Step One- Thinking About It!
Does the idea of homeschooling your high schooler sound scary and uncharted to you? Just as homeschooling is an adventure no matter what grade or age level, homeschooling for high school can sound intimidating!
Please know that many, many families have successfully (and happily!) completed this chapter of education for one or more of their children.
Speaking as a parent who has done this, these capstone years are do-able, really fun, easier, and more rewarding than our family imagined they’d be. What’s wonderful is that just as in the other years, you can find courses and help them prepare for their future in ways that are the best fit for each of your children.
The following observations are not meant to be legal advice. We are not attorneys and we not spelling out legal advice for you. But, we offer you real-life information and wisdom gained from the experiences we’ve lived. Read on here, and also, please take a look at our Community, in College Corner where you’ll find more about homeschooling for high school, and preparing for college.
One way to scale down the stress is to think of these years in terms of grades—9th grade, 10th grade, 11th grade, and 12th grade instead of the word ‘high school.’ A wise friend gave us this tip when our daughter was starting ninth grade.
“It’s ninth grade. Ninth grade follows 8th grade. We did 8th grade---so I bet we can do 9th grade. When you talk about it at home, don’t call it high school (she said with a smile!) Just call these years, 9th – 12th grade!”
This is a wonderful tip. Using the term 9th -12th grade does sound more do-able. While it doesn’t matter what we call a particular level of school, there is meaning in names! They have an effect on us. Other possible names for these years are: college preparatory education, private tutorial education, secondary education, rhetoric (the classical education term), or how about this one “Mid-Levels.” Think how friends and family will respond when they ask if your son is in high school now and you say:
“Actually, he’s in his Mid-Levels.”
“What are Mid-Levels?”
“That’s what some of us homeschoolers call the college-preparatory years.”
Humorous, yes! But, how freeing to not be captive to words and names that others use!!
We’ve all heard the term “prep school.” It’s where the term “preppie” comes from. What that term refers to is a school that prepares high school-aged students for college and for the college admission process. Homeschooling families could call themselves ‘prep schools.’ After all, we are prepping our students for not just college, but for adulthood itself.
Questions to think about:
Will part of your prep school, or 9th -12th grade program for your student, include earning a high school diploma?
There are generally four ways that homeschooling families approach the high school diploma question: a) enrolling in a private distance education program that provides a high school diploma, b) issuing your own diploma and spelling out in your transcript what criteria your student met, c) working with your local high school to see if they will grant a public school diploma to your child, and finding out what your student will have to do to earn it, d) not earning a high school diploma.
More about diplomas: While many/most colleges and universities do require a high school diploma for admission, where a student receives his or her high school diploma can vary greatly. There are many organizations, private schools, and distance schools which, for a fee (some large, some small) and after compliance with their requirements, award high school diplomas. Also, many colleges will accept a home-awarded high school diploma generally if the applicant has met all of that particular college’s other requirements for admission.
Will the college where your student applies accept your home-granted diploma, or a diploma from another organization or school? It’s up to that college. If you call the colleges where your student would like to apply, and inquire, they will let you know.
The same is true with employers. If a job applicant does not have a two-year associate degree, or a four-year bachelor’s degree, employers tend to require a high school diploma, or a GED. That is up to the individual employer. But it’s important to realize that if your student is not going to attend college, or if your student’s college career could be interrupted, having secured a diploma may be an important step for such a student.
To homeschool legally - in addition to regular requirements for homeschooling families, your state may have specific requirements for families with a 9th – 12th grader. But even if they do, these are generally not the same as your state’s requirements for a high school diploma.These are generally two different things, depending on the state.
When it comes to requirements - meaning what your teen needs to do to successfully complete 9th – 12th grade—these are really questions of “For what?” and “For whom?”. Diploma requirements are different from college admission requirements, which all tend to differ dramatically from each other.
An example of differing requirements: Local public high schools may require 3 or 4 years of physical education before they will award a public high school diploma. However, few colleges require any physical education. . . or driver’s education. . . or consumer education as entrance requirements. In fact, most colleges and universities do not require these at all.
If you are planning to send your student to public high school for 11th and 12th grade, which some families do after 9th and 10th grade at home, talk to the school ahead of time and plan out how you will do that and whether or not your student will meet their requirements for a diploma, if that is your goal.If that is not your goal, you still will want to talk to your local high school ahead of time, to see if your student will qualify for the courses he or she will want to take, during those years.
Colleges and universities vary tremendously in what they require for admission -To apply to college, some colleges require three years of high school mathematics, beginning with Algebra I. Some require only two years. Some require two years of high school-level foreign language. Some colleges will accept American Sign Language for foreign language competency. Some will not.Some colleges require two years of high school-level laboratory science. Some require three years. Some require one year.They vary!
How do you know what your 9th – 12th grader needs to study?
Start by looking at college admission requirements of a few schools where your student may apply. (Again, looking at our Community, in College Corner, is a good way to start. Whatever and wherever your student studies or takes high school-level courses, you can continue to use our free PER, web-based service for free record-keeping and planning.)
Where does a homeschooled 9th – 12th grade student take courses?
There are many choices. Our family found wonderful 9th – 12th grade courses through our local homeschooling co-op, also through our local community college, at a local private college, at a local botanical research organization, and just as we had always done, we did some of the courses at home. It was a mix. A wonderful mix.
Are courses free?
While our web-based record-keeping services are free, because you’ll find the actual courses at other locations, generally you will pay tuition and materials costs for them.
Either parents spend time teaching a group of other homeschooled students in exchange for other parents teaching your child (a co-op), or parents pay tuition in some manner, either through dual-enrollment courses at your local community college, or through a correspondence program, or an on-line program, or at another school. (But it’s important to realize that today even students who attend public high school generally pay fees, and often 100’s of dollars worth of fees each year.) If your student qualifies for distance education, through your local public high school, and you choose that option, this is extremely low-cost.
Some Possible Choices for Courses
It’s up to each family to evaluate courses, programs, and schools based on their own philosophy of education, the cost, the program’s level of record-keeping, and the school and teachers’ level of feedback and interaction with your student. These are all factors which vary per program.The following are only a few of the choices available.
1. University of Nebraska – Lincoln. They have been providing high school correspondence courses for high schoolers for many years. Nebraska residence is not a requirement. Website: http://www.highschool.unl.edu
2. Many other universities have correspondence programs.
3. Distance learning possibilities may exist through your own public school district or your local community college.
4. Christian Liberty Academy’s Correspondence program (faith-based). Website: www.homeschools.org
5. Clonlara School Home Based Education program (non-sectarian and student driven). Clonlara provides students with a say in what they will study for a particular course. Compuhigh on-line classes with student interactive discussions and message boards are possible. Website: www.clonlara.org
Publishers of Complete High School Curriculum
As above, there are many choices for high school curriculum for homeschoolers and the same evaluation criteria should be used for these as for correspondence or distance learning schools. You can mix curriculum from different publishers to get the best fit for your child’s learning style.
Alpha Omega Publications (faith based). Switched On Schoolhouse (computer software). See www.home-school-inc.com/shop for products.
Bob Jones University Press (faith based), offers a complete line of high school curriculum. See www.home-school-inc.com/shop for products.
Are there more questions about 9th – 12th grade? Yes!
Learning about these years, making plans, and investigating options is a process. Please don’t feel intimidated. Homeschooling these years is as wonderful as it is in the lower grades and ages.
We wish you the best, and we will keep informing you about more and more that’s involved in this process at Home Schoool, Inc.