There are two kinds of parents who consider homeschooling high school. Some parents ooze confidence and super-human academic and organizational capability. They often have near-perfect children, compliant in every situation. They have plenty of time to digest detailed information about high school. They thrive off research, and enjoy learning the nuances of senior year before their child becomes a teenager. Fortunately for my business, there are only a few of these parents, because I like dealing with the other folks much more.
Freaked Out Fans
My biggest fans are parents who live in “the real world” of real stress. They range from slightly terrified to freaked out! They often feel overwhelmed by details, and crave simplicity. They need minimal information in order to retain their sanity. If given too much information, they become immobilized with fear. Some even panic and bail out of homeschooling. I have met these parents at conventions. I know you are out there! But I also know how much you love your children and want to do a good job.
For freaked out and terrified parents, I offer support. Let me explain high school in the simplest terms so you can enter the next stage confidently. There are five stages of homeschooling high school. To be honest, you only need to pay attention to the first two, because you have plenty of time to learn about the others later on.
Middle School: Preparing for High School
Middle school or junior high is grade 7 and 8, and it begins about age twelve or thirteen. That’s when you’re teaching children to be prepared for high school. For children, that means you cover reading, writing, and math at their level. If they are behind, it’s the chance to get them up to grade level. If they are ahead, you can give them high school level subjects when they are ready. For parents, this is the time to learn about homeschooling high school and practice record keeping. You don’t have to know it all by 7th grade. That’s just the starting point where you begin to learn about high school.
Freshman Year: Thinking about College
Freshman year is grade 9, and children begin the year at about age fourteen or fifteen. Has your child ever changed their mind about anything? I’m guessing they have! And if so, you know they could waffle back and forth about going to college, just like they waffle back and forth about whether they want Belgian Waffles or American Waffles.
For that reason, planning a college prep education can save a lot of headaches later on. Simply planning on college can save a ton of headaches down the road, and even if they don’t actually go to college they still will be better-educated and prepared for life.
College preparation is simple. Four years of English, four years of math (at their level each year) four years of social studies and history, three years of science (and at least one science lab), two or three years of a foreign language, two years of PE, one year of fine arts, and enough other coursework to add up to 22 credits or more.
This may seem intimidating, but it really is just regular-old homeschooling, keeping children working at their level in each subject. For parents, freshman year is when you begin to learn about high school record keeping.
You don’t have to learn it all, or learn it perfectly, during freshman year. This is just the time to start. Try starting a transcript, and begin a reading list. A reading list is just a list; title and author is all you need. If you feel like it, write a paragraph about each class your child completes during this year. These will eventually be turned into “course description” but don’t get intimidated by the name. It’s really just a paragraph – truly, a fifth grade writing assignment for you.
Sophomore Year: Prepare for College
Sophomore year is grade 10, and children begin the year at about age fifteen or sixteen. Prepare for college by making sure you cover the basics and have begun a foreign language. Learn about college tests so you’ll know if AP or SAT Subject Tests might be necessary for your student. Have your child take the PSAT “just for fun” this year while their score doesn’t matter. For parents, this is the perfect time to learn to write a transcript. New drivers can get a “good student discount” with a homeschool transcript. In other words, someone is going to reward you with money for doing your job. Awesome!
Junior Year: Find a College
Junior year is grade 11, and it begins at age sixteen or seventeen. There are specific things that have to be done during junior year, but as long as you keep learning about high school, you can learn those tasks that are unique to junior year. If you complete these tasks, things usually turn out marvelously. For now, just remember that the key is not senior year, junior year is where the rubber meets the road. When you are ready for more information, read “The 9 Keys to a Successful Junior Year.”
Senior Year: Apply to College
Senior year is grade 12, and it begins when students are seventeen or eighteen years old. The first day of senior year is the best time to begin college applications. Scholarship money is often “first come, first served” so applying early can mean big bucks for your family.
Private colleges have more scholarship money, so don’t shy away or be nervous about the price. Colleges love homeschoolers, and they are used to homeschool transcripts, whether or not they are “accredited“, so don’t be nervous about that either.
Infant or Four-year-old
It’s important to remember that dramatic changes occur over the four years of high school. Maturity happens. You have seen huge changes in the lifetime of your child. The infant barely resembled the four-year-old. Same child, same personality, but huge differences in abilities and maturity. Similar dramatic changes occur during the high school years. Seventh graders don’t look anything like 10th graders. Freshmen and seniors are miles apart.
You are a different parent than you were with your first newborn. You have learned confidence that comes with experience. That will happen again, as you face this time in your life. Just like you learned to diaper and bathe your baby, you can learn about transcripts and college admission tests.
Your child will mature and be ready to graduate high school. You will mature with them, and learn how to do high-schoolish things. For now, though, take it easy. You have four years to learn how to do it. Now is no time to panic! Just relax, and learn a little bit at a time. You’ll get there. I promise. Huge changes take place between freshman year and senior year; so don’t give up hope. Huge changes will take place in YOU between freshman year and senior year, so don’t panic.
Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee’s 5-part mini-course, “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School.” You can find her at http://www.TheHomeScholar.com.