December 1, 2015

Homeschool through High School? Yes We Can!

Why do “people” think it's impossible to home-educate through high school?

Even when my children were little, I heard the question regularly: "How can you possibly teach them everything they'll need to know in high school?" And, despite more than 40 years of evidence from the modern homeschooling era – not to mention the long history of parent-led, home-based education that was the norm for most of human history – it seems every homeschooler hears the same mantra almost as often as we get the "socialization" canard.

But why should public/government schooling be seen as the default at any age? Just because all American parents were duped for about 100 years into believing their kids had to be schooled in factory-model institutions, which the vast majority continue using today, doesn’t make it ideal for any child, let alone all children. In fact, to suggest that a home-educating family abandon its calling simply because a child has reached adolescence is insulting and laughable.

Is a typical high school curriculum really too hard for a parent to manage? If the public schools – which most current homeschooling parents attended – are really as good as their proponents assert, anyone who’s graduated from one should surely have the knowledge and skills necessary to guide another through it. And if high school material is really beyond the grasp of the typical homeschooling parent, what does that say about public schools? After all, if having gone through it didn’t make us all "smart" enough to lead our children through it, the "testimony" of the public schools is shot. And if they really don't work, why would we want to subject our children to them?

Of course, for a variety of reasons, the reality is that possession of a high school diploma doesn't actually guarantee that the one who holds it truly mastered the content of the courses listed on a transcript. And how could someone who took only the two-year minimum science requirement possibly homeschool a daughter geared toward engineering or medicine? Or how could a "math nerd" properly educate her history-buff son?

But homeschoolers have worked through that issue. In fact, we know the responsibility for our kids' education does fall to us so we’ve considered, pondered, and prayed. We have answers that work.

For starters, if a parent can read and do research and simply has a will to help her child, answers and tools can easily be found. And then we can learn right along with our children.

For example, I learned virtually nothing of history during my entire K-12 public school education. But now as a homeschooling parent, I’ve learned along with my kids more about complete and accurate history than I ever dreamed possible. We're not limited to the one textbook assigned by a school board, so my kids' learning is deep and broad and rich. And that journey will continue as they enter their high school years because I have a desire and an ability to discover a broad array of exceptional educational resources for them.

And that first truth reveals the second: Home-educating families have access to so many wonderful resources that we can find something to meet every need.

With just a bit of effort, I can locate several dozen books, websites, and videos about any given topic. In fact, as part of my on-going curriculum research project, I've developed listings for over 2,500 homeschool resource providers in every conceivable content area. I can also enlist the help of my husband, whose knowledge and skills nicely complement my own. And I can partner with another homeschooling parent or join a multi-family co-op. Additionally, I might take advantage of community resources, use selected distance-learning opportunities, or hire a private tutor – all wholly viable options entirely independent of public/government schools.

But the most powerful answer lies in the very nature of home education - namely, that we consciously work toward enabling our children to become self-motivated, self-directed learners.

A child with a special interest or unique ability needn't be held back in the least. Instead, while parents facilitate learning as described above for some areas of study, homeschooled teens who embrace self-directed learning take the reins of their own educational experiences. That sounds strange to those who've bought the lie that learning only occurs when an "expert" lectures a group of dependent students, but it really works. In fact colleges recruit homeschooled kids in part because they’re auto-didactic before they ever set foot on campus. And business owners expect employees to be motivated self-starters. Thus, the homeschooling "method" of empowering kids to be independent learners helps them in high school and beyond.

Homeschooling has been around forever - literally. And it returned to the contemporary radar screen several decades ago. It's not radical; in fact, group institutional schooling is really the social experiment. We home-educating parents love our kids intensely - we wouldn't devote every hour of several years of our lives to them if we didn't - and we aren't stupid. We can confidently homeschool through high school because we've done our homework. We know the system can't do better for our kids than we can. We’re aware of the tools at our disposal. And we know from the testimony of many who've gone before what to do and how to do it. We can do it!


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