ADVANCED ACADEMICS

Yes, this is the really big one, isn't it? This is the one thing that really scares many homeschool parents--even those who manage every other pothole in the road with no problem at all. Those people in our lives who do not support our homeschooling choice are fast to point out the looming problems. In fact, they usually start doing so when the kids are about 5 years old! They boldly state that we are in no way capable of teaching our teens calculus or physics, and how on earth do we expect to give them the benefit of group literature analysis in our isolated front room?

To be honest though, even without the unwelcome input of these usually well-meaning but often irritating advisors, most of us as homeschool parents are quite proficient at giving ourselves a hard time about this issue. We question whether we really can handle this high school thing. We remember our own days in high school (and yet very little of what we were taught there!), and we doubt our ability to communicate such knowledge to our ever-growing and changing teens.

And we are so afraid that we will miss something!

On that issue, we can relax. After all, every student (homeschooled or not) will have gaps in their content learning. However, if teens understand how to learn, if they know how to find the answers they are seeking, they will fill in these holes as the need arises. In addition, when something is learned because it needs to be learned, the retention of knowledge is much greater.

The reason these academic matters are so important to us is that we care so greatly about our children and what their adult lives will be like. We want them to have it easier than we did; we want them to find fulfillment in life; we want them to be happy.

However, we need to remember that we cannot control what their lives will be. We can influence the future in many ways, and it is good that we do so. Yet, in the end, each young person is responsible for his or her own choices, goals, and actions. We also need to remember that each of our children is unique. We know this fact, yet sometimes we act as if we have forgotten it. Each of our children will follow different routes to different destinations. What works best for one teen might be a disaster for another.

Some of our high schoolers will need to learn advanced calculus, and some will not. Some of our students will have an interest in car repair, and some most definitely will not! Some parents can teach calculus, some can teach car repair, and some can teach neither, but we can all help our children find a way to learn what they want or need to know.

As parents to homeschooled high school students, our job in the academic arena is to assist our kids in determining what their goals are and the different ways available to reach those goals. This job encompasses searching out the best materials and/or methods--those most fitted to the learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses of each student. Fortunately, we have many options open to us.

My oldest two children followed what most people would consider a very demanding academic route during their homeschool high school years. Actually quite different in their interests, they each studied at their own pace in what we feel was a relaxed fashion. The result? They were both offered full academic scholarships at many selective colleges. Homeschooling had nothing but a very positive effect on their ability to excel in the academics of their choosing.

My next two children are in the midst of high school homeschooling at this time, and they are also relishing the freedom to choose much of what they will study and how exactly they will reach their different goals. Neither of them is as academically intense as their older siblings, but they both have definite ideas as to what they want to accomplish in their lives. The variety in our children can be both challenging and invigorating!

My own goal is to help them all along their way through our high school here at home. Daily, I remind myself that, whatever others may say, I have seen the fruit firsthand, both in my own children and in the lives of many other homeschooled teens. Homeschooling through high school does work. May you and your children enjoy it and reap the many benefits, too! 

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Kim Lundberg is the busy mom of 9 great kids. She and her family have been homeschooling for 16 years, and they make their home in beautiful northern California. Kim enjoys teaching drama, writing, and world history classes, as well as reading mysteries, baking goodies, camping, and listening to her kids talk, sing, and make music.

This article was originally published in the Nov/Dec '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com