Pondering Homeschooling High School

So, we are at that summer between seventh and eighth grade with our oldest child and we need to start looking ahead and figuring out options regarding homeschooling high school (or maybe we don’t need options and that is an option!)…It has always been our plan to homeschool through high school, but sometimes it is hard to figure out how that will look, and I find there are not a lot of people to even talk with about the options as so many homeschooling parents in my area or whom I know personally plan to use a public or private high school.

Our family lives in a big metropolitan area that is in a relatively friendly-to-homeschooling state, so these are some of the options I have found so far:

  • Some people do hybrid homeschool programs, where the student goes to class two or three days a week and the off-days the student works at home.  At the end, the student “graduates” high school  from the hybrid program.  However, we don’t feel as pulled to the hybrids, because unfortunately for us, almost all of them use very conservative Christian curriculums, including science. So for our family that is out.
  • Some just use selected classes that they find locally, on-line, or distance,  to round out classes.
  • Some find accelerated private programs that are labeled “homeschool” programs but run three days a week or so 8-noon and contain an entire high school program (usually geared toward athletes or musicians who need to do their thing and still finish high school). 
  • Some homeschool at home with no outside classes or support.
  • Some homeschool with help of outside classes or not until the child is age 16 and  then does dual enrollment, which is where a student enrolls at a local college and earns both high school and college credit.
  • Some homeschool high school with an emphasis on real-life experiences, internships, etc and translate that into a transcript as needed – unschoolers do this all the time of course, but I find some families are drawn to this in the high school years – especially if their child has a certain passion!

So, for this eighth grade year we are homeschooling at home and using Oak Meadow distance learning for high school credit for Spanish I.  That is about as far as we have gotten, and I guess the rest will unfold over time.

I would love to hear your homeschooling high school experiences, thoughts and plans.

Many blessings,
Carrie

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14 thoughts on “Pondering Homeschooling High School

  1. Hi Carrie,

    I currently homeschool our five children ages 17, 12, 10, 8, and 5. Our 17 year old has been home since Gr 6. (I came to Waldorf late but began when my second was 8 years old.) My oldest tried an alternative school for Gr 8 (unschooling philosophy) and went to a local high school for Gr 9 because she wanted to play sports. After feeling like she couldn’t spend her time on things she really wanted to get involved in, she came home for Gr 10 and is about to enter her “Gr 12” year. I continue to homeschool her in certain subjects: English literature and History. I have used “Life Lesson: Reaching Teenagers through Literature” by David Sloan which is an ebook that is available online at the Waldorf Library. For history, I have gone deeper into what I should have covered in Gr 5 and on if we had been using Waldorf pedagogy for her when she is younger. She is using Howard Zinn’s history curriculum which she loves because of the social justice perspective and the little know stories of unsung heroes throughout history. She has also loved learning history through art. She in on a youth council at our local art gallery which ignited her interest in art history. With each exhibit, she has been able to access the curators to examine the context of the art in terms of the historical period.

    She does Life of Fred High School math and science independently although this year she has a lead on a bank teller job which she hopes will teach her about banking and investments. She is also on Khan Academy for math and science.

    Her extracurricular activities are also a big part of her life. She played volleyball at a high level but she is quitting this year to pursue other passions in visual arts. She has also done free online classes in anthropology and to learn languages. (She can speak French and is almost fluent in Spanish and is now trying her hand at Portuguese.)

    Travel has been a big part of her high school years. We sent her on a medical mission to the Philippines the year she turned 16. Right now she is in Argentina doing volunteer work while learning Spanish in the mornings.

    Through her high school years, we have tried to introduce her to a life of service so she can extend herself outward with gratitude and meaningful intention. She works a lot during the days. She has an amazing job at a local toy store which has taught her about what it takes to run a local business and how to interact with customers and colleagues. Saving money to travel is a top priority right now as she will be saving for a 36-week volunteer tour to 5 continents when she turns 18.

    I hope this helped. It has been an amazing experience for us all.

    Warmly,
    Rozanne

    • PS> Rozanne – I would love to hear more about foreign travel for teens – how do you arrange, organizations, etc.
      Thank you so much!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  2. Carrie, have you looked at the classes available through Florida Virtual School? Non-Florida residents can take a full year for $800, which I think is really quite a deal given the classes that are included, including quite a few AP courses. My cousin used to teach for them, and I know quite a few families in Florida using it for their kids who are pleased with it. If Lucy wasn’t going to school next year, I was going to use it for Math and English.

  3. My girl is still small, grade 1 starting this year, and we are only just starting our waldorf journey, but OH, how I can’t wait to hear what people are doing with their hugh schoolers. It sounds amazing!!!!

  4. We are in the same place. While there are several secular hybrid programs here through charter schools, I think we will go it on our own. In California you can begin dual enrollment during the second semester of your ninth grade year, but we will wait until junior or senior year. It makes transitioning to a university much easier. Now the concern for me is just designing her curriculum. She is phlegmatic, so unschooling type stuff is not successful, and I just can’t do that, either! I’m a former teacher and I just have to have more control;)

  5. @Roxanne – great info and reflections!

