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Newspaper / Magazine / TV / Web Articles:

18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Children - by Kathleen Berchelmann in ChildrensMD: March 25, 2013

Homeschooling on the Rise - NBC Nightly News: September 23, 2004

AU and Homeschooling - Herald Palladium

Homeschooled and College Bound

Homegrown Succeess - The Washington Times

Support for home-schoolers - USA TODAY

Why Homeschool Through High School

High School: A Great Time to Homeschool - CHEN News

Should I go to College? - The Homeschool - Times

Choosing a College

Planning the High School Years - Diana Johnson / The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Homeschooling Teens - Isabel Shaw

College Admission for Homeschoolers - Dorothy Karman

Effective Study Skills - Dr. Bob Kizlik

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Newspaper / Magazine Articles

18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Children

by Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D. on March 25, 2013

I’m going public today with a secret I’ve kept for a year—my husband and I are homeschooling our children.  I never dreamed we would become homeschoolers.  I wanted my kids integrated and socialized.  I wanted their eyes opened to the realities of the world.  I wanted the values we taught at home put to the test in the real world.  But necessity drove me to consider homeschooling for my 2nd and 4th graders, and so I timidly attended a home school parent meeting last spring.  Surprisingly it was full of doctors, lawyers, former public school teachers, and other professionals.  These were not the stay-at-home-moms in long skirts that I expected.   The face of homeschooling is changing.  We are not all religious extremists or farmers, and our kids are not all overachieving academic nerds without social skills.

An estimated 2.04 million k12 children are home educated in the United States, a 75% increase since 1999.   Although currently only 4% of all K12 students nationwide are educated at home, experts are predicting an exponential boom in homeschooling in the next 5-10 years.  Most states even provide free online public schools, known as virtual schools or virtual homeschools for K12 students.  An information site called College@Home provides some useful information.
For a year I was afraid to tell any of my work colleagues that we were homeschooling.  People would stereotype me as a right-wing kook.  My boss might assume that I couldn’t possibly be committed to an academic medical career.  I wasn’t sure I could homeschool my kids well.  I feared the whole year would be an academic failure and emotional nightmare.  I was so unsure about this homeschooling experiment that I even kept a spare school uniform in case I had to send my kids back to school at the last moment.
This week our kids are finishing their standardized curriculum and we will spend the rest of the school year doing enrichment activities.  Alas, I think we can call this success.
We’ve had our kids in both public and private schools, but homeschooling has turned out to be the best option for our family.  Here are 18 reasons why we have joined America’s fastest growing educational trend:
1)      We spend less time homeschooling each day than we used to spend driving.  With four kids in four locations last year (including a newborn at home), school drop-off and pick-up took four hours, on a good day.  We’d get home at about 4:30 and still have homework, music practice, sports, chores, dinner and bath to fit into the 4 hours before bed.  Now we spend about four hours per day homeschooling, instead of four hours in the car.
2)      We can’t afford private education.  Even on a doctor’s salary, private education has become unaffordable, especially for larger families.  Which choice would you make: save for college, save for retirement, or pay private school tuition?  Few families can afford for all three, and most can only afford one.  As educational debts loom larger for each successive generation, this financial crunch will only get worse.
3)      Our kids are excelling academically as homeschoolers.  Homeschooling allows us to enrich our children’s strengths and supplement their weaknesses. The kids’ education moves as fast or as slow as required for that particular subject area.  They are not pigeon-holed and tracked as gifted, average, or special needs.
4)      Homeschooling is not hard, and it’s fun!  We bought a “box curriculum” from a major homeschool vendor, and all the books and the day-by-day curriculum checklist came in the mail.  We have a lot of fun supplementing material through YouTube and online educational sites like Dreambox, Khan Academy, and others.  Our kids do about half of their math online.
5)      Use whatever public school services you like.  Need speech therapy, the gifted program, or remedial academics?  Homeschooled kids are still eligible for all these services.  Some homeschoolers come into public school daily for “specials” like art, music, PE, or the school play.  Your kids can even join high school sports teams once they are old enough.  Our kids are still in sports and scouts sponsored by their old schools.
6)      I like parenting more, by far.  As a mom of school-aged kids, I felt like my role as parent had been diminished to mini-van driver, schedule-keeper, cook and disciplinarian.  And there was no mercy from the schools– six minutes late for pickup and they’d be calling my husband at work, unpaid 5 cent library fine and they’d withhold my child’s report card.  Every day I’d unpack a pile of crinkled notice papers from three backpacks and hope that I didn’t miss the next permission slip.  I was not born, raised and educated to spend my days like this.  Now, I love being a mom.
7)      Our family spends our best hours of each day together.  We were giving away our kids during their best hours, when they were rested and happy, and getting them back when they were tired, grumpy and hungry.  I dreaded each evening, when the fighting and screaming never seemed to end, and my job was to push them through homework, extracurriculars, and music practice.  Now, our kids have happy time together each day.  At recess time, the kids are actually excited about playing with each other!
8)      We yell at our kids less.  Homeschooling forces us as parents to maintain a loving authority in the household.  We stopped spanking our kids.  You can’t get your kids to write essays or complete a large set of math problems if you don’t have their respect and obedience.  Spanking and corporal punishment establish fear, not effective, loving obedience.
9)      Our kids have time for creative play and unique interests.  Once my kids entered school, they seemed to stop making up their own creative play together.  They didn’t have time for creative play during their busy evenings.  Now they build forts and crazy contraptions, play dance parties, and pursue their own unique interests.  My eight-year-old has taken up computer programming and taught himself how to play the organ.  My six-year-old is learning to cook.
10)   We are able to work on the kids’ behavior and work ethic throughout the day.  My son’s poor work effort at school was nearly impossible to address.  The teachers didn’t have time to make my son repeat work they felt was average quality.  We wouldn’t see the work until days after it was completed.  Finally, we’ve been able to push him to his full potential.
11)   Get rid of bad habits, fast.  Dirty clothes dropped on the floor?  They used to stay there all day.  Now there is no recess until they are cleaned up.  I never really had the time to implement most behavioral techniques when my kids were in school.  I knew what I needed to do to get my kindergartner to dress herself, but it was easier to dress her myself then deal with the school complaining that she was improperly dressed or late.  Now, if she takes too long to get dressed, she misses out on free play time.
12)   Be the master of your own schedule.  Homeschooling provides a great deal of family flexibility, which is a tremendous asset for our busy family. For example, we save a lot of money on plane tickets because we have the flexibility to fly almost any day of the week.  Zoos, children’s museums, libraries, parks, etc., are far less busy on weekdays as they are on weekends.  Scheduling anything is eons easier—doctor’s appointments, piano lessons, vacations, etc.
13)   Younger children learn from older siblings.  For larger families like ours, even toddlers are learning during school time. Our four year old sits at the same table during school time as our six and eight year old.  He wants to do his worksheet, too.  Some of that math and phonics work rubs off on him, and he’s learning how to read.  When chore time comes, he asks, “What are my chores?”  And our one-year-old recently tried to clean a toilet.
14)   Save money.  Committing to homeschooling requires at least one parent at home for most of each day.  Although you may lose an income with this commitment, you save (a lot) of money since younger children don’t need daycare and older children don’t need private school.  We also save a lot of money on gas now that we drive less.  Many homeschooling parents still work part-time.  We pull off homeschooling because I work nights and my husband works part-time from home as an independent IT developer.  I know many families homeschooling on family incomes of 40-60K.
Homeschoolers save tax payers money, too.  According to The National Home Education Research Institute, homeschoolers saved the taxpayers $16 billion in 2006.
15)   Teach your kids practical life skills.  Homeschooled kids learn parenting skills, cooking, budgeting, home maintenance, and time management every day.  Time management skills are learned out of necessity.  Our kids have to keep their own schedules and budget their own time.  If they waste time, they have less time for play and their own special interests.  We use old smart phones with alarms to help teach time management.  Our kids help with younger siblings while under our direct supervision.  What better way is there to learn parenting?  I learned to write a fake grocery budget once as a home economics exercise.  My kids write real grocery budgets and help me shop.
16)   Better socialization, less unhealthy peer pressure and bullying.  Our kids no longer beg for video games we don’t want them to have or clothes we don’t like, or junky snacks they saw at school.  One of our children struggled socially in school, and his schoolmates were ruthlessly mean.  Despite a school anti-bullying policy and our best efforts to work with the teacher, nothing changed.  Last year he played alone on the playground everyday.  Now he’s organizing playground games at our homeschool co-op, and he’s smiling again.  No one has ever said an unkind word to him at our co-op, because every child is there with his or her own parent.  Our kids have plenty of time with friends, but without  the unhealthy peer pressure and bullying.
Research continues to show that homeschooled kids do well socially.  Our kids have no shortage of time with friends—each week they attend homeschool co-op, scouts, sports, dance, choir, piano, religious education and have plenty of time to play with neighborhood friends.  Add in the birthday parties and homeschool field trips, and we find ourselves having to decline activities so that we can get our homeschooling done!
17)   Sleep! A research study by National Jewish Health released in March, 2013 showed that homeschooled students get more sleep than their peers who attend school.  The result may be that homeschooled kids are better prepared to learn.  Parents get more sleep, too!  Now we don’t have to get up early to meet a bus schedule, prepare sack lunches, etc.  Our mornings are great times together to snuggle with our children and talk about our plans for the day.  No more “Hurry up and get your shoes on or you’ll be late for school!”
18)   Teach kids your own values.  According to the national center for education statistics, 36% of homeschooling families were primarily motivated by a desire to provide religious or moral instruction.  Our family is not part of this 36%– we never objected to any values taught in either our public or private schools.  Nevertheless, we’ve really enjoyed building our own traditions and living out our family values in a way that wasn’t possible before homeschooling.  For example we make Halloween a little holiday without too much decadence, but we spend an entire week celebrating Easter.  When our kids were in school, the Halloween parties went on for 2 weeks and they had a Halloween vacation from school.  In contrast, they didn’t get any time off for Easter, and there were no Easter celebrations or even decorations at school.
Homeschooling isn’t right for every family or every child.  I can’t even predict what the future holds for our family—will we continue homeschooling through high school?  I don’t know.  But for now, we’ve found a way for our family to be very happy growing and learning together.
Update 27-March-13
Thank you to the more than 200,000 of you that have taken the time to read my thoughts on homeschooling.
Many people have asked me how we do it, how my husband and I both hold down jobs and homeschool our kids at the same time.
Every homeschooling family has their own unique time management plan to balance employment, schooling, household needs, and rest time.  For our family, this has been a work in progress over several years.
Four years ago, after I had my third child, I started working all night shifts as a hospital-based pediatrician.   This schedule allowed me to be home with my babies and available for school pick-up for my older children.  When we were expecting our fourth child, my husband resigned his full-time job a large company in St. Louis so that he could start his own business as an independent IT developer, and so that he could be more committed to our family life.  Once we had the flexibility of my husband’s self-employment, homeschooling became a real option for our family.
We complete our core homeschool curriculum on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Wednesdays our kids attend a home-school co-op, and on Fridays we take field trips, do special activities, and complete any catch-up work.
I sleep (with earplugs!) the mornings after my overnight shifts.  My husband does the homeschooling on the mornings when I am sleeping.  On the mornings when I am awake, I do the teaching.  My husband and I split the teaching about 50/50.  We try to make sure that at any given time one parent is employed and one is teaching/parenting/running the home.  The baby usually takes a nap in the afternoon while my older kids do independent reading and online math, and so we can usually fit in 1-2 hours of personal time or work then.  Any employment work or housework that is left we do after the kids go to bed.
Now that we homeschool, everything has become a team effort in our house.  Both my husband and I teach, do housework, and make money.  Everyone does chores.  Walking in each other’s shoes each day has made us more compassionate towards each other.  We are less likely to criticize each other when things don’t go right, and we’ve learned to be better communicators.  This is, perhaps, my favorite part of homeschooling, that our family is happier together.

