High School Homeschooling
Now that I have graduated two of my always-homeschooled children to adulthood (one in 2020 and the other in 2022), I feel like I have some wisdom and perspective on the subject of high school homeschooling.
Some of the lessons learned:
- Jobs can teach far more than academics to an adolescent. I feel like employment or entrepreneurship offers so much well rounded, holistic development. Some kids just aren't academic oriented. My daughter hated all forms of homeschooling, even unstructured unschooling but has grown in leaps and bounds since starting her first job; she's become quite mature and responsible. As a mom, it brings me joy to see her shine in her element.
- You will go through frustrating times where you see no observable progress or growth. Homeschooling does still work even when it seems like it isn't. The seeds were planted, they just lie dormant until the conditions for growth are optimal. The Lord gives you what you need when you need it. The journey is as important as the destination and other cliches like that.
- Unless your kids get their license ASAP, expect to take on a very busy season of driving. Social time can be very important at this stage, even if they aren't asking for it, sometimes it is fruitful to make the decision that they are going to do the things. Many times I have 'forced' my kids to attend or join something and it turned out to be great for them. They have most of their closest friends because I made them go somewhere.
- The seclusion stage where they spend all their time in their rooms doesn't last forever. They finally get tired of it too. And that's when the 'taxi mom' season as described above begins.
- Do not ever stop telling your kids what you believe, and why you believe it. Don't be afraid to offend their idealistic sensibilities sometimes. They really don't know it all, and it's up to you to teach them about the real world. But be prepared and respect the fact that they might not agree with it. At least for now. And maybe their perspective can teach you something too. Things have a way of coming around. It's important for them to know where their parents stand on the issues.
- Making memories with friends and establishing healthy independence is a key feature of the high school years.
- All secondary institutions care about is a transcript. So learn how to create one, and what it contains. And don't stress too much about it. You'd be surprised how many ways a kid can meet a credit requirement.
- Dual credit can be a total time and money saver if you have one of those driven, self motivated academic kids, but I've seen it cause a lot of stress in kids that aren't. Even if you feel like everyone you know is doing it, they don't have to graduate high school with a degree.
- Encourage your child's interests as much as possible. Buy the supplies, pay for the lessons, drive them to the stuff. Also, be gracious if the interests don't last as long as you'd prefer. They are sorting out who they want to be, and trying lots of things on to see if they fit. Let kids quit things sometimes.
- Do a graduation ceremony, even better if you can do it in community. It's a big rite of passage, and it can feel very anticlimactic for them without recognition of their achievements.
- Find community. I can't emphasize this enough. if the first one doesn't click, find another one. Keep trying. Expose your kids to other teachers and mentors who can help them grow in confidence and unlock hidden dreams and talents. You truly never know until you try. I encouraged lots of experimentation through co-ops, 4H, continuing ed classes, etc.
- Teach your children about unconventional ways to make income. Who knew people could earn a good living selling mug designs through a print on demand shop? Or by copywriting for other businesses. Or by dog grooming. There are so many ways to earn your keep without pursuing a traditional college path. The knowledge they accrue over these years could be used to set themselves as an expert in their niche, and they could profit from it by doing books, courses, blogs, videos and other information products. We learn the best by teaching others.
- if they are not ready to pursue a solid path the following semester, a gap year is perfectly reasonable. Not everyone is ready emotionally or developmentally to go straight into career or college. They might even need to be a 'super senior' who is technically graduated, but still doing some homeschool activities.
- This season requires a lot of trust in the process. It can be a time of high conflict, social stresses, confusion and frustration. It's not time to give up. When you feel the most hopeless and discouraged about how things are going, there is usually something great just around the corner. Never stop praying for the things you need as a parent and the things you hope for. Ask God for community, dear friendships, mentors and resources, and He will provide because He is faithful.