    We’re heading into Grade 10 this year, using outside classes here and there. One “challenge” with this is science, for example. Whereas a Waldorf path would present a little of each science each year, this “locks” our student into a full year of chemistry (biology, etc.) at a time. Last year, I had best intentions of supplementing the “missing” sciences, but life got in the way… In the Spring semester, or next year, we’ll probably look at a class or two at the local community college.

  6. We are just entering 5th grade here, but I have been thinking about this lately as well for some strange reason, and in a way I am happy that I am. This way I have a bit more time to prepare.
    One thing is pretty much for certain, science classes will have to be outsourced via online or co-op classes at that grade level. Otherwise I will most likely design the rest of the curriculum and plan to use a lot of the classical literature as a basis of expansion into other subject areas.
    I am also thinking about contacting the regional Waldorf high school and talk to some of the teachers there. I am pretty sure they are willing to help me out with some resources and advice, as I have been in contact with a few of them already.
    Also, Jamie York, a Waldorf teacher, has math books published all the way through high school.

  7. I have homeschooled one all the way through, and have another in 8th grade. We have used a lot of Oak Meadow (plus Math-U-See and Latin), but never with teacher support. For outside experiences, well, we just have ’em. Lots of volunteering at the library, 4H, that kind of thing. My eldest scored very highly on all of her tests (ACT/SAT/SAT II Subject Tests) and really, everything I was worried about or feared has just fallen into place as we’ve gotten to it. As a person who consistently wakes up in a panic I can really tell you that its not all that hard to homeschool high school, or write transcripts, etc.. and I would not trade having my Dd home during these years for anything. Had she wanted to go to school (any kind of school), or do co-ops or anything like that I would have made that happen for her, but she’s been content with lots of time to pursue her own interests after her schoolwork is finished, and she really does volunteer a lot at the library. I am only grateful. I am forever grateful.

  8. Hi Carrie,

    I apologize for the late reply. I just saw the question!

    For my daughter’s trip to the Philippines in 10th grade, she went with a local hospital’s medical team that allowed young volunteers with guardians. Her grandparents had been volunteering with the hospital and decided to take her with them. They were on separate teams and often different locations but were able to touch base occasionally.

    For her recent trip to Argentina, we did the “high school special” through Projects Abroad. Her program was called “Care & Spanish in Argentina for 4 weeks”:

    http://www.projects-abroad.org

    It isn’t a cheap trip but she worked and saved for a year and was able to pay for it on her own which was an important lesson all on its own.

    She just returned from her trip a week ago and amazed to see how she had a transformational type of experience. Her host family was wonderful – she still keeps in touch with her host parents and host brother. Her placement was fulfilling – she was able to create and implement programming for school aged children in a child care centre in a rural mountain area. She was also able to make connections with teens from all over the world that were in the same volunteer program and also in the same host family house.

    We wil definitely look into more projects through this organization. Because of some friendships that were made on a deeper level, she is already planning a trip to Europe next summer to visit and stay with their families!

    Hope this helps!

    Rozanne

  9. Hi Carrie, this is a late reply to this post and a bit off target because I know you are discussing high school at home. However, I just wondered whether you were aware of the International Steiner School Certificate? I don’t know if it’s doable at home (probably not at the moment but may be worth enquiring into?). If you haven’t heard of it, it started in New Zealand and has now spread to Europe, including the UK where I live and is considered a university entrance certificate. I don’t know whether it’s come to the US yet? It’s probably not helpful but I thought you may find this development in Waldorf education interesting. There are links to more information on this page: http://norwichsteinerschool.co.uk/upper-school/the-international-steiner-school-certificate/

    • Tania,
      Thank you so much for sharing that information – Nope, have never heard of it and so curious to investigate!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

  10. We are just starting Kindergarten…but I have a friend (a very feisty and intrepid friend who is starting high school with her oldest this year). Have you heard of VHS (Viirtual High School) and Connections Academy? It is an accredited program used internationally. Also, does your state or city library system have VTC/OWL program? This is a live video teleconferencing system, and it is hard to explain how amazing it is (so let me emphasize…AMAZING!). It’s a bit like the early days of the internet though…so many great options, but a little hard to sort through and wrangle into organization. If your library has the technology, but your librarians don’t have the experience with it to help you sort through the dizzying array of options (EVERY major museum and science center around the world offers programs ranging from one hour to semester long classes…live foreign language tutoring or small group practice…live lectures and question/answer sessions with brilliant minds at universities across the world…and on and on)…anyway, if you need help, contact the librarian in Hollis, Alaska who has got this all figured out! (Easily found online.) If you live in or near a major metropolitan area, then you might not need VTC, because you can actually go to museums, etc., but if you live in a remote or rural area, it can help give your older student a window into the world to help augment history, geography, art and science. Can’t wait to learn from your high school journey! Cheers!

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