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Homeschooling Through High School at the Library

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Girl's High School, Brooklyn, N.Y., Digital ID 836937, New York Public Library"You're not going to homeschool for high school are you? How can you possibly teach all those subjects?"

I guess my husband's friend had no idea how insulting his comments were, but they made me laugh. Of course you can homeschool through high school if you have a plan! We've been homeschooling our son since 4th grade using the resources here at NYPL, why would we stop now just because he's headed to high school? Our friend's comments reminded me that it was time to start doing some research and planning to map out the next few years of our son's education.

Many families, intimidated by similar comments like the one our friend blurted out, give up homeschooling after 8th grade and send their kids to public or private high school. We've had such a great time these past five years that we're looking forward to high school.

So, where to start? For me, I browse the websites of some of the best high schools in the country and investigate what they have listed under academics and curriculum. Newsweek usually does a yearly listing. One of my favorites is the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. It is a two year public boarding school for juniors and seniors. Since my son is really into science this is a great place to emulate. If your child has a focused interest this list can be very helpful in determining curriculum. Next, I compare what they are teaching to the High School Course Catalog of my local public high school in Upstate, NY. Between the two, I already have a good idea of what my son's 9th and 10th grades will look like. I'll sit with him in a few weeks to get his input too. Some of what is covered, we've already done extensively so he'll help to pick alternative classes and topics.

I've always been serious about our paperwork for the school district, but knowing that my son has his eye on some difficult colleges means I'll be working on a set of transcripts from week one. The Homeschool Legal Defense Association has great brochures to give guidance and advice on homeschooling through high school, from a curriculum plan for a basic education to one for applying to an academically rigorous college, along with how to assign credit hours for work done during high school and other very helpful information. Download it for free. They also have an e-newsletter that you can subscribe to for homeschooling through high school tips and advice.

In addition to using all the amazing resources here at NYPL, we'll also use some of our favorite websites like Khan Academy and Thirteen. We're currently enjoying the Constitution USA show as part of our history class this year.

After deciding that we would study World History in the fall, I did a quick search in our catalog that returned more than 42,000 hits. Wow! We'll certainly have plenty of options to choose from when we start 9th grade. Once again, we'll only buy a math textbook. We'll use the library for all of our other educational needs.

If your homeschooler is looking forward to college they can take college classes while taking high school classes. We started attending lectures and events at our two local community colleges while our son was in 7th grade. He took Saturday morning youth art classes and youth acting classes for two years during 7th and 8th grade. He loved being there and he now feels very comfortable on both campuses. He'll be able to start taking "real" classes at age 14.

Homeschoolers often have more flexible schedules when volunteering or working for pay and as such, teens may be offered more interesting responsibilities. Our son will be mist-netting bats and helping a biologist to collect data on them this spring and summer. That will certainly count towards his science classes for the fall. I know that here at NYPL we are inundated with applications from teen volunteers in the summer, but we could really use their help during the school year. There are many more volunteer opportunities during the year during what would be normal school hours for some.

Want to get inspired about your child's education? My favorite book is A Room for Learning: The Making of a School in Vermont by Tal Birdsey. I'll also be reading Great Books for High School Kids edited by Rick Ayers and Amy Crawford, Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar by James Bach and The Teacher's Calendar. How will you get prepared to homeschool through high school?

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