Imagine you’re planning a vacation. Once you know where you’re going on your vacation, then it’s easy to pack and plan. For instance, if skiing is your dream, then you know you’ll have to pack warm clothes, boots, and ski gear. But if you really want to go to the beach for your vacation, then you know you’ll need summer clothes and plenty of sunscreen.
The same goes for homeschooling high school. Many of us have different ideas about what we expect from our high school experience. This can make it very confusing and scary to plan for this special journey. The good news is that if you can set your family’s goals for the high school years, then you’re well on your way to “packing” for a successful homeschool experience.
To set your goals, sit down with your student and talk about what your expectations for high school. The answers you come up with will help you with your planning. Some questions to ask are:
- How does your student learn best? Through textbooks and workbooks, or through hands-on activities? Learning in groups, or by himself?
- How much structure does your student want or need? Some teens thrive on increased freedom and independence in learning, while others need more structure.
- What are your student’s goals for high school? Does he have specific goals that he wishes to pursue in the coming year? What resources and approaches does he/she prefer? (Remember, the most ingenious high school curriculum in the world won’t work if your student doesn’t want to use it.)
- What are your student’s goals for after high school? Is he interested in college, or will he be going straight into the workforce or Armed Forces? Does he have a particular career path or vocation in mind, or is he still undecided? Will he be headed straight to a four-year college, or will he first go to a community college? If he has a particular college in mind, what are their requirements for admission?
- How do you and your student feel about earning a high school diploma? Is earning an official diploma important or meaningful to your family? Is an official diploma necessary to further your student’s goals?
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers here, and every family will come up with slightly different answers to these questions.
Consider Graduation Options
Make sure to check with your state homeschool organization to find out about your state’s laws for high school graduation, diplomas, and GED exams. Most states do not award high school diplomas to homeschoolers. Most homeschooled students go directly from high school to college or career without an official diploma—and this works very well for most families. Some students choose to earn a diploma from an accredited correspondence school or distance learning program. Others receive a handmade or purchased diploma from their parents at a formal or informal homeschool graduation ceremony. Still others choose to take the GED exam and earn an equivalency diploma.
If your student is planning on attending college in the future, you will need to create some sort of transcript for his high school years. It’s best to start preparing your transcript at the beginning of your student’s high school years, rather than wait till the very end. There are all sorts of books and Internet resources which show you how to turn your student’s educational experiences into an effective transcript.
Want to learn more? Check your local library or the VaHomeschoolers Bookstore for more resources on planning for the high school homeschool years. Your local homeschool support group may have additional ideas and suggestions for you.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated solely to homeschooling issues. Created in 1993, VaHomeschoolers is a state-wide, inclusive organization that provides information on homeschooling and protects and promotes homeschooling freedoms at the state and local level.
We provide a comprehensive website on homeschooling in Virginia, answer questions through our toll-free homeschool help line and email homeschool help desk, publish the bi-monthly journal Voice, as well as several electronic bulletins, and offer conferences and seminars on homeschooling throughout the year. We represent homeschooling interests in the state legislature and across the state, and help parents and school divisions resolve homeschooling issues.
Our organization has no political or religious affiliations; we focus exclusively on issues related to homeschooling. Our website does cover the specific legal aspects of homeschooling in Virginia but it is also filled with information and resources on homeschooling that apply universally. It is a great place to gather further details and support on all the topics discussed in this series
If you have found the Guide to Homeschooling Your Child helpful, please consider supporting our efforts on behalf of homeschoolers.
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Leslie Nathaniel has been a member of VaHomeschoolers since she began homeschooling and is now a member of the Board of Directors. Her children began learning at home as soon as they were born, but they became official homeschoolers when her eldest reached kindergarten age in 2002. Prior to children, Leslie worked in information technology consulting. She is a homeschooling mother of two. As a volunteer for VaHomeschoolers, she answers telephone and email requests for information; writes articles for the VaHomeschoolers Voice homeschool journal; speaks at conferences and seminars on a variety of topics; and organizes homeschooling seminars around the state of Virginia.
Celeste Land is a member of the Board of Directors for VaHomeschoolers and the director of our Government Affairs department. Her two children began homeschooling in 1996, and are continuing to learn at home right through the teen years. Her daughter has recently graduated from homeschooling high school and will be attending college full time this fall. Celeste has lobbied on behalf of homeschooling interests here in Virginia and Washington, DC, for 10 years. Her articles on homeschooling have been published in the VaHomeschoolers Voice and the VaHomeschoolers website, as well as several homeschooling magazines in the USA and Canada. She also has been a speaker at many homeschool seminars and conferences.
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