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Homeschooling High schoolers

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Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Posts: 180
Location: Boise, ID

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:01 am    Post subject: Homeschooling High schoolers Reply with quote


Homeschooling, while still rare, is growing in popularity. What do the kids miss and gain?

By Ruth Olson
May 20, 2007 - For many, high school is the heart of teenage social life as well as academics, with boyfriends and girlfriends, jocks, drama queens and nerds. But bullying, drug abuse and incidents like Columbine remind us there's a darker side to the high-school scene. Now, for
better or for worse, many teens are choosing to skip the traditional high-school experience for something completely different-high school at home. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2003,
some 1,096,000 students (including K-12) in the United States were being homeschooled, an increase of about 29 percent since 1999. NEWSWEEK's
Ruth Olson spoke to Laura Derrick, president of the National Home Educator's Network and mother of two homeschooled teens, to find out what life
is like for teens who choose the kitchen table over the school desk.

NEWSWEEK: Are there a lot of kids who change to homeschooling during the high-school years, or right before high school? Laura Derrick: There are a fair number, and we see it with kids who
recognize that perhaps for them a traditional school is not necessarily the best thing. I've known teens who came to their parents with a well-thought-out essay and all kinds of research to back it up, about what they wanted to do and why their parents should go along with the plan, and
really had to convince them that they weren't just trying to drop out. And so we do see it, and there are kids who are just very directed, who have big ideas about what they want to be doing, what they need to be doing and sometimes feel like they're wasting their time in a classroom.

What are some of the issues they face? I know for a lot of kids, high school is kind of their social life, that period of their life where they're finding their boyfriend or girlfriend and hanging out with buddies
and stuff.Right. And that's very important. I mean, there is a long period of growth and maturation that happens during that time that is partly fueled by those social interactions, and teens really do need those; it's not just something that's nice to have. We see what happens when they're deprived of that. For most homeschoolers, that's not an issue. I know
that's the perception from outside the homeschooling universe, and homeschoolers actually laugh about it, because most of us, we call ourselves carschoolers because we're in the car so much. There are, unfortunately,
some parents who do isolate their kids more than is probably good for the kids. Those kind of parents come in every walk of life and across the board, unfortunately, and some of them do exist in the homeschooling world, too. But the vast majority of families really do get out and do
a lot. So I don't see that as being a problem that's really related to homeschooling so much as it is to parenting.

What do you see as the main challenges or benefits for a child choosing to homeschool during high school?
The stakes get higher when kids are in high school. There's a sense of urgency, because they're going to have to make some decisions about going on to work or college or marriage, or whatever it is that they're
moving on to after high school, and particularly if they're going on to college, preparing for that becomes a bigger issue. We don't have guidance counselors who come to our house to help us through that process, so there is a lot of that kind of stuff that parents and teens have to figure out for themselves, or turn to other homeschoolers who've been
there and done that for advice. Just figuring out how to do those more difficult courses, how to make sure that you have what a college is going to want to see on the transcript and those kinds of things, they're challenging. But you know, there are a lot of options, and kids seem to
find many, many ways to get there and do it successfully.

Is there an organization that monitors homeschooled kids to make sure that they're getting a proper education?
That depends entirely on the state. Some states regulate homeschooling very strictly, and other states don't regulate it at all. The range in between is pretty broad, but I would say the bulk of the states have minimal regulations that have to do with notifying the state or the school district that you're in that you're homeschooling. Sometimes they include some form of evaluation or testing that's required, but often
those states don't require you to report it, they just require you to do it. But we've found that most kids in high school and their parents feel a sense of urgency and pressure, because parents don't want to be responsible for those kids forever and supporting them forever, so there's
even more incentive to really get them going and get them prepared to be on their own.

What are some things that a high-school kid that chooses to be homeschooled might miss out on from the traditional high-school experience? Some team sports are much more difficult, and certainly that's an issue for some kids. I would say sometimes, as kids are shy, it can be hard
to make friends initially. Kids who don't have a good friendship base in their own neighborhood or in their church or in their youth group or something already might have a period of time where they're having to work harder at finding those friendships and social opportunities.

There are certainly things that they miss out on that are negative. They can usually avoid things like high-stakes testing, if that's problematic for them, and they can avoid a lot of the peer-pressure issues. Peer pressure does exist everywhere, but there's a lot less pressure to
conform or be part of this group or that group or the other group [when the student is at home].

And what about the prom or graduation? A lot of places have proms, and a lot of places that don't have proms
have dances and things through homeschooling groups. Most of them are starting to have graduations now too if they have teens old enough. They're really neat, actually, they invite the whole community and the parents award the diplomas and usually give a speech, and the graduate gets
to give a little speech, and then they have a party and a dance afterward.

Is there anything else that you want to say about homeschooling during the high-school years?
I would say that what I've found, and I travel a lot, I speak at
conferences, I've met homeschoolers in groups and individually all across the country, and what I see among the high schoolers is that they tend to be a lot more relaxed. I think that there's something about it that really just takes a lot of the pressure off for these kids. And it never
ceases to amaze me how enjoyable the teens that I meet are to be around.

2007 Newsweek, Inc. | Subscribe to Newsweek
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Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 148
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Homeschooling High schoolers Reply with quote

Interesting article and with a positive message about homeschooling. That's nice. Thanks for posting it.
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