Can you Homeschool in High school?

It is totally possible to homeschool in high school. There are several ways to accomplish this but I will only mention a few in this post.

Some homeschooling families chose to do their own program without the concern of meeting learning outcomes or diplomas. This can work very well for some families and there can be a lot of joy in following your children’s interests and building an education around them. These families may choose to put together an academic record (portfolio) themselves.  I have known several homeschoolers who have chosen this route and have gone on to post secondary education very successfully. Many colleges and universities require grade 12 English but some will allow entrance with a portfolio, essays and/or a basic English 100 course. In most cases, whether the student stays in the college or university is conditional to the GPA attained in their first year.

Another way to gain entrance into a post secondary institution without a diploma, is to take an online or night course at a college and transfer into a degree or diploma program.  In many cases you do not need a high school diploma as long as you pass the courses.

In British Columbia, Canada you have the choice of graduating with a “Dogwood” diploma or a Certificate of Completion (marks for the courses taken). If you want the diploma, then the student will be required to write provincial exams from grade 10 through to grade 12 therefore the student has less flexiblity of what they can study. Of course this is the easiest transition into a post secondary institution.

I know a few homeschool families in the United States, as well, who have homeschooled through to graduation and transitioned into college and university successfully. Many colleges and universities in Canada and the US have a link on their websites for homeschooled student applications. More and more universities are realising that the majority of homeschooled gradutates are well prepared for university even though they have never attended a public school. The reason for this is most likely that homeschooled kids are taught to find information on their own from a young age. They are more independant and self motivated in their studies.

By high school, we chose to do the provincial exams and go for the high school Dogwood Diploma. An excellent online school is Heritage Christian Online School. I have known many, many kids (including my daughter) who schooled and graduated this way, which allowed them the freedom to tailor thier education and have experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have, being at a school every day.

This was our high school experience….

Grade 9 hit for my oldest boy, and things began to be a little bit of a struggle. He was ready to go to school. Up until this point he was happy to be homeschooled. I enrolled him at the local school for grade 10. It was a difficult transition, mostly for me, however, it was the right one for him. Academically the transition was a smoothe one. The way I taught science and socials was through unit studies. We never did a socials or science textbook and I wasn’t overly concerned about meeting  learning outcomes. He did fine. Actually on of his teachers was quite impressed with all of the “facts” he knew :).I have to admit I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out he was going to be okay academically in high school!

My daughter on the other hand, did well homeschooling through to graduation. She had a different learning style than the boys. She was textbook driven. She loved them. Textbooks and workbooks worked well for her and by high school she could basically teach herself. I became more her educational manager than her teacher. We were enrolled with Heritage Christian Online School and I assisted her in setting up her courses, ordering curriculum and facilitating tests and exams. I also helped tutor her where I could. I would communicate with her teachers online and also accommodate her other educational  needs. For example, she worked as a volunteer in a veterinary clinic and a museum for work experience. She took the necessary courses to be a lifeguard and swimming instructor. She took music and art lessons. We even went to a couple of writer’s conferences together!  In grade twelve, her graduation year, she went on a fantastic six week trip to Mexico with her online school. It was mixture of courses, missions work and cultural immersion. She would have never had this experience if she went to public school; not where we lived anyway.

However, I have to be honest and say that if you asked my daughter, online homeschooling or distance education is more challenging academically than sitting and being taught in a classroom. She eventually ended up taking a couple of courses at public school in her grade twelve year,  while homeschooling full-time. She had a secure peer group through homeschooling , and felt no need to experience high school life for the sake of the experience. She just found it easier to complete these courses in a classroom setting.

My youngest son, went into the high school when he was in grade 10. I realize now that I should have put him in school in grade 9.  He was not self-motivated like his sister and found it difficult to be alone. By waiting a year longer and not hearing his heart, caused some strain between the two of us which we are still working through a year later.

If I was asked, as a veteran homeschooler what I would have done differently, I would have probably put both my boys in school a year earlier than I did. Boys, more than girls seem to want to experience a degree of separation and independence from their mothers around this age. Perhaps if we had lived in a center with a larger youth group or homeschool group, things may have been different. For about the first 9 years of homeschooling I would have never considered the possibility of putting my children in public school! We loved homeschooling….all of us. And when I did put them in school, I won’t deny that is was super difficult for me.

I would encourage any homeschooling mother to really pray about the needs of each child individually. Listen to the hearts of your kids, especially your teens. They are all so different. I am so grateful that we were able to homeschool however, I am also grateful to our local public school for loving our kids as well 🙂

Should I Homeschool?

