It’s always good to hear from someone with veteran homeschool experience — not just someone who claims to be an expert when their oldest child is in third grade. Ya know?
Kristin Moon of KristinMoonScience.com has graduated both of her kids after homeschooling them K-12. So she knows what she’s talking about, and in this episode she gives her best tips for high school, and she also shares what she would have done differently to make things better.
I love that she is transparent about her mistakes. We all have things like that — so if you feel like you have regrets, you’re not alone!
Dr. Kristin Moon is a scientist who left the lab behind to homeschool her two sons. Now that both boys have graduated from her homeschool and are in college, she is devoting her time to helping others provide a quality science education to their children from home. She teaches high school biology, chemistry, physics, and anatomy & physiology online to homeschoolers from around the world. She also has self-paced science courses available on her website, KristinMoonScience.com.
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This episode is sponsored by
Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School
Cure the Fear is the book that you want to help you make sure you are meeting all the requirements that are going to help your kid accomplish their goals — and that is going to be different for everyone.
What any “expert” says their kids did, is not necessarily what your kids need to do. This book will help you do the research so that you know exactly what is required and what is not required — so that you can make the best choices for your family, for your teen, and for you.
As always, that’s what I’m about. Don’t just listen to what everybody else has to say, do the research for yourself. Do that with Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School. Click here for more info: Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School – A Step-By-Step Handbook for Research and Planning.
Episode 89: Kristin Moon’s Homeschool Experience — do’s and don’ts for high school
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Ann Karako: Hi. This is Ann Karako. You are listening to Episode 89 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, and welcome. You guys, I am so excited about this episode. We have a guest podcaster today. Her name is Kristin Moon. You may have heard of kristinmoonscience.com. That’s who’s speaking with us today. She is sharing her best tips and advice from her many years of homeschool experience. She’s graduated her two sons. She homeschooled them all the way, K through 12.
She’s got lots of great stuff to share which I know you will want to hear and be reassured by. She does offer online classes at kristinmoonscience.com. She has both live online classes that go through the whole year in our high school level science courses. Awesome stuff. She also has some self-paced classes that are video-based, and I think she’s got some science lab courses that are like that plus others, so definitely head to kristinmoonscience.com and check all that stuff out. In the meantime, enjoy what Kristin has to say today, and I’ll be back at the end.
Kristin Moon: I’d never dreamed that I’d homeschool my children. In fact, when my sons were born, homeschooling wasn’t even on my radar. Fast forward to the present day, and here I am, the proud mom of two homeschool graduates. They both were homeschooled from preschool through high school graduation, and are currently pursuing science degrees at a four-year university.
We had our fair share of struggles along the way. Both of my sons have learning challenges that required me to find the best approach to teaching them. I can honestly say that the years I spent homeschooling them were the best, most satisfying years of my life. Now that my time homeschooling my sons is over, I spend my time teaching high school science to homeschooling students online.
The best part of my job is getting to know homeschooling students from all over the world. I get to learn their goals and aspirations for life after home school. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for all of them.
In working with these students and their families, I have been able to appreciate that there’s no one way to homeschool. Even as the number of families choosing to educate their children from home continues to increase, many still worry if homeschooling is able to provide students the skills and education to survive in the “real world”.
In my 25 years of working with hundreds of homeschool families across the globe, I can emphatically say, yes, but it does take effort and planning, and there are potential pitfalls along the way. As I take time to reflect on my own time of homeschooling my sons, I can think of things I did well, but I can also think of things I would’ve done differently if I had to do it all over again. As I consider what advice I’d give to someone looking ahead to homeschooling high school, especially if their kids are college bound, I’ve compiled a list of tips I’d give in no particular order.
1) Embrace the opportunity to learn alongside your child.
So many parents feel ill-equipped to homeschool because they don’t feel qualified academically. Maybe they weren’t great in school themselves, or perhaps they were great students, but at this point, they’ve forgotten the Pythagorean theorem, the dates of the American Civil War, or how to balance an equation in chemistry. That’s okay.
Every year on Pi Day, I’m reminded of the fact that despite my many years in school, during which time I took Calculus 1 and Calculus 2, it took completing an activity with my son in his elementary math book for me to truly understand Pi and how it relates to the diameter and circumference of a circle. And history? Forget about it. Because I had learned history from a textbook and by simply filling in worksheets all through school, I thought I hated history. It turns out, I love it. It took learning history chronologically with my sons, complete with field trips, read-alouds, map work, and hands-on activities to understand how events that happened around the globe culminated in the world we live in today.
Hear me as I say this. Everyone has gaps in their learning. You don’t have to know everything in order to do a great job educating your own kids at home. There is no shame in admitting to your kids that you don’t know it all.
