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Homeschooling High School: Our Why

If you've been #homeschooling for awhile, you may have noticed that as the kids get older, more and more people return to some form of more traditional schooling. By the time #highschool rolls around, so many families have thrown in the towel and enrolled their kiddos in school it can start to feel a lot lonely. Believe me - putting the kid in school has crossed our minds at least 493 times (and that's just this week...). I get why our friends have done it. Their reasons are many, all valid, and I support their decision whole-heartedly. With that said, we've decided to take that proverbial "road less traveled." We decided we are homeschooling high school - at least for this next academic year. I'll be writing about that for a few weeks. Today, I want to share a little bit about why we made this (crazy? ridiculous? terrifying?) decision.

First and foremost, it's what we think is best for this particular kid at this particular time. Academically, physically, mentally, emotionally - maybe even socially. Academically, he's doing very well and enjoys the flexibility to dig deeply into subjects that interest him, sojourn as long as he needs to on concepts and skills he finds challenging, and honestly? Skate a bit on subjects that are required, but not of particular interest or perceived value. Physically, he needs a schedule that honors his circadian rhythms. He feels sleepy later in the day and wakes naturally later in the morning. He also needs a great deal of movement during each day, something I know from my years as a public school teacher will be challenging to accommodate in a traditional school. Mentally, he benefits from having as few distractions as possible - something else I know from my years in traditional school settings that would be challenging to accommodate. Emotionally, he needs a supportive peer group without a lot of negative peer pressure, stress about school and social activities, or - let's just say it out loud - the trauma of active shooter drills. Socially, he's found his tribe at our local children's theater. All of those kids go to a variety of schools and he probably wouldn't see them as often if he was enrolled in a regular school. Bottom line: we just don't think our local options would provide the optimal space for him academically, physically, mentally, emotionally, or socially.

Which brings me to reason number two: our local options are not real options. We live rural and our local schools are low-performing. (Yes, I know what those numbers mean, and that they don't accurately reflect the totality of what a school is offering.) But I also know that half of the small percentage of graduates who go on to trade schools or college have to take remedial reading and math. I also know that they have no AP classes and very few dual-credit options. I also know that they offer no real opportunities in higher math, science, or computer science - the three must-haves for this kid. Their fine arts programs are on life support and they don't have a single librarian in the entire district. The athletic director makes nearly $85K last time I checked, but we can't afford a librarian or have a real theater program. Are there other higher-quality options within driving distance? Sure - but they are close to an hour away. That's a lot of life spent in the car.

So, now we are at reason number three: he wants time to pursue his interests and to work. In the past year, he has been bitten by the theater bug. That theater is everything to him. He has learned so much, made friends, and wants to do more. But if we were driving back and forth for school every day? He just wouldn't have time for theater, too. He also wouldn't have time to gain any work experience, something that is very important to him. This kid has big plans and huge dreams and he wants to get a job and start learning about running a service- or product-oriented business first hand ASAP.

Am I slightly terrified about homeschooling high school? Yup. Overwhelmed? A bit. Do I worry about all the things he might miss out on? Sure. But those are three really solid reasons for us and the decision has been made, at least for next year.

I'll be sharing more about what things will look like for us next year. What do you want to hear about first? Graduation plan? Curriculum? Extra-curriculars? Socialization? ;) Leave me a comment and let me know.

Two paths, two signposts in the woods

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