Want to Homeschool Your Teen? 5 Ways to Get Started Today!


With school shutdowns as a result of COVID19, many families are "homeschooling" their kids through the rest of this school year. While families are comparing it to actual homeschooling, it's not the same. They are essentially schooling at home following the public school educational goals and curriculum. Real homeschooling is fluid, adaptable, and customizable to a specific child's needs, talents, and learning style.

Many parents will be glad when this "schooling at home" period is over. Some parents, getting a taste of homeschool freedoms, wonder if they could do it full time. Others are wary of homeschooling their kids while in high school. Class requirements, transcripts, dual-credit, and their teen missing out on extracurricular activities are significant concerns.

Many have asked me how I can homeschool a teen when they miss out on so much that a public school can offer. I respond that all kids are different, and it depends on their priorities. Here in Texas, high school football is huge, and some teens live for it. In that case, homeschooling may not be a logical choice, because currently, Texas homeschoolers cannot participate in UIL activities*.  However, there are more homeschool sports leagues launching, so teens can still be involved in competitive sport. There are already many avenues for teens to participate in music and other activities outside of the school system.

We began to homeschool my oldest son after the tenth grade. The reasons for this were simple: he didn't have much freedom for choosing elective classes (outside of core classes), and there were subjects he wanted to learn that the high school didn't offer, such as Japanese and Astronomy. He wanted a job and wouldn't have had enough time if taking a public school class load. My son felt pushed aside because he didn't want to play sports or be competitive in UIL activities.

Bringing him home for just those two years created a significant shift in his direction. He could drop Spanish and fast track Japanese, the language he wanted to learn. We dropped Physics, and he took a college-level class in Astronomy.  He took consumer math and budget preparation to get him ready for life.  He was able to get daily school work done in a mere 4 hours and then head off to work without worrying about homework when he got home. His anxiety leveled off, and he became more responsible and independent.

Did that affect his college education? This spring he is graduating with a degree in Political Science. We didn't have any problems getting him admitted to a good college, and he was able to handle the workload efficiently, with high grades.  

Depending on homeschooling guidelines in your state, you may have more offerings for your teen. Or maybe not. While core classes are necessary, the important question is - what does your teen want to learn? What is their path after high school?  Homeschooling gives freedom for parents and their teens to decide together what avenues of education to pursue.

If after COVID19 is over and you find yourself wondering if online or home education is more profitable for your teen, then take time to pursue it right now! The amount of information online is daunting, so below are five resources to help you feel more comfortable about homeschooling high school, get answers to your questions, and get started homeschooling right away.

KNOW THE LAW IN YOUR STATE: The HSLDA, a national legal defense organization for homeschooling provides information about the laws for homeschooling in each state. There is a page dedicated to homeschooling teens, including assistance for developing a high school plan, recordkeeping, and transcripts.

GET MORAL SUPPORT: Search Facebook for homeschool groups in your immediate area. Homeschool parents are glad to answer questions! Many groups have meet-ups and activities by age-group. In our area, one group organizes a high school prom every year.

LEARN RECORDKEEPING AND COLLEGE PREP: Lee Binz, the Homescholar was a great help for me when I was navigating homeschooling high school. She sometimes offers free webinars and her Transcript Solution is a must, especially if your student wants to earn college scholarships. Freebies on her site include transcript samples and a high school reading list.

PLAN FOR THE PSAT & SAT: The College Board is the landing place for registering for these tests. The site provides help on the college search, admissions, and scholarships.

START NOW WITH FREE ONLINE CURRICULUM: You have probably heard of Khan Academy, which teaches students Math, Science & Engineering, Computing, Economics, Arts & Humanities and SAT test prep. Parents can monitor their student's work and progress. A favorite of my youngest son was the Pixar animation class.

iTunes Uavailable to iOS Apple users, is a catalog of classes from various colleges and universities around the country. Teens can monitor a class at a college level and learn separately for class credit.   

If you are interested in giving your highschooler a more classical education, visit Ambleside Online, a free homeschool program for all ages, not just high school. No curriculum purchases are necessary -- all the student needs is free online. Visit their site to learn what they provide for a classical education.  

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash
For Texas Homeschool:
If studying at home appeals to your teen, but you want to keep on the curriculum path they are already on, look into Texas Connections Academy, which is simply public school online.

College for All Texans assists with high school planning, college admissions help, and much more.

The Texas Homeschool Coalition and Texas Home Educators are two organizations helping parents navigate homeschool in Texas, providing resources for parents and students in all grades. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. But don't be discouraged. This list is meant as a starting point from trusted sources so that you know your information is current and reliable. Don't overwhelm yourself with information from too many places.  Reach out to homeschool parents you know for help. I am also available to answer questions -- just use the Contact Form in the sidebar to email me directly.  

I’d love to hear from you if you decide to take the homeschool journey!

* The University Interscholastic League (UIL) is an organization that creates rules for and administers almost all athletic, musical, and academic contests for public primary and secondary schools in the American state of Texas. (Wikipedia)

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