Sometimes it takes more than one person to convince you about something. For instance, I’ve been telling you to relax about homeschooling high school in almost every episode of this podcast, but you might still be somewhat stressed. So in this episode I’ve brought guest podcaster Leah Courtney from As We Walk Along the Road to reinforce the idea that YES! You CAN truly RELAX while you are homeschooling high school.
Leah is a veteran homeschool mom who has graduated all of her children from homeschool. So she has oodles of experience and knows what she is talking about! Listen and be encouraged — and RELAX already!
In her (very rare) free time, Leah loves to read, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, and color complicated pictures. She blogs at As We Walk Along the Road, posting literature-based homeschooling resources and encouragement for other homeschooling mamas. She’s also the author of several ebooks and unit study resources for homeschoolers.
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This episode sponsored by My Father’s World Curriculum
If home is the center of education, God’s Word should be the center of the home. With My Father’s World Curriculum, God’s Word is not just a subject. It’s central to everything your child will do every day. From preschool through high school, My Father’s World combines the best of Charlotte Mason’s ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a Biblical worldview and global focus.
For high school families, My Father’s World has teamed with Unbound to provide an exciting new coaching program helping students and parents through the difficult high school years. Students will receive 18 bi-weekly group coaching calls as well as gaining access to an online community of coaches and like-minded students in a secure, private environment. Quarterly “Design Your Future” calls with student leaders will provide insights on the struggles and rewards of a Christ-centered life in this season.
From preschool through high school, My Father’s World has you covered. Go to mfwbooks.com today, download a catalog, schedule a free consultation, and let us help you find the fun, engaging, life-transforming curriculum your family has been waiting for. Go to mfwbooks.com today!
Episode 87: How to RELAX about Homeschooling High School
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As We Walk Along the Road — Leah’s website
It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School — the article that started it all!
Ann Karako: Hi, this is Ann Karako, and you are listening to Episode 87 of the It’s Not that Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.
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.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. I am so excited for today. We have a guest podcaster today. Her name is Leah Courtney, and here’s the thing, you know how as a parent, you love it when other people tell your kids exactly what you’ve been telling them all along and the kids didn’t believe you, they wouldn’t listen to you, but they will listen to this other person.
That’s the way I feel about what Leah has to share today. Not that you don’t listen to me, but she is going to reinforce everything I’ve already said to you, and in that, I rejoice, so definitely listen and enjoy.
Let me tell you just a little bit about Leah. She is a veteran homeschooling mama. In fact, she has graduated all of her children from her homeschool. She loves to read, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, and color complicated pictures. She blogs at As We Walk Along the Road, posting literature-based homeschooling resources and encouragement for other homeschooling mamas. She’s the author of several eBooks and unit study resources for homeschoolers. This lady has been around the block. She knows what she’s talking about, and I think you’ll be totally encouraged by what she has to say. After all, don’t we all just want to relax about homeschooling high school? She’s going to tell you how, so let me let her take it away, and then I’ll be back at the end to wrap us up.
Leah Courtney: Hi, I’m Leah Courtney. I am a veteran homeschooling mom and a business owner at As We Walk Along the Road. I am excited to be sharing with you today some information about homeschooling high school. So full disclosure, I have now graduated all of my kids from homeschooling. My last two graduated this past school year, so we have made it successfully through with all four of them. All four of them are on a different path now in their post-high school years, but they have all four successfully graduated from homeschooling.
I want to share with you some of the things that I learned about homeschooling high school because when I started homeschooling, I did not have many concerns. I was thrilled to be jumping into homeschooling. I had been a classroom teacher and a lot of times people will say, “Ah, well, that’s why you weren’t nervous about homeschooling. You already had classroom teacher experience.” That’s not necessarily the case for the reasons you might think. In fact, there were things that I had to unlearn as a homeschooling mom, things that I had done in the classroom that just didn’t work in homeschooling.
