I remember the days before I started homeschooling high school, when I thought my kids and I were going to have the most amazing experience, and they would go on to become rocket scientists (or something else equally impressive), and everyone would be in awe of what we had accomplished and what wonderful, successful people they turned out to be.
Then reality hit. Turns out we're pretty ordinary. But ya know what? Ordinary is totally OK.
What are your expectations about homeschooling high school? In this episode I discuss five possibilities and bring reality to bear. Don't set yourself up for a feeling of failure; start out with reasonable expectations and do what works best for your family.
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Ann Karako: Hi, I'm Ann Karako, and you're listening to episode 75 of the It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.
Ann: Welcome to another episode of It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School. The podcast for real people, so that you can confidently, competently, and yes, even contentedly provide the high school education that is best for your teen and your family. I'm your host, Ann Karako, from notthathardtohomeschool.com.
Ann: Welcome, everyone. I hope you are doing well. Today, on the podcast, I would like to talk about expectations for homeschooling high school. What are you thinking on the front end is going to happen? As someone who has gone through this journey five times, [chuckles] I'm here to shed some reality-light on these expectations so that your expectations are more reasonable. So you don't set yourself up for a feeling of failure.
I received an email earlier today that preyed on people's fears about homeschooling high school. That's not what I'm trying to do today. Like, “Oh, you're expecting it to happen one way, but it won't. Muahahahaha. Get ready.”
No, that's not what I'm trying to do at all. I am trying to just say, “Hey, let's remember that just because you expect it to happen or want it to happen, it doesn't mean it needs to happen.” I think I'm just digging a hole. [laughs] Maybe I should just get started, and then you'll perhaps understand more what I mean. I do see that we have a lot of expectations though, and I'm only covering just a few of them today. This might be a topic that I come back to from time to time, where I bring up some more expectations, and then we talk about reality instead. [laughs]
If you have any ideas or suggestions for what types of expectations I could talk about, that would be great. Today, I've got five on my list. I think it'll be tricky to get through them in 15 minutes, but hey, we'll give it a shot.
My kid will get high grades.
Ann: Here's an expectation. It's a very understandable expectation. Let me just say it for you. My kid, who is doing very well through eighth grade, will get high grades in high school. This is an expectation that probably most homeschool moms in that situation have. That their kid is doing super well, they understand everything, they might even be taking some high school classes in eighth grade. Of course, through the next four years, they're going to continue to do well. It's just obvious.
The problem with that is, what about when they start not to do well?
I feel like I'm going to say this next sentence probably with each expectation down the line. I don't necessarily plan out my podcasts beyond a very basic outline. While I have some expectations listed, I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to say about all of them. I think, though, that this will probably apply to all of them, and it is that kids change a lot between 9th and 12th Grade. It is crazy how much your kid will change in those four years.
Now, does that mean their academic ability changes? Probably not. Probably their intelligence level, their ability to comprehend, their ability to communicate, or their understanding of math, or their ability to do math is not going to change greatly.
Although for that last one, some kids can do math fine up through about 8th Grade, and then the high school level stuff just throws them for a loop. There is that.
But here's the thing. Attitudes change a lot. Though your kid is doing really well now, please, be prepared for the possibility that they will stop doing well. Not because they can't do well, but because their attitude might start to change. They might start to have a lot less motivation for schoolwork, they might get distracted by other things, they might just decide they're fed up with homeschooling. [laughs] This is reality.
This type of thing is reality for many teenagers that by the time they're in the middle of high school, somewhere between 9th and 12th Grade, sometimes right around 10th or 11th, they just lose their mojo. If I prepare you for that on the front end, then it won't blindside you when it happens, and then you're like, “Oh, what's wrong with how we're doing things? What's wrong with them. What's going wrong?” You'll be looking for all the ways that things are going wrong. It might not be anything. Nobody's doing anything wrong.
It might just be that it's time to adapt and change a little bit rather than expecting your kid to do so much work, to get such high grades. Maybe you can release some of those expectations, reduce some of them, and perhaps even adapt the schedule a bit so that your kid is doing stuff that's more fun for them rather than stuff that they're not motivated to do as much anymore as they used to be.
Please, be aware that I had five kids and none of them had a 4.0 average GPA at the end of their four years. Three of them had A minuses and two of them had Bs. They're all fairly above average type academically intelligent kids, but they didn't all do super great.
