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Jumping Into the Deep End

When I first made the decision to homeschool, my oldest daughter was 4.  And I was high on 800 mg. of Motrin.

I was then able to ease into homeschooling starting with preschool, and when that year went by without any of us needing therapy, I graduated to Kindergarten.

Notice I said “I” as opposed to “she”.

Because my homeschooling mantra has always been, “As long as I remain one day smarter than my children, and the medicine cabinet is stocked with Excedrin, we’ll give it another year.”

And now we’re on our 5th year.  So far, so good.

This week I received an e-mail from Kathryn who is looking for advice on homeschooling her up and coming freshman in high school.

High school.  Yikes.  I can’t even think that far ahead.  I am so in denial that my kids will ever be teenagers.

But it will be AWESOME, because that’s about the time that MENOPAUSE will be in full swing.

I get just giddy thinking about all the blog fodder.


I asked Kathryn if I could post her e-mail, thusly posing her question to my more seasoned homeschooling readers.

Hi! I came across your website, while looking around about homeschooling my son.. I am worried about starting.  I have 3 children 15,14, and 13. I am only wanting to homeschool my 15 year old.  I do not like the school district here and he will be starting the 9th grade this year.  I do not want him in this high-school.  Would it be wise to homeschool just him or do homeschooling for all of them?  If you have any questions or comments about my inquiry, please e-mail me and let me know.



My initial knee jerk response was to tell Kathryn to homeschool just her 15 year old, and as she gains confidence, bring the others home as well.  If homeschooling turns out to be a good fit for her family, of course.

Also, I told her to see if she could get involved with a local homeschooling support group.  She said that she lives in a very small town of about 2000, so her resources may be limited.

I now turn this over to y’all.  If you have any sage advice on how to proceed, or curriculum choices, please leave them in the comments.

Thank you!!!!


12 Responses to Jumping Into the Deep End

  • Clueless. I still haven’t passed first grade.

  • I’ve homeschooled right from the beginning and am coming to the end of my journey. My oldest is a junior in college and my youngest is a junior in high school. Jumping in at high school will be challenging, but so worth it. As far as curriculum, we always used a mix of favorites. We used Apologia for science(faith-based); Saxon and Math Relief(video course) for math; Notgrass was great for history; English-We used a mix and did the student aspirations program at our local college during their junior year-We have a small university within 10 miles of our house.
    If your 15 year old is social, they may want to be involved in youth group or sports.
    As to homeschooling all three, I don’t really know what you should do. That’s probably what I would do, but initially it will be time-consuming and require organization.I could write a book, but won’t bore you with details. Hope things work out for you.

  • Truthfully, I would first find out the laws in your state so you know those, I agree with DeeDee that you should find at least one homeschool co-op so you have support there. Also if your intimidated by homeschooling a highschooler there is some online schools that you could start out with that guide you through until you get your feet wet. I would suggest k12.com if they have one in your area just go online to that addy and they will say if they are in your state. As for homeschooling all three that is a personal decision. I would weight the pros and cons of that. It might be that you start out with one and then add the others later etc. For me I want to homeschool all three of mine however one of my children has some delays and requires extra ot and speech time but he is catching up. However I do homeschool my other two kids and am planning on bringing home my son too eventually. It took me a bit to get comfy and figure out what I wanted to do. Good luck!

  • I have been homeschooling for twelve years now. My oldest is graduating this year. I have eight children, and homeschool those that are school age. I am not sure how it would be to school one. I have always found it easier as a family if we can all be on the same schedule and doing somewhat the same thing as far as school in concerned. Some of my favorite highschool curriculum has been, Apologia, Teaching Textbook, Switched on Schoolhouse, Sonlight book list and The Teaching Company DVD courses. As someone mentioned in an above comment there are several online options to also consider. I believe Cathy Duffy has a curriculum manual for highschool that might be a good resource with which to start.
    Blessings on the journey!

