Overview: The seemingly far-reaching ramifications when your homeschooled teen is behind can be very scary. I’m here to reassure you that it will truly all work out!
One of the homeschooler’s worst fears: my child is behind.
And the one that will keep you up at night: my child is behind in HIGH SCHOOL.
Which means, of course, that I am a HORRIBLE homeschool mom and my child will have no future worth considering and will consequently completely fail at all of life. All because of me. My fault, my bad, mine mine mine. At least, that’s what it seems like in the dead of night as you lay in bed staring at the ceiling and wondering if the sun will EVER rise again.
Well, let me help you get back to sleep. Deep breaths, y’all; it’s all gonna be OK.
The main fact to remember is that when you homeschool high school, the word “behind” only really applies in one very specific instance.
And even then, it is a doable thing to get past it. Let me explain.
The only time that the “B word” applies when homeschooling your teen is if they are not going to be able to complete college requirements by the time they graduate. Colleges do have certain things they want their applicants to have accomplished, and high school level course work — so many credits of this, so many credits of that — is one of the main things they look for.
But guess what? COLLEGE IS NOT THE ONLY PATH TO TAKE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL. I know this can be hard for us to believe, but it’s true. :-) And when you think about it, why send your child who already struggles with academics into a situation that will be even MORE difficult for them?
True story: my second child tried college for two years. She struggled with deadlines, and she didn’t always follow instructions — which led to less-than-stellar grades. The only classes she enjoyed were the ones in her major, which was Art. She was a bit of a loner. And she began having anxiety attacks, which she had never experienced before in her life. Since quitting school and coming back home to work full-time, she is much less stressed and is enjoying life, making friends, earning money, and spending time polishing her craft. She says it was the best decision she ever made. All I know is it warms my heart to see her relaxed and laughing again.
College is NOT for everyone, and neither you nor your child are a failure if you decide on another path. Just breathe that thought in and rest in it awhile. :-)
So then, if your child is not interested in going to college, or would most likely be stressed and not successful there, then guess what you get to do? You get to design their high school coursework for what fits their abilities best. If that means they never get past Algebra 1 — who cares? As long as you are following your state’s homeschool laws about what kids must do to graduate (which are surprisingly minimal, as you can read about in Homeschool Graduation Requirements — What You Need to Know), then your child will not be “behind,” because YOU will be determining what they should accomplish. They won’t have to try to live up to an outside standard.
(Speaking of outside standards, I wrote another post that discusses the government grade level standards and how they apply to us as homeschoolers. You can check it out here: Dear Homeschool Mom Who Worries about Her Child being Behind.)
But if your child does want to go to college, then the word “behind” can become a thing.
I don’t think we should downplay that. Because a child who only gets through Algebra 1 in high school will most likely not have met most college’s requirements — thereby classifying them as “behind” in a very real sense.
But let me hasten to reassure you that this is not an insurmountable obstacle!!
When your homeschooled teen is behind, they can still graduate high school and go on to college even if they haven’t met ALL of the requirements.
For classes like English and Math, colleges have prep courses that a freshman can take before jumping into the college level courses for those subjects. Passing those means you have objective validation that they are now ready, even if they may not have been before.
Does this take a little extra time? Sure. But does that matter in the long run, if it matches the learning pace of your child? Not at all. An additional semester or two taking prep courses on the college campus may be exactly what your child needs to be ready to take on the rigors of regular college courses.
Also, colleges come in all different kinds. Don’t think Ivy League standards apply to every one of them. There is most likely a college out there that will take your child’s GPA and test scores and coursework, even if they are not stellar. And the courses there will be ones that your child can handle. Take the time to look around for schools like that.
And don’t forget the local community college! It is often a GREAT fit for a student who needs more time to be ready. Most of them have very minimal entrance requirements, if any at all. Which means that the child who graduates high school without having met the usual college requirements can still get started on college. So then did being behind really matter???
UPDATE: I recently became familiar with another option for “catching up” in math. Check out my review of Learn Math Fast and see if this curriculum will meet your needs! It’s a GREAT resource! Click here: How to Learn Math Fast (really!).
I go into more detail about all of this in a video that I did live in my FB group called It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School. In it you see the real me, as we learn that live videos don’t always go perfectly, lol! (Hint: wait for the “blooper” at the end.) But I think it will encourage you to watch it and realize that the word “behind” doesn’t have to be a bad word — and it doesn’t have to keep you up at night! :-)