Giving High Schoolers More Educational Independence

Homeschool as a medium is naturally flexible. As long as a homeschool meets the requirements from its state, its teachers and students can do what they want within those restrictions. I, for example, have had the opportunity to participate in multiple types of curricula from virtual reality and video-based schooling to regular textbook learning and even unschooling for a while.

However, sometimes it’s not possible for every homeschool academy to stretch that much. Homeschooled kids (even high school ones) are just that: kids, and many homeschool teachers choose to structure and plan their entire curriculum for them. This has advantages and disadvantages. It’s not a bad thing for students to be exposed to subjects they wouldn’t choose to learn on their own. When working within a rigid learning structure each semester, though, students may have subjects they’re interested in that aren’t included in their curriculum. How do these students learn (or convince their teachers to teach) the information they really want to learn?

Talk it over, teacher to student… but before school starts

Communication about school work between teacher and student is important in any context, but especially within this one. Even though a homeschool teacher often has the opportunity to witness their students’ interests firsthand, teaching them is an entirely different matter. For this reason, it’s a good idea for teachers to sit down with their students and talk about what the student wants to learn and what the teacher is capable of teaching before starting school.

Speaking of “before starting school”, it’s more difficult to add a new subject to a child’s curriculum when the child is in the middle seven or eight schoolbooks housing an assortment of knowledge they’ll forget over summer break. If a student has a subject they want to learn or might want to learn, it’s best that their teachers plan for teaching it before the next semester of school has actually started.

If you’re unsure, look for free, online materials to test the waters

High school subjects are fundamentally more advanced than middle and elementary school subjects. That’s why other than being knowledgeable in the subjects or spending time to learn them along with their students, high school homeschool teachers sometimes have to offload their teaching to someone a bit more qualified and help work through difficult problems if necessary. It’s also why introducing a new subject outside the teacher’s comfort zone but within the student’s interests can be intimidating.

Fortunately, we live in the twenty-first century. For almost every interest a student has, there are free resources from videos to articles online that can teach it. If a student participates in some of these and is still interested in learning more about the subject, it may be time to consider adding it to their curriculum – at least as an elective.

Or…take the initiative on your own

If you’re a homeschool student and there’s a subject you really want to learn, nothing is stopping you from doing it on your own time. With the aforementioned free, online materials at hand, a mildly savvy student can spend their out-of-school hours learning whatever they want to. And while some students would hem and haw about adding another extra workload, if you enjoy it, then is it really work?

Homeschool students who want to learn more about their interests or improve their field of specialty have plenty of opportunities. Some homeschool curricula are more flexible than others, but every homeschooler can find ways to learn what they’re interested in. And in the end, isn’t that the one of the main goals of school? To encourage learning?

June 8, 2012


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