Homeschooling high school students no longer have to sit around the kitchen table all day. There are now numerous options available to broaden their exposure to new subject matter, provide a group learning environment for specific subjects, or get a jump on their college education. Technology plays a large part in many of these, but low-tech alternatives are also readily available. With state curriculum frameworks to keep in mind, and specific requirements for potential colleges, expanding your homeschooling to include a variety of the following options for your high schooler can be both helpful and cost-effective.
What’s The Best Daily Homeschool Schedule?
Find the best homeschool schedule for your family by taking into account your child’s learning style and energy levels throughout the day. The best daily homeschool schedule is one that keeps your child excited about learning and takes into account their learning style and energy levels.
Here’s a sample homeschool schedule:
- 8:00 am wake up and breakfast
- 9:00 am language arts
- 9:30 am math
- 10:00 am break time
- 10:30 am reading
- 11:00 am science
- 11:30 am lunch
- 12:30 pm art
- 1:30 pm history/social studies
- 2:00 pm music
Try out different schedules and see what works best for you and your child.
If your child has been homeschooled for a while, they are likely comfortable with the traditional, parent-led model where the parent presents the lesson, assigns the work, and then grades the work when completed. Whether they’ve been doing this for years, or are newer to homeschooling but a self-motivated student, your high schooler has likely found a quiet spot at home where they can concentrate on the more challenging high school subject matter.
Sites like Khan Academy offer free instruction in a number of academic areas which can be helpful when a subject is difficult. Older siblings can gain social service credit by working with younger high school students and if finances allow, you can hire a tutor to coach your student.
Online at Home
There are a few options for parents who want their students to take online high school classes. These include The Potter’s School Online Homeschool Academy (TPS), homeschool publishers, or organizations like HSLDA. Students can complete either individual classes or the full grade-level curriculum using this format.
After you’ve bought the necessary materials, your high schooler can either watch recorded lectures or participate in online classes with live lectures. Additionally, students can communicate with other classmates through chat sidebars or study groups created for the class. The online teacher will grade your student, and it will be up to you as the parent to correctly document the grades on the student’s transcript.
Homeschool co-ops are when families get together to share the teaching load. They can be small, with just a few families, or large, with many families and different classes. The benefits of larger co-ops include more specialized instruction, like having a medical doctor for a biology instructor, or a former public school gym teacher for a recreation coach.
Homeschooling offers the opportunity to learn together as a family, while homeschool co-ops offer the opportunity to learn with other homeschoolers. This group learning can be particularly beneficial for certain subjects, such as high school sciences, writing skills, literature, and history.
Homeschooling in a co-op setting has the additional benefit of community involvement. Both children and adults can develop lasting friendships as they work together on a regular basis.
Classes at Your Local High School
Public schools offer unique resources, like labs and wood shops, which can be beneficial for homeschoolers. Even if your children don’t attend public school, as a local taxpayer, you’re still contributing to the school.
Your student may benefit from taking Advanced Placement, or AP, classes at your local high school. These classes are created by the College Board and offer a college-level curriculum in 38 specific subjects. If your high schooler passes the examination following the AP course, they can be exempt from the corresponding college class and possibly receive college credit. Successfully completing AP classes and exams can save your family money and lighten your student’s course load once they’re in college.
Enrichment at Your Local High School
Although private schools offer a more personalized education, the extra resources that public schools offer cannot be denied. A student musician, for example, may want to explore band, orchestra, or chorus offerings. Your high school athlete might thrive as a member of the local high school’s varsity soccer or swim team. A child with a passion for drama can share their thespian gifts by participating in plays or musicals.
There may be clubs available that can help your student improve their art portfolio, do better in speeches, or participate in a sport where there isn’t as much competition. Although these aren’t full academic courses, they’re often things that your student is passionate about. By giving them a chance to get better at these things, they can develop skills or hobbies that will last forever. Even if they only do it for a short amount of time, it will still look good on their high school transcript.
