Yes! You Can Homeschool Through High School!: Answering Your Questions and Allaying Your Fears

I can still remember joining my first homeschool co-op. My oldest child was two. I’m not even kidding, ya’ll. I was so very excited for this whole homeschooling journey to begin, and I convinced myself that it was a really good idea to go ahead and join because I could begin to hook up with other homeschooling moms and learn from their example and their experiences. (Not a bad idea in hindsight.)

Homeschooling through high school questions

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When we first joined that co-op, there were tons of homeschoolers with kids the ages of mine. Well, maybe not two year olds, but many were in preschool. Throughout the preschool years and early elementary years, my kids had many, many friends that homeschooled. Our co-ops were full of preschool and elementary aged kids. At the time, I had never really imagined that so many people homeschooled. It was great.

But something happened when my oldest children hit the middle school years. Even though our co-ops and social groups still had lots of children the ages of my younger two- still in early elementary grades- not so many kids were middle schoolers and up. And my older kids had more friends who were leaving homeschooling and heading to traditional schools.

Don’t get me wrong. We know homeschoolers who have high school aged kids. In fact, we’re part of a pretty large teen group that does social and service events together. And our Fun Friday co-op has more kids in the 7th and up age group than in any other group. We’re also a part of a fairly large high school co-op that offers high school transcript classes for homeschooled kids. So there really are homeschoolers out there who continue homeschooling all the way through high school.

But, too often I’ve heard homeschool moms say, “Oh, I just couldn’t homeschool through high school.” And it makes me sad.

Here’s the thing, folks, God might not call you to homeschool through high school. I do not claim to know the will of God for every single homeschooler out there. What I do know is that God has called our family to homeschool through high school. And so, for the time being, homeschooling is the best educational choice for us, hands down. And what I’m afraid is that there are other homeschool families- and often homeschool moms if they’re the primary teacher in the home- that really do feel led to continue homeschooling through high school but don’t because they’re afraid. Or they’re confused and don’t know where to look for resources and information. Or they’re concerned that their kids will miss out on something.

If God’s not leading you to homeschool through high school, then by all means, find the school that is best for your kids and enroll. But if you’re feeling that nudge that won’t go away, and you know that God really is leading you to stay the course and keep homeschooling through high school, then I have some encouragement for you.

Here are some answers to the most common questions/concerns that I often hear when the discussion of homeschooling through high school comes up. I’m also sharing some of my favorite resources for navigating homeschooling through the high school years. If you’ve been battling with the decision to keep homeschooling- and you know who you are, my friend- read on.

Homeschooling through high school encouragement

How in the world will I ever teach high school math?

By the way if you’re a math whiz, this question might be about science or English or history or any other subject. The fact is that none of us are good at everything. And, while we might muddle through teaching adding and subtracting to elementary students, it all looks a bit different when we’re staring precalculus in the face.

The fact is, however, that you do not have to teach your kids every high school subject. There are many, many resources available and many options you can explore. We live in a town with a homeschool high school co-op. Moms and others teach those classes that I don’t know much about- like the environmental science class my senior is taking this year. There are other co-ops in our area as well. We also have a local university model school where high school kids can attend three days a week and can, as homeschoolers, take a few classes, or kids can register as full time students. If you’re not sure if your town has a co-op, google it or look at the HSLDA site for groups in US states.

Besides co-ops, your kids can also learn through online and video instruction. Many homeschool publishers offer online classes, DVD classes, and distance learning. I’ll link to some of my favorite curricula resources below. But, as an example, this year I have a student taking chemistry that is DVD based from Answers in Genesis and kids using CTC math online.

If you aren’t good at every subject- and who is?- there is help.

But, but what about…prom?!

I’m not just making this up. I’ve actually gotten this question. I used to think that homeschoolers just joked about hearing this one because surely you wouldn’t choose your child’s school based on whether or not she got to go to prom. Really? But then I was actually asked the question.

Now, I’m assuming that people who are concerned about this aren’t necessarily just referring to prom. They’re referring to all the “wonderful” experiences of high school. But sending your kids to school for an experience really isn’t a good idea.

On the one hand, I taught in a public high school for a semester, and there are quite a few experiences there I’d rather my kids miss out on- fighting, bad language, bullying, inappropriate joking and comments throw about. But even the “good” experiences like pep rallies and football games and hanging out with friends at lunch can be greatly colored by the type of person you are. If you were a social butterfly extrovert who loved the social experiences in high school, your introvert, easily intimidated child might not. So to send your child to high school so she won’t miss out on good experiences is really just a gamble anyway. Your “good” memories may not be good at all to her.

