Sunday, September 23, 2007

Homeschooling High School?

Ahh - the quandary of the homeschooling parent: How long do I homeschool?

When we first started homeschooling, my older daughter was 3 1/2. I knew then she was advanced - the primary reason we decided to homeschool instead of sending her to preschool was that she already knew everything the preschool was teaching their kindergarteners. We took homeschooling one year at a time, figuring it would be clear, year by year, what was best for our daughter. But I didn't realize then what is quickly being brought home to me now: that a child who's ready for first grade at 3 1/2 will likely be ready for middle school work by about 10, and for high school work by 7th grade.

Now that said daughter would be in sixth grade (yikes! high school work next year?!), we're beginning to face the question of what we should do about high school. And it's a tough one. I don't so much struggle with the academics of high school - I figure I'm smart enough to learn any high-school-level subject if I want to put the work in, and if I don't, I can find a self-teaching curriculum and/or someone to tutor her, or she can take a class at the local school. But she's amazingly talented musically; she's been playing the flute for a year (no lessons, just homeschool band), and is easily playing second/third year music. Does she need a "real" high school music program if she's going to be ready for college music? And are there other things about high school that would benefit her? And would they benefit her even if she's on the young side for high school - next year, for example, or the year after?

An article in today's Fort Wayne Journal Gazette online is helping me think about this. It's called "Colleges Embrace Home-School Students," and the first anecdote is about a young lady who was accepted at Indiana University-Purdue University as a piano performance major. There's much more, of course, including some fascinating information about how colleges in Indiana are actively seeking out homeschooled high schoolers. The most helpful paragraph, for most homeschoolers, is this one:
"We love having home-schooled students because we find that they are prepared for college,” says Allison Carnahan, Indiana Tech’s vice president of enrollment management. “They are used to being independent and are very eager for the campus experience. Often, they have done career exploration more than a private- or public-schooled student. They tend to know their majors pretty quickly.”

So - "real school" high school, or homeschool high school for our daughter? That remains to be seen. It's nice to know at least that colleges these days don't think homeschooling is a disadvantage.

4 comments:

Shawna said...

Articles like that are so comforting as I daily question my choices regarding this decision.

Melinda S. said...

Sis, one thing you missed is that, while you may feel your 7th grader is ready for high school, and be debating what is best to be done, your local high school is probably NOT debating this. Your 7th grader would not go to public high school. She would be forced back to middle school, for the next 2 years, and get only middle school band, as well. (Where most of the kids are playing 1st or at best 2nd year, most likely, as well. Some, though, would be a better match for her, and the middle school might have a couple levels of band or orchestra.) Academics, though, would be limited to the best the middle school has to offer.

The high school is not likely to allow her to go there, even for a course or two, for 2 more years, by which point the other questions may also have obvious answers.

Marcy Muser said...

Shawna,

Believe me, you're not the only one. As long as I've been homeschooling, we still have our days! Yesterday morning, for example, as I was going over our week with my sixth-grader, and she was crying because she has to spend about an hour each week (total time - it doesn't have to be all at once) writing out the answers to questions. I was sorely tempted to make her experience what public schooled kids have to spend their time doing! (And that doesn't even count the time I spend wondering whether I'll be able to adequately prepare her for college - and for life!)

Hang in there - those days get fewer as you do this more! :)

Marcy Muser said...

Melinda,

You could be right. I know Sweet Pea has an 8th-grade friend on the swim team who is taking Algebra I for the second time this year - because that's the most advanced math class the middle school offers. Even though she took it and passed it last year, she has to take it again!

Our middle school has one band per grade - 6th, 7th, 8th. Don't know, though, whether they'd let a sixth-grade-age kid into the eighth-grade band.

As for high school, I don't know. We have a fairly flexible system here, because Colorado has school choice, but I don't know if that would extend to a middle-school student going to high school. There's more flexibility for gifted students these days, too; kids are allowed to attend college their last two years of high school, paid for by the school district. And there's no money issue involved, as there is at the kindergarten level, since all students after first grade are paid on an all-day basis. I'd have to ask a high school guidance counselor to see what their policies are.

We also have a special situation here, at the moment, because the high school our kids would attend is brand new and is taking 7th-11th graders this year. (Next year there will be a new middle school right next to it; then 7th- and 8th-graders will probably be removed from the high school.)