Homeschooling high school students can seem challenging, complicated, and almost overwhelming. Most parents who consider it are full of questions.
Here are answers to ten of the most common questions about homeschooling high school.
We’ll begin with how to start and then move to details, like diplomas, transcripts, costs, and curriculum.
Our first question is often heard from parents who have been homeschooling for a while but begin to have second thoughts when considering high school.
1. Isn’t high school the time to stop homeschooling and enroll my student in an institutional school where instruction is available for courses I find too challenging to teach?
Not at all! The high school years can actually be the most fruitful years in your homeschool journey.
The relational benefits are huge, especially during the teenage developmental years.
You don’t need to provide the direct instruction in all of the high school courses if you don’t feel able. There are many alternatives available, like online and digital courses or correspondence schools.
You could hire a tutor for a particularly challenging course. Perhaps you can team up with other homeschooling parents to set up a simple learning pod arrangement, cooperatively hiring the tutor to provide instruction to a group of students.
You can search for a nearby homeschool co-op or even start one yourself. Within a co-op arrangement, each parent chooses a subject (or subjects) to teach to the group of students.
Some homeschooling parents use mentors or apprenticeship arrangements to expand their students’ instruction.
Now let's consider a question from parents who are just beginning a homeschooling journey.
2. How do I remove my high school student from a public school to start homeschooling?
A student can be transitioned from public school enrollment to private instruction (including homeschooling) at any time of the year.
The ideal time to do this is, of course, before a new public school year begins, but it can be accomplished at any point as the school year progresses.
Regardless of which homeschool legal option you choose, we recommend that you send your school district a simple written notice to inform them that you are removing your student(s) from public school enrollment in order to place them under private instruction. This removes any appearance of truancy.
You’ll find an overview of the homeschool legal options on our website. Once you’ve decided which one you’ll use, you can follow the detailed instructions provided on our website to meet the requirements for the one you choose.
3. Can I homeschool my child and also access classes, activities, or services from the public school?
Yes, public school offerings like these can be accessed through dual enrollment.
However, dual enrollment is only available through the homeschool legal options that require the filing of Form A and follow up with licensed teacher supervision or annual assessment. You’ll find details on the homeschool legal options page linked above.
Dual enrollment can be used to access public school classes, special education services, extracurricular, activities, and sports.
If dual enrollment is used to access public school classes, homeschooled students must receive homeschooled instruction in at least two courses (i.e., they cannot take all but one course through the public school).
Parents of dual-enrolled students can be charged book and/or activity fees, pro-rated to the courses and/or activities in which their students are accessing through dual enrollment.
4. How does a homeschooled student obtain a high school diploma?
Some parents assume that they can dual enroll their high school students and then expect the public school to award a high school diploma.
However, public schools are not required to accept coursework that is provided in a non-accredited setting. Credits listed on public school transcripts that apply toward public school diplomas must be from courses instructed by teachers licensed in the specific subjects taught.
Of course, with very careful coordination and cooperation with the school district, it is potentially possible for a homeschooled student to obtain (through dual enrollment) enough qualifying public school coursework to graduate with a public school diploma.
In most cases, though, if parents decide to homeschool a high school student, they should not depend upon their child receiving a public school diploma, but should, instead, plan to issue and certify their own high school diploma.
That means that homeschooling parents set their own graduation requirements and verify that their children meet those standards.
Homeschool Iowa provides sample four-year plans for both college-bound and non-college-bound students.
Parents can purchase their own diplomas to issue to their graduating students or they can consider participating in the annual Homeschool Iowa Graduation service held in May. The participation fee covers a full cap-and-gown service with a graduation speaker, and it includes a cased diploma that the parents can sign.
5. What about a high school transcript?
Homeschooling parents create and certify their own students’ high school transcripts.
While that can sound like a daunting task, there are many resources available to help you.
This blog article provides information as well.
6. Does my child need to have an “accredited” diploma and transcript to get into college or to get hired as an employee?
Public schools in Iowa are accredited by the State of Iowa. However, many private schools are either non-accredited or privately accredited. Neither private schools nor homeschools in Iowa are required to be accredited by the State of Iowa.
Colleges and employers will view a homeschooled student much the same as they view a private non-accredited school student. Most are familiar with homeschooled applicants and have procedures in place to usher them into potential placement.
7. How much does it cost to homeschool a high school student?
The answer to this question can vary widely depending upon the curricula or coursework you choose. Dr. Brian Ray, of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), reports that homeschooling families spend an average of $600 per student annually for their education.
Of course, you can spend much less than that if you’re creative and frugal. And you can spend much more than that if you want to use more expensive curriculum or programs.
8. How do I find and select curriculum?
Homeschool Iowa offers a helpful blog article describing the different homeschool teaching styles that has links to the curricula associated with each.
We also provide a resource guide on our Member Portal.
Onsite homeschool curricula shopping is available at our annual conference exhibit hall.
9. Can my high school student take college classes while still in high school?
Yes! You can privately enroll your child in college classes and pay for the tuition yourself, as long as your child meets enrollment requirements.
You can also access tuition-free college coursework via dual enrollment through the public school Senior Year Plus program.
10. Will my child be adversely socialized or inadequately prepared for college or adult life if I choose to homeschool during the high school years?
According to research, homeschooled students do well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development.
These include self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, peer interaction, and community service participation.
You can do this!
Now that you have the answers to these common questions, the idea of homeschooling high school should no longer seem remote and impossible.
Begin your journey homeschooling your high school student with confidence and prayer. You'll experience an amazing adventure together!