How can a family begin homeschooling at the ‘high school’ level? Much depends on your child’s intentions for proceeding with the adventure of adulthood. Does she intend to go to college? Does he intend to start a business? Is joining the military a goal?
If college is part of the plan the parents and the child should keep track of endeavors and accomplishments. This record will be most easily understood by college admissions committees if it is written like a school transcript. Credit hours can be detailed by using 180 clock hours per one credit hour (Carnegie Credit Unit 12). This approximates a one hour class for 180 days of schooling. One hundred-eighty days is a common, if not universal, unit of measurement for one school year. Every subject need not be an even credit hour.
A useful example of a nontraditional curriculum vitae is found in Mary and Michael Leppert’s book, Homeschooling Almanac 13, under “Interview with Janelle Orsi” a young lady then attending Pomona College near Los Angeles. The interview details Miss Orsi’s high school career and includes her Academic Summary.
Parents, especially those new to homeschooling, may be intimidated by the idea of teaching their children ‘high school subjects,’ and this is understandable. People employed as teachers are required to have a college education and some form of teaching certificate if they want to teach in public schools, and those employed by private schools often have professional experience in the classes they teach. How can a garden-variety parent compete with that? In many respects, you don’t have to.
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Back to the original text.
Teachers are required to be credentialed for multiple reasons. Classroom teaching is not the same thing as either passing on information to your own child, or helping your child to find information.
Classroom teaching requires leadership, control, and organizing the records one keeps on a large group of people. Getting training in these areas reduces the strain of trial and error in learning how to manage a classroom situation. If a person is shown the results of cumulative worker-years’ worth of trial and error in a college course, getting on with the job once you’re hired goes much more quickly than discovering your own system.
People who aspire to teach others, and get paid for it from public funds (other peoples’ money), must first prove that they are capable of delivering a minimally quality performance. Accountability is expected for the payment of monies extracted from taxpayers. Taxpayers want to know that they are paying someone who knows the subject.
Additionally, taxpayers do not want schools hiring Joe Blow to teach children if the schools do not first check out Joe’s background. Joe could be a terrible person, and if the schools don’t bother finding this out first, children could be at risk.
Because of all this, and possibly more, schools and the states that authorize them, required credentialization.
Private schools have more latitude.
Homeschooling (aka, parenting) has the most.
Parents who homeschool are not employed by the taxpayers to teach the children (or grandchildren or nieces or nephews) of those taxpayers. Parents who homeschool parent and teach their own children in their own homes using their own money. Because of this, in terms of parental concern not state rules, credentialization of homeschooling parents is not necessary any more than a parent is required to be a trained chef in order to put supper on the table.
Using your child’s natural curiosity
Another reason not to ‘fear’ homeschooling your child at the high school level is that you don’t have to provide all the motivation yourself. By the time kids are teenagers they can have a good idea about what interests them. In these areas, parents do not have to push, cajole or threaten in order to keep the kids ‘on task’ (as it is put in educationese). Kids usually are the ones pushing ahead.
By supporting the kids in their quest for knowledge about whatever it is that interests them, the parents help the kids add to the kids’ fund of information. Some of the subjects may appear to be ‘lightweight,’ but even lightweight interests can have heavyweight learning behind them.
Another less-noticed benefit of helping someone learn about an area you are unfamiliar with is that you learn it, too. Parents have perspectives on learning that their children haven’t yet developed, so even if the parents are new to an area of knowledge, it isn’t as if they are starting out cold. They have their lives’ experiences on which to draw.
Parents can also refresh their memories of areas of study that have faded from their lives. It can be interesting to come back to an area of study and see how the experiences of the intervening years have changed your outlook.
12. Carnegie Unit and Student Hour, Wikipedia
13. Mary and Michael Leppert, Homeschooling Almanac, 2000-2001, Prima Lifestyles,
1999; “College, a teen’s story,” The California Homeschool Guide
Copyright 2006, 2008 Valerie Bonham Moon
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