There's a way to give your older homeschooled children a "leg up" on institutional students. These concepts work in secondary school. They create beneficial synergy for your children.

First, consider reasons why Christians homeschool. As David has mentioned numerous times, when he was in high school he wasn't given all of the information in public school to make an intelligent decision about the origin of things. Public education's evolutionary bias shortchanged him. He was almost twenty before realizing that an intelligent alternative exists to the belief that we are just a process of random chance accidents over billions of years. Public high schools in this country dominate science (and other) programs with a bent toward materialistic, even atheistic answers for life's basic questions. Although guised in scientific objectivity and educational neutrality, many are actually religious points-of-view rooted in secular humanism that goes unchallenged with legal protections.

Numerous homeschooling parents see this problem early on and decide to guide their students themselves toward a proper worldview. For this reason, Christian homeschooled children are provided other materials. Bible reading, devotionals, doctrinal courses, church-based studies, and apologetics resources supplement curricula. Children taught this way in the high school years receive a "balance" to public school secularism. One side benefit is that our children gain broader, more rounded knowledge in subjects. Over ninety percent of American children taught in public schools miss this.

Secondly, many homeschooling families use a Grand Plan. With this tool, children in junior high and high school "take ownership" of their homeschool education, providing greater focus and personal interest in finishing each course. Some even finish early. The Grand Plan motivated our own children to work toward the end goal of high school graduation more energetically than without it. It allows students to see clearly what is required to succeed.

The Grand Plan helps many parents incorporate subjects that "double credit" high school and college courses. [NOTE: By double crediting we mean taking a high school course and a subsequent CLEP, DANTE or AP test; we don't mean taking college courses for both high school and college credit. This may be done in some cases as a junior or senior, but is difficult to accomplish in earlier grades.]

One of several advantages is that homeschoolers have reasons to work harder in high school. They get college credit too! It is very satisfying for a student completing a challenging subject to gain high school and college credit. Another is the financial reward. The student saves that future money that would be spent on the same (more expensive) course in post-secondary school. There is also a timesaving. If your homeschooler masters Biology, U.S. History, or English Composition why take it again? Although in some cases it might be appropriate to take the same course in college as a part of the student's major, it isn't necessarily deleterious for a student to skip the initial college course. Many are remedial. Why not save the time and just move on?

Thirdly, homeschooling parents are actively involved in their children's education. They aren't interested in having them learn independently of family. One way to continue doing this when completing a standard high school curriculum is to work with them as they do their CLEP, DANTE, or AP exam. (We particularly love CLEPs because of their broad acceptance, low price, and standardized grading value.) Many families are learning of their usefulness. If nothing else they act as a final examination for a standard high school subject (though they provide much more).

Use these three ideas to give a homeschooler a strategic advantage. Take Psychology as one example. Many colleges now require this course as a freshman requisite. But as parents, we shudder to think about some radical college professor ramming a whole bunch of anti-family, anti-Christian, post-modernist concepts down a child's throat in a basic Introduction to Psychology course. If you think this isn't happening, you're just kidding yourself. Recall the fall, 2002 American Enterprise Magazine research poll showing the lopsided political skew of over twenty of America's most reputable universities. (Cornell had 166 left-leaning professors. Just six claimed political affiliation with the right; University of Colorado/Boulder: 116-5; Stanford: 151-17; Brown: 54-3; UCSD: 9-6; USC/Berkeley: 59-7; Williams College 196-4.) This trend is so prevalent that Colorado's legislators are discussing a bill requiring professors to maintain non-bias in their classrooms.

So what is an alternative? CLEP Prep classes taught at home. Using a video from Cerebellum and a book from REA, we were able to teach our children the Introductory Psychology CLEP material. We then supplemented it with Dr. David Noebel's book The Battle for Truth and biblical studies gave them the Christian perspective. They passed the CLEP easily. A high school Psychology elective credit was awarded on their Grand Plan, and they had 3 college credits in Freshman Psychology out of the way—all at a fraction of the cost of tuition for the same course at a local college or university, with more thoroughness and content. A bad influence was avoided and a semester of time wasn't wasted on a fairly easy course. Do it once, and your children will want to do this again and again!

David and Laurie Callihan are homeschooling authors. They give courses in CLEP Preparation across the U.S. Learn more at their websites, www.davidandlaurie.com and www.clepclasses.com. They are regular columnists on Crosswalk's High School page.