No, the reason that I knew I could homeschool, having been a classroom teacher, was that I knew how much or little gets accomplished in a traditional school day, between people lining up to go to the bathroom or lining up to go outside, or hands raised, or bathroom trips, or lunch breaks and snack breaks, and music class breaks and recess breaks. In the middle of all of that, I knew how much got accomplished during a regular school day. I knew that I could do that and likely much more by homeschooling, so I was pretty good with this whole homeschooling thing. It didn’t concern me. I was relaxed.
I had a relaxed approach to homeschooling from the very beginning and homeschooling was something that I just felt fit us really well and didn’t worry me, until my oldest two kids got to be middle school age. Then it wasn’t middle school that I was afraid of, it was high school, and I knew that the middle schooling years meant I only had a couple more years before we were going to hit high school. I knew that I needed to be prepared. I was so worried about not teaching the right things, not knowing how to teach some of the things, like calculus or even maybe algebra 2.
I was worried that I might leave things off the transcript and they might not be able to get into college and then they couldn’t get a job after. I was just worried. I was worried about all of it. I started reading lots of books about homeschooling high school. I looked up articles online. I talked to friends that had kids who were older than mine, and I was just absorbing all of this information, and it wasn’t really helping very much. I was still so worried about this.
I can remember going to lunch with a friend of mine, and this friend had a daughter who was a few years older than my oldest daughter. As my daughter was getting ready to go into her freshman year of high school, my friend’s daughter was starting her senior year of high school. I wanted to pick her brain all about homeschooling high school, so we went out to lunch and I started asking questions.
She was telling me all about her oldest daughter’s high school years and she showed me, no kidding y’all, she showed me this portfolio that she had created for her daughter. It was a portfolio that she could present when she applied for colleges, and this portfolio was huge. It was a record of everything this kid had done, and she had done a lot. She had honors classes, she had AP classes. She had dual enrollment classes. She had online classes. She had done service hours.
She had it all and had done it all, and so I looked at this and I thought, “How in the world am I going to do that?” First of all, I had one child that year beginning high school, but immediately following the next year, my son would start and then my last two daughters were not far behind. I had kids pretty close in age, and I knew that once we jumped into high school, we were going to be there for a little while. We were going to be there with all of the kids at the same time, and so this really worried me and I thought, “There is no way that we can do this. I do not know what I’m going to do.”
I left that lunch if possible even more scared and worried than I had gone to lunch. I thought that there’s no way I could be successful homeschooling high school. Now, thankfully, over the next few years I learned a lot, and I learned that I could be relaxed about homeschooling high school, just like I was throughout our homeschool years up until that point. As I said at the beginning, I’ve now officially graduated all of my kids from homeschooling, so you can tell that we did succeed; we made it through high school.
Not only did we make it through high school, but I told you my kids all had different paths, which I think is great and something I’m going to talk about in just a minute, but my oldest did decide to go to a four-year college and was able to get a full-ride scholarship to this college. Keep in mind when I talk about being relaxed about homeschooling high school, that doesn’t mean that your kids are not going to be prepared. I wanted to share today just a few things that helped me to become more relaxed about homeschooling high school and some things that I learned along the way that really helped this to be more enjoyable and less stressful.
Ann: I’m just going to take a quick second right now and jump in to tell you that this episode is sponsored by My Father’s World. If home is the center of education, God’s word should be the center of the home. With My Father’s World Curriculum, God’s Word is not just a subject, it’s central to everything your child will do every day. From preschool through high school, My Father’s World combines the best of Charlotte Mason’s ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a biblical worldview and global focus.
For high school families, My Father’s World has teamed with Unbound to provide an exciting new coaching program helping students and parents through the high school years. Students will receive 18 bi-weekly group coaching calls, as well as gaining access to an online community of coaches and like-minded students in a secure private environment. Quarterly “Design Your Future” calls with student leaders will provide insights on the struggles and rewards of a Christ-centered life in this season.
From preschool through high school, My Father’s World has you covered. Go to mfwbooks.com today, download a catalogue, schedule a free consultation, and let us help you find the fun, engaging, and life-transforming curriculum your family has been waiting for. Go to mfwbooks.com today. That’s mfwbooks.com.
