Choosing the right high school for your child can be daunting. With so many options out there and many conflicting opinions, it can be difficult to know if the choice you are making is the “best” one for your child.
With parents globally wanting their children to flourish, learn, and enjoy their schooling, many are starting to question whether a traditional brick-and-mortar school is the best option in today’s world. In fact, there was an estimated 3.135 million home-educating children in the US alone during the past academic year.
With 74% of home-educating parents in the US citing dissatisfaction with academic instruction within schools as a main reason for home-educating, this growing trend in education shows no signs of slowing down.
So, I hear you ask, how can I decide whether home education is right for my child?
Well, you’re in luck. This article will explore different types of homeschooling, examine the benefits and challenges of homeschooling high schoolers, and lay out some tips and tricks for new homeschooling families.
Keep reading to learn more!
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is an approach to education that takes place at home, as opposed to a physical in-person school. It has been a growing trend in education from the 1960s US to becoming a more worldwide phenomenon in the 21st century.
With 75% of children experiencing negative feelings towards going to school, many families have questioned the effectiveness of traditional brick-and-mortar education for its standardized, narrow, and one-size-fits-all approach.
Homeschooling, on the other hand, provides flexibility for parents and learners. It encourages personalization and application of learning to the real world. As HR Block’s study found, only 37% of the knowledge we learn in schools is used later in life. Can homeschooling provide an effective alternative? Does homeschooling provide an inspiring and meaningful learning experience for teenagers?
Let’s take a deeper look.
It must be noted that, like in-person schools, homeschooling comes in many different forms, each with its own benefits and areas for improvement.
Just some examples include:
An approach where learners are guided by their own interests. Parents using this approach do not tend to follow a strict curriculum, but instead, encourage their children to explore their passions. This approach really focuses on agency, flexibility, and personalization, though a drawback may be a lack of qualifications or real-world work experiences after graduation.
2. Traditional Curricula Online
This approach is most aligned with what many of us experienced during the pandemic – children are enrolled in an online school that follows a traditional curriculum. While this approach could encompass greater flexibility than an in-person experience, this approach to homeschooling is typically the least flexible and hands-on. Learners are working towards exams, albeit from the comfort of home.
3. Traditional Curricula Delivered by Parents
Like the Traditional Curricula Online option, this approach involves parents taking a standardized, exam-based curriculum and delivering it at home. Despite more scope for connecting with parents, and potentially a more interactive learning style, this approach still ultimately focuses on exams and grades when learners reach High School age.
4. Progressive Curricula Online
An option that has been growing in popularity over the past few decades is Progressive Curricula Online. This is an approach where a learner is enrolled in an online High School which has a progressive learning model.
Typical features of such a school may include an interdisciplinary, project-based curriculum that focuses on real-world experiences instead of exams and grades. Learning here could be assessed by projects, internships, and extra-curricular activities, and has a focus on igniting curiosity, and providing a flexible and personalized learning journey. There are a growing number of progressive online schools, of which School of Humanity is just one option.
This approach reimagines what education can be, and places learner agency and flexibility above standardized approaches. A common misconception about these schools is their lack of recognition. At School of Humanity, our curriculum is benchmarked against the AP exams, and all learners graduate with a High School Diploma and Mastery Transcript (which can be converted to a GPA Transcript).
So, how, as a parent, can you decide what is right for your child?
Why Choose Homeschooling for High School?
When deciding whether or not to homeschool your child for High School, it is important to evaluate their needs and wants. Start by thinking about the following questions: Are they thriving in their current environment? What works well for them? What isn’t working so well? Do they like school? If so, what do they like about it? Are there any elements they’d like to change?
Drawing on your answers, let’s dive into two of the most commonly cited reasons families choose homeschooling: Flexibility, and Personalization.
There is growing recognition, particularly following the pandemic, that families and learners are craving more flexibility in their schedules. Attending a brick-and-mortar school restricts learning to specific days, times, and subjects. This connotes that learning is a fixed concept, and can only happen on the terms of the schools’ opening hours and subject offerings. This approach leaves no room for flexibility: What about extracurricular commitments? Family time? Maybe your child works better in the mornings or the afternoons?
Homeschooling can be a great way to encourage flexibility and agency in your child. By curating their learning experiences to suit their schedule, learning can happen on their terms, and complement their passions instead of conflicting with them. It also opens up flexibility for you as a family – think about how your routines may look different if learning can happen anywhere.
For example, one of our learners, Nathaniel, recently joined School of Humanity from a holiday in Mexico!
