Some areas of the high school curriculum are more difficult to handle in the home. With a little resourcefulness you can succeed at providing your children with the experiences they need.

Laboratory sciences are a very important part of college preparation. Laboratory experiences provide problem solving and practical skills that will be necessary in college work, and of course science content. Many see the difficulty of experiencing labs as one of the biggest problems for home schooling. Since our background is in science, and specifically teaching science for Laurie, this has been less of a problem for us than for some. We have organized and taught group lessons for lab work in General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Other families we know of have used video labs. There are even laboratory experiences such as frog dissection available on the internet (though it just doesn't smell the same). Another option is to take the upper level science courses at a community college for high school and college credit simultaneously (see chapter twelve of our book). If you are adventurous and resourceful, you can do labs at home with some basic equipment. Some support groups might consider purchasing equipment cooperatively and have a "lab equipment library."

What about courses you cannot handle? What about foreign languages, advanced math, music theory? Most of us are not proficient in every subject area, and some parents have little experience in any. The truth is, having a graduate degree in every subject area is not necessary. In the upper grades it can be of great benefit to hire a tutor for difficult subjects (you would not hesitate to hire a piano teacher, why not a chemistry tutor). Other subjects are available in video or via satellite. Distance courses over the Internet and software are abundant in any imaginable topic.

The key is to be open-minded when looking for options. At this point, there are resources available to help home schoolers with everything from sign language to driver's education. Be willing to get help for areas in which you do not feel capable.

On a personal note, our son Jeremiah spent nearly three years studying algebra because we could not quite hit on the right way to teach it to him according to his learning style. We were entering a state of desperation when Jeremiah told us he would like to take a video course. Both of us as parent teachers are quite capable in the math area, but we were not able to pass it on in Jeremiah's case. We actually thought we would never use video classes, but we were willing at this point to try anything.

As it turned out, the video presentations were just what he needed. He enjoyed having a teacher other than his parents at this point, and he had a freedom to go at his own pace. He caught on quickly and advanced well, taking the tests and excelling at them. We thought we would never need to resort to video classes in our home school, but being open to try whatever might work for him turned out to be blessing and a relief.


Editor's note: To purchase the Callihan's new book from the Curriculum Guide, click here.)