Can I Home School Effectively in High School?
- Sunday, August 12, 2001
"And, Mrs. Tyler, how long do you plan to home school?" I remember this question like it was yesterday, as I testified before a committee of the South Carolina State Board of Education in 1986. I was the de facto home schooling expert in South Carolina because I had managed to avoid threats of jail and had actually home schooled my sons for all of two years.
My heroic answer was this: "I plan to home school my sons all the way through the third grade." And I can remember thinking to myself, "If I make it that long, someone should pin some type of medal on my chest!'
Lest you judge me too harshly for my lack of vision, let me remind you of the times. When I began home schooling in 1984, I knew no one else in the state who was home schooling. The local school board denied my application to home school, and the State Superintendent of Education threatened to put me in jail. Home School Legal Defense Association had just begun on the West Coast, but I had never heard of it. There were no state home schooling organizations and no local support groups. The prevailing wisdom seemed to promote home schooling through the third grade. The thought of home schooling my children in high school didn't even cross my mind in those days--I had never even thought of it.
In 1990 my husband and I founded the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS), a support and accrediting organization for home schools in South Carolina. That first year we began with 120 member families, which represented about 150 students; only 5 of those students were in high school. Today SCAIHS has approximately 2400 students enrolled, and about 450-500 of those are high school students, with another 200 middle school students taking one or more high school courses for credit.
All across the country, thousands of families are successfully home schooling their high school students. Colleges are actively recruiting these students, and showering many of them with scholarships and incentives. What accounts for this dramatic shift in attitudes and numbers concerning high school at home during the last decade?
I think several factors come into play:
1. Families who began home schooling in the early and mid 1980's got hooked on it. They did not want to forfeit the fruit they were beginning to see in their family lives and in their students' lives by putting their children in school.
2. As more and more families began to home school-and home schooled for longer periods of time-more statistical data became available on the academic success of the home schooling option. With the continued increase in research findings, home schooling no longer seems like a risk-the scores are in, and boy, are they good!
3. The growing number of home schoolers has resulted in an exponential growth of curriculum and resource materials available to home-schooling parents and students. Gone are the days when publishers refused to sell to us; now they actively seek our business. In addition, many outstanding resources are available that have been developed particularly for the home-schooling environment.
4. The technological revolution provides many home schoolers with the resources and confidence they need to continue home schooling at the high school level. Courses on tape are available-all you need is a VCR-and you can have an excellent calculus or chemistry teacher lecturing in your very own living room. Courses with sophisticated content are available through satellite downlinks, over the Internet, and through media (like CDs and DVD's) that just five years ago seemed like sci-fi. In addition to course options, the Internet puts a world of research and knowledge at the home-schooled students' fingertips.
5. Many colleges are getting into the act by offering dual enrollment status to home-schooled students. This means students can take college courses during their high school years and receive both high school and college credit simultaneously.
6. Parents want to preserve their children's morality and spirituality, as well as family unity.
7. Finally, the events of Columbine High in April 1999, coupled with burgeoning acts of violence on school campuses across America, have triggered a ground swell of interest in home schooling as parents become more and more concerned about the day-to-day safety of their children.
Can you home school effectively at the high school level? Of course you can. The Crosswalk.com HomeSchool Channel is designed to acquaint you with the tools you need to accomplish the task, coupled with the inspiration you need to bolster your confidence. Today, thousands of parents just like you are successfully home schooling their high-school-aged children, and doing it quite well.
Zan Tyler is the editor of the Crosswalk.com HomeSchool Channel and the co-author of the book Anyone Can Homeschool. She and her husband Joe have three children and have been home schooling since 1984. Both of her sons were home schooled through high school and have attended college on a variety of academic, athletic, and leadership scholarships. She has a ninth-grade daughter she continues to home school.
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