Today I thought I’d chat about homeschooling highschoolers,
since I’m just about to graduate my first homeschooled highschooler.
Lots of people worry about homeschooling in the highschool years;
I was one of them, although I tried my best not to think about it too much.
My approach was to think only about the step that was in front of me
and not to let tomorrow’s concerns creep into today.
And this approach seems to have worked.
Here I am with a grade 12 student and a grade 10 student and I’m still sane
Actually I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the highschool years
and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to spare my children from the stress and nonsense
that happens in the senior highschool years at school.
So, what can I share about homeschooling highschoolers with those coming behind me?
Well, firstly and most importantly, stop worrying.
Work with the day in front of you and enjoy it.
Worrying won’t help at all, unless you’re aiming on going grey early.
Secondly, highschool takes more time so prepare to spend a good chunk of the day working.
If you are able to finish highschol work in half a day, you aren’t doing enough.
When your kids reach the highschool years, their work expectations need to increase.
They need to be reading harder books, writing longer more complex essays and studying more rigorous topics.
That’s just the nature of highschool work.
This is partly why I find it more difficult to blog nowadays.
I have less time and the work that we’re completely isn’t as photogenic,
but I assure you that our days, while not visually interesting, are mentally interesting.
Now, for the most common question, “How do I teach all of those senior subjects?“
There are two parts to my answer.
Firstly, you don’t have to teach all of those difficult subjects if you can’t or don’t wish to.
There are so many resources to help homeschoolers.
Online classes, tutors, dvd courses and more.
Secondly, my own approach has been to work alongside my children, especially for Math.
It’s been a long time since I studied senior Math subjects
so I’d really struggle to teach or help my boys if I wasn’t in the midst of it with them.
I look over the exercise beforehand and I also use youtube videos to help me understand and teach new topics.
Then I sit beside my boys and actually complete the exercises alongside them.
Yes, I have my own exercise book!
Its great for my brain and it means that I can easily help my boys when they struggle
(and they can help me too!)
I work alongside my boys for a number of subjects.
This is probably where I’m very different to most homeschoolers.
It’s common for homeschooled highschoolers to be given their textbooks and a schedule
and be sent to their rooms to teach themselves using their materials.
The idea is that this approach encourages independent learning hence self-education.
Those things are great, however, I have a different priority at this stage in the learning process – mentorship.
A mentorship is a relationship where a more knowledgeable and experienced person
guides or teaches a lesser knowledgeable and experienced person.
I think a mentor, or a teacher, better educates a student than self-education,
particularly at this stage in life.
Not to undervalue independent learning, however, if I have a choice, and I do, I’d want someone to teach me.
Consider having to build a car from scratch. Which would you prefer?
Having an teacher guide and instruct you or teaching yourself with a textbook?
I know which I would choose for myself, so I want my children to have that same advantage.
Having someone to guide and instruct them, also gives them someone to discuss and converse with.
Dialogue is a vital component of learning.
Explaining, questioning, elaborating, debating – these are all part of a good education.
Highschool is also a time when our children need people around them.
It is not a good time for them to be alone.
They crave social interaction so spend time doing things with them
and make sure they have plenty of time with their friends.
Another thing I don’t do that other homeschoolers may do is narrow our subject selection in the senior years.
In school, students select a narrowing number of subjects as they get older.
The reason for this is that senior subjects are seen as the first step towards their future job or career.
The subjects they won’t use in their future jobs are ‘dropped’ in favour of ‘more useful’ subjects.
In my homeschool, we don’t narrow the subject focus because we view education differently to schools
If a subject was worthy of study in the beginning, it doesn’t lose it’s worthiness
simply because it won’t be used in future careers.
Education is for life, not merely a job, so we’re still studying all manner of things.
But if you are going to narrow your subjects,
I’d advise you to keep Math and English (particularly essay writing).
You’d be surprised how many university courses have at least one Math subject as a prerequisite;
courses you wouldn’t think were Math related in any way.
And the universities we have looked at have all had English as a prerequisite for every one of their courses.
So keep working hard on those essay writing skills. They really do matter.
Oh and encourage your highschoolers to read, to read a lot.
(Dvds and podcasts are a poor substitute for books.)
What else can I share with you? Feel free to ask questions. I’m just throwing out thoughts of my own here.
I think the most important thing I can say, aside from don’t worry,
is don’t change your homeschooling to suit your tertiary goals…unless you want to.
You don’t need to send your kids to schools or distance education programs
to get them official paperwork or rankings.
You don’t need to rush them into courses and Tafe certificates to fulfill university prerequisites
…unless you can’t wait.
There is no need to change the great education you were providing your children
before the fears of highschool hit.
There is time to finish giving your kids the education that you dreamed of when you first started homeschooling.
Don’t let irrational highschool fears steal the final years from your child.
Enjoy those years of homeschooling your highschooler
…and there’s plenty to enjoy, especially the great books and discussions.
But most importantly,
let your highschooler enjoy their final homeschool years.
They can’t get them back once they are gone.