Article by Kathleen Berchelmann, M.D.
Kathleen M. Berchelmann, M.D., is a pediatrician at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, director of the St. Louis Children's Hospital Social Media Team, and co-founder of the ChildrensMD hospital physician blog. Her work has been featured in print and online publications including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Chicago Tribune, and TIME magazine. She is a frequent contributor to Fox2 News STL Moms. Kathleen and her husband are raising four children. Follow Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann on Facebook: ChildrensMomDocs Twitter: @MomDocKathleen and connect with her on Google+.
Kathleen has written 52 articles here on ChildrensMD.

Andrews offers help for home school parents - Herald Palladium: 11/10/02

By DEBRA HAIGHT / H-P Correspondent

BERRIEN SPRINGS -- Home school parents worrying about difficulties their children may face entering college have a local resource for advice and assistance. Andrews University officials are working hard this year to establish themselves as "home school friendly."

The Home School Legal Defense Association has ranked Andrews in the first tier of national colleges and universities in terms of acceptance of home school students.

Randy Graves, head of the home school office at Andrews Enrollment Services, said home school students don't have to do anything extra to enroll at the university. He offers guidance to parents and students in person [    269-471-6200     /] as well as on the university's home school Web site [].

Topics addressed on the Web site include what high school courses students should take to be ready for college, how to prepare a complete high school transcript, and what college entrance exams should be taken and how to register for them.

He also answers questions about how to apply to Andrews specifically, how to apply for scholarships and other forms of financial aid, and what other resources are available to home school families preparing students for college.

Graves said that most colleges look at the A.C.T. test, grade point averages or a combination of both in deciding financial aid. Without a grade point average, colleges like Andrews will look at a portfolio listing a student's achievements.

The enrollment services' home school office opened in January. He said the fact that between 20 and 25 faculty members home school themselves also has helped.

"The university wanted to make sure its admission policies were home school friendly," he said. "We advertise in home school magazines and vendor at home school conventions. We're actively looking at it as a bona fide market for students. Part of my job description is to work with home schoolers."

A home school parent himself, he appreciates other assistance that Andrews gives to area home schoolers, both by providing classroom space and allowing them to participate in different college activities.

"Andrews lets us use resources like the science labs and classrooms," he said. "I teach one of the science classes on my time off." He thinks that more will become more home school friendly in the future. "Five or 10 years ago, more high school age kids were going to school," he said. "Now, a large wave of older kids are still being home schooled and enough have gone through to show colleges that these are quality students.

"Parents are realizing that it's easier to home school in the high school years if they train the child to relate well to education and be self motivated. That practice works well when a home school student gets to college. A motivated student can do pretty much anything and with their study skills, they really do well in college.
"The home school student doesn't go on until he or she masters a subject. That's why we see home school students so successful in geography and spelling bees and now in college. They're trying to learn for full understanding and not just to get through it, so the likelihood of excelling is much higher."

He said people home school for a variety of reasons including those related to religion, academics and even safety. "What's just as big now as anything else is the importance placed on having family closeness," he said. "People want to develop a true family concept and not just see each other in the evening."

He views home schooling in many ways as being more natural and realistic. "In the real world, people work with others of different ages," he said. "In the home school environment, a child relates more to older and younger siblings and to parents and other adults. ... It's a more natural way to learn."

He thinks that people forget that home schooling isn't a new concept. While the modern home school movement began in the early 1980s, having one-room or home schools was actually the norm in many parts of the country before mass public education was instituted in the early 1900s. He's found that home schooling is more accepted than it once was. "When you say you home school, people have an interest in it," he said. "The only awkward thing now is that people apologize for not home schooling, but we're not being judgmental and not out campaigning for everyone to do it. We have to say it's OK not doing it."

Graves and others at Andrews are getting a unique perspective from Korean graduate student Young Hwangbo. He and his wife are currently home schooling their four children and his goal is go back to South Korea and spread the home school message there. Currently, it's illegal to home school in South Korea, and he wants to share the American home schooling experience with the people there. He's just now starting work on his thesis, which will be on home schooling and how it can be a powerful educational alternative for some students.

Copyright 2002 The Herald-Palladium

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Homeschooled and College Bound

by Randy Graves
Associate Director of Enrollment Services and Homeschool Specialist at Andrews University

As homeschooling has increased in numbers, with some estimates close to two million students in the United States, more and more families are choosing to continue with homeschooling through the high school years.

The 1999 statistics on homeschooling published by the National Center for Education Statistics states that 27.7% of all families who homeschool are doing so until their child is ready or college. This trend is spread fairly evenly across family income levels and parental levels of education. While the majority of families who homeschool are two-parent families there is a significant number of single-parent households that homeschool as well.