A peanut allergy. That was the catalyst that began 17 years of homeschooling. Initially we did not want to put my 5 year old in Kindergarten because the local Christian school was going to make him eat his lunch isolated in a separate classroom. What an introduction to school!

We were actually on a business trip with my husband, staying in staff housing when I began my first homeschooling day. When my two year old daughter said, “I want to do school too!”, how could I refuse that? Out came the plastic tub filled with markers, flash cards, playdough and two little ABC workbooks that I purchased at the dollar store.

Grade one came around and I now had another little one. It just seemed easier to keep homeschooling. We connected into a homeschool group, participated in play groups and field trips, and were enjoying being together. Some days were trying and exhausting while others were wonderfully rewarding.

My advice to someone who is contemplating homeschooling, or just starting out on the journey, would be to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. For us, the catalyst was a peanut allergy but really I felt that God had been tugging on my heart long before that.

Talk to people who are already on the journey. Seek out other families that are homeschooling. Watch them and see how their families operate. Do you want what they have? Homeschooling is more than education. It’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s not for everyone. I chose not to go back to working outside of my home. Raising my children and homeschooling became my career and my ministry….it was my calling in life for that season. Make sure your heart is in it.

In most cities it is not difficult to find a homeschooling group. Larger centers will have many. Ask around and try one or two out to see if it feels like the right fit for you. A good homeschooling group is invaluable. There, you will find a wealth of information; probably too much! Take what you need, leave the rest and guard your heart against comparing yourself to others.

Homeschool groups can be wonderful for mentorship, extra-curricular activities for your children and even co-op teaching. When my children were younger, we did science fairs, gymnastics, homeschool hockey, swimming lessons and Christmas parties.  Sometimes we would join other families to study certain units. We ate our way through the middle ages, learned about Shakespeare by putting on the play Julius Caesar complete with a Roman Feast. We even experienced horseback riding for the first time through a field trip. We toured every possible business, police station, hospital, fire station and government institution for the sake of educational field trips. The smaller the town you live in, the more creative your group will have to be.

One of the keys to successful homeschooling is fostering the love of learning into your children’s hearts and minds. Explore what interests them. Chose a teaching method that works for you as a teacher, for your family and for your lifestyle. If you live on a farm, your experience will differ from someone who lives in a large center.  Do not compare yourself to other families. That is the biggest mistake and a very easy thing to do. Remember, I started out with two “dollar store” ABC books, markers and playdough. Start out simply, seeking God for guidance and He will not lead you astray.

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Any Questions for a Retired Home Educator?

Well I’m not really retired. I am just not homeschooling anymore but it was a huge part of the past sixteen or seventeen years of my life. In my last post, I asked readers what they would like to read about in my blog. Here were the questions:

  • Life after homeschooling: focussing more on the kids and their endeavors
  • Life of change: the pre-empty nest syndrome. The focus would be more on my journey of what comes next for me personally as a middle-aged former homeschooling mom
  • Lessons learned from home educating older kids

Most answers came through text and facebook message and thank you to everyone who responded! The results seem to be almost an even split between the three questions with a few more interested in lessons learned from home educating. Pondering this, I was thinking this exercise really failed as it didn’t really help me pinpoint a new direction for this blog. But after more thought I thought perhaps I will just do all three.

Since I have quite a few followers who are homeschoolers I think I will start on a series which involves looking back on my homeschool career.

So for my homeschool followers, here is another question! What do you want to know?

Here are some ideas:

  1. How do I get started?
  2. Cirriculum that worked for me.
  3. How do I homeschool highschool?
  4. What would I do differently?
  5. Can a blend of homeschooling and public school work together?

I am happy to share my experience on any topic regarding homeschooling.

Please feel free to reply on this blog or facebook message me.

Question For My Readers

So far so good with my transition. Homeschooling is officially over and I have no trouble keeping busy, still managing the lives and schedules of my family amongst other things. However, I have been pondering my blog and wondering what direction I should take it in. Originally, this blog was little bit about homeschooling teens and a lot about some of the fun activities my kids and their friends were involved in. My purpose was to show people that kids could make a choice to live against the norm of the world  (ie. drinking, partying, dating recreationally). Now that my son is in university and my daughter who has recently graduated and has one foot out the door,  I am thinking I may change the direction of this blog a little bit.

