What it’s like to transition from homeschool junior high to homeschool high school

Transitioning from homeschool junior high to homeschool high school.

There’s a bracing moment in each homeschool mama’s world where she realizes that the homeschooled kiddos aren’t staying kiddos forever.

They are moving on, moving up, growing into their own persons, and deciding to approach their lives independently. 

Despite fully acknowledging that I knew I wasn’t going to be ‘mommy’ forever, it always comes as a surprise when every.single.child. transforms their engagement with me at about the same developmental phase.

We see some sort of push/pull dynamic; a counter-will concept that Gordon Neufeld discusses in his book on adolescence. 

It comes as a surprise because my heart hasn’t changed. I’m the same mom, remembering when I pushed them from my womb then clung tightly to them just moments after their entrance into the world. (Hmmm, a push, pull dynamic there too).

I’m wanting the same things for my kids. I’m wanting the same closeness. I’m the same mom.

One day I’m tucking them into bed with a routine of hugs and kisses, blessings and songs, the next they’re going to bed by themselves. One day I’m detailing how to deal with their annoying sibling, the next they groan: “Mom, I can figure it out by myself.”

Their educational choices move in a similar fashion.

One day I’m reading fairy tales and Trumpet of the Swan then To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby. One day I’m teaching subtraction, the next I’m listening to the math video lecture not understanding what new language they’re learning.

Moving on, growing up

Individual. Unique. In fits & starts. Engaging one thing. Letting another thing go.

At this age, they are very much beginning to see their own vision for their lives, or at least aware that they will be the ones visioning their own lives.

This mama, like many homeschool mamas, had an educational plan for my kids’ high school years.

Homeschool college?

One of my girls was asked an odd question: When will your mom stop homeschooling you?

My daughter’s answer: “She probably won’t teach college.”

I laughed in surprise at her response. Nope, that’s not my intention.

The person asking did not laugh. Couldn’t believe that might be a consideration.

My family on our nearby island

Homeschool Mama Homework…

I had to do my homework, of course.

A lot of homework trying to determine an uncharted education for a high schooler. Homeschooling high school is a whole different kettle of fish than homeschooling K – 9. If the high school student plans to attend post-secondary school, there will likely be an expressed interest, likely interest in a certain area of studies, and likely some focussed work already.

I attended…

  • online courses,
  • read books,
  • attended workshops on creating high school transcripts, grading, and rubrics,
  • learned about SATs and ACTs, portfolios, and recordkeeping,
  • talked to a bajillion people.

I studied…

  • post-secondary admissions requirements,
  • high school diploma expectations,
  • and talked with admissions officers of universities for alternative routes to entry.

Girlfriend, I was prepared to homeschool my high schooler.

An alternate route to the alternate route

Then it happened: my first daughter wanted to attend public high school.

I shouldn’t have been surprised (but I was). She has always been fiercely independent (from her second day of life) and she has always followed her own path to the final days of high school.

She threw convention, mine, and the school system’s, out the window.

Though she completed her high school diploma, she completed it in two years, deciding she wasn’t sticking around three years to complete it, she then saved money to travel to Mexico independently for five months and applied (on her own) to a University across the country to study social sciences and languages (like Latin! that I started with her). 

Enter the second child…

My second daughter entered high school the homeschooled way and has been homeschooling for the last year and a half despite all of her peers attending public school (a streak of independence here too…wonder where they got it;)

Last year she loved her Apologia Chemistry class, BraveWriter Essay classes, and her private Comparative Governments class. This year she’s challenged by her Apologia Physics class. She’s learning French via a Rosetta Stone subscription. She’s independently working through her Literature reading list. She continues with Math-U-See. She is working as a hostess in one of my favourite restaurants, spends many hours in dance classes, and hangs with friends. 

What’s new this year? Getting her into a college English class. I took a very deep breath before I called the local community college. I presented myself confidently and shared my scenario with the college: I have a focussed, engaged homeschooled high school student that is eager to try a college English composition class. 

I was directed to high school upgrading English without my knowing it. We showed up, my daughter wrote a college readiness assessment test, which translated into an offer to include her in the class so she could work toward her public high school diploma. (But she isn’t upgrading, and if she wanted to be in high school, she would be in high school.)

So I called the college and asked for a different person, the English department chair, and had an open conversation with her about my daughter’s learning goals.

This department chair and Professor was eager to provide that, suggested she join the English 110 class but that she’d have to write an English placement exam to be officially included in that class. 

Along with the application, I sent a copy of her portfolio: details of her previously completed work like comparative government essays, persuasive essays, formal lab reports, book reports, and general writing that she’d done the year before. She was welcomed into the class but required to write a Language Proficiency Index exam. She is more than halfway through this class now, loving it, and has just written that three-hour exam at a provincial university four hours away.  

This gal takes on learning responsibilities like a college freshman. Her drive to fulfill study hours, organize her daytimer, complete work before classes, study daily, and maintain consistent effort will surely get her where she wants to go.

The transition to homeschool high school has surprised me: it’s been a whole lot less work than K-9 homeschooling.

There has been more work required for me, at the beginning of her high school years, yet less work from me on a day-to-day basis.

Her streamlined, personalized education has been our goal, and she is receiving in spades as a homeschooled high schooler.

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