Homeschooling High School? Start Here!

Hi, I'm Lee Binz, The HomeScholar. This blog answers commonly asked questions about homeschooling high school.

Search a topic. Browse the Quick Links and Archives. Add a comment. Visit my website to learn about my Products and Services. Dig Deeper into some tough high school issues. Finally, shoot me an e-mail if there is a specific topic you would like to learn more about. Make sure you bookmark or subscribe to this blog because I update the content (almost) daily. Enjoy your visit!

What about Teaching High School Science?

Have you wondered how parents can teach a subject they don't know? How will you teach high school sciences without having a background in science? Carol asked me about physics, and was resigned to studying physics herself over summer, so that she could teach it to her student. Here is my response:

You can certainly study physics over the summer if you WANT to.... But I didn't want to! We used Apologia Physics, and it was wonderful. My younger son was taking pre-calculus at the same time as Apologia Physics, and my older son was taking Calculus. They both did VERY well in our homeschool, just learning it for themselves from the Apologia text. The next year they started dual enrollment at the community college, and took "engineering physics" - the next level in physics taken at college. They both got excellent grades so I know they really did know the material. My engineering son took the whole physics series in college, and I would frequently find his Apologia book open on the floor. I found out that he was referring to it with many of his college concepts, because he liked the way that it was explained better than the way his professor explained it. He also told me that most of his college lab assignments were experiments that he had done in high school. You don't have to learn physics in order for your student to learn physics unless you really want to!

You don't have to know it...
You don't have to study it...
You don't even have to teach it...
Just make sure THEY learn it!

It helps if you buy curriculum that is written specifically for homeschoolers. I believe that's why Apologia was so successful for us. In general, a homeschool curriculum doesn't assume that the teacher is familiar with the subject. That is one of the benefits of attending a curriculum fair, where you can compare products side by side.

Homeschoolers can be very successful in upper sciences. Here is an article about a homeschool graduate working on his doctoral thesis in chemistry. In his thesis work, Seth Anthony is focusing on chemistry education with the hope of someday developing more effective chemistry labs that allow students to see how chemistry fits into the big picture. Read the article about this homeschooler!
Homeschooler featured in Chemical & Engineering News

Transcript Tip

This is the time of year when parents put the finishing touches on their transcripts. Remember that colleges need to see a "Graduation Date" on your transcript. You also need to update their final grades and GPA. If the student has been admitted to college, you need to mail the final transcript after graduation.

Tip for Younger Children

What is YOUR favorite math game???

Family Math

We just LOVED using Family Math as supplement in the early years. It's a $20 book of math games for kindergarten through eighth grade. Using the book, I chose a math game a couple of times a week that coordinated with the concepts my kids were learning. We would spend 15 minutes on a math game, and my kids loved it! Even now that they are older they talk about math games. I remember when my son was about nine, and he asked one of his homeschooling friends, "What is your favorite math game?" The friend didn't PLAY math games, and Alex was simply shocked! He still talks about stacking sugar cubes being his favorite game because I would let him eat one when he was done studying geometric volume.

To use Family Math, I would look at the math lesson, and decide what concept was being taught (radius, fractions, or whatever.) Then I would look in the Family Math index for that topic. There were usually a handful of games to choose from, with different age ranges, and my kids would play together. The games are reproducible, and use things you have around the house (pens, crayons, etc.) We would also mix it up with our math games, and sometimes we would play other things as well: Monopoly, addition bingo, cribbage, etc. They loved it when I would tell them,"Now you HAVE to play Monopoly today! No complaining, either!" We would burst out laughing together! Isn't homeschooling wonderful?

Hear the HomeScholar!

I was recently interviewed by Thor Tolo on KGNW 820 AM in Seattle. I spoke about the importance of independent homeschooling. My son was interviewed with me, and it's fun to hear the perspective of a homeschool graduate. You can hear the interview here.

Lee and her youngest son, Alex

How to Compile a Reading List

Colleges love to see a reading list from homeschoolers - but how do you go about getting a reading list? Obviously the easiest way is to have your student keep track of all the books they have read. I was never very successful with that strategy myself (nobody is perfect!) Instead, each summer as I compiled the previous year's work, I had to think of other ways to recreate the information. Consider these ideas:

  • Keep your library receipts - they often include the title of books you have checked out
  • Keep bookstore receipts and records from curriculum suppliers
  • List the books, audio books, and videos that you have required for your students to read, as well as reading for pleasure
  • Have your kids collect books from around the house, bringing you all the books they have read in the past year
  • Read book lists like these and curriculum catalogs to refresh your memory
Reading list from The College Board

Reading list from The Well-Trained Mind

Colleges Seek Independent Homeschoolers

Stanford University Magazine had an article about a gifted homeschool student. I love this quote: "It's the spark, the passion, that sets the truly exceptional student--the one driven to pursue independent research and explore difficult concepts from a very early age--apart from your typical bright kid. Stanford wants students who have it. Looking very closely at homeschoolers is one way to get more of those special minds, the admission office has discovered. As Reider explains it: "Homeschooled students may have a potential advantage over others in this, since they have consciously chosen and pursued an independent course of study." I love the emphasis on independent homeschooling! Read the article for yourself here:

Stanford Magazine article, "In a Class by Themselves"

A homeschooling mother called the college that her student was interested in, to get some answers for herself. Here is what she found out:

I did end up calling the college that my son will most likely attend, and they verified that a mommy-transcript is just fine...and they also expect that we will submit to them a 4.0 GPA (like 99% of homeschoolers apparently do). Of course he will still need to take the SAT and any placement tests that are required for ALL students, but the only thing that they might require of him that they don't require of the public-schooled students is an interview. Needless to say, I am *much* relieved to hear all of this, because I do not want to join an umbrella group or an online high school or anything else that would be done for the sole purpose of satisfying a college-admissions person.
Love, Gigi

She discovered that she could continue to homeschool independently!