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When we started homeschooling, friends, families, and even strangers had all kinds of questions and opinions.

“Homeschooling for kindergarten is okay, but you’ll eventually want to put them in school.”

“You aren’t planning to do this through high school, are you?”

And my favorite:

“But what about the PROM?”

Mind you, my oldest was only in kindergarten and these scenarios were a long way off.

These common questions are a reflection of how many do not even consider some very solid reasons to homeschool through high school, not just until high school.

I get the concern. High school has more at stake.

Unlike K-8, homeschooling high school involves credit-bearing courses, graduation requirements, and creating transcripts culminating with what feels like a critique and judgment of your homeschool high school (a.k.a college applications and admissions). Yes, the personal responsibility weighs heavy.

After each homeschooling year, I would reflect on if what we were doing was working and if we should continue. My comfort level with our homeschooling decision had an inverse relationship with each grade increase. During the middle school years, I found myself both preparing my student for high school and managing my anxiety. I worried if I was making the right decision to continue on, especially knowing that high schools often will not accept work done under homeschooling for credit toward graduation requirements should I change my mind. What if I totally messed it up and caused my kids some unknown missed opportunity?

The thought was slightly terrifying. After all, high school is the last step before being launched into adulthood. But maybe, just maybe, that fact is actually even more reason to continue (or even start) homeschooling through high school?

There are many solid reasons to homeschool through high school, here are just five to consider.

Discovering Interests and Talents

High school is a time when students start honing skills and narrowing their interests. Homeschooling allowed my kids the time and ability to try different things in the teen years that they may not have been able to experience if their daytime schedule had been dictated by a traditional school schedule and pressures. My oldest who enjoyed writing took a plethora of different writing classes, joined a creative writing group, and landed an internship at a local paper before she discovered her current field of journalism. My youngest had more diverse explorations with samplings in tech areas, mentoring youth, and broadcasting. With each experience, he learned a bit more about what he did, and didn’t, enjoy. He’ll be graduating in April with a Media Production degree, an area that he stumbled upon toward the end of his high school. By allowing plenty of time to try on different interests and follow their own path, both were able to hone in on what they may like to pursue after high school graduation.

Developing Life Skills Organically

While all high schoolers have the opportunity to develop life skills, homeschooled students have an advantage because they are more likely to learn these skills side-by-side with a parent or adult rather than in a classroom through books or leaning on same-age peers for guidance. Accountability, cooking, budgeting, time management, organization, and planning are all areas homeschooling allowed us more time as parents to model, guide, and give input than if my students were outside of the home from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (or longer with after-school activities). My kids also had a more diverse influence of friends and adults, drawing from different ages, areas, and interests than if attending the local high school limited by the immediate surrounding area. By homeschooling through high school, my kids had a lot more time and opportunity to see “life lived” in the real world.

College and Career Prep

Many traditional students dual enroll, but a more flexible schedule puts homeschoolers at a unique advantage. Unless traditional students are part of an early college program, dual enrollment can be more challenging because students will either need to schedule a DE class to fit into their daytime class schedule or more likely take evening or online courses. My kids had a wider selection of courses and professors than would have been possible had they not been homeschooled. Dual enrollment was very beneficial in both preparing them for college after high school as well as to explore career interests. Dual enrollment isn’t necessarily a path every student should take, and the pros and cons may be covered in a future post, but in many cases, it can be a big perk of homeschooling through high school. Similarly, the flexibility of homeschooling through high school may also present early career or trade skill training opportunities such as job shadowing, volunteer work, and a deep dive into hobbies that align with career aspirations.

Meeting Needs with an  Individualized Education

Being able to tailor the education to my student has always been a main driving factor to our decision to homeschool, but never was the benefit more obvious than in high school. Homeschooling allowed us to slow down or speed up certain subjects rather than to keep the same pace as 30+ other students in the classroom, allowing true mastery. This allowed us to both address academic areas of weakness and challenge areas of strength. Class selections and activities were selected with a distinct purpose and for a specific reason unique to my students for true interest-led learning. By homeschooling, we were not limited to course offerings, timetables, instructors, and enrollment of just one individual school. Instead, I was able to hand-pick curriculum and instructors that best met the needs of my students and had the ability to create any number of specialized courses on my own. Both of my students had unique learning styles and needs that were even more apparent with high school level work, and homeschooling was the perfect way to ensure they had what they needed academically. As much as homeschooling through high school seemed to be daunting at first with worries of covering everything needed, it ended up providing a lot of freedom.

More Family and Parenting Time

Raising a teenager is hard, but homeschooling allows you to have a front-row seat in your teen’s life. This doesn’t mean that non-homeschooling parents aren’t involved nor don’t want to be. They are and do. But homeschooling through the high school years provided an extra opportunity to be aware, present, and supportive during a challenging time of growing up.

I fully understood their strengths and weaknesses both academically and in character to be able to guide them in these areas. I knew my kids’ friends (and most of their friends’ parents too!). I was able to provide advice with the proper context. I felt more there, more present. I discovered teenagers need parents just as much as toddlers, though they may not want to admit it. It wasn’t always pretty. Teens are trying on their independence and aren’t always quick to give warm fuzzies or thank yous for your advice and guidance (wouldn’t it be lovely, though?!), which can be especially difficult for homeschooling moms. Regardless, I’m grateful for the extra time and shared experiences. I believe my relationship with my now adult children and their relationship with each other is stronger as a result.

My fears that homeschooling through high school would limit my students were unfounded. They had all the same opportunities as traditional students (yes, even prom) and then some.

It wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always perfect, but it was rewarding and ended up being the right decision for our family.

Homeschool through high school isn’t the right decision for everyone and is something you should consider carefully. However, as you weigh your options for high school, consider the above factors into your decision process. The extra time and flexibility of homeschooling make all of the above — and more—possible reasons to homeschool all the way through high school.

If you are homeschooling through high school and looking for high school classes to supplement your at-home learning, check out the in-person and online course offerings at Renaissance Homeschool Group. Registration is currently open.

Additional resources and support can be found on the Heidi Pair Consulting FB page and the Homeschool to College FB group

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