When it’s time to decide what courses to provide to your high schooler, the options can be mind-boggling! Which curricula and publishers should I choose? Should my teen take co-op, online, or dual-enrollment courses? Maybe a tutor is a good idea
. . .
To help you think about the best course delivery options, let’s investigate each alternative so you can match your teen’s needs to the formats that meet your objectives.
First, devote some time to developing a high school plan—a
list of what courses your teen will take each year of high school. It’s OK if the plan changes over time. What’s important is to map out the courses in advance so you know the big picture. If you’re looking for course
options that will work for—or that you can adapt for—your teen with special learning needs, you can learn more here.
During the elementary and middle school grades, many parents teach all or nearly all of their children’s courses. The same can be true for high school. Never underestimate your ability to teach any course you put your mind to!
Some curriculum publishers provide parents with the necessary tools to teach all of their students’ courses: textbooks, prepared lesson plans, test banks, answer keys, and other resources. You can select one or all of your curricula from
these publishers. In addition, subject curricula for individual courses are available from specialty publishers.
The benefits of parent-taught courses include you as parent having firsthand knowledge of your teen’s understanding and retention of subject matter, being able to set assignment deadlines that fit your teen’s schedule, determining
the pace of learning to meet your teen’s abilities, and retaining control over course content.
If there is a homeschool co-op nearby, your teen can take advantage of courses offered by enthusiastic, capable teachers in subject areas you might prefer not to teach yourself. Co-op teachers may be homeschooling parents with expertise in the
field or professionals hired by the co-op.
The co-op setting provides your teen with a ready-made audience for presentations, a classroom of students for group projects and socialization, and the experience of interacting with a teacher who may have different expectations than you. Co-op
science courses can provide cost savings for lab equipment and shared curriculum resources. Plus, co-op teachers can furnish letters of recommendation when your teen applies for college or employment.
Find out if the co-op teacher will grade your student’s assignments or if that responsibility belongs to the parent. You will still need to monitor your teen’s assignments and supervise the schedule so that all the work gets completed
and submitted on time.
Online Courses (aka Distance Learning)
With the boom in available online courses, it’s likely you will find an option for any course your teen needs or wants to take.
Online courses, sometimes called distance learning, may utilize a live class format in which all students are online at the same time and can ask the instructor questions during lectures, or courses may be self-paced, using recorded lectures.
Self-paced courses provide more flexibility because classes may start at any time in the calendar year, and your teen can choose when to watch the recorded lectures. Live online courses may be a better choice if your teen prefers to interact with the instructor and other students.
Most online course providers are experienced and enthusiastic about the subject material. If the instructor has taught for several years, your teen will benefit from lesson plans and teaching methods that have been honed over time.
High school students who are ready for a challenge may choose to enroll in one or more college courses. The main benefit for teens who take dual-enrollment courses (sometimes called concurrent courses) is that they can earn high school and college
credit simultaneously! Who doesn’t like a two-for-one deal?
Although high schoolers typically take such courses at local community colleges, some four-year universities and colleges offer online dual-enrollment courses. States such as Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, and Florida offer qualified
students free dual-enrollment tuition, and other states offer tuition discounts.
Each college sets eligibility policies for dual enrollment. Some require a placement test or a minimum SAT or ACT score to determine if teens have the necessary skills for succeeding in college-level courses. Other schools may require a minimum
student age, such as 16 years. State-funded tuition programs limit the years during which a student can take free courses, and may limit the number of dual-enrollment courses a teen may take each year.
A dual-enrollment course provides your teen with classroom experience and an opportunity to practice significant time management. Consider beginning with one course to see how your teen handles the faster pace and greater depth of information.
For some courses, you may want to hire a tutor who will teach the entire course, be available regularly to answer questions, offer additional instruction when your student needs it, or provide remedial help. Search for tutors among homeschooling
parents, relatives, recent homeschool grads, neighbors, church members, and others. For example, a former teacher—now a stay-at-home mom—may be very willing to tutor your teen. A retired engineer may jump at the chance to teach
your teen a science or math course. A college student may be available on an as-needed basis to offer writing help or evaluate your teen’s compositions.
Tutoring options may work well for courses for which curricula are hard to find. For example, if you want to offer botany to your teen, you could enlist a botanist to design a course with plenty of hands-on learning.
It can be helpful to write a simple tutoring contract so that all parties agree on cost, meeting times, and the responsibilities of the tutor, parent, and student.
As you develop your teen’s high school plan each year, consider each course you want to provide and then determine the best way to deliver it. Your teen may benefit from taking a variety of courses; or your budget, family situation, and other responsibilities may dictate one type of course over another. With the plethora of course options available, you’ll be able to choose just the right ones.