Use it as an opportunity to learn alongside your kids. Demonstrate to them how when you don’t know the answer, you search for it. Maybe you look up the answer in a textbook, make a trip to the library, watch a documentary or a YouTube video, or look it up online. Model the process to your kids. I truly believe that the education I gained while homeschooling my own sons is superior to the education I myself received growing up. I learned so much more while teaching my own kids than I ever did in public school.
While I fully embrace modeling a lifestyle of learning with your kids, this isn’t to say that there isn’t a time and a place for farming out the subjects you feel are better taught by someone else. That leads me to my second point.
2) Don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself.
If there is a subject that you don’t feel equipped to teach, especially once you get to high school, don’t be afraid to outsource. There are many options available. My family was blessed to be part of amazing homeschool co-ops through the years. In these co-ops, the parents taught different subjects to the students. While I volunteered to teach high school science, my sons got the opportunity to learn foreign languages from native speakers, art from talented artists, and how to play musical instruments from musicians.
Not only did these co-ops allow my son to learn from people who were experts in their subjects, my sons also learned valuable skills such as note-taking, how to act in a classroom setting, and how to learn from a teacher who wasn’t their mom.
Another popular option for outsourcing is online classes. Some classes are short, just a few weeks long, while others provide material suitable for a full high school credit. You can find online classes in nearly any subject you can think of, and the content can be delivered to your student in a variety of ways.
Some classes are self-paced and can be done on your child’s own timeline, while others have a specific time and day that they join their teacher and other students for a live interactive class. Still, other classes may be led by a teacher and have weekly assignments and deadlines that students must meet to stay on track, but there is no live class component. This format works well for students who play sports, work, or are involved in extracurricular activities that may prevent them from being able to log onto a live class every week at a certain time.
Many of these online classes utilize learning management systems similar to those used by major universities, meaning that by taking the classes, your child is being acquainted with the technology they will use once they head off to college.
Speaking of college, don’t forget the option of dual enrollment in high school as a way to let your kid learn a subject you may not be comfortable teaching. Dual enrollment is just what it sounds like. Your student is taking college classes in-person or online while they are still a high school student, often at a discounted rate.
This is the route we chose for our sons during their junior and senior years of high school. While the boys still completed some classes at home with me, they also took classes that would satisfy their general education requirements at a local university. Not only did my sons start earning college credit while still in high school, dual enrollment was a great way for my boys to transition from learning at home to learning in a university classroom setting.
3) Plan high school with the end in mind.
Do this by sketching out a general map of your child’s high school years, making sure you fit in all the required courses. The course outline you prepare for your kids should take into account your state’s requirements for graduation, as well as the plans your child has after high school. If your child plans to attend college or trade school, check out the requirements for admission at their chosen school and be sure to include those course requirements in your high school plan.
For instance, the colleges my son’s planned to attend had a foreign language requirement, so I made sure to fit in the required two years of high school foreign language. Because our sons were both college-bound, we made sure that their four-year high school plan included four years of math, four years of English, four years of social studies, and four years of science.
As you map out your four-year plan, keep in mind that some of the science courses your student may take in high school may have prerequisites. For example, a student should have taken algebra before attempting chemistry. Knowing this in advance, you wouldn’t want your teen to attempt chemistry before algebra was completed.
One word of caution here. I often hear parents say that since they think their child has no plans for college, there’s no need to ensure that they meet the college requirements in high school. This may very well be the case, but I know several young adults personally who discovered their life’s passion in their senior year of high school, and their chosen profession required a college degree. Unfortunately, since they were in their final years of high school, there was no time to squeeze in the classes that were required for college admission.
My advice is to be sure to prepare your student for any route they choose to take after high school graduation. If your student ends up not going to college, those extra classes they took won’t do any harm. Education is never wasted. If they do choose to go on to college, they’ll be prepared.
Ann: Hello. I just want to jump in here real quick to say that this episode is sponsored by Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School. That’s right, my own book is sponsoring this episode. Actually, Cure the Fear is the book that you want to help you do exactly what Kristin was talking about in her previous point. That of making sure you are meeting all the requirements that are going to help your kid accomplish their goals, and that is going to be different for everyone.
What Kristin said her kids did, is not necessarily what your kids need to do. The book, Cure the Fear, will help you do the research so that you know exactly what is required and what is not required so that you can make the best choices for your family, for your teen, and for you. As always, that’s what I’m about. Don’t just listen to what everybody else has to say, do the research for yourself. Do that with Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School. You can find it on my website, notthathardtohomeschool.com, or on Amazon. Now, back to Kristin.
4) Start to loosen the reins.
Kristin: Another tip. As your students get older, start to loosen the reins, and allow them some freedom to manage their schedule and the way they learn. This one was probably the hardest one for me, but once I put this into practice, it did wonders for our home school.
