Wayne Walker here.
I want to share with you a relatively short article that was included in the Jan., 2006, issue of my free, monthly e-mail homeschooling newsletter and written by a young lady who is a homeschooled student here in the St. Louis area. I have her permission to use it.
14. TEENS VOICE THEIR OPINIONS ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL OPTIONS
by Elaine Till
What is high school? A good way to describe it would be a place where American teens receive four years worth of education. It's just a place, right? Maybe not. According to the U. S. Department of Education, in 1999 1.7 percent of the school age population was homeschooled, and 27.8 percent of these were of high school age. As these statistics demonstrate, there is another option that allows a teen to receive the high school education without going to a school.
Homeschooling high school may seem like a daunting idea, even for those who are accustomed to the homeschool life. However, homeschooling is often ideal for the teen that has chosen to follow a path that requires early and intensive preparation. Among these people are many musicians, dancers, gymnasts, etc. For these teens and their parents, homeschooling is convenient because the school work is flexible enough that it can be worked around an already challenging schedule.
But what about the people who aren't driven by any specific interest that requires early attention? Does homeschooling work for them too? For some people, it does.
Following are some quotes from members of our St. Louis Homeschool Network on why they chose to homeschool or go on to high school, what they consider the largest differences between the two, and how their decision has worked out for them. Their answers show a wide diversity of reasons teens continue to homeschool through their high school years.
Kevin Pierce, 15, is homeschooled. “I like homeschooling high school because it's always at my own pace; I'm the big man and I call the shots. I'll have to wait and see, but I think it will work out well in the end.”
Gabrielle Clancy-Inyart, 16, has gone to Altoff High School in Belleville [IL] for a year and a half, but she was previously homeschooled through middle school. “I chose to go to high school for the new experiences it offered. I became a part of a team last year when I joined Cross Country. I am on the Yearbook staff this year. Both of these provided me with older students as mentors and friends my own age. It is different learning in a large group setting, but my Latin class is an exception with only nine people! I think that homeschool and high school are equally different and challenging in their own way. I am glad that I have been able to experience both homeschooling and high school.”
Andrea Fondaw, 15, is homeschooled. “I have not had a high school experience, so I can't compare the two, but I've found homeschooling to be a very efficient and effective way of learning. I didn't go to high school so that I could devote my time to activities that I wouldn't have been able to devote enough time to otherwise, such as music and creative writing.”
Gabriel Karabell, 17, is homeschooled, but he briefly attended Metro High School in his freshman year. He also takes two classes at St. Louis Community College/Meramec. “I appreciate that one can get a good education at school; however, I hate having to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher in order to learn, and so high school didn't really work for me. I'll have to see, but so far homeschooling has worked great.”
David Kuciejczyk-Kernan, 15, was homeschooled from Kindergarten through age 14 and this year he began school at Saint Louis University High School. “For me, the biggest things that influenced my decision to go to high school is that SLUH has more science resources, which I didn't have access to when I was homeschooled. Since I like science, I wanted to be able to do more hands-on experiments. The biggest difference between high school and homeschooling is that high school is far more structured so I don't have quite the flexibility that I had while homeschooling.”
For me, I have always been homeschooled. I considered going to high school, but I decided that if I could properly utilize the time and money that going to high school would require, I could do a lot more at home, and it would then allow me to pursue my individual interests. How has it worked for me? It has its ups and downs. On one hand, I have gotten involved in many interesting and worthwhile things that I wouldn't have done if I went to school, and I am getting most of the classes that I would be taking in a private school, but it is sometimes challenging to direct myself. At times I have doubts, but I think that if I stick with homeschooling, I will be a stronger person.
Homeschooling is not ideal for every person, but neither is high school. With homeschooling gaining popularity in America, it has at least become an option that kids can consider when debating where to spend the four years of their life that are usually devoted to standard high school.
[Editor's note: Elaine Till is a homeschooled teenager in the St. Louis, MO, area. Her father, Randy Till, coached my younger son, Jeremy's, homeschool baseball team for the past two summers. This article appeared in The Homeschool Times; Dec. 13, 2005; Vol. 7, No. 1; published by the St. Louis Homeschool Network, and is reprinted here with permission of the author. Since we have participated in several activities with the SLHN, we have met some of these students and their families, and they seem like a great group of kids. An issue of this newsletter last year dealt with the subject of homeschooling high school, so I thought that this would be a good addition to that material. WSW.]