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High School: A Great Time to Homeschool

by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

Would you like to homeschool your children through highschool? Are you afraid to try? If so, you are not alone. Many homeschoolparents consider quitting after eighth grade because high school “counts forcollege.” However, thousands of other parents have persevered, and colleges allover America have welcomed homeschool graduates.

Should you homeschool high school? Before you decide, reviewyour original reasons for homeschooling. Was it for academic excellence, familyunity, or spiritual growth? Was it to give your children the freedom to pursuetheir interests? Whatever your reasons, they are probably still valid. If yourmain purpose was to replace negative peer influences with positive parentalones, then high school is one of the most important times to homeschool.

Academics

Even though each year brings new academic challenges,teaching high school is not as frightening as it seems. Each grade is just alittle bit harder than the one before. If you have come this far, then you cango one more step, and then another, and another. Though the difficultyincreases, the rewards multiply as your children grow in knowledge,self-confidence, and responsibility.

With a good curriculum and willing students, you can teachalmost anything at home, but if you need help, options are available. Forexample, students may learn higher-level mathematics, science, foreignlanguages, and other subjects online or with video programs, computer programs,or textbooks that lend themselves to self-teaching. For science labs, you maybuy your own equipment, share expenses for group classes, or send your childrento the local community college.

Homeschooling high school should not add a great deal oftime to the parent-teacher’s workload, because most high school students takemore responsibility for their own learning. While still actively involved intheir children’s education, parents increasingly become advisors andfacilitators—finding curriculum, monitoring progress, keeping records, guiding courseselections, helping students prepare for college entrance exams, and arrangingfor outside courses and tutors, when necessary.

One benefit of homeschooling during high school is that youcan gear your curriculum to your students’ interests and needs. Buddingengineers may build backyard bridges or apprentice with professionals. Studentswho need extra time to master certain subjects can go at their own pace. In areas of strength,they may forge ahead to college textbooks or enroll in Advanced Placementcourses. Homeschoolers may even earn dual credit for both high school andcollege by taking accredited courses at the non-remedial college level innearby colleges, by correspondence, or over the Internet.

Extracurricular Activities

Admittedly, extracurricular activities are more available attraditional high schools than at home. However, group activities may beavailable in your area, such as

4-H, a city youth orchestra, or a homeschool debate team.Homeschoolers also have some advantages traditional students miss. Forinstance, they many participate in apprenticeships, volunteer work, and paidwork while other students are at school. They also have the flexibility to goon short-term mission, educational, or performance trips during the schoolyear. Many homeschooled students develop entrepreneurial skills through homebusinesses.

For homeschool athletes, city, county, or homeschool teamsmay be available. Even if they are not, the lack of high school sports teamexperience does not preclude participation in college varsity sports. Coacheswill want to see evidence of your students’ athletic talents, but NCAA(National College Athletic Association) eligibility is based solely onacademics. The NCAA has special rules to accommodate homeschool students.

Colleges Want Homeschoolers

Perhaps you have heard that colleges penalize homeschoolersduring the admission process. My national survey of over 250 selective collegesrefutes that assumption. Over 94% of admissions departments would welcomehomeschoolers, 91% have accepted homeschoolers, and many have begun to activelyrecruit them. Homeschoolers compare well with, and often outshine, theirtraditionally schooled peers. Some of the qualities that colleges have observedin homeschoolers include academic strength, self-discipline, responsibility,and maturity.

In most cases, homeschoolers can also qualify for financialaid. If your school is treated as a homeschool or private school under your statelaw, then your homeschool graduates are eligible to apply for federal aid.Colleges also offer private scholarships, and several now offer homeschoolscholarships.

Records and Transcripts

Most admissions departments require written documentation ofapplicants’ high school coursework and extracurricular activities. Althoughsome homeschool parents are nervous about writing transcripts, over two-thirdsof colleges will accept parent-prepared documentation. Once you know how, highschool records and transcripts are easy to write. (My book Homeschooling HighSchool: Planning Ahead for College Admission gives detailed instructions.)

Even if a college will not accept your transcript,homeschoolers may receive transcripts, and in some cases diplomas, throughumbrella schools, correspondence schools, or community colleges. With challenging courseworkthat has been verified by one of these sources and good SAT and/or ACT scores,your students would be welcomed at most colleges.

Final Preparation for Adulthood

Even though there are many advantages, the best reason tohomeschool high school is that the teen years are the final preparation foradulthood. Parental influence is crucial at this stage of development, becauseteens are so easily influenced by their peers and teachers. At home you canensure that they develop personal, financial, and civic responsibility as wellas survival skills such as cooking, laundering, and car maintenance. Yourcurriculum can be filtered through your worldview as you prepare your studentsto deal with conflicting ideas that they may face in college or in theworkplace. Best of all, the daily contact you have at home will help you keepthe communication lines open as your children become increasingly independent.

Homeschooling high school is a huge commitment, but if youhave homeschooled before, you already know the price of commitment. You havealso seen some of the fruits of your labor. Why quit while you’re ahead? If youhave not homeschooled before, high school is an exciting time to start.

Jeanne Gowen Dennis is a homeschool speaker and the authorof Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission availablefrom YWAM Publishing at 1-800-922-2143 or www.ywampublishing.com. You may emailher at Hs2c@aol.com.

Copyright © 2006 Modern Media