BAM Family

BAM Family

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: The High School Years

Isn't it funny that when you are going through an experience you can think, "WOW! This is awesome!" and then looking back you can think, " That could have been a lot different/better." (Maybe that is how most of us feel about our adolescence....?)

This is kind of how I feel about my homeschool experience in high school. During those 9th-12th grade years, I loved being homeschooled. But now that I am 10 years post high school graduation (with a BA and MA under my belt), I have different feelings about what was good and what could have been better.
Photo courtesy of this website

Many of the adults who participated in my survey felt the same way as I did but, as a majority, had a "good" experience academically and emotionally. However, the numbers were not as positive as when people looked back at their elementary/Jr. High years.

Here's a little comparison:

91% of the adults surveyed said they had a "good experience" academically in K-8th grade (Click here to see the post where I discussed these statistics)
69% (29 adults) said they had a good experience academically in 9-12 grade

Here is what some of them had to say about their positive academic experience in high school:

Beka R. 25 from KS: Good - I finished my high school curriculum somewhere around age 14 and then was able to do extra studies and college classes on political science and English to help prepare me for college.

Jonathan M. 30 from TX: Here I know that I (in many ways) received a better education to prepare me for the real world. 

Elizabeth J. 24 from VA: We had the Abeka video classes, and we watched all of our classes on DVDs. Mom had researched the core classes of most high schools and what was required for colleges and we took, Math, English, Health, Science, History, Bible, Spanish, and my mom was in charge of PE. We has all of these classes every day. However, for the most part it seems very easy. I had a lot of control over my education because I was the one who was mostly in charge of studying and finishing assignments. Mom just graded everything. Other than that we were pretty much left to ourselves.

Nara N. 30 from NC: Academically: I was still above grade level. I graduated 2 years early at 16 and probably could have graduated at 15 except what would I have done then, too young to have my driver’s license even?

Bradley H. 23 from VA: Academically it was superb, from what I can remember . . . I was able to pursue science in a more rigorous fashion being homeschooled, and so I was able to prepare for college well.

Stuart G. 29 from VA: One of the best parts about my high school years was that it brought out an initiative to teach myself. My mom just gave me the books and the rest was up to me. For me, that was an important tool for me to learn, because I was learning self-discipline that would prepare me for higher level education and my career later down the road. I also began to help out with the education of my younger siblings, particularly in math. Perhaps this exercise was helping me better grasp fundamental concepts of certain subjects as well as challenging me to succinctly explain ideas, events, rules, etc. to my siblings.

Many responders mentioned being taught high school subjects from other homeschool parents in a co-op setting; everyone thought this was a good experience. Also, many also said that they dual enrolled in college in their later high school years, giving them a head start on college classes. 

As you can see from the statistics and these testimonies, many homeschool students felt that they had an excellent high school education. 

However, here are the statistics for the "other side" of the story

31% (13) of responders said their high school education was "not good" or "could have been better." 
Here are a variety of reasons they gave for these answers: 

Felt under educated*
No guidance from outside adults (like a guidance counselor) concerning education*
Did bare minimum to get by
Could have been challenged more*
parents not involved in education /  no accountability from parents / parents were too busy
Realized they could have achieved more
Difficulties and frustrations in math / science / English
Not as many opportunities as in a traditional school*
Didn't try hard
Laziness (parental or personal)

In looking at all these reasons, I realize that the majority are not unique to the homeschool experience (the ones I marked with * are, perhaps, more related to homeschooling inadequacies than others). I wanted to put a star by "parents not involved" etc. but I realize that this is a gray area for many reasons:

1. If a parent is not involved in a child's public or private school education, this could and may be a detriment to the student's overall education
2. Many (if not most) homeschool parents encourage their high school children to be independent learners, and many students flourish in these opportunities (as seen in some of the quotes above).
3. I, myself, took charge of my own education from 8th grade-12th grade (picked my own curriculum, planned my lessons, was very independent of my parents in my education) and I turned out "fine."


Lack of parental involvement is, I feel, one of the main reasons that my high school education could have been better, though at the time, I thought I was "amazing" for being "so responsible"! I'll talk about the pros and cons of independent learning for homeschoolers when I write about homeschooling and the college experience. 

