by Penny Ross
As grade 9 drew near for my oldest child, I was quite concerned that it would be too difficult and time-consuming to homeschool high school. I worried that I would be doing my kids a disservice by continuing to teach them myself. However, now looking back at the high school years, I realize many of my concerns were needless. Maybe yours are too. Let’s bust some of the common homeschool high school myths which might be unnecessarily worrying you, as a private home educating family.
A parent-issued diploma is worthless.
Actually, in California, we don’t issue diplomas from the parents. As the term homeschooling does not exist in state law, we enroll in a PSP (private school satellite program) or file a PSA (private school affidavit) to legally and privately educate our own children at home. If your family is enrolled in a PSP, then your student should receive a diploma from that school. If you homeschool using a PSA, then you will issue a diploma to your student from the private school you have established. Though the parent will sign the diploma as the school administrator, the school’s name will be at the top. Since this private school is registered with the State of California, the diploma is legitimate. It is valid even though it will not be accredited.
You can’t unschool high school.
If you file a PSA, then you are the administrator of your private school, and you are free to use any teaching method you wish – including unschooling. Most PSPs also provide the freedom to choose your teaching method. However, while the choice of teaching method is up to you, so is the burden of proof if a college, school, or employer wants to know your student has achieved proficiency in the skills they require. Some methods of proof could be testing, successful completion of one or more dual enrollment college courses, or other classes usually accepted within the professional educational community and graded by someone other than the parents. So teach however you want – enjoy the freedom of homeschooling – but be prepared to verify and confirm the end result if asked.
You need to know subjects like trigonometry and physics in order to teach them in your high school.
This myth assumes that learning is passive and requires a formal teacher in order to achieve mastery. However, an interested teen can easily teach themselves with only occasional oversight from you as my oldest student did with Algebra 2. I bought the curriculum, he worked through it, and I monitored his proficiency by grading his tests. Or you and your student can learn together as my teens and I did with Latin. I had no previous knowledge of this language but we worked our way through a curriculum together. They loved catching me with a flashcard or two while I was cooking dinner. You could also find a friend who knows the subject, hire a tutor to teach your student, or choose from an online, video, or group course. When you have kids in high school, you will likely teach some, manage some, facilitate some, and encourage some, while monitoring all the while. Again, the process is less important than the ultimate knowledge gained.
Transcripts are difficult to create at home.
A transcript is a resume of your student’s high school career: courses, grades, credits, tests, and extracurricular activities. There are several formats which can be used, and many guides and templates are readily available to help you assemble one. It’s not difficult if you can follow directions. But you can also use a transcript service or hire a consultant to help you create it. You get to decide if you are comfortable making it yourself or if you prefer to outsource it. Yes, the transcript is an important form, but there are multiple ways you can make sure your teen has a professional looking one. [Editor’s Note: CHEA members receive a discount on HSLDA’s transcript service. Just login to CHEA’s website and go to the Member Resources page]
You can’t get a work permit for a homeschooled high school student.
Generally, students under the age of 18 or who have not passed the California Proficiency Program (formerly the California High School Proficiency Exam or CHSPE) need a work permit in order to be employed. Students in PSPs should contact the administrator of their group to find out how to obtain one. Students homeschooling under a PSA will need to establish an administrator, other than their parents, to issue a permit. Details on the requirements can be found on our website. In short, many of our high school teens hold jobs. If your student wants to seek employment, it can be done.
Homeschooling doesn’t prepare a student for the real world or for college.
Homeschooled teens often work more independently so they have ample opportunity to learn and practice the skills of time management and organization. Since homeschooling tends to take less time than classroom schooling, they have more time to explore their interests and hobbies and engage in volunteer experiences or part-time jobs. Released from the confines of peer pressure, they often are more confident and self-aware than their public school counterparts. Additionally they are usually well-versed in communicating with people of all ages. Most are well prepared for life after high school, whether it be further education, vocational training, or employment.
Homeschooling high school is different than homeschooling grades 1-8. Yes, there is more recordkeeping involved. More will be required of both you and them. But you get the special privilege of actively participating in their transition from childhood to adulthood. Plus you get to make memories together while that is happening. Don’t let any of these myths morph into fears that derail you from a close relationship with your student during their last few years at home.
Penny Ross has over 35 years of experience in home education: teaching her own 3 children kindergarten through high school graduation, leading a PSP, and now running her own independent consulting business, Tools for the Home Educator (www.toolsforthehomeeducator.com). She coaches, supports, and trains homeschool parents as well as speaking at homeschool events throughout Southern California.