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Homeschool or High School?

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Homeschool Mom: Deciding between homeschool or high school for our teenage son is one of the biggest decisions our family can't seem to make.

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We are, like Congress, trying to vote on the stimulus package. We have committees and filibustering and all-night arguing going on, because it is that fateful time in all homeschooling families' lives when a child is heading into high school.

You see, elementary and middle school are fairly easy to manage, but high school demands a whole new level of intensity that a lot of families feel is just too difficult to muster. So, the debate is: Should we send our 13-year-old son to the local high school where there is one-stop shopping: swim team, band, art, etc.? Our high school is considered one of the best in Southern California (which may not be all that great of an endorsement). Or should we homeschool?

We know a lot of great kids who are attending or have graduated from the school, so we can be reasonably sure he will be adequately educated and prepared for the future. Homeschooling would demand that I find places and classes, in various ways and locations, to plug him into all he needs. I would be confident, however, that he would be extremely well-prepared and well-educated.

For those of you that have always had your children in regular school, you are probably scratching your head wondering what's to argue. But you see, "the way" of homeschooling has some sincere benefits, and to let those go and wade into the negatives of the public school system is as daunting as organizing homeschool-high school.

For instance, homework at public high school is time-consuming and often filled with silly projects that waste your teen's time. High school is also filled with pathologies that plague our young people -- those have not been a problem for us at all. Right now, my teen plays two instruments, swims and has plenty of time to socialize with friends. (Yes, homeschool teenagers hang out with friends.) He has time to hang out with us, his family, and vacation. There is no rushing in the mornings and life is less stressful in many ways. Not to mention he does well in school and in many ways receives a better education then would even be possible in a classroom setting.

The interesting thing is that my husband and I take turns being for one side or the other. He will say, "Definitely take him to school ... it is the best plan." Then I will cry, "But what about ..." Then we change positions and the debate rages on. The final kicker to the whole decision is when you ask my son, "Son, what would you like to do?" He says, "I don't know, it would be okay either way."

Maybe we should flip a coin or ask the Magic 8 Ball. What do you think about the great debate? If you had the choice, which would you choose: public high school or homeschool?


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46 comments so far | Post a comment now
Bec Thomas March 5, 2009, 6:29 AM

Homeschool, I think he social climate in many highschools just aren’t productive, and even if your kid is one of the good kids I don’t think he should be place in such an unhealthy enviroment. I also don’t feel homeschooling highschool is all that difficult, I think it is actually easier then the gammar years. Once they reach highschool age the can be alot more independent and self motivated.

Daryl March 5, 2009, 7:16 AM

If he’s planning on going to college, I’d highly consider going to high school. My brother in law is the dean of admissions at a New York university and finds it very difficult to evaluate the merits of a home schooled student. By going to a high school and getting good grades, he also opens himself up for scholarships. As far as the environment of high school, you’ve raised him thus far with your morals and values, you should feel confident that you’ve done your job well and he’ll be able to handle the negative temptations.

Kristen March 5, 2009, 7:51 AM

My vote is to continue homeschooling him!
We homeschool our children and I would NEVER send them to high school, the amount of time kids waste doing dumb projects and worrying about friends is NOT worth it, plus you are losing valueable time as a family. I also think the high school years can be the most product for homeschoolers, these kids are able to learn WHO they are and what values they have much sooner because they don’t have all of the extra garbage AND they are able to explore their interestes more in depth so that they are BETTER prepared for college.

aerialla March 5, 2009, 8:08 AM

I’m sure that your son has an opinion on the subject but due to his parents indecision he might be at a loss to share his own voice. Let him try High School. You will not know the benefits or negatives this will have on your son until he is able to live in that environment every day. A friend of mine was homeschooled through high school years. When she decided to go to college and actually got there she did find out that she had to take an abundance of extra classes because she had no credit for them. The credits you take in High School go a long way to telling a college how prepared you are for their curriculum. What may seem like a dumb project to waste time in High School will benefit the student in college. High School will also prepare your son by getting him used to a full classroom atmosphere where more than a few students is vying for the instructors attention. Trust me in college where there are hundreds of students for one professor it is better to learn now how to manage things on your own that to get really slapped in the face with a reality check. I watched this happen to my friend. She almost dropped out of college because it was just too much to handle. If you don’t want to do all four years let him take the last two, but give him the benefit of some things that just can’t be taught at home.

2 cents March 5, 2009, 10:37 AM

“there is no rushing in the mornings…” lol! Is your kid not going to work after college? Getting ready in the morning and heading out the door in an efficient manner is a valuable skill that is learned in the school years.

Jen March 5, 2009, 11:10 AM

I have mixed feelings about homeschooling. I see the pros and the cons in homeschooling and “regular” school. Sometimes the “dumb” projects, rushing in the morning, and dealing with unsavory people is an education in itself. When you’re working, your boss may ask you to do pointless things, you’ll have to deal with people you dislike, and you’ll definitely need to get used to rushing in the mornings and other forms of “stress”.

Jill March 5, 2009, 11:17 AM

I have a baby (and one on the way) so I may be under qualified, but I actually have given this serious thought. My husband and I have agreed to homeschool our children through the early years, but high school is up for grabs. One of my ideas is that I will let the child himself make the decision.

Who is he? A free spirit artist (like myself) may benefit from a continued flexible schedule (and skip college altogether for a while), but a teenager who is serious about the sciences should be prepared for rigorous schedules and a longer school experience. Those are extremes, and there are gray areas in-between, but I think you have to go with your gut because you know your own child.

