning new things take time and patience, while dust settles and teens get used to the new routine. I could share all the tricks and tips I know, but in the end, you’ll figure out what works in your unique situation, given your unique student and the reasons why you’ve ultimately chosen homeschooling for the high school years.
The great news, is that homeschoolers are very appealing to today’s college undergraduate admissions departments, and to potential employers who like what they’ve heard about homeschooled grads. That news makes it easier for today’s families to make high school decisions based on needs and goals, rather than worrying about the validity of homeschooling itself.
If you have the time and can make the commitment, and if homeschooling is on your heart or has become a necessity for other reasons, welcome it in, and give it a try. But, if you’re still on the fence about homeschooling a teen for the first time, let me summarize my very best advice:
If you have a rising 9th or 10th grader, just go for it. There is little to lose and so much to gain. Public schools are always there if you change your mind, but early high school is the perfect time to explore all that is possible when leveraging the power of a home education. Barring anything truly unusual, within a few months, I think you’ll understand what I mean and decide to go the distance.
If you have an 11th or 12th grader, tread a little more lightly, but go for it too. College-bound students in particular want to be careful about meeting requirements and moving from traditional to non-traditional programs during those last 2 years of high school. If college admission is the goal, do some research and talk to a homeschool high school counselor if you can, then be prepared to stick it out for the long haul — no dropping in an out of school during 11th and 12th grades. If college isn’t an immediate option and the “perfect” college-ready transcript doesn’t happen, you’ve served your child well anyway.
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 email@example.com.