With this trend comes a number of questions from those who homeschool. How homeschool friendly are colleges and universities? What about the institutions we've chosen? What is required of homeschoolers for admission?

These important questions need to be addressed in a straightforward and timely manner so families feel well cared for and confident their students are wanted.

To accomplish this objective, a college or university needs to have well-thought through and readily available admissions policies for homeschoolers. These policies should also be as similar as possible to those for students coming from traditional schools. The United States House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce and Senate Committee on Labor and Human resources have addressed this issue.

These committees indicate that requiring additional testing only of students educated in non-traditional programs could reasonably be seen as discriminatory. This is particularly true of the GED test and SAT II subject tests. In spite of this almost 30% of colleges still require one or both of these tests. In this case, the student has two choices-take the required tests or go to a more homeschool friendly college. This is not a difficult proposition since over 1000 colleges and universities have accepted homeschoolers.

However, it is appropriate for a college to ask for the GED test in the absence of other supporting material for a student applying for admission. The following is a list of commonly accepted supporting material that can provide the information needed:

  • A transcript of courses, credits and grades produces by the parent(s).
  • A list of course descriptions.
  • A portfolio with examples of best work, particularly in the core areas required by the college.
  • Sections in the portfolio for extracurricular activities and examples of leadership and service.
  • Test scores in PSAT and either the ACT or SAT.
  • Recommendations from at least two non-family individuals who have had multiple opportunities to observe the student.
  • Essay.

Once a student has been accepted, if financial aid is needed, eligibility will be determined based upon the completion of a common form used by almost all colleges called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This does not require a certain kind of diploma or test score and is administered based upon the successful completion of the admissions process. The FAFSA form can be obtained at any college and should be completed and mailed in by the end of February of the year the student plans attend college in the fall. You will be required to provide family tax information from the previous year.

Homeschooling through the high school years is really no longer a "new" trend but a positive bridge to higher education for thousands of students. Armed with timely information a family can successfully navigate the process involved in obtaining admission for their student to the college of their choice.

Footnotes --------------------
1 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and
Improvement: NCES 2001-033 p. 7.
2 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Publication L. No. 105-244.
3 Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook, 2000 ed. By Cafi Cohen.
ISBN 0-7615-2754-0.

Taken from HSI World - HOME STUDY INTERNATIONAL 2002-1

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The Washington Times


Homegrown success

By Robert Stacy McCain
Published October 23, 2003Copyright © 2003 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Home-schoolers are more likely to attend college and be more politically active than their peers, a study says. The survey of more than 7,300 adults who were home-schooled found that among those ages 18 to 24, 74 percent had taken college courses, compared with 46 percent in the same age group among the general population. About 12 percent of the polled home-schoolers had received bachelor's degrees, compared with about 8 percent of their peers.

The study, by the Oregon-based National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), showed higher levels of political involvement for home-schoolers in several categories. The poll shows home-schoolers are more likely than their peers to vote (74 percent versus 29 percent), to make political contributions (9 percent versus 3 percent) or to work for a political cause, party or candidate (13 percent versus 1 percent).

Some of the findings were not surprising, given earlier studies showing high levels of academic achievement by home-schooled students, said Tom Washburne, director of the Virginia-based National Center for Home Education.

"We expected to find that they were getting good jobs, going on to college at a high rate, that they were involved in their communities — all of those come as no surprise to a home-schooling parent," Mr. Washburne said.

"However, we are excited by the findings about the civic involvement of the graduates. Their voting and their involvement with campaigns and political parties is astounding compared with the general public."

The idea for the study "had been percolating in my mind for at least a decade," said NHERI President Brian D. Ray. A proposal for the study was turned down 10 years ago, he said. But noting the growth in home education, he said, "Now we have a much larger population [of home-schooling alumni] from which to draw, [so] maybe it was good to wait."

NHERI estimates that more than 1.7 million U.S. children are home-schooled.

The new study "is one of the few attempts, maybe the only attempt, to get at the question of what do home-schoolers look like after the home-schooling process," said James Carper, professor of educational psychology at the University of South Carolina, who reviewed Mr. Ray's findings. "On most measures, they look better than the general public."

Home schooling has been criticized by the country's largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), which passed a resolution at its national convention declaring that "home-schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience."

An NEA spokesman yesterday said the organization had no comment on the NHERI study.

Mr. Ray said critics "have claimed that adults who are home-schooled would be social isolates, disengaged from civic life and perhaps uncaring about the world around them. The findings of this study, however, indicate just the opposite in terms of these adults' behaviors."

Among the study's findings:

  • About half (49 percent) of home-schoolers ages 18 to 24 were full-time students. In that age group, 50.2 percent had "some college but no degree," compared with 34 percent of the same age group in the general population. In that group, 8.7 percent of home-schoolers had two-year associate degrees (compared with 4.1 percent in the general population) and 11.8 percent had bachelor's degrees (compared with 7.6 percent in the general population).
  • Among various measures of community activity, home-educated adults were more likely than their peers to have read a book in the past six months (98.5 percent compared with 69 percent), participated in community service such as volunteering or coaching youth sports teams (71.1 percent compared with 37 percent), and attended religious services at least once a month (93.3 percent compared with 41 percent).
  • Asked whether they agreed with the statement that "politics and government are too complicated to understand," 4.2 percent of home-schooled adults agreed, compared with 35 percent of the general population.
  • In six measures of civic involvement, home-schooled adults consistently ranked higher than the general U.S. population.
  • Home-schoolers also ranked higher on measures of personal satisfaction and psychological health, reporting more contentment on the job and with their families' financial situations. Asked about happiness, 58.9 percent of home-schoolers reported they were "very happy," compared with 27.6 percent of the general public.
  • Home-schoolers differed significantly in their responses to the question: "Some people say that people get ahead by their own hard work; others say lucky breaks or help from people are more important. Which do you think is most important?" More than 85 percent of home-schoolers said "hard work," compared with 68 percent of the general population.
  • About 74 percent of the home-schooled adults with children said they were home schooling their own children.

The thousands of home-schooled adults who participated in the survey were found through "a highly connected network of home-schooling organizations," Mr. Ray said. Their responses were compared with data for the general U.S. population from the Census Bureau, the Department of Education and the National Opinion Research Center.

The study did not compare incomes of adults who had been home-schooled with the general population, Mr. Ray said, because of a shortage of age-based income data plus the fact that the average age of the home-schooling alumni in the survey was 21 and nearly half were full-time students.

"If we can come back to a substantial portion of this sample in five to 10 years, we'll get a much better idea of comparative data regarding occupation, income and completed level of education," he said.

The study rebuts one of the most persistent criticisms of home schooling, Mr. Washburne said.

"Home-schooling parents have known for years that home schooling works," he said. "What we always knew to be a myth regarding socialization has turned out to be just that, a myth. Home-schoolers appear to be active, engaged, happy adults."

Copyright © 2003 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Support for home-schoolers can pay off for all students:[FINAL Edition]

USA TODAY. McLean, Va.: Sep 3, 2003. pg. A.11
Full Text (549 words)
Copyright USA Today Information Network Sep 3, 2003

Today's debate: Teaching at home; Our view: Involved home-school students benefit public school community.

Correction ran 9/5/2003: A graphic with Wednesday's editorial debate on home schooling misidentified Arkansas as one of five states cited by the Home School Legal Defense Association with the most friendly home-schooling laws. It should have listed Alaska.

Today's debate: Teaching at home

Our view: Involved home-school students benefit public school community.

As 47 million children return to public schools, some 2 million are staying home to get their instruction. In nearly every state, the number of children being educated in their homes is rising about 10% a year.

The growth reflects a vast broadening in the types of families that embrace home schooling. The stereotype of home-schoolers as religious separatists or the offspring of New Age seekers has not been true for years. Now, though, local home-schooling organizations report that about 10% of their families are black or Hispanic.

The growing diversity among families that teach their children themselves is linked to the spreading popularity of the school choice movement. Parents like having the power to choose the educational setting that best serves their children's needs.