If I was going to give any "take-away" advice on this point, I would say, "Kids still need their parents to be very involved in their education (pushing, encouraging, guiding, advising) in high school, maybe even MORE than in the elementary years."

Emotionally, the stats between being happy homeschooling in younger years vs. high school are only 8 points apart. 

65% said they remember being very happy emotionally during K-8th grade (Click here to see the post where I discussed these statistics)
57% (24 adults) said they had a very good experience emotionally ("I loved it!" "It was great / excellent / good!")

19% (8 adults) said that they had a very negative emotional experience for these reasons:

Felt like they missed out on a lot
Lack of friends / no friends
Lack of social experiences
Family problems / Bad relationship with parents
Felt trapped by parents decisions
Wanted to fit in w/ others
Felt intense academic anxiety (not good enough)
Difficulty socializing w/ others (I'll be covering this topic in a future post!)

23% (10 adults) had mixed emotions, meaning "I liked some things, but..."

Here are some reasons they gave for having difficulty emotionally (Some of the answers are the same as above. The difference between the two groups is that the above group had a decidedly negative emotional experience for the reasons given; the group below said that their experience had some good parts but also difficulties):

Difficulties w/ parents,
Lots of teasing from non-homeschooled peers
Felt awkward
Difficulty finding friends
Felt something was missing from high school experience
Difficulty w/ curriculum (more of an academic issue but for several students, this cause emotional problems as well)
Struggle with shyness
Really wanted to go to public school 

It is great to see that, overall, homeschooled high schoolers have had good experiences both academically and emotionally. Somehow though, I wish the satisfaction rate was higher for both academics and emotions (even personally). As I stated in my very first post, everyone "turned out fine" and, at best, have worked through their limitations that came from homeschooling or, at worse, learned to accept this part of themselves. 

The truth is, everyone goes through "crap" during the high school years, either in public, private or homeschool. The struggles for public/private school students are often very different (and NOT just the "unholy trinity" of sex, drugs and alcohol. Like it or not, homeschooled high schoolers still experiment sexually and are tempted by drugs and alcohol), but homeschool students often go through personal struggles that their non-homeschooled peers do not have to deal with. 

What do you think? 

Were you homeschooled in high school? How was your experience academically and emotionally? 

Do you homeschool (or plan to homeschool) your high school student? Do any of these results surprise you? 


Doc4Him said...

Thanks for a great survey. I can see a lot of truth in many of the comments. My thoughts are that home educating one's child is challenging but often very rewarding. It saddens me as I think about home education on two counts: First the sometimes lack of involvement on the part of parents is discouraging. Why home school if you're not going to be involved in a committed, thoughtful way? Secondly, I am saddened by the (seemingly) higher rate of moral failure among our home schooled families (children). Is this because of over-sheltering? I don't know. Is it really any higher rate than public-educated children? I don't know. Is it just free will? I do know that often the reason cited for home-education is that of investing in our children's moral development. It is thus discouraging to see kids make bad choices as they grow up.

Nevertheless, I am a strong believer in home education, challenging as it may be. The more difficult subjects in high school (higher math, literature, writing, higher science subjects) are indeed difficult to successfully teach and I would hope that public schools would eventually open up their classes to an a la carte option so that home schoolers could take advantage of those courses.

I wouldn't trade a moment that I was able to spend with my kids in their education and growing-up years. It was priceless!

Brittany said...

Thank you so much for your comments. I also have these questions, especially about homeschoolers who seemingly "go wild" after they leave their parents. I knew many families where this happened. I think that in these families the children were over-sheltered, ignorant about "the world," not allowed to express questions or contradictory opinions, and not allowed to make mistakes. But I also know even more families where the children became very successful in careers, ministry and in starting their own families.

As I stated in my post, I think parental involvement is very important. I don't think these parents are purposefully neglecting their child's education; rather, I think that parents and students both get to a point where they think that the student can "do it all on his or her own." I think this thinking is a mistake. High school students really do need lots of guidance and motivation to reach their highest potential, whatever that may be.

