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By Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants
“I have a 10th grader I’m withdrawing from public school next week, and I’ve never homeschooled. Can you help me get started?” We hear this question quite frequently as more families are choosing to begin homeschooling after parents have removed teens from private or public high schools. Some families will homeschool for a year or more in order to graduate their teens. These families usually have a firm conviction that homeschooling is the right step, even though they have questions and uncertainties about how to do it.
This may be your situation or that of someone you know. In either case, first-time homeschooling parents can explore ways to get connected, find teacher training, see the bigger picture, and step up to documentation to confidently homeschool teens.
Note: Some resource links below may require an HSLDA member log-in.
As you begin the transition to homeschooling, you may have many things on your mind: catching up on lost academic ground, tackling your teen’s motivational issues, addressing special needs, fostering encouragement, creating an effective learning environment, choosing curricula, guiding toward a career, and pulling all these pieces together. The larger homeschool community can offer experienced advice for first-time homeschool parents and effective ways for your teen to recover, regroup, and begin to flourish at home.
First, find other homeschooling families in your local area. The HSLDA website lists local homeschool groups by state and county here. (If you are a mentor to a first-time homeschooling family and your homeschool group isn’t listed, please contact HSLDA Group Services for a free listing.) Contact each group listed to discover what it offers, such as teen social activities, team sports, academic classes, electives, used-curriculum fairs, parent meetings, speakers, etc.
Support group and co-op parents often share about resources that have really worked for them. Good homeschooling blogs can also point you toward resources. HSLDA’s Homeschooling Now discusses ideas, methods, strategies, curriculum, and more. When a blogger (or friend) recommends a resource, ask questions to discover why it has proven so beneficial. If their reasons align with your goals and strengths, then the resource might be a good one to pursue. If not, keep searching before you invest time and money.
As you read favorite blogs, think about why they encourage you. (If a blogger leaves you feeling discouraged, defeated, and inept, find a new blogging outlet!) Encouraging bloggers exhibit honesty, creativity, humor, perspective, wisdom, purpose, and resilience, inspiring you to set goals and renew your energy. (All of these attributes are valuable to look for in a homeschooling mentor, too.)
Speaking of mentors, it takes time and effort to find one, but the benefit is worth the investment! A mentor with a teen older than yours can give you a vision for your homeschool, and you will benefit from the lessons she has learned along the way. You can begin by reaching out to veteran homeschooling parents, whether they still have teens at home or have finished homeschooling. These seasoned parents understand the uniqueness of each teen and know that the resources that worked so wonderfully for one teen may not be a good choice for another. Often, these mentors can provide wise answers to honest questions, and their suggestions may help you sort through options.
If at first you don’t succeed, do try again! It can take a few tries to find someone with whom you can privately discuss your family dynamics, curriculum issues, educational questions, alternate teaching methods, and creative approaches.
In addition to connecting with a local homeschool veteran (or when one isn’t available), HSLDA members can contact HSLDA’s High School Consultants. We have the opportunity to speak with hundreds of families each month, and personalized attention is our goal. Are you looking for a supportive sounding board for your ideas, a sympathetic ear to hear your concerns, and an understanding mom who can relate to your hopes and fears? No matter your question or need, we share openly about our experiences homeschooling through high school, and we will help you think through your options in productive and creative ways.
Find teacher training
Attending a homeschool conference in your area is an excellent way to take advantage of teacher training. Conferences bring in full slates of speakers who offer workshops in their areas of expertise. At these events, you can talk with the speakers about your individual circumstances. You can also purchase workshop recordings at most conferences for later review.
Homeschool conference exhibit halls provide an opportunity to visit with vendors, talk with curriculum authors, peruse textbooks, and watch demonstrations. These give you a much better picture of the usefulness and appropriateness of teaching materials than online curriculum descriptions can. Seeing and evaluating the material, as well as speaking with people who actually use it, are great methods to select resources.
See the bigger picture
High school’s purpose is to launch teens into the adult world, and homeschooling offers a variety of engaging ways for students to prepare for every sector of the job market and higher education. Helping your teen see beyond the here and now takes discernment, vision, diplomacy, and interest. Choose from the options below to help guide your teen toward his or her future goals.
- Customize high school to suit your teen’s future plans.
- Consider dual enrollment (PSEO or concurrent enrollment), which allows your student to get a jump start on earning college credit.
- Utilize on-the-job experience to help your teen decide if further training or a college degree makes sense.
- Pursue apprenticeships.
- Prepare for technology or trade schools. Investigate this option during 10th–12th grades to discover if there are any required high school courses, which must be completed before applying.
- Seek career guidance and learn about resumes.
- Scope out military enlistment.
- Plan for and apply to college.
- Understand financial aid.
- Find scholarships.
Step up to documentation
Recordkeeping is very important during the high school years, but it needn’t be a fearful undertaking! Good records open doors of opportunity for your graduate.
- A homeschool transcript includes all courses your teen completes, whether they are taught at home or taken from an outside provider, public school, private school, or college. HSLDA members can speak with the High School Consultants on recommended ways to create transcripts including courses from a variety of venues.
- A homeschool diploma is the reward for your teen’s completion of a high school course of study that prepares him or her for future endeavors!
Jumping into homeschooling during the high school years is a leap of faith, commitment, and responsibility. You can do this! We encourage you to line up networks of support, benefit from teacher training opportunities, keep a long-term perspective, and carefully document your teen’s high school course work. You’ll find that homeschool parents are eager to help you, and HSLDA’s High School Consultants are enthusiastically cheering you on! We look forward to hearing from you and providing you with support.