Beginning the journey of homeschooling a high schooler seems incredibly daunting: The future you've dreamt, planned, and worried for has now arrived on your doorstep. Are you ready? Is your child? But just like choosing to homeschool in the first place, what seems impossible is not only totally doable, but can also be very rewarding. Now is when you and your child get to really reap the rewards of a more self-directed, personalized education that will help launch your new high schooler in any direction they choose for their future. But before you get started on the future, here are the basics of what you'll need to know for starting the high school journey, broken down into the very basics.
Curriculum. The options for high school curricula are essentially to utilize a private virtual academy, a public virtual academy, or continue with a preferred homeschool curriculum. Though it can seem that way, your student is not required to complete an accredited virtual program, public or private, in order to "officially" graduate.
Diploma. As touched on above, some homeschoolers choose a correspondence program that covers credits, grading, transcripts, and a diploma. If a homeschooled student is considering a public four-year university or enrolling in a brick-and-motor school at point some during their high school years, this is likely a wise option to consider. However, in every state homeschooling parents are authorized to issue their own diplomas, and many colleges will accept them without issue (private and community colleges in particular, but some state universities as well). A third option is getting a GED instead of a diploma, but this can seem a less attractive option due to possible stigma. Finally, there are also services that will organize records for you and issue a diploma when requirements have been met, for a fee.
Credits and Transcripts. A virtual school will take care of these, but if taking a different route there are templates online to keep track of credit hours and courses completed, and be sure to check with your state for what is required for graduation, as well as some potential colleges for what they require as it can vary widely (for example: requiring a foreign language or more science credits.) And for electives such homeschool PE or an art class or co-op, log the hours spent on a subject. Generally, 60 hours equals one half-credit. Consider keeping a portfolio as well.
Next Steps. As scary as it may be, probably more for you than your high schooler, keep in mind what comes next. Is your child planning to go directly to a career? Maybe consider having her volunteer, shadow or intern for relevant work experience. Is he aiming for community college? A technical degree? With more flexibly in homeschool curriculum vs an online school, perhaps he could take courses relating to his desired degree or certificate now to prepare him. Four year college? Keep a close eye on what those particular schools are looking for and how to best prepare a well-rounded, qualified student.
-Be wary of online diploma mills. Just like some scam colleges, these schools have "accreditations" that don't really mean much and do not provide an appropriate education.
-A college-bound student of any type should be prepared to take their ACTs or SATs, or possibly both for admission requirements.
-Look into dual enrollment. In some states high schoolers can take college level classes that are great on a transcript and help prepare them for life as a college student. In some states, they may even be able to knock out some of their early 100 level college class requirements.
-Investigate home school friendly colleges. These are often smaller liberal arts or religious-based schools and community or technical colleges. But not always; Stanford, Duke, and MIT all have admissions information specifically for homeschoolers. Keep your options open.
-Lets Homeschool High School is a fantastic resource for more information.
-Don't worry about the future too much. The high school years are an exiting time of discovery and maturity, enjoy them! As daunting as it may seem, keep in mind that most of all you should focus on one year at time (or semester or month or week or… The future will come, but there's no need to invite it in early. It can wait, for now.
image via Caleb Roenigk