Homeschooling High School? Relax!
- Friday, September 14, 2007
Can it be true? Is it possible to homeschool through high school in a relaxed yet productive way? Doesn't high school have to involve loads of detailed work, complicated record-keeping, expensive lab equipment, higher-level math frustrations, and confusing transcripts?
I believe it is important to encourage homeschool parents to become confident in their ability to do a great job with homeschooling their high school kids. So let me reassure you: it is not only possible, but also extremely rewarding and enjoyable, to homeschool your teens throughout their entire high school career in a relaxed though purposeful way.
Unfortunately, the term "high school" sends many homeschool parents scurrying to enroll their students in the best institutional school they can find. Parents might make this choice for several reasons. However, one of the most common triggers mentioned for placing a homeschooled child into traditional school at the high school level is that the parents believe their student suddenly needs a more structured learning environment and a more demanding curriculum than they can provide at home.
The great majority of us who homeschool our children were not homeschooled ourselves. We went to the usual institutional schools, and whether they were outstanding, pathetic, or mediocre, they set us up to doubt our qualifications and competence when it comes to guiding our own teens through the challenging high school years at home.
If our high school was superior in its quality (at least in our dim and nostalgic memory), we wonder how we can ever measure up to its standard. After all, we don't have the same facilities, the same budget, or the same expertise, do we? If our school was miserable in both its approach and its results, we fear we will produce the same type of sub-par product. After all, why should we think we can do any better than trained professionals? If our school was merely average, we worry that we have no excellent model after which we can pattern our children's education. After all, who are we to think we can properly determine which goals should be pursued by our students, and how can we plan in a practical way to reach such specific goals?
One of the most important things we can do to build our confidence level and our resolve is to remind ourselves that we are these children's parents. We know them better than anyone else does. We know their strengths, we know their weaknesses, we tolerate their quirks, and we encourage their individuality. No one can love them more than we do, of course, but also, no one can understand them better, and no one can want them to succeed as much as we do.
What does success mean to you? In your homeschool? At the elementary level? In high school? In adult life?
The answers to these questions will be different for everyone to a smaller or greater degree, and that is fine. God made us all individuals with specific purposes to fulfill in this life. However, before you can be comfortable and confident in your homeschooling—especially in homeschooling a high school student—you must know what success means to you. You must take the time to think through some hard questions, and you must discuss them with your teens, too. Only then can you outline a workable program for your high school at home, and only then can you relax.
Yes, relax! So many people, both long-term homeschoolers and newcomers to homeschooling, have a difficult time grasping the idea that the high school years can be relaxed. "Relaxed" means you accept who your teenage children are and help them to focus on their strengths and interests. "Relaxed" means you are not constantly second-guessing what you decided yesterday or last year. "Relaxed" also means you are flexible enough to consider change when the need arises.
SO HOW CAN WE BECOME MORE RELAXED?
Some people seem more relaxed by nature. Perhaps, we think, it isn't a possibility for everyone. What exactly does the "relaxed" mode of homeschooling entail anyway?
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