In fact, nobody got an A or an A plus as their GPA for high school just because we had lots going on, and they had interests, and not everybody's going to get all A's, and most kids don't.
See? I took a long time on that one. [laughs] We might not get to all five of them today. Let's see.
My kid will go to college.
Ann: Expectation number two. My kid will go to college. Well, what I said before applies here for sure. Kids change so much over the course of four years. Does that mean I say don't prepare your kid for college? Not at all. Definitely prepare them so that if they do decide to go, they can do so without any hindrance, but don't be surprised if that kid that you were sure was going to go to college changes their mind somewhere in those four years and says, “No, I don't want to go to college.” Or, “I don't want to go to college right away.” This is totally, totally okay.
Don't set yourself up for failure by saying, “Oh, if my kid decides not to go to college then our homeschooling was not a success.” That is not true. Remember your WHY, we've talked about that on this podcast so often. What is your why for homeschooling high school? It wasn't really that your kid would go to college, was it? I don't think so. Don't let the fact that they have changed their mind midstream concern you. In fact, be prepared that that is a distinct possibility, or is certainly a possibility. Not every kid that we think is going to end up in college when they enter 9th Grade actually ends up in college after they graduate.
My kid will do dual enrollment.
Ann: This is kind of related. A lot of families go into high school having heard about dual enrollment and having heard about only the positives of dual enrollment, and then they're like, “Oh, yes, we definitely have an expectation that our kid is going to do dual enrollment while they're homeschooling high school. We're going to get all those college credits, our kid's going to have an associate's degree before they graduate high school, and it's going to be great.” You know what? If it ends up working out that way, more power to you. That is awesome. It doesn't work out that way for everybody.
In fact, dual enrollment is not a good fit for everybody. Need I say, it's not necessary. Just because you hear everybody talking about it does not mean that it is necessary to do dual enrollment. So, when you get to that point where you're making that decision, please weigh it carefully.
I have an entire podcast episode about whether or not dual enrollment is right for you. Brings many things to bear. Is your kid ready for college level work? Are they ready to communicate with the professor? Are you ready to step back and let them do that? Cost is obviously a factor, convenience.
There are so many things to think about when it comes to dual enrollment, it might not end up working out for you. It might not end up being the best fit for your kid. Please, do not go into high school with an expectation that dual enrollment is a definite thing. Please, be prepared for the possibility that it won't work out, that it won't be a good fit, and then you decide not to do it after all. It is not necessary.
Ann: As always, I need to jump in here to tell you about our sponsor for today. Our sponsor for this episode is CTCMath. Teaching math to your kids can be a dreaded task, and so is finding the right
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My kid will have a good attitude.
Ann: Here's another one. I think I'm on number four now. My kid will have a good attitude. [laughs] We touched on this just a little bit, about whether or not they're getting the high grades. Please– [laughs] Oh, I have a whole thing about this in one of my sessions at the Great Homeschool Convention. The fact is that our teens become people that we hardly recognize, sometimes. It happened for me with all five of mine. That there came a point where it seemed like they had forgotten every single character training thing I had taught them during their growing up years.
There was talking back, there was anger, there was language, there was not treating their siblings nicely, there was not doing their schoolwork at all well, or how about this? Not doing schoolwork at all, or not doing a particular subject at all. Even the goody-two-shoes one [laughs] — sorry but true — skipped out on math for a couple of months and I didn't know about it. I'm here to say that teens will be teens. While yours may be the exception — and again, more power to you, if that's the case — most of us are not perfect parents, and most of us do not have perfect kids, which means that to some degree or another, your teen will probably have attitude issues during the high school years.
That is part of life. That is part of being a family. It does not mean that homeschooling was a bad choice. It does not mean that you are being a bad parent. It does not mean that you are losing your child. It's just part of life.
In fact, I think it means that homeschooling is the best choice, because then we can work with our kids through these attitudes in a safe environment and they're not surrounded by peers who want to support these attitudes. Instead, they're in the family environment where we can continue to talk to them about what's the truth about being in a family and being a responsible person.
If you're expecting, because your kid is great now, in 7th or 8th Grade, that they are going to continue to have that positive, great attitude all the way through high school, it might not happen. I will say, with my girls, because I have four girls, so I know about them more, with every single one of my girls, there was a period between say 12 or 13 to 15, 16 or 17. Each one of them went into it at a slightly different time and came out of it at a slightly different time, and I didn't keep track. I just know it happened. They went into this period of time where they were just a little snippy, and they were working through some respect of the parent issues. They thought they knew everything. So, that is a thing.