Yet instead of accepting -- even welcoming -- the valuable role home-school supporters can play in increasing choices, too many traditional educators are setting up roadblocks. Some states impose excessive paperwork demands on home-schooling parents, even when their children appear to be flourishing academically. Many school districts deny home-schooled children the opportunity to participate in music and sports activities at local schools.

Such moves can needlessly deprive public schools of valuable alliances with taxpayers and advocates of quality education.

Several proven ways can help more states and school districts reach out to home-schooling parents. Among them:

  • Funding online teaching. The Florida Virtual School is a public school that conducts classes over the Internet. Students include not only home-schoolers but also students looking for courses their local schools don't offer or more flexible class schedules.
  • Reducing burdensome paperwork. Maine did so in May as one of several states that acceded to home-schooling parents' requests to be treated more like families in private schools. In recent years, Oregon, Arkansas and Arizona have loosened onerous rules aimed at home-schoolers.
  • Letting home-schoolers join school activities. In July, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill requiring the state's 501 school districts to open sports teams and other extracurricular activities to home-schoolers. The measure, which goes to the state senate this fall, reflects a national trend granting home-schooled students use of some public-school services.

Those critical of home schooling argue that parents often fall short as competent teachers. To date, though, no evidence demonstrates a significant problem of home-schooled children receiving poor educations. In fact, research suggests home schooling can be very effective.

Families choosing home schooling provide the close parental involvement that students need to succeed academically. Supporting that choice benefits children, their parents and local school districts.


Home-schoolers rate states

States that home-schooling advocates say are the most and least supportive of instruction in the home:

Home-school friendly laws:

  • Arkansas
  • Michigan
  • Idaho
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas

Laws that discourage home schooling:

  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont

Source: Home School Legal Defense Association.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
Locations: United States, US
Article types: Editorial
Column Name: DEBATE
Section: NEWS
ISSN/ISBN: 07347456
Text Word Count 549

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Why Homeschool Through High School?

by Maggie Hogan - Bright Ideas Press:

The first and most obvious advantage is the time and opportunities available in which you can demonstrate and attempt to pass on your spiritual heritage, your morals, and your work ethic. Much has been written about these already. I'm going to write about other advantages as well as provide practical suggestions to make homeschooling your teen easier.

Students who home school through the teenage years tend to be more focused on what they want to accomplish with their lives. Those with artistic natures find they have ample time to immerse themselves more fully in their respective talents: writing, art, music, etc. Those who have an academic passion will find they have more time to read, work on the computer, study foreign languages, chart the stars, and follow their interests at a deeper level. Students who are planning a vocational or technical career can begin an apprenticeship or a work-study in their chosen field. Unlike public schools, there is no waiting on the rest of the class, unnecessary seat-work, study halls, disruptive behavior, or threats to their personal safety to take students' minds off what they really want to learn and accomplish.

With the proper guidance from their parents, these young people will enter adulthood poised, confident, and with a solid academic and work ethic background. These responsible and independent problem-solvers will be gladly welcomed into colleges and the work place!

Great Goals!

  • World Knowledge - History and Geography are cornerstones to understanding current events, political and socio-economic information.
  • Ability to Communicate Effectively - write, write, and write some more. A person who writes and communicates well is a valuable asset to any college or employer. (Being well read is part of the package. Develop and use a good book list.) Computer communication is becoming an absolute necessity.
  • Problem Solving - raise independent learners who are able to organize, research, and solve problems.
  • Time Management and Self-Discipline - these skills are invaluable for every adult.
  • Self-Sufficiency - train your young adults in Biblical stewardship and other practical skills such as auto and household maintenance.
  • Integrity - don't leave home without it!

Help! Can I Really Do This!?
There are many "ideals" in planning for high school, just as there are for most facets of our lives. With high school, as with the rest of your homeschooling, do your very best and don't get caught up in feelings of inadequacy just because Mrs. B is teaching her three teens Latin, Physics and Trig! Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If one year is less than banner, strive to do better the next.

The Key
Love your teens and give them as many opportunities to learn as you can. Help them to learn study skills, life skills, and give them the chance to stretch and grow, and even sometimes fail. Spend time in the Word and help them to see the practical applications of your faith so that they will want to emulate you. At no other age is the "Do as I say, not as I do" adage less likely to work. Remember, whether or not your student has a chemistry lab or AP level courses is not nearly as important as having their faith and beliefs firmly in place!

Now, having said all that, here are some of the "ideals" in preparing for high school and college.

How Do I Know Which Classes My Student Needs?
First, begin with your state requirements. Some states may have specific course work that is required of everyone, including homeschoolers. Other states allow flexibility and leave the final decision with the principal (or parent.) Your homeschool organization may have its own set of requirements. Ask. Typically, graduation requirements range from 19 to 22 credits. Below is a list of generally required courses. Second, take your student's interest into account. A student with strong aptitude and interest in one area should be encouraged to pursue that area of interest.

If a student is probably college bound, it is wise to structure their course work accordingly. Check with your state university's requirements for entrance. This will give you a good idea of subjects your child should be taking. If you're not sure about college, it's better to prepare them should they decide to go, rather than have them attempt to go unprepared.

What is a High School Credit?
It's useful to understand what a "credit" actually is. A credit is technically a "Carnegie Unit." According to the Carnegie Foundation this unit was developed as a measure of the number of hours a student has studied discrete (separate/distinct) subjects. For example, a total of 120 hours in one subject earns the student one "unit" of high school credit.

Consider purchasing the Guide to PA Homeschoolers Diploma by Howard and Susan Richman. Check out their website: This excellent booklet has many examples of ways to earn high school credits and to prepare for college. PA homeschoolers may receive credit if they do any ONE of the following, per course:

  • Complete two-thirds of a textbook
  • Have 120 daily logged entries
  • Have 120 hours of logged study
  • Complete a 10 page research paper
  • Complete a college course
  • Pass an AP exam

I would add to their list:

  • Documented Work Study
  • Documented Apprenticeship
  • Community Service/Volunteer Work
  • Long-term participation on a sports' team
  • Long-term participation in community arts' programs
  • Other creative ways in which you can demonstrate that a reasonable amount of learning has taken place.

Now make a plan of attack: which courses will be completed which year? Is your student capable of or interested in early graduation? Check to see if it's legal and acceptable in your situation to accelerate and do high school in three years. For many homeschool students, this allows them to spend what would be their senior year, pursuing community college courses and/or work options. 

Subject / Credits / Courses
Electives / 6 or 7 Foreign language, Driver Education, Computer, Art, Speech, Music, Drama, Business courses are all popular choices. Future goals should guide selections
English / 4 / 3 credits of sequential English and 1 elective such as Journalism, Creative Writing, etc.
Health / 1
Mathematics / 2 or 3 / Choose courses with college/career in mind. Consumer or general math for some students or Algebra, Geometry, Trig.
Physical Education / 1 / Soccer leagues, Ballet, Tennis, Aerobics, etc.
Science / 2-3 / Biology, Chemistry, Physics for the college bound.
Social Studies / 3 or 4 / U.S. History, World History, Government or Geography are typical.

What Are Some Options for Teaching High School Courses?
This is a great time to be homeschooling! The options are many and diverse. Besides the traditional student book/teacher book method here are other ideas:

" Barter - you teach my student Spanish and I'll teach yours Algebra.

" Be a Student - learning right alongside your child can be a fantastic experience. Whether you sign up together for a local Spanish course or just dig into the books together, show your kids that learning is a lifelong process!

" Community Colleges - many homeschoolers take college level courses during high school. This serves two purposes: first, it is a practical way to take a class the parent prefers not to teach or for which the equipment may not be readily available, like Chemistry. Secondly, a job well done offers "proof" of the student's ability.

" Computer Courses - there are many programs available now. Ask friends for recommendations.

" Co-ops and hybrid co-ops - We're involved in a wonderful co-op we started with two other families to teach our kids once a week in a classroom-like setting. We've expanded to three different groups: upper elementary, middle school and high school. This year in high school we offer: Literature, AP U.S. History, Biology and Spanish II. Each year we decide which classes we want based on our families' needs. We open this up to other students on a paying basis. Each teacher is paid, along with the co-op administrator. The kids love it and so do the parents!

" Correspondence Courses - there are a number of different correspondence schools. Choose one course or take the whole program. Depending on the school, it may offer support, record keeping, testing, transcripts, report cards, and accountability. Many are accredited. There are both secular and Christian schools. This might be good for a course you don't prefer to teach.

