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Homeschooling Through High School Without Teacher Training

When our family started homeschooling 20 years ago we never intended on homeschooling through high school. However as I grew as a homeschool mother so did my homeschool friends and their kids, and I now have a bank of experiences and observations of what homeschool through high school looks like. And I know from seeing many many children homeschooling through high school and then go on to university that you don’t need to be a school teacher to successfully navigate the high school years.

No Teacher Training—That’s OK!

It is true that many homeschoolers are not trained school teachers but we do want to understand our children and want to learn how to teach them.  It is also true that schools have good and bad teachers and it is often not their training that makes them good at their job but rather their motivation and natural ability. Teaching at home and school are poles apart and the home teacher usually finds what works in the classroom won’t work at home anyway.

There is a steep learning curve for new teaching parents but there is a great deal of information to help homeschool parents learn how to teach. Much of it is common-sense and learning how to assess your child’s progress.

Only One Teacher—True or false?

It is often suggested that one of the reasons you shouldn’t be homeschooling through high school is that your child will only have one teacher—one perspective. But that is a myth!

Homeschooling through high school still allows you to introduce your child to a wide variety of teachers.

How? Through books!

Your child may not have many “in person” teachers but they have the luxury of, as Charlotte Mason puts it, “a city of books”. We may forego a few school teachers, but we can introduce our children to expert teachers who are authors who will help them to think.

“If you ask a living teacher a question, he will probably answer you. If you are puzzled by what he says, you can save yourself the trouble of thinking by asking him what he means. If, however, you ask a book a question, you must answer it yourself. In this respect a book is like nature or the world. When you question it, it answers you only to the extent that you do the work of thinking and analysis yourself.” Adler & Doren p.14 © 1972

Authors Are Teachers When Homeschooling Through High School

Teaching your child to read, and read with understanding, is essential to their education. Books can help your child gain knowledge, but it will also help them reach for greater understanding, as they grapple with ideas that are put before them by those whose wisdom is greater than their own.

Books are teachers, a place where your children can meet with the mind of the author. That is why so many homeschoolers see the value of using living books for their child’s education.

Homeschool Teachers Don’t Know It All

“The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and no longer the mere instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.” Charlotte Mason

There is a pedagogical educational model based on the idea that a teacher is the matter expert who directs all of the learning. In the primary years this model can work because most parents would be confident to teach from their own knowledge up to about 4th grade/Year 4. There are also plenty of resources that use this method. The homeschool teacher need only find the resources and books and they can happily help their children along. However, when homeschooling through high school this is no longer the best method.

There comes a time when homeschooling through high school (or even late primary) that you can no longer claim expert knowledge on all topics. And this is when homeschooling parents learn to lean on the experts.

Finding Experts When Homeschooling Through High School

And we can find experts when we go looking and often these experts are authors.

Resources and books written by experts sourced for homeschooling through high school. The parent is not the fountain of knowledge on all subjects but they can research and find out good resources and living books by experts who can teach particular subjects to their children. This method allows children to be put in touch with great ideas from people who understand their topics.

When homeschooling through high school years parents become facilitators to their child’s self-directed and critical thinking approach to education. This is called the andragogy model and home educators often adopt this model even if they don’t know the name for it. During these years the parent becomes the coach rather than an encyclopaedia.

In specialty subjects like chemistry, physics, music and drama, education can be outsourced when necessary.

The Masterly Inactive Teacher

It is difficult not to interfere with your child’s work. When we see them struggle, taking over to show them how it’s done is a natural reaction. But sometimes lightening the load can hinder their initiative. Learning when to sit on your hands or remain silent are disciplines the homeschool parent needs to learn, and this is hard to do.

When Homeschooling Through High School, Do Grades Suffer?

“Children who are taught at home benefit from smaller class sizes more individualized attention, and the flexibility to work on their academic activities as their abilities and interests dictate. In addition, experts believe homeschooled children are able to spend more time working on their studies—not only quality of time, but quantity of time.” Bryers & Bryers

Homeschoolers tend to do well academically. Various studies have shown this. Probably the most well-known one is the American based Hewitt Research Study which demonstrated that homeschoolers scored 80% on standardised tests compared to the national norm of 50% (cited Byers & Byers). In Australia homeschooling students are academically performing better than average according to the NAPLAN homeschool statistics (A Smith, 2016). Test results indicate homeschool students got:

  • 70 marks higher than average overall,
  • 40 marks higher in spelling,
  • 20 marks higher in writing.

Now I don’t want to put my head in the sand here. It is true that some children don’t get a good education homeschooling through high school but it is equally true that many school children don’t get a good one either.  However, in my experience most home educating parents take their role seriously and apply themselves diligently to their child’s education and the children do well academically. In cases when they don’t do well, would school have made a difference?

We May Not Be School Teachers But It Doesn’t Matter

Parents who are homeschooling through high school are not disadvantaging their children as some critics suggest! And parents can have confidence that they are capable of teaching at home.

Let me share these encouraging words from Ruth Beechick:

“I meet teaching parents all around the country and find them to be intelligent, enthusiastic, creative people doing a marvellous job of teaching their children. But, sad to say, most of them do not know what a great job they are doing. Everyone thinks it goes smoothly in everyone else’s house but theirs is the only place that has problems.”

I was asked multiple times when I was homeschooling through high school if I was a teacher and when I said “No!” I was often dealt a judgmental stare. However the proof is out to all my doubters. Even though I was not a teacher (I was a nurse and midwife before I had kids) all of my children managed to get into university at 16. One is now a doctor, another has completed her degree and works overseas for a charity, another is completing a masters in 3D animation, and works part time as an animator and my youngest is still finishing her degree. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a school teacher. What mattered was that they had a good education.

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