  • I have been homeschooling for 19 years. My oldest graduated last year and my youngest is 8. Here’s my two-cents worth: 1. If you are married, be sure your husband is in full agreement about the direction God is taking you. He can be your best support group. 2. Whether you start with just the 9th grader or all three children, take it easy the first year. Everyone involved needs time to adjust. 3. Support groups are great, but be careful. They often offer so many enrichment and social activities that you quickly become overwhelmed. Choose activities wisely. The best ones are those which help build relationships.
    I hope this has been helpful.

  • I don’t know much myself, but my friend Jill has been writing a lot of posts recently about homeschooling high schoolers. Hope her posts prove helpful!


  • I am only in my 4th year of actual organized homeshooling and I have not dealt with homeschooling teenagers! However, there is SO much help on the web!–blogs, websites chat rooms etc. etc. Just use wisdom and don’t overwhelm yourself! I would suggest the “Old Schoolhouse” Magazine as well! It is a wonderful source of info and encouragement!
    I know for me, I LOVE sonlight curriculum it comes with weekly lesson plans and is VERY easy for my personality to navigate. I also know that there are various other video intructor options, like ABeka, which look like they could be easily followed…. Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Now in our 14th year of homeschooling, we have graduated one (in college), and have two more headed in that direction! I believe that homeschooling high schoolers is very doable! It’s an opportunity for you to develop a wonderful relationship with your child before he/she heads off to college or employment. It provides opportunity for discussing some of life’s tougher issues and a chance to help your student become adept at managing their time and responsibilities. All in all, I’m highly in favor of the idea!

    As for practical ideas on getting started … see if you can find someone who lives near you/in your school district who has walked this path ahead of you. If that’s not available … get in touch with your local or state support group to find out what the homeschool regulations are in your state. Next … look for some great resources on homeschooling highschoolers. Author Cafi Cohen has published a book that every homeschool mom of a high schooler must have (IMHO) … “The Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook” (http://www.sonlight.com/RR25.html). If your student has any desire at all to enter college, this book covers most everything you need to know (i.e. choosing a college, creating a portfolio, writing a transcript, application essays, and so on). It was invaluable to me when our oldest was preparing for college.

    You might also find some food for thought on my Homeschool Q&A blog (http://homeschoolqa.com/) under the Homeschooling 101 category.

    As for curriculum choices … we have used Sonlight Curriculum (www.sonlight.com) for our major curriculum choice. It is a literature-based curriculum with a focus on history. A lot will depend on your child’s learning style and what content you feel you want to cover.

    Homeschooling is definitely a commitment … but one that our family has found to be well worth the time and personal investment.

    I’m always happy to chat with folks who are considering homeschooling. Feel free to email me through my blog!

  • “Because my homeschooling mantra has always been, ‘As long as I remain one day smarter than my children, and the medicine cabinet is stocked with Excedrin, we’ll give it another year.’” Oh Dee, that made me chuckle but it’s a truth I can TOTALLY relate to! We homeschooled on a year-to-year basis for 17 years!

    We lived in a village of 2000 as well but there were actually quite a few homeschool families and we had an informal co-op for gym, art, field trips and some extra things like that. There was also a much larger, more organized group in the next county over with sports teams, choir and band, etc. You can get so involved in the extra curricular activities that you don’t have time to do school! So my advice would be to check out what’s available within reasonable driving time and then BE SELECTIVE. In addition to the homeschool groups, my kids also did community theatre, youth chorale, summer sports and church activities.

    For someone just starting, especially with a teen, I’d highly recommend a “full service” curriculum that offers help when you need it. It will cost a little more but is worth it for the peace of mind. Because I started homeschooling back in the dark ages (before ABeka or Bob Jones or anyone would even sell to homeschoolers) we had to put together our own, and I grew to like that approach. BUT the year I knew we’d be moving twice, we used a full-service program and it meant the difference between being able to finish the year and totally floundering.

