Homeschooling High School - a Q & A format
How long do I continue to register with my school district?
You are required, in Mn, to report to your school district each fall (and test annually) until your child reaches age 17. If your child is 17 on Oct 1 of the new school year, you no longer need to include that child in your reporting information to the school district. Reporting is not required for participation in PSEO.
How do I find out more about PSEO?
If PSEO is your goal, be sure to contact the college or community college that interests you (admissions office) and request PSEO information (do this when your student is in 9th grade to ensure that you have time to schedule any required tests prior to applying during the 10th grade year). You can also get this information off most college websites. This will give you solid information on what coursework is required by the college prior to PSEO enrollment. You will want to incorporate these requirements into your curriculum plan. It will also give you information on any “open house” or school tours offered to incoming students. You will attend these with your 10th grader. Some schools will want PSAT or PLAN scores, others use their own ‘Accuplacer’ exam for entrance. Through the PSEO program, tuition & books are paid for by the state. It’s not too soon for you to start researching this stage of homeschooling when your child is in 9th grade. Students can participate in PSEO for their Junior and Senior year of high school, part-time or fulltime. Summer classes are excluded. Many classes are offered in an online format- which we found to be a wonderful option. Knowing the requirements in advance means you can plan for them in a timely manner and keep your application process on track.
What about college entrance tests?
College entrance exams are another milestone you will want to prepare for. I suggest getting the test prep materials from your library. It’s helpful for your student to have some idea what those questions will look like and to spend some time getting comfortable with the pace and timing of the subsections. You can find out when these tests are being given from your high school guidance counselor, from some homeschool co-ops or on the internet. 8th and 9th graders can take the ASPIRE test, 10th graders the ACT for practive. Then the ACT and SAT are for college entrance if needed.
What about driver's ed?
Homeschoolers can complete the classroom portion of driver's education at home. You must request the list of course materials from the Dept of Motor Vehicles or find it online, but your child can learn from you and study at home in preparation for the permit test. After your child has his/her permit you will need to have him/her complete "behind the wheel" training with a third party provider. A wonderful book addressing Driver’s Training (for parents who will be spending time in the car with a permit driver) is called Crash Proof Your Kids. I highly recommend it. I think it’s also wise to start your new driver in a large cemetery or empty parking lot. Build confidence in stages before your young driver takes on metro traffic.
What if I'm not comfortable teaching some of these higher level subjects?
Homeschooling doesn't mean that all subjects are taught at home by a parent. There are many outside sources of course work that can be pieced together to complete your child's educational experience.
You will find that there are many co-ops and classes for teen- aged homeschoolers. It is also possible to attend your local high school on a part-time basis. Most districts will require at least half time enrollment (for funding purposes). This can allow you to have your child in school for Chemistry, Physics, Math or Language courses, for example, while you teach the balance of the courses at home. There are also many online schools now, but you must enroll fulltime to participate (they are free public charter schools) as none offer a la carte classes at this point.
Video courses (DVD), and materials designed for independent study are other options for covering coursework at home. The Teaching Company (www.teach12) offers audio and DVD classes on many topics at high school and college level. You can also make use of documentaries, mini-series, etc made by PBS and available thru netflix or pbs.org to address many topics at a more adult level. Even youtube has great options. Browse by topic. We found a physics overview and a Chemistry class on Netflix that was the same as the Teaching Company offered.
The Dummies books are available on just about every topic. We used Biology for Dummies and Physics for Dummies in place of conventional textbooks. They are easier to read than most texts and they use more real life examples to create some reader interest. We also used their US History for Dummies and World History for Dummies. You can find them used and inexpensively priced at Half Priced Books or online at Half.com or Amazon.
I can’t say enough about Andrew Padua’s Institute for Excellence in Writing- the advanced series. He covers Advanced note taking, Persuasive Writing and How to Write a College Paper, all for about $69 on DVD. If you child is prepping for PSEO, I’d do this program in 9th grade and use it again in 10th grade.
What other classes are out there?
Check community ed catalogs for classes like CPR training, first aid, cooking classes, computer classes, personal finance, fencing, martial arts, babysitting safety and digital photography. Community colleges also offer non-credit classes very inexpensively on a wide array of topics. Parks and Rec programs offer teen hikes, ropes courses, camping safety, and recreational sports.
How do I determine "graduation"?
There is no definitive answer to this question, so I will describe several possible scenarios and you can chart your course based on your child's interests and abilities, goals, career plans, and maturity. Not everyone goes straight to college.
* When your child's standardized test scores indicate academic achievement at the 12th grade level across the board (not all tests are designed to give this information, but the PIAT and Woodcock-Johnson do).