Homeschooling also allows parents and learners to personalize their learning journey. Particularly if you take an unschooling or progressive curricula route, homeschooling can open up endless possibilities to learn.
This is particularly important for high school learners, who are typically curious and seeking out their next steps beyond graduation. By allowing them to personalize their education to their interests, homeschooling can unlock new skills, passions, and projects as your child is no longer conforming to a traditional standard of what education and learning should be.
For example – maybe your child is really passionate about tackling climate change, but also has an interest in biology, genetics, and the brain. Imagine them learning those skills through a project focussed on the impacts of pollution on human cognition, or developing a research proposal and presentation to raise awareness for the issue. Maybe your child loves art and wants to understand equitable access to resources in lower-income countries – imagine them learning by creating a portfolio of works to explore this.
Homeschooling in this way removes the restrictions of traditional education and instead encourages and facilitates personalized progress and in-depth learning.
Getting Started with Homeschooling
So, we’ve outlined some different homeschooling approaches and discussed some of the benefits homeschooling can bring to high schoolers. But how can families get started with homeschooling?
Find some helpful steps to consider for your family:
1. Research Legal Requirements
Depending on where you are in the world, there will be different legal requirements for homeschooling your child. For example, Emiratis in the UAE can only do homeschooling if registered with the Rahal program. And, in Germany, homeschooling is illegal if you are not registered with a state-licensed school. Make sure to do your research before you make the switch. A great way we recommend is joining local homeschooling online community groups. Here you can find families who homeschool in your area, connect with them, and ask all of your questions!
2. Choosing an approach
Next up is choosing which type of homeschooling approach you’d like to follow. This can be split into two elements: first, choosing a learning model, and second, choosing a curriculum.
Choosing a Learning Model
Remember earlier when we outlined different learning approaches including unschooling, online schooling, and curricula taught by parents? Think about what is going to work best for you and your child. Perhaps you would like to be their learning facilitator and guide? Or, maybe you’d prefer for your child to enroll in an online school for an extended ecosystem of educators and support.
Some families may choose to incorporate a mix of different approaches by combining online courses with parent-led hands-on learning experiences. Don’t forget that each family’s journey is different – that is the beauty of homeschooling!
Choosing a Curriculum
As your child nears High School age, it is important to think about what type of curriculum you’d like to follow, if any. Again, think about what is going to work best for your child. There are a host of different options for different types of learning. You may choose to follow a traditional exam-based curriculum, or you may be drawn to more progressive and interactive approaches.
This involves research – we recommend first outlining your priorities and working from those. Some questions we recommend asking yourself include:
- How does my child learn best?
- What does my child enjoy about learning?
- Are there any specific qualifications my child would like to obtain?
- Which ways of evidencing learning are most appealing to my child (ie – exams, projects, presentations, etc)?
Once you have clarity on the above, this should help narrow your search. For example, if your child enjoys hands-on interactive learning which can be heavily personalized and evidenced in multiple ways, yet would still like an option to obtain qualifications, you may choose to look into Progressive Online Schooling.
3. Find Your Community
Before launching into your homeschooling journey, join a homeschooling community group. This could be online or in-person, and it is a great opportunity to learn from each other, as well as to provide your child with some new homeschooling friends. Homeschooling families at School of Humanity have really emphasized to us the importance of this community feeling – by becoming a homeschooling family you really are joining a global tribe of like-minded families and friends!
4. Socialization Opportunities
To complement your homeschooling community, make sure to plan other opportunities for in-person socialization for your child. This could be a continuation of their current extracurriculars – sports, music, arts, and more! These don’t need to be tied to educational topics but are more to ensure your child is getting in-person experiences and connections with other people their age.
5. Preparation for Post-High School
Even if you take the unschooling route, it is important to think about how your child will be prepared for life post-high school. This could include seeking out internship or work experience opportunities for them, introducing them to professionals from a variety of industries, or working on building out their own portfolio of projects to build their personal brand. Often, homeschooling learners are actually more employable than traditional learners as they are encouraged to think creatively and innovatively, as well as being more open to alternative ways of thinking and learning. Research from the National Home Education Research Institute confirmed this, indicating that homeschoolers do better in tests than regular schoolers, and do better in college.
Endless Possibilities: Your Journey Starts Now
To conclude, homeschooling could be a fantastic option for your teenager if they are seeking a personalized, flexible, and real-world approach to learning.
Whether they are looking for something more structured through a traditional online curriculum, or are excited to work on meaningful real-world projects, there are endless possibilities that you as a parent can explore for your High School journey.
We wish you all the best on your homeschooling journey and hope that we can play but a small part in it.