My husband and I both believe that home education can be a very good option for children (ours included, if we choose to do so) but it needs to be carefully thought through for each child to make sure his or her needs are being met.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts! I hope you continue reading this series!

ThePhotoDiaries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ThePhotoDiaries said...

I think it is because of over-sheltering; not allowing your child to make mistakes and learn from them (while they are still in the home); not allowing (or discouraging) expression of different opinions or exploration of new/different ideas and also lack of education on sex (this seems to be the most common bad choice that homeschooled teens make once leaving the home). I know that sex ed is something VERY difficult to teach, but unfortunately, as much as we would like to think our children will always stick to their morals and not participate, education can be done without seemingly "encouraging" our children to have sex.

Anonymous said...

My highschool years were the hardest for me as well but most highschoolers go through major transitions whether they are homeschooled or public schooled. I personally am very glad that my parents homeschooled all the way through highschool because I had insight to what I would have experienced in public school through my close friendship with my cousin that was the same age as myself. She was an honor student but participated in the partying and craziness of popular kids. After highschool I still had a fabulous reputation, but sadly she did not. It was of great importance for me to uphold my reputation because I knew there was more to life than highschool. I was also able to graduate early while she had no such option at the time. There are two things that my parents taught us while growing up and through our homeschooling years that are, to me, pivotal. The first was to question everything. Know why you make the decisions you make. Never do something just because your parents did it, or because your friends do it. Find out the consequences or the cost first, before proceeding. The second is to always try to learn from others mistakes rather than making them yourself. The consequences become clearer when looking at history. When I was younger this all seemed to be common sense, but as I've grown into an adult it has become increasingly more apparent that people don't generally think like this. I had the most wonderful parents that were very strict, yet had a singular goal for all of us to grow up to follow Christ's leading. Nothing else was more important. I will always adore my parents who had a vision for us with eternity in mind....rather than focusing on small mindedness. If I had children, I would most definitely homeschool or have a governess to instruct them. After having seen and heard what goes on in the schools here, there is no way I could in good conscience send them there. In my experience people don't act like that in the real workaday world, so there is no point in subjecting children to something that is of so little future positive benefit to them later. Children should be taught to walk with dignity and grace, rather than follow every spontaneous feeling or desire like what is seen in our public schools currently. Also, in looking at the academic side of the argument I have almost always seen higher levels of academic acuity comparatively. As for the socializing problem, children should be spending excessive amounts of time with the older generation of people. My mother took us to the nursing homes and had us sing and play the piano for the residents. We quickly learned how to interact with them, and found them to have beautiful personalities and thrilling wit. Our grandparents, aunts and uncles were some of our very favorite people! Of course our cousins were fun too, but we listened with rapt attention to our elders stories. There is a learned art to the telling of a story, and hanging around the precious older generation is the absolute best way to learn how to become the most entertaining social butterfly around.;) Older people really love to see children, (well behaved children anyway), so it is easy to start up conversations with them as a child. Anyway, these are just a few of my thoughts on the subject of homeschooling. HRC

Brittany said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experiences. :)

Anonymous said...

I was homeschooled for grades k-12th and I have 5 siblings. I loved being homeschooled@ As a Child my mom was very hands on. Once I was in middle school my Mom started to be more of the "Hands on in the subjects we needed extra help in" kind of teacher and about 60-70% of our work was on our own and she would go over it with us after we finished to insure it was correct. Once we entered High School, we were all 100% on our own for cmpleting our studies adn she would check our work 4-5 times a week. Plus once we each turned 15 we started finding jobs and started saving for our college extras. We were also in all sorts of Homeschool group activites, sports, PE group, trips, Awana and many, many other activites. Emotionally we could have all handled a public education, but even as a middle schooler and High schooler, I knew that my quality of education was much stronger as a Homeschooler than the public system were we lived. I had many friends who were publically educated and they would constantly ask about my education. For several, their couriosity was only about my 3 hour school schedule compaired to their 6-7 hours! But for many it was their frustration with stuggling through school and dealing with not having a satifactory grasp on what their were being told they had to learn.

Like this? Share it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...