" Hire a Tutor - if you can afford it and your local homeschooling laws permit, this is a great way to cover that one class you'd just as soon not teach. We do it for piano lessons, why not Latin?

" Internet Classes - we've participated in Escondido Tutorial Services. Fritz Hinrichs teaches a number of classical courses through live, interactive weekly meetings. We've been very pleased. There are other many others now doing similar things. His site is Also see PA Homeschoolers online, mentioned above.

" Video Courses - lacking in interactivity but excelling in material covered. Some of the courses we've used have been very well done.

Of course, good record keeping is a must. Check out Mary Schofield's book, High School Handbook: Junior and Senior High School at Home, available from and many other sources. Another good book is Barbara Shelton's Senior High: A Home-Designed Form-U-La. Email her at Useful information can be found at Cafi Cohen's site:

As you can see, there is a plethora of possibilities available to you, including articles from and many, many great homeschooling sites online. Be of good cheer! These are your teens and with the help of our Lord, Jesus Christ, you can do this!

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Choosing a College

Taken from

The college application process can be complex, especially if you or your family has never gone through it before. What follows is a list of steps that, if followed, can simplify this process.

This is best done by sharing with someone (your parents, a friend, the school counselor) what your dreams are. What would you like to study? What skills do you have? Do you like to work with people? information? things? all three? What are your best subjects in school? It isn't necessary for you to know exactly what you want to do, what's important is that you think about the future and the importance of a college degree in achieving your dreams. Explore different options. Dream!

Think in terms of:

  1. LOCATION - Do you want to stay close to home? How far are you willing to travel? Do you want to be in a small town? In a large city?
  2. SIZE - Would you like to be in a small college/university where you will get more personalized attention? How about a larger university that might have a greater variety of resources and academic offerings? Or maybe a middle sized one that may offer a bit of each?
  3. TYPE OF UNIVERSITY/COLLEGE - Do you want to go to a public or private institution? A liberal arts school or a technical college? A four year institution or a two year college? We encourage you to consider the State System universities.

After completing the first two steps, figure out what type of school best fits your interests. Based on this information, make list of universities that meet your needs. In order to come up with this list, you may want to talk to other family members or friends, and your school counselor. We recommend that you look at a university/college guide which you will find in your counselor's office or in the public library. Find our if there are any organizations in your community which provide assistance with this process. Write to the schools selected and ask for a catalog, an admissions application, and a financial aid application. Try to attend some college fairs and bring your parents along.

Review the materials that the universities send you. Which ones have the majors/programs you're interested in? Eliminate the ones that have a good match with your interests. Look at the academic requirements. Do you meet their standards? If you don't think you do, is there a special admissions program for students who may not meet the academic standards but have the potential for doing college-level work? One such program is the Act 101 Program. Inquire if the university/college has it and, if so, ask what the process is for being accepted into it. All State System universities have an Act 101 Program.
It is always a good idea to visit the campus. Do so if you get an opportunity and ask many questions. Remember, you are also interviewing them to see if they meet your requirements.

Based on the search done in steps 1 through 4, select the universities/colleges which meet your requirements. It is always a good idea to discuss your selections with family members, friends, your guidance counselor, since they may have some information about the schools you are considering. Some admission officers suggest that you apply to at least four universities/colleges: the best school you can get into, two where you might be accepted, and one where you are certain you will be admitted.
Do not eliminate a university/college simply because it appears to be too expensive! If you are not certain you can afford the costs, remember that all universities/colleges offer some type of financial aid. BUT, you need to fill out the financial aid forms early. Universities and colleges in Pennsylvania, generally speaking, require that you submit a PHEAA application (Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.) You may pick up this application in your guidance counselor's office.

Remember to submit all applications before their due date.

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High School: A Great Time to Homeschool

by Jeanne Gowen Dennis
reprinted from CHEN News, April 2001

Would you like to homeschool your children through high school? Are you afraid to try? If so, you are not alone. Many homeschool parents consider quitting after eighth grade because high school "counts for college." However, thousands of other parents have persevered, and colleges all over America have welcomed homeschool graduates.
Should you homeschool during high school? Before you decide, review your original reasons for homeschooling. Was it for academic excellence, family unity, or spiritual growth? Was it to give your children the freedom to pursue their interests? Whatever your reasons, they are probably still valid. If your main purpose was to replace negative peer influences with positive parental ones, then high school is one of the most important times to homeschool.

Even though each year brings new academic challenges, teaching high school is not as frightening as it seems. Each grade is just a little bit harder than the one before. If you have come this far, then you can go one more step, and then another, and another. Though the difficulty increases, the rewards multiply as your children grow in knowledge, self confidence, and responsibility.

With a good curriculum and willing students, you can teach almost anything at home, but if you need help, options are available. For example, students may learn higher-level mathematics, science, foreign languages, and other subjects on-line or with video programs, computer programs, or textbooks that lend themselves to self-teaching. For science labs, you may buy your own equipment, share expenses for group classes, or send your children to the local community college.

Homeschooling high school should not add a great deal of time to the parent-teacher's workload, because most high school students take more responsibility for their own learning. While still actively involved in their children's education, parents increasingly become advisors and facilitators -- finding curriculum, monitoring progress, keeping records, guiding course selections, helping students prepare for college entrance exams, and arranging for outside courses and tutors, when necessary.

One benefit of homeschooling during high school is that you can gear your curriculum to your students' interests and needs. Budding engineers may build backyard bridges or apprentice with professionals. Students who need extra time to master certain subjects can go at their own pace. In areas of strength, they may forge ahead to college textbooks or enroll in Advanced Placement courses. Homeschoolers may even earn dual credit for both high school and college by taking accredited courses at the non-remedial college level in nearby colleges, by correspondence, or over the Internet.

Extracurricular Activities
Admittedly, extracurricular activities are more available at traditional high schools than at home. However, group activities may be available in your area, such as 4H, a city youth orchestra, or a homeschool debate team. Homeschoolers also have some advantages traditional students miss. For instance, they may participate in apprenticeships, volunteer work, and paid work while other students are at school. They also have the flexibility to go on short-term mission, educational, or performance trips during the school year. Many homeschooled students develop entrepreneurial skills through home businesses.

For homeschool athletes, city, county, or homeschool teams may be available. Even if they are not, the lack of high school sports team experience does not preclude participation in college varsity sports. Coaches will want to see evidence of your students' athletic talents, but NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) eligibility is based solely on academics. The NCAA has special rules to accommodate homeschool students.

Colleges Want Homeschoolers
Perhaps you have heard that colleges penalize homeschoolers during the admission process. My national survey of over 250 selective colleges refutes that assumption. Over 94% of admissions departments would welcome homeschoolers, 91% have accepted homeschoolers, and many have begun to actively recruit them.

Homeschoolers compare well with, and often outshine, their traditionally schooled peers. Some of the qualities that colleges have observed in homeschoolers include academic strength, self-discipline, responsibility, and maturity.

In most cases, homeschoolers can also qualify for financial aid. If your school is treated as a homeschool or private school under your state law, then your homeschool graduates are eligible to apply for federal aid. Colleges also offer private scholarships, and several now offer homeschool scholarships.

Records and Transcripts
Most admissions departments require written documentation of applicants' high school coursework and extracurricular activities. Although some homeschool parents are nervous about writing transcripts, over two-thirds of colleges will accept parent-prepared documentation. Once you know how, high school records and transcripts are easy to write. (My book, Homeschooling High School - Planning Ahead for College Admission, gives detailed instructions.)

Even if a college will not accept your transcript, homeschoolers may receive transcripts, and in some cases, diplomas through umbrella schools, correspondence schools, or community colleges. With challenging coursework that has been verified by one of these sources and good SAT and/or ACT scores, your students would be welcomed at most colleges.

Final Preparation for Adulthood
Even though there are many advantages, the best reason to homeschool high school is that the teen years are the final preparation for adulthood. Parental influence is crucial at this stage of development, because teens are so easily influenced by their peers and teachers. At home you can ensure that they develop personal, financial, and civic responsibility as well as survival skills such as cooking, laundering, and car maintenance. Your curriculum can be filtered through your worldview as you prepare your students to deal with conflicting ideas that they may face in college or in the workplace. Best of all, the daily contact you have at home will help you keep the communication lines open as your children become increasingly independent.
Homeschooling high school is a huge commitment, but if you have homeschooled before, you already know the price of commitment. You have also seen some of the fruits of your labor. Why quit while you're ahead? If you have not homeschooled before, high school is an exciting time to start.

