Each year, Christiana sees countless families wrestle with this decision. And, admittedly, it is a hard decision. Over the next several months, Christiana blog writers will tackle this tough decision, trying to offer pros and cons to homeschooling, private schooling and public schooling. We hope to inform parents, offer advice from those who have gone with each of these options and teachers in both the public and homeschool circles will weigh in on this topic.
This is definitely not a decision to enter into lightly. So, my first piece of advice to moms in the middle school years would be to begin to pray that God would be clear and open doors for you in this decision. Also, I would encourage you to have your children pray in this same way. Many children also assume they should go to public high school, or feel that they are ‘missing something.’ However, before they begin to ‘weigh in’ on this decision, ask them to pray daily for several months. As you begin to bathe this decision in prayer, consider the following things
High School counts! So, if you are going to homeschool in high school, you must be committed to educating your children these next four years. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to teach them each Geometry proof, or need to have a full understanding of physics. Maybe you haven’t read all the great classics and have no idea how to write poetry. But what you must be committed to is knowing your resources. Swap classes with other moms…maybe a mom can work with several teenagers in their reading and writing while you teach them biology. I learned early on to identify those that had talents that I did not have. A neighbor’s children taught my oldest two how to learn and use Latin. My children have taught others guitar and drums. I have taught many students how to write, but get lost in the periodic table. Modern technology has opened up the homeschooling world so that you can easily find resources…some for swapping, some for pay. But there are MANY talented children and adults out there who can help.
Secondly, examine your family life and determine if you can be consistent. Set up a weekly and daily schedule that gives structure and expectation to your student. You also need to build in time that allows for your review and grading of the material. And, by all means, order the teacher key for each subject your child is taking. It will help you figure out the answer, but will also let you quickly check and grade their work. Early on, I wanted to prove to myself and my children that I could figure out everything they were doing. I most certainly could figure it out, but it took precious time that I really didn’t have. Teachers in the public schools do this too…they have answer keys for this reason. You are not falling short if you use them. You are wisely using your time! For parents who are working full or part time, this is a tough one. The formatting of a schedule and regular accountability will be critical.
Investigate umbrella groups, co-ops and on-line grade reporting systems. You may need encouragement and help, and this is where umbrella and/or co-ops can be very helpful. Classes that you may have difficulty with may be offered in one of these situations. Also, look for good reporting resources. You can set up a word document, an excel spreadsheet, or use free resources on line. At Christiana, we use an on-line grading system and it has been made available to us free of charge. Individuals can also set up grade reports. You can track grades over the four years of high school and it will produce a cumulative scoring for each year. In addition, there are many transcript services (free and for pay) that will help you to create high school transcripts. High schools use the same kinds of resources that are now available to homeschoolers. Again, technology has offered to the homeschooler what schools have been using for year.
I must say at this point that homeschooling is not for the faint-hearted. You must be committed to your child’s education and should not enter into this endeavor lightly. But it is only for a season and it is a very crucial season of your child’s life. In the next few weeks we will be exploring topics like:
*“I survived high school, so can my child”: What’s wrong with this statement?
*Peer pressure and pressure to date
*Course choice in high school and homeschool
*But my children might get a scholarship in sports! How can I pass that up?
*Clubs, Activities, Music, Art…I want my child to have these!
*From Harvard to Community College? Will my child be penalized for being homeschooled?
*My child is gifted in math and science…won’t they be behind when they get to college if we homeschool?
Since 1980, homeschooling has taken off at a tremendous rate. Thousands of parents have made the choice to use this ‘last four years of formation’ to teach their children and to help them learn how to process the world around them. Join us during this time of exploration! Remember, while we definitely have a ‘bent’ toward homeschooling, we will have some interviews with parents who decided to have their children go to public schools. We will ask them to give their own pros and cons of their decisions! Stay tuned!