Know your state homeschool law — it might not be what you think.
Leah: The first thing is that I realized I needed to know the legalities of homeschooling high school in my state. I am in the US; I’m in South Carolina. I had some preconceptions about what was required for homeschooling high school when I started this. Most of that was based on things that other people had told me. It was not because I had gone and actually read the law for myself. One of these was that I thought that my kids had to have the same classes and elective credits that kids in public school had to have to get a diploma.
Early on before my oldest daughter ever started high school, I sat down and pulled up our school district’s website and looked at the requirements for high school graduation. Those are the things that I expected that we needed to do in order for my kids to qualify for a diploma from homeschooling. Now, fast forward a year or so, I was in a Facebook group where– don’t get your legal advice from a Facebook group, I’m just saying, but I was in this Facebook group and I made the comment that somebody’s child, someone had asked a question, and I said, “Yes, your child is required to do this.” This was a state-local Facebook group.
“Yes, your child is required to do this,” and somebody else jumped into the group and said, “No, that’s not a requirement for homeschooling.” I thought, “What? Sure it is.” So I decided to research the actual laws, not just what I had always heard, not just what other people had told me, not just what my co-op group leader had said. I went and researched the actual law. I found out that at least at that time, according to the actual law, no, there was not a specific requirement for homeschoolers for graduating high school.
Now, what there was, was an expectation of what high schoolers would have going into college, and our state colleges required certain things. The things that the state colleges required were graduation requirements for our state’s high school seniors. I still did want to work toward those things, because I wanted my kids to be prepared for college if they wanted to go to college, but I had assumed that that was the law, when really that was what they needed if they had college in mind.
That episode taught me that I needed to really dig in and know what the legalities of homeschooling high school were in my state, and not just take somebody else’s experience or somebody else’s opinion and run with it, and say yes this is the law, this is the requirement that I have to meet because what really matters is that legal obligation that you have. Somebody else might have an opinion of oh well, your high schooler should have achieved this, this, and this in order to graduate. If they haven’t, you should not consider them graduated, you shouldn’t give them a diploma, you shouldn’t let them have a graduation.
But what it really comes down to is what the laws are because I’m going to address a little bit later, your homeschool doesn’t have to look like somebody else’s. The main thing is to start with what the legal issues are, and then make your decisions around that. Now if you homeschool under some type of umbrella group, and this can be different for different states, you might have to also consider the rules of that group.
Some groups if your child is going to get a diploma from that group, that group might have requirements just like the school district has requirements and so you want to know what their requirements are, but if you are going to be the one that keeps your child’s transcript and issues them a diploma, then you need to find out what the law is and not what somebody else’s opinions or preferences are. That was the first thing that I had to learn was that I needed to know what the legalities were, and I needed to understand the difference between what was law versus what everybody else’s opinion and preference was.
You can be YOU.
Leading from that, the second thing that I needed to learn was that my homeschooling high school journey didn’t have to look like anyone else’s. That didn’t mean that mine was better and theirs was worse, and it didn’t mean that theirs was better and mine was worse. My friend who had the huge portfolio for her daughter, that was great. That was great for them, it worked for them. Her daughter was able to take that and apply for college and go to college where she wanted to, and that was a good thing for them.
For me, that would not have worked because that was going to create too much stress for all of us. Your homeschooling high school journey doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s. If you have a friend whose child seems to be doing it all and experiencing honors classes and AP classes and dual enrollment classes, and you think, “There’s no way we can do all of that,” it’s, okay. If your child wants to do all those things, and you have the finances and the resources to do it, then go for it. Your homeschooling high school journey doesn’t have to look like everybody else’s. It has to fit your child.
I told you about my oldest child, who had gone to a four-year school. She had a full-ride scholarship to the four-year school and has now graduated from the four-year school. My other children have not done that yet. My second went to a technical college and graduated with a two-year associate’s degree. My last two have graduated, but they’re both taking a gap year before one is going to go to a four-year school and the other is going to go to a tech school.