Guys, I don't know if they generally have that. My son did not have that as much. He was more like, “Why do I have to do school work? I'd rather go to work and earn money.” Each kid is obviously going to be different, but again, this is more like a “be prepared” lesson today. Be prepared that their attitude may tank for a while. Please remember that everything is a season. Don't panic. Ride it out. [chuckles]
I've got an entire chapter in my book called Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School, all about keeping communication lines open with your teen even when this relationship itself is a little strained at the moment. So, I'll put a link for that in the show notes.
We will prove to the doubters that homeschooling is better.
Ann: I've got one more expectation I want to talk about today. Here it is. My kid will prove to all the doubters that homeschooling high school is the most amazing thing ever. [laughs] Can you guess where I'm going with this?
Here's the thing. We do want to prove that it's all going to be good. In fact, we want to prove to all of those people in our lives who are like, “Why on earth are you homeschooling high school? Won't they miss out on opportunities? Do you really think you can give them as good of an education as they're going to get at the public school? What about all the socialization?”
You know all of the objections because there is somebody, probably, in your life who is giving them to you and you know, too, that in the back of your mind, you're like, “Oh, but we'll prove it to them because my kid's going to get into Harvard, or my kid's going to do this, that, or the other thing.” We have this list of things that our kid is going to do, that's going to prove to the naysayers that we are amazing people and that our homeschooling was an amazing thing, and that it's going to be amazing for everybody, and everybody should do it, and we're going to totally make them eat their words. They'll come back to us and say, “Wow. Okay. I was wrong. Homeschooling really was wonderful, wasn't it?” [laughs]
Okay. I'm exaggerating somewhat, but you know that's how we are thinking in the back of our heads when we are in the middle of the night, or we're trying to get to sleep, these are the sorts of things that go through our mind. You know it's true, so don't even try to deny it. I'm not the only one. I know I'm not.
Guess what? Your kid might not do that. Your kid might not be that amazing. Your experience homeschooling might not be that amazing because again, we're families and we have family dynamics, so there are going to be strained relationships. There are going to be bad days. There are going to be arguments. There are going to be kids who don't do what we want them to do. There are going to be kids who decide not to go to college. There are going to be kids that have trouble even getting their work done. There are going to be kids that don't know what they want to do after high school and end up getting a job at a fast-food restaurant.
You're like, “Oh, well, we're not proving to anybody that homeschool is better, we're just proving that we can do it and that it exists, but we're not really proving anything about it being better.” If that is why you are homeschooling, is to prove to somebody else that it's better, then definitely don't homeschool anymore.
That, hopefully, is not part of your WHY. It's not a good reason. [chuckles] Let's be more concerned about our kids and what we are doing to meet their needs. It might be the best thing for your kid that they don't go to college right away and they get a job at a fast-food restaurant. If that's the best thing for your kid, and your relationship with them is a good one because you have not been so stringent about what they “should” do, and you've been working with them to come up with something that you can all agree on is the best for them, that's what homeschooling high school is all about.
Who cares what anybody else says? Who cares what anybody else says about your homeschool high school experience? It is your family. You know what went on, you know the decisions that were made, you know why those decisions were made. Stand strong. Your homeschool is your homeschool. You don't have to do it the way anybody else says, and you don't have to prove to anybody else that your way is better. [sighs] [laughs]
Boy, when I got going, I got going. Please be reassured though, whatever your homeschool high school turns out to look like is going to be great because you're going to build it around why you want to be homeschooling high school, and you're going to build it around what your kids really need.
Ann: All righty. Hey, we're not doing too bad on time. I have no idea what next week's topic is going to be yet. I have not had one that made itself known to me. I'll have to troll the Facebook group a little bit and see what kind of questions are out there. If you have a suggestion for a topic for the podcast, by all means, write me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I will read it and maybe use it. Thanks for being here today. I hope this has been helpful.
Again, not to create fears, not to create negativity, but to create realism so that we are not setting ourselves up for a feeling of failure, so that we are not in intimidating ourselves by all of these high expectations, and then having them not come true and feeling awful. No. Let's start from the front end with some realistic expectations. Really, that's what the book, Save Your Sanity, is all about, is developing realistic expectations in all the areas of homeschooling high school. Again, take a look at that. Now I am running long on time. Thanks for being here, and I will see you next time.
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