Both of my boys have very different personalities and learning styles. One of my boys is an early bird and prefers to knock all of his school out early in the day in order to have his afternoon and evening to spend as he chooses. My other son prefers to ease into his day and needs an hour or so of free time in the morning before he is able to concentrate on school.
One son requires silence to do his schoolwork, while my other son needs to listen to music in order to focus on his work.
Both of my boys were given weekly assignments in high school at the beginning of the week. One son liked to focus on a single subject a day and knock out all of his assignment for that one subject in a day. The other son did an assignment in each subject each day, but by the end of the week had finished all of his work.
My sons had two totally different ways of managing their day and their workload, and in the end, found the way they preferred to be successful. I’m grateful that they both learned what worked for them in our home school so that they could take their strategies with them to college.
Now, let me tell you what I would have done differently if I had it to do all over again.
1) Regular testing
First, I would have required my boys to take regular tests in core subjects like math and science. That may seem ironic since many families choose to leave the traditional school system because they rely so much on testing, but I believe tests have their place.
Even though the curricula we used provided regular unit tests, I often chose instead to discuss the material with my kids at the end of the chapter to make sure they had mastered the material. I don’t regret doing that. I feel that discourse has its place in education. While I thought I was being kind by letting my boys skip taking tests, I was actually doing them a disservice.
Once they began taking college courses in high school, I found that they lacked many of the study skills they would have gained had they taken tests on a regular basis. They hadn’t really ever been required to learn how to memorize or how to use process of elimination or other test-taking strategies. While my sons did eventually learn how to study and take tests, the process would have been easier and kinder if they’d been exposed to taking tests from an early age.
2) Career exploration
Next. I wish I had been more intentional about exposing my son to the different careers possible. When I was in high school, students who had completed their core graduation requirements could spend part of every school day shadowing different professionals. This was hugely beneficial. At the time, I thought I wanted to be an engineer after college. After spending the year interning at a civil engineering firm, I realized it wasn’t really something I wanted to do.
A friend of mine wanted to go into medicine so she shadowed a doctor. When she passed out while watching her very first surgical procedure, she recognized she was destined for other things.
I wish I had provided a similar experience for my sons. There are so many jobs available now that didn’t exist when we were young. While I would’ve despised being a civil engineer, I likely would have loved chemical or biomedical engineering had I known about it when I was in school.
Often, kids get to college with only a vague idea of what they want to major in or what they want to do after college. This was the situation one of my sons found himself in. He knew he loved the life sciences and is currently majoring in biology, but he doesn’t really know what he’d like to do once he graduates. Fortunately, he is able to talk to his professors, other students, and his academic advisor for guidance and for ideas, but I really wish I’d taken the time to expose him to different career options in his field of interest before he got to college.
3) Less worry
Lastly, if I had to do it all over again, I’d have worried less. I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted worrying about this, that, and the other thing. A lot of my worry stemmed from me comparing the way we homeschooled to the way friends and even strangers homeschooled. I shouldn’t have done that.
As we all know, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I should have recognized that my boys were unique creations, blessed with their own gifts, quirks, and passions, and that meant the way we homeschooled didn’t have to look the same as anyone else. I wish I could relive some of those precious moments. Growing a model of the Nile River with ryegrass seed and flooding it, playing with dry ice, going to history reenactments, or just enjoying a family read-aloud.
In the last episode of The Office, Andy Bernard said, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.” If you’re deep in the trenches of homeschooling, I hope you’re able to realize that despite how hard the days can be, you really will miss them when they’re gone.
Ann: There you go. Was I not right about how helpful it is to hear from other veteran homeschool moms about their homeschool experience? Gotta love it.
Again, don’t forget to head to kristinmoon.com. Wait, no, not kristinmoon.com, that doesn’t get you anywhere, you want kristinmoonscience.com. That’s K-R-I-S-T-I-N-M-O-O-Nscience.com, to check out what she has to offer in high school science, which is a lot.
Also going to remind you about Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School and my other books, which you can find at notthathardtohomeschool.com.
The other thing you can find at my website is the show notes. Go to Podcast in the top menu, click on that. Then look for this episode number, 89, and click on that. If you scroll down, I will have a list of resources that relate to what Kristin had to say today. As I was listening, I thought of all sorts of articles on my site that go into more detail about what she was talking about, and so I will list those. If you have any questions at all, definitely check out the show notes.
It is so much fun to be with you guys here on this podcast. I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. Thanks for being here today. I will see you next time.
- Episode 91: Unschooling Teens — My Experience and Advice (with Julie Polanco) - November 18, 2022
- Episode 90: Are You Giving Grace to Your Teen? - November 4, 2022
- Episode 89: Kristin Moon’s Homeschool Experience — Do’s and Don’ts for High School - October 21, 2022