Adult Homeschoolers Speak Out: Part Five, The Highschool Experience
Also in this series: Part One: Why I Wanted To Write This | Part Two: Survey Stats and Large Families | Part Three: Top 3 Reasons Parents Homeschool | Part Four: Academic and Emotional Experiences, K-8 | Part Five: The Highschool Experience | Part Six: College? Prepared or Not? | Part Seven: What About Socialization? | Part Eight: The Best Thing vs. What Was Missing | Part Nine, Do Former Homeschoolers Want to Homeschool? | Part Ten: Are the Stereotypes Better or Worse?
Part Five, The Highschool Experience
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, “umm….wow. 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.
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 [in my survey] “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?
Please share your comments below! And feel free to share this post with others that may be interested or may benefit from this series.
To be continued.