A wise fellow writer suggested that I ask the opinion of my readers. I have 174 followers and I am thinking I may know about 50 of you. Most of you follow because you are wonderful friends and family that support my writing. The other 124, I really have no idea who you are. I am wondering if I could kindly ask readers to engage in a little survey to help me take this blog into a direction that would be enjoyable and maybe even helpful for some of my readers? Here are some new ideas for this blog:

  1. Life after homeschooling: focussing more on the kids and their endeavors
  2. Life of change: the pre-empty nest syndrome. The focus would be more on my journey of what comes next for me personally as a middle-aged former homeschooling mom
  3. Lessons learned from home educating older kids

I would really value your opinion. I know I do have some young people following. I would love to hear from you! I am also open to suggestions that are not on the above list! Please comment below or you can find me on facebook if you prefer to message me privately.

Thanks for your input!

Change With the Seasons

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Today I feel grateful. Sitting on my porch, looking out over the expanse of my yard, my flower pots are still in bloom and yet the fall colours are in the background. The view signifies change.

I love the change of seasons  in Northern British Columbia. Sometimes, I fantasize about living in a warm climate where there are only two seasons: sunny/hot and warm/rainy. But really, as I look out at my flowers against the background of the golden trees, there is something inside me that feels excited about the fall. On the horizon awaits a youth conference with my teens, my oldest son returns home for thanksgiving, and of course, the Christmas season follows sooner than we think after Thanksgiving.

At the same time I fight some sadness and a bit of fear as a season of my life comes to an end. My 16 year homeschool career is coming to a close. I struggle to let go. I struggle to re-establish my identity which was that of a “homeschooling mom”. My youngest is in grade 11 at our local school, and my daughter who has just graduated has gone back for one semester to do two extra courses. So now what?

I plan to get serious about my writing. Write every day. Take this blog in a new direction (that will be another blogpost). Get that children’s book published. Write more magazine articles. Work on my novel.

I have been hired as a “teacher on call” at the school. Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself teaching at a school especially after “retirement”!  However, I was asked if I would be interested and after thinking and praying about it I felt to give it a try. If I think about it, I am a bit terrified. But if I don’t think about it and relax in the peace, that God brought the position to me, then I’m okay. I haven’t been called to work yet, so perhaps that is another blogpost as well 🙂

I do have a burning desire to get my house in order (literally). Purge, purge, purge! Sixteen years of homeschooling tends to accumulate a lot of stuff. I want to organize those cupboards that have needed tending to for years. Unpack those boxes from our last move six years ago! Things like that.

I would like to make time to travel a little with my husband on business and also go visit my oldest son at university. There are lots of other commitments I could get busy with. Kid’s extra-cirricular committees, church involvement, mentoring younger homeschooling families….all of those things are good. However, I need to trust God to arrange my schedule and be mindful about seeking Him.

Now is a time for reflection. Homeschooling was a gift. Not everyone can do it or wants to do it. It worked for us as a family for many years. It allowed us to be together, for my kids to become best friends, to travel as a family during the school year, and to study what made us happy. It was much more than academics (although homeschooling had many advantages that way as well). It was my calling for awhile and I grew as a person. It is time to smile at the memories, to let the flock fly and step into the next chapter of my life.

Change. It can be a good thing. Without God it can be scary and overwhelming. Therefore I will look to Him for guidance each day and trust that He also wants the very best for me.

Moving On

It is our last day here, in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. As I sit on a picnic table looking out at the expanse of Georgian Bay, the water is calm and glassy. It is the end of September, still sunny and warm and I reflect on my last three weeks here. Actually I reflect on the last 50 years of my annual summer visits to this lovely place.

When my children were younger, I had hoped and dreamed that we could move here and I could begin my day with a walk along the shore of the longest freshwater beach in the world. Due to my husband’s career and other decisions that we felt led to make as a family, our life has been established in Northern, BC. However, there is something about Wasaga Beach that will forever tug at my heart. Perhaps it is my childhood memories of the cottage, yearly summer beach visits with my own children or for the simple reason that my parents and sister still live here.

Who knows? Perhaps we will retire here. But for now, I am grateful I had the time to spend an extra three weeks here with my daughter, Carlee, and some quality time with my parents, sister and family.

Now it is time for Carlee and I to head out on our next adventure….our writing conference in Edmonton. Feeling blessed today for what feels like bonus stolen time with my lovely daughter who will before I know it, be flying off on her own adventures!

My sister Linda and I

My sister Linda and I