I’m setting aside what I had scheduled for today to publish this post instead. Because I’m finding out that there is a HUGE need for a post like this. Let’s get our facts straight about what is really necessary for homeschooling high school.
Every day in my Facebook group called It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, moms ask questions. And if the moms are new to homeschooling high school, the questions are often similar in nature. They sound something like this:
Would it be best to enroll him in an accredited school? How accepting are colleges of homeschool diplomas?
My girls start high school in July. I’m scared to death. Middle school was not bad but high school!
A friend told me that colleges only accept “Tier 1” curriculum when considering high school transcripts, meaning the course material is approved and taught within “Tier 1” standards. Does anyone know anything about this?
I have an up coming 8th grader who will be home for high school and I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed.
The truth is that homeschooling high school can fill even veteran homeschool moms’ hearts with dread. And I think I know the reason why.
We’ve all seen the articles out there: Gazillion Books Your Kid MUST Read in High School. My Kid Got A Full Ride By Doing These Practically Impossible Things. Colleges Only Want Teens Who Show Fluency in Three Languages and Run for Local Office. Make Sure Your Teen Has All the RIGHT Credits for High School. Ad infinitum.
Granted, I was a little tongue in cheek there. 🙂 But you know what I mean. This type of article IS out there, and it’s out there in abundance, unfortunately. What these articles do is scare us into thinking we can’t possibly do homeschooling high school right. They make us feel inadequate. They turn what is really not a difficult process into one that seems overwhelming.
I purposely do NOT pin articles like that to put on my Harmonious High School Homeschool Pinterest Board. I get really spooled up about people who engender fear among homeschool parents by disseminating their own OPINION about what high school students should do.
I say that because these articles are in truth completely based on personal opinion and not on actual fact. Today I’d like to look at the FACTS about homeschooling high school. It’s time to ease some fears and draw some deep breaths. Homeschool mom, if you are intimidated by the thought of homeschooling high school, then read these and get that weight off your shoulders.
(You may be wondering what makes me more of an expert than the people writing those articles. Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything, lol. But what I do know I gained from my experience graduating three children from our homeschool and seeing them get accepted by many different colleges. I have enough experience to know what it takes — and it’s NOT what they all in the “they” building want you to think. I just call it like I see it, y’all. 🙂 )
12 Reassuring Facts You Should Know About Homeschooling High School
1) You are NOT obligated to follow the public school laws for your state. Your only obligation is to your state’s homeschool laws, and they are usually very broad and allow for A LOT of decision-making on your part. Do not fall into the trap of believing that your child must do high school at home the same way the neighbors are doing it at the local school.
2) As a corollary to #1, you do NOT need to follow the graduation requirements for public schools in your state. THIS IS HUGE. You can use those as a guideline, but you have the final say about what your child must complete in order to graduate. You decide the number of credits; you decide the types of courses. Again, these decisions get made within the framework of your state’s homeschool laws. But those laws are most likely not as restrictive as you fear. For more information, see What You Need to Know About Homeschool Graduation Requirements.
3) Colleges do NOT expect your child to be the same as a public-schooled child. Colleges accept homeschooled kids all the time these days. Any college worth giving your hard-earned money to will actually LIKE homeschooled kids, because they have seen their worth compared to the average public-schooled teen.
4) You do NOT have to use “accredited” courses or “Tier 1” courses (whatever THEY are) to ensure your child will be accepted by the college of their choice. Anybody who says so is a fear-monger. Guess what? You can even design your own courses!! More details here: Planning High School Electives for Your Homeschool.
5) You do NOT have to get your child’s transcript notarized or pay for some service to create it for you. The transcript you make for your child is just as valid as one sent from a public school. Just make the format clear and easy to follow. For a fill-in pdf that is already formatted, and for everything else you need to know about transcripts, see my article called Demystifying the Homeschool High School Transcript.
6) You do NOT have to keep one foot in the public school system so that your child can have enough “opportunities.” Being homeschooled will NOT limit or shortchange your child. Read one of my most popular articles: Opportunities My Teens are Missing Because We Homeschool High School. You might be surprised at what it says!
Along the same lines, you do NOT have to weigh your child’s day down with a bunch of extra-curricular activities to make their application look more well-rounded or to try to make them look “socialized.” When you homeschool, your child’s interests become part of their coursework. Colleges can handle that — really.
7) You do NOT have to know Chemistry in order for your child to learn it. That goes for every other difficult high school subject that you are worried about. Your teen can learn Chemistry, and all the rest of them, all by himself. Or you can find a tutor, or an online class, or even send him to the local community college, if you have the funds and that is your desire. There is more than one way to do the homeschool high school thing, and YOU can decide how it happens in your home.
8) Colleges do NOT expect your child to have read certain books. There is NO list of must-reads. Let your child read what they want to outside of their coursework — within the guidelines of age-appropriateness, of course. It is better that they read A LOT for pleasure than that they grow to hate it and won’t do it because they are forced to follow a prescribed list of boring and depressing “classics.” And don’t bother to keep a list of what they do read, unless you want to for your own sense of satisfaction. It is NOT necessary for a college application. For a list of suggestions (not prescriptions, just SUGGESTIONS, lol) of great books for teens that are clean and encouraging, see Good Books for Teens.
9) One of my big pet peeves is the whole idea of a high school “portfolio.” NO, no, no! You do NOT need to make a high school portfolio to try to impress colleges. Send ONLY what they ask for. They don’t need to see a sample lab report or persuasive essay about why Elizabeth should not have rejected Mr. Darcy. (Anybody else think it odd that she didn’t fall in love with him until AFTER she had seen his palatial home?? Hmmmm??? Well, I guess the pond scene with Colin Firth didn’t hurt, either…LOL.) Colleges create applications with certain questions and information requested for a reason. They’ve got it covered; they’ve been doing it a long time.
10) Your child does NOT have to be on grade-level to graduate from high school. If your child has a learning disability or some other reason for taking things a bit slower than the average student, you can still count their work as high school work and graduate them when YOU decide they are ready. More about this in What to do When Your Homeschool High School Student is Behind.
11) Your child does NOT have to take all core courses or AP courses or CLEP exams or dual credit. Check online college catalogs for what courses they require of their applicants — you will see it is not onerous. More about that here: The Easy First Step to High School Curriculum Planning.
12) After all that about what colleges do and don’t want, I would be remiss if I did not also say this: College is NOT the only path your child can take after high school. Homeschooling actually provides MORE freedom to kids who want to try an alternate route, such as an apprenticeship or entrepreneurship or even working on the family farm. Don’t try to put your child into a mold unsuited for them. You know your child best!
My point with all of these is that it’s not necessary to make homeschooling high school any harder than it NEEDS to be. Yes, all of the above things you can do if you want to; but they are not NECESSARY. Don’t let anyone tell you that you MUST do any of them.
Can you tell that I am just a little passionate about this subject? LOL. But y’all, I HATE that moms are so worried about homeschooling high school. I HATE that so many put their kids into public school just because of their fear of falling short. Homeschooling high school is actually more fun than all the earlier years put together, in my opinion!
So if you are just starting out, I hope I’ve put your fears to rest. If you are in the middle and are second-guessing yourself, I hope you’ve found reassurance. Homeschooling high school is VERY doable. Don’t listen to those rumors out there. Stick to the facts.
And for more articles like this one about homeschooling high school and other ideas for making life easier and less stressful, sign up for my newsletter by putting your email address in the box below! 🙂