Local College Classes
High school students might be able to take courses at colleges nearby as part of what’s called dual, or concurrent, enrollment. Your student would need to show the college that they’re ready to take courses there first. PSAT/SAT scores, a current high school transcript, or completing placement exams could be required. If they’re accepted, then they can work on fulfilling some high school and college requirements at the same time.
The cost of dual enrollment courses varies depending on the school and state. Sometimes these courses are offered for free, while other times they are offered at a discounted tuition rate. They can also be taken at high schools, community colleges, and some private colleges. My son took two semesters of Spanish at a community college while he was in junior year of high school. This earned him the equivalent of two years of high school Spanish and saved him from having to take the two semesters of foreign language required by his private college of choice.
Online College Classes
Classes that count for both high school and college credit can be taken online from high school educators or colleges that offer such courses.
Many high school kids take at a local private college when they are juniors or seniors in high school. Check out dual enrollment options instead of AP classes – these are much more likely to earn college credits and as long as you are careful about the school’s accreditation, those credits will easily transfer to their college of choice.
If your high schooler is looking to go to college, taking dual enrollment courses is a great way to prepare them. These courses introduce your student to college-level work, and can show colleges that they are capable of handling the workload. Additionally, upon successful completion of the course, your student will earn college credit, without having to take an extra exam.
High School Diploma/Associate’s Degree
An option that has been shown to be both time and cost effective for some families is taking dual enrollment to the next level. Qualified students have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree while they are completing their junior and senior years of high school. This specialized track is offered primarily by community or public institutions, and the associate’s degree can be transferred into some bachelor’s degree programs at these institutions. But there are also some private schools that offer this 2-for-1 program.
The annual cost of tuition for this program is one third of the cost of tuition at a four-year private institution. This program is a good option for motivated students and families who want to save time and money.
There are other things to consider as well such as if your student is prepared academically and mature enough to do well in college classes at 18. Another thing to consider is if there are any mentors or experiences offered at a four-year institution that would be a better fit. Also, a great financial aid package might make a private four-year college affordable. Each family and student is different so the answers to these questions will also be different. However, it’s good to know that this dual degree option is available.
If you are homeschooling a high school student who plans to go to college, you should consider having them take the CLEP tests. The CLEP tests are exams that cover material that a high schooler should know if they are going to college. These exams can be taken to earn college credit. Some of the exams cover course material that is familiar to an advanced high schooler, such as College Composition, Introduction to Psychology, or Calculus. Other exams can be passed with college credit extended as a result of professional experience, such as Information Systems, Principles of Marketing, or Introductory Business Law. Your student should check with the colleges they are interested in to see if they accept CLEP credit and to see if there are any restrictions before taking any CLEP courses or tests.
It’s important to note that taking the SAT subject tests, offered by College Board, does not guarantee college credit. However, a high score may allow the student to bypass an introductory college course on the material covered in the test. Some colleges require that applicants take and submit scores for specific SAT subject tests as part of the application process, while others recommend taking one or more exams. Still other colleges have no specific requirements and may simply consider the SAT subject test scores as part of their applicant pool.
Homeschoolers, like school kids, need to focus on more than just schoolwork. It’s also important to get involved in social service or other extracurricular activities. These experiences can create a more well rounded person and are really important for teaching kids the joy of helping others.
Other opportunities to gain experience before entering the professional world include programs like the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, offered by five branches of the armed services. Student participants are not required to join the military following their high school graduation. Rather, through course work, activities, and physical training they can learn about the organization’s core tenets: citizenship, leadership, character and community service. These experiences complete that important high school transcript for college-bound students, and they are incredibly valuable in themselves.
It is difficult to say what the long-term impact of COVID-19 on education will be, but it seems likely that there will be more use of technology in the future. The current situation with college costs and declining student populations is not sustainable, so it is likely that there will be some changes in post-secondary education as well. Homeschooling is likely to look different in the future and will involve more than just sitting around the kitchen table.