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.
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.