Jeanne Gowen Dennis is a homeschool speaker and the author of Homeschooling High School - Planning Ahead for College Admission available from YWAM Publishing at     1-800-922-2143     or You are welcome to visit her website at

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The Homeschool Times

Should I go to college? Which college should I attend?" students ask. Here is a seven step guide to help you through the process.

  1. Decide What Is Best For You
    Three very important decisions are accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, deciding on one's life work, and choosing the right partner in marriage. The first determines one's eternal destiny; the second determines the path taken to fulfill God's purpose in life; and the third determines one's helpmate in fulfilling that purpose.
    Consider the second decision the path taken to fulfill God's purpose in life. What will best PREPARE students to fulfill that purpose? Preparation begins when parents birth a child and train him in Godly character during the formative years, and he continues with formal education. At some point, the student must decide whether college is right for him in order to prepare for God's purpose. Deciding whether to go to college is the first step. College is not for everyone, but some form of higher education is highly desirable for today's work opportunities.
  2. Seek Wise Counsel
    Parents know their own children better than anyone else. Parents should guide them early to seek God's will and make wise decisions in life. Children should also seek wise counsel from their pastor and other responsible adults who can give guidance. Children should be taught that ... in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11: 1 4b)
  3. Prepare For College
    Formal preparation for college begins during the first twelve years of school. Children should be taught to do their best, for God's Word says, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might ... (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Getting good grades assists the learning process.
    Teach children to dream of what God would have them do in life. As students grow, their interests, goals, and dreams should narrow. They should begin thinking in terms of a high school course of study and whether college is right for them.
    Anyone planning to go to college should complete the College Preparatory or Honors Course of Study. Preparation should include at least 25 credits. While taking a General or Vocational course does not prohibit a student from going to college, it means that the student will not be adequately prepared for college work. It would be a real struggle for anyone with less than a College Preparatory Course of Study to succeed in the college environment. Since high school academic performance is an essential factor used by colleges for admission, students should do their best and seek for the highest GPA (grade point average) possible.
  4. Take Standardized Test(s)
    Because high school grades do not tell the whole story about a student's academic ability, IF nearly all colleges ask for scores from a national standardized test such as the ACT (American College Testing) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). In the second year of high school, students should take the PSAT a preliminary SAT that shows what to expect when taking the ACT or SAT.
    There are software and books to assist students in preparation for either test. Students will find tips for proper preparation at both the ACT Web site ( and the SAT Web site ( They can even register on line for either test.
    Students should take the ACT, the SAT, or both during the last two years of high school. They can be taken more than once. The highest score will be used.
  5. Choose A College
    Once a decision has been made to go to college, it is imperative that students choose the RIGHT college. They can gather information from the ACT and SAT Web sites listed above. These Web sites list most colleges and universities in America with addresses, telephone numbers, and Web addresses to make further contact. Most colleges have a Web page to view what they offer.
    For the Christian, however, there are advantages in attending a Christian college. Check for a listing of most Christian colleges in America. Students will find information to assist in narrowing the field. They can write, call, or e mail any of the schools for additional information.
    A student should ask, "Which college does the Lord want me to attend?" and "Which one will most adequately prepare me to do what God wants me to do?" The sooner the student knows God's general direction for his life, the sooner the field of choices can be narrowed. At some point during high school, usually the last two years of study, it is wise to narrow the college choices to two or three. Students should visit one or more colleges on "College Days."
  6. Apply To College
    Once the choices have been narrowed, application forms can be completed. It may be helpful to apply to several colleges. For one reason or another, a college may not accept a student's application.
    Once application has been made and the college has accepted the student, the student must decide on which one to attend. After that decision has been made, detailed plans and arrangements can begin.
  7. Seek Scholarships
    A college education is very expensive. However, there is help! Many schools and businesses offer scholarships to deserving students. It pays to check all scholarships that may be available to help reduce costs. Check the following Web sites to search for available scholarships:,,,, and Many scholarships can be obtained yearly, so it is wise to apply each year.

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Planning the High School Years

by Diana Johnson in The Old Schoolhouse magazine

There is something very comfortable about homeschooling elementary-age children. Our goals are easily understood. Teach a child to read and to love it. Build a basic fluency in math operations and concepts. Lay a foundation of history and science upon which future studies will anchor. Shape character with Bible reading and memory work. Pray that God will create within our child a heart that loves Him with sincerity. Success is possible, we trust, with God's help.

During this time we are the chief evaluators of our efforts. If not totally satisfied with our progress, we still have plenty of time for polishing. Then high school looms and our confidence often evaporates. We realize how close we are to ending our homeschool adventure with this child. The world, in the guise of a college admissions officer or an employer, will soon be evaluating whether we have succeeded at our homeschooling task. How absolutely frightening!

Fortunately, we can dilute this fear by carefully planning the high school years. This involves understanding the expectations that await our students when these four short years are over. These expectations may differ significantly from those of our personal homeschool. We may find it necessary to adapt ourselves and our ways.

As homeschoolers, we have often spent the elementary years individualizing for the needs of the student. Soon the personalities of professors and employers and the requirements of college course syllabi and job descriptions will place different demands and expectations on our students. Our students will need to gain some facility at learning and expressing themselves in all learning modes, not only the ones most comfortable for them.

Students will be required to take in and give back information in every style imaginable. Sometimes a rote recall of facts will be all that is necessary. Another time a thoughtful analysis of information with reasonable conclusions drawn will be required. Group projects will require a cooperative team spirit. The ability to skillfully express oneself orally, in writing, and through the work of one's hands will often be needed. These skills, so necessary for the college classroom, will be equally applicable in the workforce.

In addition to learning and performing in different modes, our students will be expected to have a solid core of information from which to draw. E.D. Hirsch's book of 1988, Cultural Literacy, was a timely reminder of that fact. Individuals, in order to both understand and function within the society in which they live, must understand the thoughts and ideas that have forged its identity. In our rapidly expanding global environment the need to understand cultures outside of our comfortable western ways also becomes necessary. Add to this the ability to evaluate the diverse influences of the world through the filter of God's wisdom and we have a formidable task! How do we accomplish all of this? By understanding the steps toward the goal and willingly and faithfully plodding toward it.

The first step is planning an equitable high school program. Start the process by finding out what courses a college admissions officer or employer will expect your student to have taken. State regulations, the suggested high school course of study from your local high school or state board of education, and college catalogs or admission packets can all provide a foundation upon which to build. With information in hand, choose what courses to take, and when.

Once basic courses are chosen, the time to individualize the program begins. Plan a careful blend of functionality and creative individualization. Basic courses may be pragmatically chosen, but they can be creatively individualized through the materials chosen to teach each class. Although textbooks, tests, and research papers may play a larger part in your program than in elementary years, you can still indulge a love for living books or hands-on activities. In addition, elective classes, chosen to strengthen a student's weaknesses and enhance individual talents, can be a highly creative part of any high school program.

After the program is planned and materials are chosen, establish an objective means for crediting and grading the student's work. A lack of objectivity in crediting and grading can be a problem for homeschoolers. It is an area where our lack of experience often shows itself. As homeschoolers, we are not schooling several hundred students whose work we can compare for quality. Yet when our student starts his first college semester or begins a career, he may find himself being evaluated by such standards. He needs to have some idea of how he will compare. An accurate assessment of your student's strengths and weaknesses will help him enter the college classroom or workforce with a realistic self-understanding.

Helping your student understand himself is not the only benefit of objective standards. Grades recorded on your student's high school transcript should have a reasonable agreement with the scores earned on college entrance tests. If there is a wide divergence between the two and high grades are not backed up by equally impressive test scores, you will undermine the credibility of your high school program.

