First, let me say that the idea of homeschooling a high school aged student filled me with terror not so very long ago. Then funny things started to happen. I kept meeting families that were homeschooling a teen and my attitude began to change. Those families were successful, their children seemed well educated, and all of them were going to college (if that was their chosen path).
If you asked Zachary (who is now a senior) what he learned going to High School he will tell you pretty much nothing. He is a smart kid who took mostly honors classes. We quickly found out that the best teachers were put into the non honors classes and the honors kids got what was left. Perhaps the theory being that these kids were self starters and could learn no matter who was teaching them. Last year Zach took Physics. My husband would look over his work and see that the teacher had graded his work incorrectly. Zach told us that the teacher couldn't show them how to work one of the problems in their book and he told the class that he was sorry, but he hadn't learned how to do that one yet. When we inquired at the school we found out that this teacher had a degree in Chemistry and had never taught Physics before. They asked us to please be patient. My guess is this poor teacher probably had a few weeks notice that he would be teaching this class (if that long) and had no time to prepare. He was learning as he taught. By the way this school is a "California Distinguished School".
I have seen so many Californians running from the public schools lately. We have great teachers, there is no doubt about that. However, the politicians have ruined our schools. I could do an entire post on that one sentence but I will save that for later. Bottom line....let the teachers teach.......politicians, stay out of the classrooms.
With all that being said we had some concerns about letting Tyler go to this school. He loves math and science and I wanted to make sure he got the best education possible.
The sentence above was the first reason we began to consider home education. However, my goals quickly changed. Yes, I wanted all of my children to get a good education but I also wanted them to learn about God's truths. I wanted them to have a Christian World View and not a "Hollywood" world view. As I began to dig into God's word I became convicted that I needed to make sure my children got a Christian education. As we could not afford the $9,600 a year our local Christian High School charged, homeschooling began to look better and better.
What about college? This is probably the first and most often asked question by people when they find out we are homeschooling a highschooler. To be honest, this was our first question to. So, I started researching colleges. My husband went to The California Institute of Technology and Tyler had expressed an interest in going there. I got on their web site and saw that they had a special link for students who had been home schooled. The site explained how to keep a portfolio of your work and what they would be looking for in their applicants. They stated that they wanted to see that science classes were taught by a "qualified person". Just to make sure I understood what a "qualified person" exactly was, I gave them a call. They were extremely helpful and said the qualified person did not have to be a credentialed teacher, just someone who had a basic knowledge of the subject they were teaching. She said his SAT scores as well as his portfolio of work would be much more important than who actually taught him. Interesting.
As we have begun looking at college brochures for Zach I have been pleasantly surprised at how the majority of them accept and give guidance to home schooled applicants. We have met so many families recently who have given us guidance in this area. One families oldest daughter is in her second year at Brown. She was homeschooled since kindergarten and received a full academic scholarship. We have not met one family that has had any problems getting their children into college. We were very encouraged by this fact. However, as several families have also reminded us, as Christians, we should not be educating our children to ensure that they get into Harvard, but educating them to insure they get into Heaven. I have been pondering that statement a lot lately.
I also have a little secret I want to share with you Internets. Shhhh, come close and I will whisper it into your ear. Ready? OK. The SAT has been dumbed down since we took it. If you are in your 30's or above your child will not be taking the same SAT you took. The government dumbed it down a while back. Seems our sweet youngins were having a hard time with it and it was becoming an embarrassment to our country. Zach had to take it last year. We kept telling him he needed to study but he would rebuff us. Mom, I only have to score a 1200 or above to get into the schools I want to go to. "Don't worry" he said. His Dad and I were not so sure.
Seems our boy was right.
Without studying, even one second, he got a 1700. The national average is 1538. A perfect score is 2400. Over 1,000,000 students took the SAT last year and only 20 of them received a perfect score. A respectable score is 1200 and will get you into most schools you want to go to. If you received a 2100 or above you are in the 90th percentile. College's are slobbering all over my child because he scored about the national average. Really? I think he should take it again and study this time. Lets see what he can really do. However, what is the incentive for that when the colleges are telling him his 1700 makes him nothing less than brilliant? Can we really fall any lower in our expectations of our children?
So, in a nutshell here is why we are homeschooling our teenager (as well as the younger children).
1. I want Him to learn from a Christian perspective and leave school with a Christian World View not a Secular one. I found it nearly impossible to "Train up my child in the way he should go" when he was away from me more than he was with me.
2. I feel we can give him a more complete education that meets his specific needs.
3. I have found the greatest added bonus of homeschooling has been the closer relationships I have seen form amongst all of the children. They are better friends and nothing gives me more pleasure than to see them all huddled on the couch together doing their school work. I would home school now just for that one reason.
As this post has gotten so long I will post tomorrow about what classes he is actually taking and what a typical day actually looks like.
Please note: If your child is in the public school system right now please do not think I am telling you that you are a bad parent. I am just telling you why WE made the decisions we did. Many families tell me they would love to home school but are afraid or don't know where to start. I am just going to try and be as honest as I can about our decisions and if that helps just one person I will be thrilled. We all love our children and want what is best for them. Of that, I have no doubts.
See you all tomorrow. I'm off to a ballgame. I'm sure you are all shocked by that statement.