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Homeschooling High School: Is Outsourcing an Option?

When I talk about homeschooling through high school, I always mention the possibility of seeking outside help for advanced subjects. Although most people understand the reasons behind finding an experienced algebra tutor or writing coach, some parents don’t see it that way. I heard from one irate mom after I mentioned several options for working through advanced subjects: “That’s not homeschooling through high school,” she fumed, “that’s not even homeschooling!”

As I understand homeschooling, the defining characteristic is that parents choose and oversee what is learned and how it is taught, and most of us do most of the teaching, at least for the primary grades. Just as the CEO of a corporation provides the vision, direction, and leadership for his or her company, homeschool parents provide those things for their students. The CEO has a defined scope of operation and area of expertise, and it’s critical to the success of the company that he focus his attention on achieving the best possible outcome for the company as a whole. If he tries to do everything himself, rather than hiring and managing experts for each area of the business, the company is likely to flounder.

Homeschool parents are usually focused on achieving the best possible outcome for their students as well. For our family, this meant letting the boys take advanced math courses through our local community college. As an English major, I’m simply not equipped to teach the upper levels of math, and even if I devoted a disproportionate amount of time to the effort, I could not do it as well as someone who fully understands the subject and is equipped to explain concepts in a variety of ways until the student has thoroughly grasped the processes.

Many families feel very comfortable with math, but much less confident when it comes to teaching literature or evaluating writing. Rather than shortchange the student by failing to provide analytical guidance and writing evaluation that is truly constructive, it’s much better to find someone who can do this well. (I’ll talk a little more in a future post about where to find help, and why you may want to be careful about taking English classes at your local college.)

I believe that homeschooling through high school is a very good educational option– as long as we are focused on the best way to meet the needs and goals of our students. It would be a pity for a parent to be so focused on the legalistic idea that homeschooling means “doing it all yourself” that the student graduates with inadequate skills in one or more academic areas. I realize that all students graduate with gaps in their knowledge, no matter how they were schooled, but as a parent, I’d like to close as many of those gaps as possible.

There are many ways, including video courses, online classes, community college classes, and co-ops, for homeschooled students to learn advanced subjects. It won’t be every student who needs to take calculus with multi variables, or four years of AP literature, but for those students whose dreams include a career for which those subjects are necessary, it’s better (and more economical) to learn the subject well the first time, than to have to repeat it in college. If that means outsourcing some of the teaching or writing evaluation, I say, “Bring on the experts!” I’m still the mom, and even with a tutor or evaluator augmenting our efforts, we are still homeschooling.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments or experiences in the area of outsourcing advanced subjects. Just click on the “Leave a Comment” link at the top of the post to share your ideas.

Announcements:

There’s a new article, Homeschooling Through High School: Conquer the Fear!, in the High School at Home section of my website.

I also posted a new article considering freelance writing as the perfect home business. You can read Should You Write Fiction or Non-Fiction? Seven Questions to Consider in the Home Business section of the website.

A Beat-the-Clock Essay Workshop will be held in Short Pump, VA on March 7. You will find details, and how to register, at www.EssayWorkshop.com.

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4 Responses

  1. Carol says:

    Janice, Outsourcing is almost essential in my experience. No one can be everything for their students. A homeschooling mother that presumes she can teach everything her child needs is short-sighted, selfish and probably overly protective. Your CEO analogy was right on.

    It’s still homeschooling even if most of my 15 & 17 yo subjects are taught by others. They are still home most of their time. And I’m picking their tutors, subjects and classes.

    Carol

  2. Stephanie says:

    For us, home education meant I taught every subject through elementary and junior high. High school has been more intimidating, however. I simply don’t have time to teach all the elementary subjects to four students, care for a baby and preschooler *and* teach three different sciences and maths, plus writing, to my three high school students. What a blessing “outsourcing” has been for some of these more time-intensive classes!

  3. Susan says:

    Hi, next year we start HighSchool with our last dd at home. Over the years we have done a very eclectic approach using CM methods, textbooks and video school. This year dd(13) did two highschool subjects via an non-interactive satelite hookup (BJLinc) through Bob Jones University Press. It has worked great for Algebra 1 and Spanish 2. The Math I can teach but for the Foreign Language it hase been a blessing to us and her. Dd is too young to send off to a college and she wants so to learn Spanish. She had to daily do her lessons, and keep up with her class load. I know without it she would not be as far as she is in Spanish. As for not being her teacher, I still am in control. You really can’t let go of all control, children need you for accountable, and for guidence to. Such as: dd was overwhelmed in homework this year, and she began to get lazy with her Spanish vocabulary. That prompted me to add vocabulary quizzes to each section. Before she takes a section quiz, she must get with me and I quiz her vocabulary, and I don’t even speak Spanish.
    Another advantage is giving her an opportunity to see what a classroom situation can be like, affording her some skills for college. I know many parents do not like the extra expense of outsoucing, but why should we wait until college to put out the big bucks. Our children are worth it now, not just later.

  4. Janice–
    I tend to ignore those who have a very narrow definition of homeschooling, one that amounts to “my way or the highway!”

    I think that the real point of homeschooling is that we can tailor methods and instruction to the needs of our children, and give them much, much time. Time to think and contemplate the shapes of the clouds and the meaning of life. Time to get a sense of the past and their own future. And sometimes that future is not in line with out own talents and proclivities.

    Therefore, our classrooms are not narrower than that of the schooled child, our classrooms are the world. To me, the creative use of what is already out there, in order to help our children explore beyond our own knowledge, and yet protect them from the regimentation and standardization of school, seems like a good bet for helping our older kids grow up strong in their own purposes.

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