Finally, plan a program that will prepare your student, if abilities allow, for additional training beyond high school. Although college is the most common next step, reputable trade schools or an apprenticeship with a well-respected tradesman can also be workable options. There is ample proof that individuals limited to a high school education are at a severe disadvantage in the workforce. We do not want our children to be counted in these sad statistics. In addition, God in his sovereignty does not tell us the details of His plan for the children He has entrusted to us. Young men that are not inclined to pursue college may change their mind after a few years in a low paying job. Our girls, though desiring to be wives and mothers, may find themselves single. Sometimes through hardship or unexpected widowhood they may find themselves in the role of breadwinner. A preparedness now for unexpected possibilities could prevent the poverty-level existence often brought on by a lack of job skills or education. God does not promise us an easier existence in this life than Christ endured. We must prepare our students the best we can for an unknown future.

Due to the brief nature of a magazine article, I have chosen to present the big picture of high school planning. For help with the nitty-gritty details, consider my book, Home-Designed High School. Information is presented in a concise and easy-to-understand manner for homeschoolers overwhelmed with their upcoming high school adventure. It provides help in planning an individualized course of study with the student's future goals in mind. Objective methods for crediting and grading courses are offered, along with examples that illustrate how to use these methods with textbook, living book, and project-based courses. Also included are transcript preparation, GPA calculation, testing and scholarship information, and an overview of the types of records often requested by colleges. A large section is devoted to the homeschool curriculum available that can help you meet your academic goals. If you are interested in more information, it can be found on my website, In the next issue we will consider college. Until then!

Diana Johnson is a pastor's wife, homeschool mom of 21 years, and manager of the homeschool department at the Scroll Christian Bookstore in Tyler, TX. Her publications include Home-Designed High School and When Homeschooling Gets Tough. For information, visit

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Homeschooling on the Rise

As the trend increases, the debate continues

To see the video go to

By Tom Costello
Correspondent NBC News
Updated: 7:59 p.m. ET Sept. 23, 2004

SARASOTA, Fla. - The day starts early in Linda Knipper's Sarasota classroom. Pencils are sharpened, books are out, eyes are focused - and "Knibbles," the dog, is under the table, at the children's feet.

For Laura, Kayla, and Megan, the classroom is just off their kitchen.

A former teacher, Linda says traditional schools simply waste too much time and she was convinced she can do better at home.

"I could be right there with them, and I just thought there was just a richer environment there for them," says Knipper.

She's not the only parent taking a more hands-on approach.

Across the country, home-schooling book fairs and magazines now cater to families - many of them religious - who are concerned about school violence, the social scene, and the quality of education.

"A lot of them are just tired of everything that goes on in the school system," says Karen Tompkins, a Christian home school advocate.

In Florida, the number of home-school students has nearly tripled over the past ten years. Nationally, the United States Department of Education says the number has swelled to more than a million kids. Home-school experts say it's even higher.

Oregon researcher Brian Ray, of the National Home Education Research Institute, estimates two million kids are now taught at home.

"In the last four years, we think home schooling has grown at least 30 percent," says Ray. "Study after study, many of which I've done, have shown that home-schooled children are well above average - 15 to 30 percentile points above on standardized achievement tests."

Ray points to last year's first and second place winners of the National Spelling Bee -- both home-schooled. And now even Harvard University says it accepts home-schooled applicants.

Still, skeptics say traditional schools are better at developing social skills, conflict resolution, even test-taking - and doubt whether home-schooled kids get enough hard science.

That's not so, say the parents, who often band together and turn to community colleges, 4H clubs, and the Internet for lesson plans and resources.

"I want them to develop a love of learning… a home-grown love of learning, to last a lifetime," says Linda Knipper.

© 2004 MSNBC Interactive

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Homeschooling Teens

Isabel Shaw

The Whys, and the Must-Haves
The idea of homeschooling through high school can be scary. Parents tell me, "I could never homeschool my teen - I barely got through some of my own high school classes!" But homeschool advocates are discovering there's a better way for teens to learn, and homeschooling your high-schooler may be easier than you think.

Why Homeschool?
It's not uncommon for homeschooled teens to complete four years of traditional high-school studies in 24 months or less. How can that be? Teens who learn at home are able to focus their energy and resources on the task at hand. With no distractions, it's amazing how efficiently kids learn. This principle is illustrated by the requirements for schooled kids who are unable to attend classes due to illness. Most schools require 1-1/2 to 5 hours of at-home instruction for each week of missed classroom learning.

Cafi Cohen -- author of And What About College? How Homeschooling Leads to Admission to the Best Colleges and Universities -- spent two full days observing public school classes. During those days, she kept track of administrative time versus on-task time. On-task time is roughly defined as students really doing something - reading, writing, listening to lectures, etc. Cohen discovered that less than one hour out of each six-hour school day was spent on-task. The bulk of the day was spent on administrative duties: taking attendance, collecting homework and reports, making announcements, passing out supplies, preparing for activities, cleaning up, and discipline - perhaps the biggest time-waster of all.

Many teens are also overwhelmed by the prospect of spending an hour or more a day on the school bus getting to and from school, only to be faced with three or more hours of homework in the evening. In the teen group I facilitate, teens stress wasted time as a major reason for homeschooling along with problems in the school environment: peer pressure, negative influences (drugs and sex), bullying, and even personal safety.

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Can Anyone Homeschool?
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Many states have no specific requirements regarding the educational background of parents who homeschool. Studies have shown that homeschooled students repeatedly outperform their schooled peers on standardized tests, regardless of a parent's level of formal education.

With a little planning, a little cooperation from your teen, (yes, sometimes they actually do cooperate!), and creative record keeping, you'll be packing your homeschooled kids off to college -- or wherever life's path will take them -- before you know it!

How Do I Start?
Investigate your homeschooling options, and then set up a workable plan with your teen. This should be an individualized program, based on your teen's strengths and weaknesses, passions, and learning style. Successful homeschoolers are those who break away from the "one-size-fits-all" curriculum, that most of us remember. Aim for a course of study that allows your kids the freedom to pursue their interests, cover the basics, and become a lifelong learner. The following books will show you exactly how to do this.

Must-Have Books for Homeschooling Teens

  • Homeschooling: The Teen Years -- Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 13- to 18-Year Old by Cafi Cohen. If you can buy only one homeschooling book, this is it.
  • Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook -- Preparing 12- to 18-Year-Olds for Success in the College of Their Choiceby Cafi Cohen . For kids with college in their future, Cohen provides valuable information and resources for both parents and teens.
  • The Teenage Liberation Handbook (a classic among homeschool families) and Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go to School, both by Grace Llewellyn. These books will inspire and guide your teen with real stories about kids who learn in freedom.
  • The Big Book of Home Learning: Junior High Through College by Mary Pride. An enormous collection of resources and advice from a homechooling veteran.
  • The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The 88 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling's Most Respected Voices by Linda Dobson. The best book for those new to homeschooling. Intelligent answers to just about every homeschooling question.
  • The Homeschooler's Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts by Loretta Heuer. Covers the most difficult aspect of homeschooling teens: maintaining accurate records.
    Teaching and Record Keeping

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What Subjects Do I Teach?
Homeschooling: The Teen Years by Cafi Cohen outlines how to set up and follow a high school curriculum. If your child plans to attend college, Cohen advises you to begin your studies with the following subjects:

  • Four years of language arts (English)
  • Three years of math (usually through Geometry or Algebra II)
  • Two to three years of science
  • Three to four years of social studies (History and Geography)
  • Two years of foreign language
  • Two years of electives (Music and Drama, for example)

If college is not in your teens' future, or at least not in the immediate future, he or she has more freedom choosing a course of study. The following books can help your teen decide the future path that is right for him:

  • Purchase a curriculum from a homeschool curriculum provider.
  • Use a correspondence or online school.
  • Use educational video courses (check with your library).
  • Hire a tutor.
  • Take an online class.
  • Use educational computer software.
  • Take a class at a community college.
  • Learn the material along with your teen.

Start your own class
Homeschoolers are often able to team up with other parents and create the classes their kids need. My girls wanted a French class, but private sessions were too costly. Group lessons (10 or more kids) were reasonable. I contacted homeschool support groups in my area and sent email messages to local homeschooling families to see if anyone was interested. In two days, I had 15 respondents, and eventually a waiting list!

You can often find resources right in your community — all you have to do is ask. Several parents of teens persuaded a retired chemistry teacher to teach their kids. Another group enlisted the help of a former English teacher, now a full-time mom, who set up a homeschool writing club in her home. And little persuasion was needed to convince an enthusiastic chess coach to start an official chess club for homeschoolers.

