TEACH CT - The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers

Homeschooling High School: Finishing the Journey

Will I be shortchanging my child by attempting
to homeschool through high school?

Q -
I have been homeschooling my child since the beginning. It has gone well so far, but my child will be starting high school soon, and I’m getting nervous about homeschooling through the high school years. I just don’t think I have it in me to teach high school subjects like foreign language, lab science, higher level math, literary analysis, higher level English composition, etc. I could barely do those subjects when I was in high school. How can I possibly teach them to my child? Will I be short changing my child by attempting to homeschool through high school?

A -
Imagine a person taking a journey on a row boat. The person has been rowing for a long time. The waters have been a little bumpy along the way, but mostly manageable. As the end of the journey nears, the rower heads toward shore. The shore is still a bit of a distance away, but within sight. As she rows to shore, the waters suddenly seem less manageable. Rather than keep on keeping on with her rowing, the rower panics that she just might not have it in her to finish rowing to shore. Out of fear and worry, she jumps over the side of the boat and begins to swim to shore.

Now that would seem rather silly, wouldn’t it? Swimming to shore is not going to be any less challenging than continuing to row to shore. In fact, it will probably be even more challenging, because the rower will now have to use a whole different set of muscles than she was accustomed to using during the front end of the journey.

Jumping ship when you are almost to shore is like giving up on homeschooling once your child reaches high school age. It may seem like you have the harder years of homeschooling still ahead, but I propose to you that the high school years can be – for the homeschool parent(s) at least – the most relaxing and enjoyable of all the homeschooling years. And I say this having already graduated our five sons from homeschooling (with only our daughter left homeschooling through her final two high school years).

For me, I saw that my role as a homeschool mom was meant to transition through the years. During my children’s grammar school years, I was their teacher. During their late middle school and junior high years, I still taught, but I also began to lead my children toward becoming more independent learners, encouraging them to take more responsibility for their own educations. I still established their educational goals and expectations, but I led them to take more responsibility in meeting those goals and expectations. Perhaps you could say I was an educational micro-manager when they were younger, but became more of a macro-manager during their middle years.

As each of my children entered their high school years, I became less of a teacher-manager and more of a tutor-mentor, curriculum advisor-coordinator, educational facilitator-administrator, and guidance counselor. I encouraged my children to begin setting their own educational goals and assisted them in finding the right resources to help them meet those goals.

It is important for me to point out that regardless of the grade I am homeschooling, my primary focus as a Christian homeschool mom has been to ensure that each resource I have selected or suggested has enforced (or at least not contradicted) a Biblical worldview. These resources have included online programs, self-teaching textbooks, enrichment activities, and audio and literary resources. Today (particularly compared to even just over a decade ago, when my oldest son was homeschooling in high school), there is truly no shortage of available Christian-friendly homeschool resources for every grade level preK-12. In short, today’s Christian homeschool parent of a high school student can help that child put together a solid education from a wide variety of available resources, without the parent having to feel pressured into personally teaching any subjects s/he feels ill-equipped to teach.

I should also add that for my family, four of my five older children recognized they were college-bound while homeschooling. For those four, my process of helping them put together a solid education included my counseling them on how to become dual enrolled as homeschoolers and community college students. My children were well-equipped with independent learning skills and well-girded with a Biblical worldview by the time they were late juniors to seniors in our homeschool. Therefore, my husband and I prayerfully determined that my assisting them in becoming dual enrolled would allow them a period of “getting their feet wet” in the college world while still being under my primary educational care. In fact, it was during that dual enrollment period that my college-bound children took such classes as higher level math, lab science, foreign language, higher level composition and literary analysis, etc.

As you can see, there is no reason to fear short changing our children by homeschooling through high school. Really, the only way we can short change our children in our decision to homeschool or not homeschool through high school (or any grade really) is if we make our decision based on fear and worry instead of Godly wisdom (2 Timothy 1:7, Matthew 6:25-34, and James 1:5). Instead, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will set straight your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Now, having said all that, I want to share what has been for me the most critical point to remember. That is, regardless of what grades we are homeschooling, God alone is responsible for the results of our willingness to be our own children’s educational providers and guides. In all honesty, I can certainly relate to the concern about short changing our children. When my children were younger and I felt the looming awareness of approaching high school years for my oldest, I remember crying out to the Lord about my feelings of inadequacy as a homeschool mom. In fact, God spoke to my heart so clearly during that time in my life that I wrote an article sharing God’s revelation to me.

Excerpted from that article are these words:

“I still remember my cries to the Lord. I was so hung up on meeting man’s standards that I was fearful I was doing my children a disservice by homeschooling them.   What if I wasn’t teaching them everything they needed to know to be able to pass man’s tests? What if I was ruining them for life by not being a better teacher? What if, what if, what if?  In the midst of my ‘what if syndrome,’ the Lord spoke to me through Daniel 1:17 & 20, ‘And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom. And as for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them, he found them ten times better.’ (NASB)”

“The Lord showed me so clearly that all wisdom and intelligence and understanding come from Him. I am not responsible for churning out super-intelligent children. Instead, I am responsible for my obedience in teaching my children the ways of the Lord. The Lord alone is responsible for the results of my obedience as a Christian homeschool mom.”