Making the Highschool Journey - Part 3
- 2005 14 Sep
Choosing the right options
Parents who are homeschooling their high schoolers have a myriad of options and resources to choose from. Not only can you design a course of study that is suited to your child's strengths and goals, but you can complement your own unique teaching style and interests.
For instance, maybe your student needs to strengthen her math skills. But you were an English major at a liberal arts college and promptly forgot all the algebra you ever learned. Don't panic! Online classes, correspondence schools, and private tutors are just a few of the possibilities available to you. The following overview lists some common options.
Your student can take online classes (distance learning) from home. Things to consider when selecting a correspondence school include:
- Is it recommended by someone you trust?
- What is the school's worldview, and the worldview/character of the professor teaching the course?
- What do others say who have used the program?
Homeschooling parents who pool their efforts usually form a co-op. Parents offer to teach classes in exchange for their children's participation in the co-op. Parents who prefer not to teach can usually enroll their children for a fee.
From a friend who is a portrait artist to a church member who's a math professor, a granddad who has a degree in organic chemistry, or an older sibling who's majoring in German, potential tutors are everywhere. Homeschooling mother and speaker Cafi Cohen also suggests contacting a nearby college to ask for the names of students interested in tutoring.ix
Another option used by many homeschoolers is taking dual-credit courses at a community college. Through these classes, your teen can earn both high school and college credit (make sure the credits will transfer to the four-year college of your teen's choice). Aside from offering instruction in subjects you may feel inadequate to teach, community college classes will save you money in the future if your student enters college and is able to transfer his credits. Judy Davis, whose two oldest children took calculus and physics in community college during high school, points out that students benefit from knowing excellent professors who can write letters of recommendation to colleges or scholarship programs. Judy recommends that a teen enroll as a high school student--this is usually called "dual enrollment." Because some freshman scholarships have limits on dual-enrollment credits, students should beware of accumulating too many credits and thus forfeiting their freshman status. Check with the colleges administering the scholarships. However, if the student is going to transfer to a four-year college rather than apply as a freshman, his freshman status is not an issue.
Before enrolling in community college, find out what worldviews are upheld in the classroom and what kind of students your high schooler will be socializing with. Look at the professors' qualifications, the syllabi, and the textbooks. If possible, talk to others who have taken the class your student plans on taking.
Scott Auslund, a 2004 homeschool graduate, is now attending community college near his home in Sacramento, California. Challenging social and political topics are commonly threaded through Scott's classes, but he is learning to respond to them by meeting regularly with a discussion group of close Christian friends.
Complementing your homeschool with outside classes is a valuable, flexible option for many families. Marcia Somerville encourages parents to evaluate their goals for outside instruction, concluding that for Christian parents, their child's soul is most important. If your goal in homeschooling is to produce a child strong in faith and rooted in truth, choose only teachers and classmates who will help your child achieve this.x
Your homeschool experience with your high schooler can be a wonderful opportunity for you to strengthen your relationship with your teenager and to have fun along with him as he grows. You may be struggling or hesitating now, but be encouraged by the many other parents who have taught their own--or several of their own--high schoolers. These families are reaping the rewards as their children graduate from college and begin jobs or start families. As homeschooling mom Elizabeth Smith says, "The teen years were the best years. I wouldn't have traded them for the world."
[ Editor's Note: This is the final article in a three part series. Did you miss the other two parts? Check them out here:
Andrea Longbottom is a student at Patrick Henry College and works part-time in HSLDA's Communications Department. She grew up in Southeast Texas and was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. Andrea will graduate from PHC in December 2005 with a degree in literature.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a 22 year old, 80,000 member non-profit organization and the preeminent national association advocating the legal right of parents to homeschool their children. For more homeschool news check out http://www.hslda.org
ix Cafi Cohen, "Running through Walls," Home Education Magazine (May/June 2000), http://www.homeedmag.com/HEM/173.00/mj_clmn_ok.html.
x Marcia Somerville, "Which Class Is Most Important?" (workshop, 2005 Montana State-Wide Home Educators Convention and Curriculum Fair, Billings, MT, June 24, 2005).