All of my kids are different, and their homeschooling high school journeys have been different because they are different, and because their goals for after school were different. With one of my kids, I thought that we just weren’t going to make it to get these high school credits. High school was rough. I was fine with that child getting a GED. It did end up that they decided on their own that they didn’t want to do that, that they wanted to buckle down and get these school credits and get a diploma, but they didn’t have to. I would’ve been fine if that child had decided to get a GED because that’s what that child’s journey looked like.
Your homeschooling high school journey doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s, it just needs to fit your family. It needs to fit the resources that you have and it needs to fit your kids and what their own goals are for after high school.
Follow the leader
That leads me to the third really important thing that helped me to be able to step back and not stress about this. That is that I let the kids lead the way. All of my kids are different people. Each of them went into high school with different goals and plans. My oldest knew from the time she was really little that she wanted a four-year college degree. She knew from about the time she was in middle school age, that she loved science and biology. She knew she wanted a biology degree. My youngest daughter has known from the time she was tiny that she wanted to be a vet. She has maintained that interest all through her school years.
Those kids needed a certain high school path because they knew that their goal was to go to a four-year college. They needed to do certain things. They needed to have a transcript that was going to get them into college and was going to help them get scholarships. They needed to do ACT and SAT prep so that they could have high test scores so that they could get college scholarships.
My other two have had no desire to go to a four-year college. They did not take the ACT or SAT tests because they didn’t want to put the time and effort into it knowing that they didn’t need those test scores. That was okay. I wanted all of my kids to have enough classes that they had the credits that a college would require. I told them from early on in their high school years, it doesn’t matter to me if you go to college. It doesn’t matter if, at the end of the day, you decide to get a GED instead of a diploma.
But I do want you to be prepared with enough classes that if you decide to go to college at the very end of your high school years, you’re not going to be way behind in getting there. I want you to be prepared. Other than that, go for it. You tell me what your goals are, and I’m going to help you get there. The best thing we did was to let the kids lead the way and to follow what their goals and their plans were and help them prepare for that. That was the real way that I learned to step back and relax and not be stressed about this whole homeschooling high school journey.
I hope that helps. If you are stressed about homeschooling high school, I want to let you know that you don’t need to be. There were too many times that I sat in conferences or workshops and heard other homeschooling high school parents go down this list of all these things that I needed to know as a homeschool high school mom and I needed to be doing this and I needed to make sure I did that. It just created lots of stress and anxiety. I want to communicate that that’s not how it has to be. You can be relaxed about homeschooling high school. You’re not going to fail your kids, and it’s okay for you to step back, to let them make decisions, and to just support them as they do.
I hope that helps your homeschooling high school journey to feel a little more relaxed. If you’re looking for homeschool resources, especially literature-based resources, I would love for you to visit my blog at aswewalkalongtheroad.com. I create literature-based resources for homeschooling, especially for elementary and middle grades. I do have a few high school resources there as well, but I would love to share those with you.
If you visit the blog at aswewalkalongtheroad.com, you can find those literature-based resources, as well as lots of other resources and encouragement for homeschool moms. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy and relax on your homeschooling high school journey.
Ann: Woohoo, wasn’t that great? Do you feel better now? Do you feel like you can relax now? I sure hope so. Especially if you are new to homeschooling high school and you are feeling all the feels like she described them. It’s very common. We’ve all gone through that. Sometimes we do have to learn things the hard way, but hey, why learn them the hard way when you can learn them from veteran homeschool moms like Leah Courtney. I hope you’ve been encouraged by this episode.
I’ll be back on the first Friday in October with another episode from our series on the care and feeding of homeschooled teens, so I hope to see you then. Also, don’t forget, I will put related resources in the show notes, and you can find those by going to notthathardtohomeschool.com, clicking on Podcast in the top menu, and then looking for episode 87 and clicking on that. When you scroll down the page, you can listen to the podcast again, if you want to, from that page, or just continue to scroll, and you will find the related resource links and also a transcript if you like to read.
Once again, I hope to see you next time. Thanks so much for being here today.