Family & Education

Homeschool: Preparing for the High School Years

A conversation with Leigh Bortins of Classical Conversations
BY Barbara Danza TIMEMay 10, 2022 PRINT

Many homeschooling parents are not only in the process of wrapping up their family’s homeschooling year, if they follow a traditional school year schedule, but also preparing for next year’s school year. The most frightened of them—besides perhaps those preparing for their first homeschooling year—are very likely those about to begin the high school years. While elementary education and even those middle school years seem to allow for delightful, interest-led learning and lots of fun, high school looms as a serious endeavor—or so we may think.

To gain clarity and advice about planning to homeschool high school, I asked Leigh Bortins, a homeschooling expert and founder of the curriculum company Classical Conversations, for her insights.

The Epoch Times: What are some common misconceptions homeschooling parents hold about homeschooling high school?

Leigh Bortins: One of the major misconceptions homeschooling parents hold is that they do not have what it takes to teach a high school curriculum. Some homeschooling parents may be concerned that complex subjects such as physics, calculus, or some mathematics are out of their wheelhouse and that they won’t know the material themselves. Parents should encourage their older students by helping them research subjects they don’t understand rather than teaching content.

The Epoch Times: How does homeschooling high school differ from homeschooling in the younger years?

Ms. Bortins: Homeschooling high school students is less about teaching and more about providing opportunities. Allowing your older students to experience real-life opportunities can be more beneficial than just sitting in a classroom. High schoolers should have the ability and discipline to follow instructions and schedules laid out for them without much of the hand-holding that may be required in younger years. This fosters a learning environment with more freedom, such as field trips and hands-on learning opportunities.

The Epoch Times: What are the first things parents should consider when beginning to plan their homeschooler’s high school journey?

Ms. Bortins: Don’t keep school at home! High school students need to serve their community while learning. Employment, travel, service work, and clubs are as important as traditional academics. Homeschooling can be difficult for high schoolers if they do not have a good sense of discipline and responsibility. Having a plan and schedule is key to keep not only the students but the parents on a path to success. Additionally, it’s important to allow time for fun, experimentation, and creativity.

The Epoch Times: How can homeschooling parents adequately prepare their high schoolers for college while avoiding the trap of imitating public school or doing things for the sake of checking boxes?

Ms. Bortins: Remember that industrial education is a very artificial form of education designed to find the best employees and ignore the best innovators—so be innovative! Also, transcripts and credits are a reduced way to assess your child. Collate all your child’s activities and accomplishments and then arrange them into the form that college admissions offices typically see. One of the best things a parent can do is partner with their children in looking for schools and considering careers. Parents can and should lend their assistance and wisdom but should also allow the student to make decisions on their own. Most importantly, parents should provide counsel and guidance to ensure their children are aware of the outcomes of their decisions.

The Epoch Times: What strategies do you recommend parents employ to foster a high schooler’s motivation and love of learning?

Ms. Bortins: The word “amateur” means “lover.” Encourage your older students in the activities they love like photography, construction, drama, music, and politics. In turn, they will be more likely to study the history, processes, and science behind the subjects they love. Parents should find out what makes their children excited and what piques their interest and then use that to teach them. Also, it’s important to learn how they learn (visual, oral, audio, hands-on, etc.).

The Epoch Times: What do you believe are the greatest advantages of homeschooling high school?

Ms. Bortins: Removing the water-tight lines between subjects. Don’t you wish doctors were better economists and politicians better historians? Homeschooling also provides a space for them to learn and progress at their own pace, while learning how to think for themselves without the influence of a secular and complex school system.

Barbara Danza
Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart. Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.
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