On the other hand, people who ask this question are not well-informed about the social opportunities for homeschooled high schoolers that are more and more available. In our area, we have the problem of too many activities to choose from, not too few. My kids have been to a dance, and our high school social group offers a junior/senior dance that is like prom as well as a dance for younger kids. There are events like bowling and skating and a ropes course. There are service projects like helping in a homeless shelter or packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Your homeschooled high schooler can choose to be as social- or not- as they desire.

God's plan for homeschooling through high school

I cannot possibly keep up with a transcript and all the other records my child will need for graduation and college.

This is a legitimate fear. It’s been one of mine. I’m a very relaxed homeschooler in many ways. And, because I live in a state that has pretty relaxed homeschooling laws, I don’t stress over grades and record keeping very much in the lower grades. I do lesson plans because I think that’s important to keep me on track and to hold us accountable, but grades and other record keeping? Not so much.

I’ve learned, though, that transcripts and high school record keeping aren’t nearly as daunting as I believed. If you’re looking for help, HSLDA has lots of transcript templates available.  Lee Binz from The HomeScholar also has lots of great resources about transcripts, including a free webinar and other free resources as well as paid transcript services.

The most important thing is to know the legal requirements in your state for graduation if you want your child to have a high school diploma. And to work with your legal organization to make sure you’re meeting those requirements. In South Carolina, we homeschool under an umbrella legal organization. Our organization offers specific transcript help. If you can find that help from your legal organization, that’s the best way to stay on track. But if you don’t have that help, the resources from Lee Binz and HSLDA above are still great.

I’m not sure homeschooling will really prepare my child for college, for a job, for real life.

I think that something we as parents- homeschoolers or not- struggle with all the time is whether or not we’re doing “enough” to prepare our kids for life. There is so much here to think about that I could probably write a whole post about it. But I’ll just say a few things about this concern.

The most important thing I can tell you and the one I remind myself when I struggle with doubt in this area is this: God knows my child much better than I do. Only He knows what the future holds and what, exactly, my child needs to be prepared for. Because of that, I believe that when I pray and seek His will and try to line up curricula and extra classes and other opportunities for my high school students, I believe He’ll guide me into providing what they need to be prepared.

I know that might sound simplistic. And, believe me, it’s easier sometimes to believe it in my head while I still doubt in my heart. But I do believe it…even when I need reminding.

The other thing to remember is that many, many articles, surveys, and reports have been published that indicate that homeschoolers are more prepared than the average kid for college or for the work place. Many colleges seek homeschoolers because they make good students. And many employers seek homeschooled kids because they have a better work ethic and because they’ve actually been out in the real world more often instead of always in a group of peers.

I know your doubts, friend. I share them. But I choose to believe that the God who calls me to this equips me and equips my kids to prepare them for their future.

Resources for homeschooling through high school:

HSLDA has a whole page of resources for homeschooling through high school.

Lee Binz from The HomeScholar has a wealth of information about homeschooling through high school. Much of it is free and then there are classes and services that have a cost.

High School Prep Genius- I reviewed this book some time back, and it’s been an awesome resource for getting through high school and being prepared for college. It’s got information about record keeping and putting together a notebook that can be used to show a college or prospective employer, and it also has specific information for the kinds of things you should be doing each year- like testing and college applications.

CTCMath– With math classes that cover kindergarten through higher level maths like calculus, this is one of those online teaching resources that teaches the classes I don’t think I can handle.

CurrClick Live classes- These live classes- with a real teacher- are another good option for having your kids take a class that you don’t have to teach. It gives them experience with an outside teacher and helps out with subjects that aren’t your specialty.

Bright Ideas Press and Compass Classroom are also curricula companies that offer online classes- not live but really taught by a teacher that can teach and explain a subject you aren’t so good at. Bright Ideas has a geography and Mystery of History class, while Compass Classroom has a variety including history, economics, film making, and more.

Kahn Academy– Kahn is an excellent, totally free resources. There are video lessons for all levels of math, for art, for some science and computer technology, for some history. Some of the programs could be used as your main curricula for a class and some could just be good supplements to help kids understand concepts you can’t teach.

Homeschooling through high school is doable, my friend. I’m so thankful that I am able to spend time with my teens, have great discussions with them, and provide them with opportunities they wouldn’t have in traditional school. Don’t be afraid to homeschool through high school. Come on in, the water’s fine.

Do you homeschool your high schoolers? I’d love for you to share in the comments. I think it’s great that homeschooling parents of younger kids see how many of us crazy unique people there are.

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