    Another thought on homeschooling a teen: it’s really hard to have a science lab in your home for just one student. We tried the video route (with the first child) but it wasn’t the most satisfying experience. So with the second child we drove to the next county once a week, three times a month (4th week was “off”) for homeschool science classes. She was able to take biology and chemistry that way.

    Anything the mom doesn’t feel qualified to teach, there’s sure to be someone they can hire. Sometimes for free 🙂 We lived near a college that had a strong emphasis on community involvement and they had a number of students who offered to tutor/teach at no cost. Through that program we managed to snag a Spanish major for a year once, and another time we lined up a chemistry major to help the daughter for a few weeks when she was struggling with subject.

    My point is, look around for options. You’d be surprised at what’s available once you start asking.

    Key to it all: What’s going to work best for YOUR family? That’s the beauty of homeschooling. My kids learned very differently, so I didn’t always use the same materials or approach. We sought outside help, but I had other homeschooling friends who did it all “in house” without a problem.

    I don’t know what the legal climate is like now. We’ve been done for a while (our youngest is in her last year of college) but we were always paid-up members of HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Assoc.) — again an expense that was worth it for the peace of mind.

    Homeschooling became a way of life for us, not just the way we taught our kids. For our family it was the best choice. We are ALL glad we did it! Both my kids plan to homeschool their own (when they have some) so obviously it was a positive experience over all 🙂

  • Not a homeschooling comment, but about your ample supply of blog fodder when you’re menopausal … remember you’ll have two hormonal young ladies starting that lovely journey AT THE SAME TIME you’re ending it! And as the mother of two sons, don’t let anyone tell you that teenage boys are exempt from mood swings … it’s just not on a predictible schedule.

    I’m expecting to see you on the bestseller list …

  • Home schooling a teen who has never been home schooled before can be delightful. I actually occasionally do it for a living. I have a very part-time home business consulting with parents about writing, curriculum and home schooling in general, and once in a while I will take on a full time school student for a while to help parents who cannot manage the home schooling themselves for various reasons. Usually the students I school are ones who have fallen through the cracks through the years, and are now way behind in many areas. Seeing them begin to take charge of their own education is refreshing and inspiring.

    My advice is to sit down with your students and ask them what their educational goals for the next year and the next four years and the next 8 years are. Use that as a foundation for your curriculum, and you will have their support for your efforts. Force them to “Do School” your way or else, and you might have a rough year.

    If you are working with an umbrella program, use the curriculum guidelines of the umbrella program as an outside authority figure telling you that you have to achieve these minimum standards, then ask your student, “How can we achieve those standards in a way that will also meet your goals for the year.” If you have certain items in your curriculum agenda that are non-negotiable, find justification for them in the “rules” and the student will be more willing to comply. The student never needs to know that you as the parent can interpret the curriculum guidelines in any way you choose and enforce whatever curriculum you want them to do. Students who have been traditionally schooled all the way to high school tend to be more amenable to this approach.

    I would also recommend bringing all your students into your home school, but entice them in–get them to want to home school, instead of forcing them to do it. Ask all three of them what their school year would look like if they could shape it any way they wanted. That question will open their minds to the possibilities and potential joys of home schooling.

    Tell your friend she is welcome to e-mail me “off the air” for specific questions if she wishes. My “work” e-mail for such things is tutoringservices@earthlink.net And no, I don’t charge for e-mail advice.

  • Having been homeschooled starting at age 14, myself, here are my two cents. When I started (back in the dark ages) I lived in a village of about 400. We went with a writing intensive independent study program (snail mail, at the time) from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. It was accredited and I could call instructors and advisors and talk to them personally any time. It worked well for me, and while my parents would have been competent enough to help me on their own, I know this took some of the burden (and teenage angst induced conflict) off of them. I did have a science lab in the basement, but private lessons sound great if you can get them. Also, the local highschool allowed me to play in their band even though I wasn’t going there full time. Not all schools will let you do that sort of thing, but it might be worth checking out if there’s something they offer that you can’t get another way. There are so many more resources available now. Good luck!