AUGUST 21, 2014
Homeschooling for High School
A guest blog post written by Trish Madonia
Homeschooling high school can seem daunting, but the good news is that it isn’t. Actually, while it does come with its own set of challenges, it’s quite fun!
Getting Started With Homeschooling a High School Student
We need to start the conversation about homeschooling high school by discussing the regulations. First and foremost, know your state’s regulations. I find it helpful to have a basic outline of my state’s requirements for all four years in front of me. From there, I sketch out the curriculum I think I want to use as well as electives I feel are important. I do this in the summer before 9th grade. After that, our challenge as parents lies in following the law without squashing our student’s love of learning! To me, that’s a much more difficult challenge than covering those pesky subjects such as Algebra and Chemistry.
How We Homeschool During the High School Years
When my son was young we followed a literature-based curriculum. It was such a blessing to us – the learning occurred effortlessly, meaningfully, and with joy!
Then came high school.
I was terrified that I wouldn’t “cover” everything. We started out with separate texts for each subject, working for about an hour per subject each day. It didn’t take long to see that this made no sense for our family. So, we went back to using great literature as a spine. I had many great books at the ready, and I let my son choose which ones he wanted to read. Back came the enjoyment and excitement to “do school!”
Now, we look up vocabulary, discuss situations from the reading, and take note of the wonderful wording – the cultural and historical modes of speech. We read about the countries and regions where the stories take place – the geography, the culture, and the history. I carefully document this under the various subjects to eventually include on his transcript. We do use separate texts for science and math, but it’s easier to tie those subjects to real life. Science is evident in nature, relationships, wildlife, and health while math comes into play through word problems, measurement, evaluating data, and abstract thinking.
Just in case you’re wondering, we use the internet and our personal library to figure out anything that stumps us! I’ve discovered that Algebra is actually pretty cool. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can do what works and throw out what doesn’t or try something else. I also love learning alongside my son. Not only is it exciting to learn new and interesting things, but you also immediately know what your student finds interesting and can follow his or her lead. That is what makes learning meaningful – not memorizing random facts to pass a test.
Life Skills for the Homeschooled High School Student
The high school years are the time to prepare our teens for life. This means we cook together, clean together, and talk constantly about situations my son might come up against such as relationships, responsibility, driving, drugs, alcohol – the list goes on and on. We also have the time and freedom to allow our son to follow his passion (music) which will likely be his life’s work. Homeschooling gives him the time and flexibility to practice, play musicals, gig until late – everything that goes with a budding career. This was actually one of our initial reasons for homeschooling this son – to allow him the freedom to pursue music and not be tied to the school calendar.
Electives for Homeschooling Students
There are also electives to consider. Here’s where homeschoolers can really shine! You can gear your electives to your child’s passions or needs before college. You can decide what skills you feel are important and put in the required time to teach them. Examples can be banking, automobile maintenance, cooking, cleaning, mending, menu planning, budgeting, first aid…even public speaking. My son is also interested in film, so he’ll do a course in filmmaking as well as music theory and jazz history. He was able to fill a history requirement this year with a course called Discovering Music: 300 Years in Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture (by Carol Reynolds). I use the internet to look for curriculum that corresponds with my son’s interests.
Finding what will work for your family takes time and research. Does your son or daughter want to go to college? If so, start looking at colleges and their enrollment requirements. Ninth grade is not too early! If your student wants to learn a trade, find opportunities where he or she can get involved while still in high school. They’ll have a time and experiential advantage. Also, I fully intend to take advantage of dual enrollment community college classes as my son nears graduation and I will look for online courses if I feel unable to help cover a required subject. I don’t ever think I can teach him everything, but I do know that we can figure it out together.
Are you worried about what your teen might be missing by being homeschooled through high school? I can tell you what they are not missing – love, acceptance, respect, socialization, moral leadership, and freedom to pursue their passions as they see fit. This is more than enough reason to take on the challenge of the high school years.
Bio: Trish Madonia lives in Clinton, NY with her husband Scott and sons Schuyler and Scottie. Her family has homeschooled for 10 years, and Trish has a passion for helping new homeschoolers gain confidence in this important venture. Aside from homeschooling, she loves spending time with her family, teaching private music lessons to children, and riding horses.