* When your child can pass the GED test (Libraries have GED prep materials and sample tests that you could use to determine their achievement to this level.) with 85% or better.
* When your child has completed the required courses for PSEO participation or for college entrance.
* When your child has completed the curriculum you established for the high school grades.
* When your child has completed your curriculum requirements and demonstrates independent living skills and is ready to take on fulltime employment.
Don't overlook outside involvements. Club memberships, volunteer work, and job shadowing/ working all look good on college applications and job applications. These activities also cultivate relationships with other adults who could effectively write letters of recommendation when your child needs that sort of thing. 4H, scouting, church youth groups, special interest groups, political involvements, and memberships of those types offer many opportunities for leadership skills, interpersonal skills development and even public speaking.
There are lots of options and opportunities here. Look at what’s convenient/local. What interests your teen? What skills does your child have to offer? What skills would your child like to learn? What kinds of jobs is your child curious about? Teens can volunteer at libraries, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, food shelves, special Olympics, animal shelters, nature centers, zoos, coaching youth sports, tutoring programs, political campaigns, day camps, community cable stations, parks, adopt a street, neighborhood clean-ups, historical re-enactments, at historical sites, civil air patrol, police and fire dept volunteer programs, Mc Gruff, -- or try an online search.
What About Transcripts:
Some of the books listed below will offer guidance in this area. In my own experience, the schools my sons attended for PSEO only needed a very basic transcript with a listing of courses studied and credit assigned to them (1 credit for a full year course, 0.5 credit for a half year course). No grades were required. Don’t make this harder on yourself than it needs to be. Once your child has completed coursework in the PSEO program, he will have a GPA and college credits to add to a college application at a 4 yr school.
Your child’s high school diploma can be printed on your computer (fancy papers are available at office supply stores) and signed by you. You can name your homeschool, or simply state graduation from the ____________ Family Home School (insert your family’s last name in the blank). You can also order lovely diplomas and other graduating class supplies from www.homeschooldiploma.com
Can College Wait?
The simple answer is yes. Not everyone is ready to head off to college right out of high school. I actually wish I had taken a year to work and figure out where I wanted my life to go. And now there are so many options. Colleges don’t care if your child isn’t ready—they will gladly accept your tuition payments while your child struggles or changes majors or fails classes. What’s the rush? With PSEO for 11th and 12th grade, your child can explore the college class dynamic and get some credits, develop study skills and have an official GPA. Then take a little time off to sort it all out. There are many careers now that require 2 yrs or less of training at a community college or technical school. Interior design, Architectural technician, graphic arts, medical asst, dental asst, LPN, paramedic, EMS, landscaping, surveying, lab asst, web design, computer repair, building inspection, and more. Many of these programs can be completed or be mostly completed as part of the PSEO coursework. Or consider a year of volunteering: City Year, Americorps and other programs can give a person some life experience and help clarify interests and goals. These programs also offer stipends for future college costs. For those so inclined, the military also offers training and money toward future college at the end of the commitment. There’s the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, Coast Guard, and reserves programs. Check out their websites first. Recruiters have quotas they might push you towards, so some web browsing ahead of time can help you sort out the right path for your child.
Don’t neglect life skills. Handling money, understanding credit and credit cards and financing, basic food prep skills (home ec, if you want to call it that), how to use public transportation (bus, light rail, taxi, grey hound), identity protection, online safety, common scams and phishing, just to hit a few areas. Do a mock apartment hunt and have your child explore all of the expenses that go along with an apartment. Familiarize your child with common lease requirements (first and last month’s rent, deposit, etc). We want to send these kids out in the world prepared for what will come at them. We want them to be savvy consumers and not the next generation of wide eyed patsies. See my article on Life Skills. I also have articles on PSEO, Big Kid Field Trips and Exploring Careers.
The following books will have more detailed ideas and suggestions for homeschooling during the high school years. Check at your library for these titles.
* Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook by Cafi Cohen
* Homeschooling the Teen Years by Cafi Cohen
* What About College by Cafi Cohen
* Homeschooling the High Schooler Vol I & II by Diana McAlister & Candace Oneschak
* The Big Book of Home Learning: Teen & Adult by Mary Pride
* Write Your Own Curriculum: A Complete Guide by Jenifer O'Leary
* World Book Encyclopedia's Typical Course of Study K-12
* Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees Non-Traditionally by John Bear, PhD
* The Uncollege Alternative by Danielle Wood
* Free (and almost free) Adventures for Teenagers by Gail L. Grand
Rainbow Resource Catalog 888-841-3456
The Great Courses Teaching Co. 800-646-3128
Oxford University Press 800-230-3242
Key Curriculum Press 800-955-MATH
Institute for Excellence in Writing