FB March 5, 2009, 12:28 PM

I would say, find a good, classical private school (Christian, if you’re into that kind of thing). The classical education model is more rigorous and useful for college preparation than a standard high school curriculum, and if the school is truly Christian, there will be an expected and enforced code of behavior that should eliminate most of the unnecessary drama from the high scholl years.
Or find out what he would need to know to pass a GED test and the SAT and ACT. Excellent scores on the SAT and ACT (if they still use those tests) will make him eligible for scholarships, and once he gets to college, he can always test out of any “remedial” classes the college might want him to take.

The Mother March 5, 2009, 3:48 PM

I homeschooled mine UNTIL high school. We also live in a district with a great high school, and I was not concerned about sending them.

There are real advantages to “real” school—
1) if you are into science (and we are), schools are the only place to get that hands-on lab experience that they will need in college.
2) group activities like debate and academic challenge are simply impossible in the home school setting
3) all that pesky interaction with other students (and, yes, those stupid projects) are really life lessons in socialization and survival.

Our reasons for homeschooling were mostly about protecting them from a school system that didn’t recognize or handle gifted children. In high school, the courses are so stratified, with the AP and GT courses, that that is not an issue.

Although one reads that colleges like homeschooled students, because they are more self-directed, there is also a serious and well-founded concern that they are lacking in social skills and science knowledge. If your child is at all interested in a science career, high school is really the only way to go.

You can’t coddle your children forever. HS is a good stepping stone, allowing you to keep an eye on them, while they learn to adapt.

sick of it March 5, 2009, 5:29 PM

LOL FB! “A good private or(Christian) school” The only difference between that and public school is that those kids have more money for the more expensive drugs.

Crimson Wife March 5, 2009, 8:31 PM

You could always homeschool for the first 2 years of high school and then when he’s 16 have him take the CHSPE and enroll in community college. That way he could get access to the more advanced math & science classes without all the negative aspects of high school.

Chrissy March 5, 2009, 11:46 PM

I think what the real question is - who can better teach the subjects that he will need for college admissions, SATs, transcripts, and college sucessful?
Can you teach him algebra? Advanced calucus? Four years of a comprehensive language - Spanish, French, Latin? How about music? Chemistry? Physics? If you can not provide those courses needed for college admissions, then the answer is simple. You need to send him to a school where the teachers frequently have Masters Degree and continuing education in their specialty field.

Kay March 9, 2009, 11:24 PM

While working on graduate degree at the University, I was a student teacher. I was very impressed by the students who had been homeschooled through high school. Many colleges now eagerly recruit homeschoolers because they tend to do better than the average student. I know my husband’s company which is world wide actively recruits former homeschoolers.

If college is the goal, homeschool. He’ll be glad you did. My son is in school but we are now discussing homeschooling in high school just to give him that edge.

Kay March 9, 2009, 11:30 PM

By the way, I have to disagree with ‘The Mother’. My degrees are in the sciences and the kids who had been homeschooled definitely stood out. Keep in mind, though, the home part of homeschooling is a bit of a myth. Often these children are better socialized because they are active in so many different activities and groups as well as in the community. Many of them attend the community colleges while their peers are still in high school. Homeschooling is a choice and really depends upon your family but, for the serious family, homeschooling offers far more benefits than public school.

Rebecca April 30, 2009, 2:33 AM

I don’t know. I am a 13 year old homeschooled kid. I don’t know if I should go to public high school or homeschool. My parents said its up to me. I have no clue what you or I should do.

Meg June 16, 2009, 11:06 AM

Leaving it up to the kid is silly unless the parent has laid out at least a general plan of what the next 4 years will look like. HS is straight forward - you do what you have to do for 4 yrs then graduate. Homeschooling HS is more difficult - some people just do what they’ve always done (which, any teen would know, won’t properly prepare them). Some do the homeschool thing year round, then take summer classes at the HS for science. Some do early college options. Others get their GED early and enroll in a community college. The kid isn’t going to know about all these options. The parents need to pick what they would feel comfortable doing, then lay that option on the table.

Tahlia December 29, 2009, 5:36 PM

I am a 15 year old and i have gone to school my whole life. however next year i will be being homeschooled for grade 10.

Primary and middle school were fun for me but when i went to highschool everything changed. There was no discipline. the kids could get away with murder. and the worst thing was that it was influencing me and i knew it. And the education was crap.
If i were you i would continue homeschooling your kid. However i would have sent my kid to school in his/her earlier years. through to grade 7. Because those years are based on general learning and knowledge that all kids need to learn, but high school should be more focused on the individual needs of the child. Schools dont work like that because there are too many kids to cater for, so definitely homeschool him/her.
My brother was homeschooled in highschool and when he went to college he was top of his class and got the highest marks on his exams. And for his subjects he got all A’s and B’s nothing lower, so it certainly paid off.

Hope this helps

Tahlia December 29, 2009, 5:38 PM

I am a 15 year old and i have gone to school my whole life. however next year i will be being homeschooled for grade 10.

Primary and middle school were fun for me but when i went to highschool everything changed. There was no discipline. the kids could get away with murder. and the worst thing was that it was influencing me and i knew it. And the education was crap.
If i were you i would continue homeschooling your kid. However i would have sent my kid to school in his/her earlier years. through to grade 7. Because those years are based on general learning and knowledge that all kids need to learn, but high school should be more focused on the individual needs of the child. Schools dont work like that because there are too many kids to cater for, so definitely homeschool him/her.
My brother was homeschooled in highschool and when he went to college he was top of his class and got the highest marks on his exams. And for his subjects he got all A’s and B’s nothing lower, so it certainly paid off.

Hope this helps

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