Record Keeping
It's wise to keep track of your teen's activities. Loretta Heuer's The Homeschooler's Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts will show you how. You may need to maintain accurate records to comply with your state's statutes, or to submit them if your child must reenter high school. Independent study programs also require record keeping. For college-bound kids, remember: The records you keep today will be used tomorrow to create a portfolio for college admissions.

Record keeping can be as simple as a daily journal, or filling in each activity on a large calendar. The level of detail shown in your records will depend on both your teen's goals and your homeschooling style.

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Diplomas and College

High School Diploma
Do homeschoolers need a high school diploma? Sometimes. Do they need a diploma from an accredited school? According to Cafi Cohen, "The experience of thousands of families indicates that the answer is 'almost never.'"

Cohen elaborates: "Every homeschooler can have a document verifying graduation from high school because -- as the principals and administrators of small private schools -- all homeschool parents can create their own diplomas." Are these diplomas recognized? "College admissions officers rely primarily on transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Most never ask about diplomas because typical applicants, high-school seniors, do not yet have them."

What about job applications? Cohen advises parents: "Employers care mostly about experience. By granting your own diploma, your teenager can answer "yes" to the diploma question on most job applications. And, interestingly, employers never seem to phrase the question this way: 'Do you have a diploma from an accredited high school?'"

The only exception may be the military. If you know your son or daughter plans to enlist in the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force, consider using an accredited diploma-granting independent-study program like Clonlara School or American School (    1-800-228-5600    ). Check with your local recruiter about current regulations for homeschool students.

GED High School Equivalency Diploma
The initials GED stand for General Education Development. The GED test measures how well someone has mastered the skills and general knowledge that are acquired in a four-year high school education. GED online is a special website dedicated to helping students prepare online for the GED High School Equivalency Test. For homeschool students desiring a formal diploma, the GED is another option.

If you're looking for a comprehensive guide covering just about every known approach to earning a college degree, Bear's Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally by John and Mariah Bear is for you. Read this book early - before you make your teen's college plans - it may change the way you homeschool!

Homeschoolers are accepted and welcomed at most colleges. Admissions policies vary, so plan ahead to meet the requirements of colleges that interest you. Generally speaking, testing requirements (ACT/SAT I & SAT II) are the same for homeschoolers and schooled kids. Click here for detailed information on admissions testing.

Most parents of teens who learn at home are motivated, resourceful, and determined to provide the best educational resources for their kids. When I ask parents of older homeschooled kids what they would change if they could do it over again, their replies are often the same: I would worry less, and enjoy my kids more. Sounds like good advice to me.

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College Admission for Homeschoolers

By: Dorothy Karman Jun-05

More and more home educated students are completing high school and entering college. In fact, many colleges actively recruit home educated students because they demonstrate independent learning and leadership skills. How do you prepare your child for admission into the college of his or her choice?

  1. Contact prospective colleges early. As early as 8th or 9th grade, write to colleges of interest to your child. Ask specifically for their homeschool admission policies. You may not know specific colleges, but if you have an idea of careers that might interest your child, you can go to the public library for reference books which list colleges and their majors. Barron's Profiles of American Colleges or Peterson's 4-Year Colleges are two such reference works.
    Colleges vary greatly in their requirements for home educated students. Some just want descriptions of what the student has studied, a list of books read in high school and some samples of the student's work. Others require a transcript with grades and both an admission test (like the SAT I or the ACT) and achievement tests in specific subjects (like the SAT II tests).
  2. Use the college policies to plan your child's high school course of study. You don't want your student to start filling out college applications in his or her junior year just to find out that he or she is disqualified. Work with your child as early as the beginning of 9th grade to meet the expectations of the colleges of interest. For example, the military academies base admission on a combination of academics, athletics, civic service and interviews. If your child is interested in one of the academies, you would want to make sure he or she was involved in sports and volunteering during the high school years.
  3. Keep records during high school. Whether the college is looking for a description of what has been studied or a transcript with grades, keep a record of what your child studied during the high school years. This can be in the form of grades given for each course or an education journal kept by your child. You don't want find yourself trying to reconstruct the high school years from memory.
  4. Conquer the alphabet soup of tests. Numerous tests are given to college bound students for both admission and advanced credit. Stop by your local high school counseling office and ask for information about the tests and the dates they are given.

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National Merit Scholarship test

PSAT/NMSQT, the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is given to high school juniors in October every year at both public and private schools. This test provides practice for the SAT I and qualifies students for National Merit Scholarships. Students can take it for practice in their sophomore year (if they have had algebra and geometry), but it only counts for the National Merit Scholarship when taken during the junior year. Check with your local public or private school for dates offered.

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Admission tests

SAT I, the Scholastic Assessment Test is one of the admission tests frequently used by colleges. It tests both reading, writing and mathematical skills. The SAT I is offered many different times during the year. Contact your local high school for test preparation materials and dates. You can purchase test preparation books and software which will prepare your child for both the test format and content.

SAT II tests are designed to measure proficiency in subject areas such as Math, Latin, History, etc. Some colleges will offer advanced placement for high scores on these tests. Other colleges actually require several SAT II tests for home educators to "verify the student's transcript." Even if not required by the college, the SAT II exams can provide more information to the admission officer and increase the likelihood of your child being accepted.

You can find out more about PSAT/ NMSQT, SAT I and the SAT II at the College Board web site Their web site also contains many helps for the college bound student.

ACT (American College Testing). Some colleges prefer the ACT. "The ACT Assessment, or 'A-C-T' as it is commonly called, is a national college admission examination that consists of tests in: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science Reasoning. ACT results are accepted by virtually all U.S. colleges and universities." (according to the ACT web site

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Advanced placement tests

Several tests are available which can give your student advanced placement or college credit. Students can take these tests as early as 9th grade if they have just covered the subject matter on the test.

AP (Advanced Placement) tests are also administered by the College Board. These are tests administered after taking college-level coursework in high school. Good scores on these tests can also help with college admission. (

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) was originally designed for adults who wanted to skip college classes that covered material they had already learned by independent study or work experience. Subjects covered are the basic general education requirements of most colleges and some business courses. Many homeschool students have gained college credit for courses by taking these tests. This program is also administered by the College Board. (

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What is the GED?

The GED is a high school diploma given by the General Educational Development (GED) Testing Service that is accepted in all 50 states by colleges and many employers as being equivalent to a high school diploma. Many colleges, in fact, require the GED from home educated students. Previously, homeschool students were required to have a GED to be eligible for federal financial assistance. Thanks to Home School Legal Defense Association and their work on H.R. 6 of 1998 "home schoolers qualify for financial aid simply by completing their home education - there is no longer a GED requirement." (Go to HSLDA's web site and search for "GED.") Taking the GED can make the path easier when applying to some schools and for employment, but some students avoid taking it because of the "stigma" of being a dropout which is attached to the GED.

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Community Colleges

Many homeschoolers attend community college during or right after high school. Once a student has a proven track record by taking a year at the community college, many universities waive all other admission requirements. Homeschool students may be able to start taking classes at the community college as early as 16 years old. Check with your local community college for early admission policies.

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Financial Aid for College

Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be picked up from any high school counseling office in November. In addition the FAFSA website allows on-line registration and can be accessed at All federal financial aid is accessed through this one form and much private financial aid as well. The FAFSA is used whether a student is planning to attend a university, community college or vocational/technical school.

The FAFSA should be mailed in as soon as possible or completed on-line after the first of the year, as colleges start putting together financial aid packages March 1 and the funds are limited. Do not mail or complete it on-line in December, or they will think the application is for the previous year.

The information required on the FAFSA includes all of the student's finances and all family's finances. Whoever is involved in doing the family's income tax forms will be involved in filling out the FAFSA. Many high schools have workshops helping parents fill out the forms. See a public high school counselor or the financial aid office at the college of your choice for more information.

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Homeschoolers in college

Homeschool students are going to college and succeeding. You can find more information about specific colleges and their requirements for homeschool students by going to HSLDA's web site ( and searching on "college." Read the summary of the 1999 college survey. You'll be encouraged that more and more colleges are accommodating home educated students.

Reprinted with permission from the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network, 17985 Falls City Rd., Dallas, OR 97338. Originally published June 2005.

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