by J. Allen Weston – Executive Director – Home Learning Association
The high school years are some of the most critically important to be homeschooled. As young men and women enter their teen years they start to get a real sense about what is most important to them and they have a natural instinct to want to make the world a better place. In a public school setting teens are often taught that their opinions, hopes and dreams generally are irrelevant. They’re typically told that until they are officially adults they must continue to do as they are told and in many cases to even think what they are told. This is especially true when teachers expect their students to regurgitate, on tests, the exact same information and opinions that the teachers have force fed to them over and over.
This is a tragic waste since some of the best out-of-the-box ideas have come from teenagers who have not had their creativity and ambition “schooled” out of them. Fortunately more and more high school aged children are being homeschooled and the potential for great innovation, from these young adults, is limitless, especially if their ideas are given the respect they often deserve.
One organization that is completely convinced of the potential of these Terra Scholars (homeschoolers) is the Home Learning Association (HLA). The HLA is trying very hard to provide opportunities for students of all ages to get the support and recognition they deserve including specifically those in their high school years. Recognizing that there were many programs and activities that were available in public high schools but were not available for homeschoolers, the HLA set out to change just that.
Types of Programs and Activities Available
The HLA has established many such programs and activities. Starting with a special debate program called “Solutions Debate” that allows students to work together each year, using their analytical and critical thinking skills, to find a real solution to a real problem with the intention of actually attempting to implement the solution if it seems genuinely viable.
Other programs include state and national level student council(s), a nationwide virtual science fair, national level showcases for many different talents including dance, singing, bands, individual instruments, art of all kinds, writing of all kinds and film making. There is also a special category called MAD-V’s. “Make-A-Difference- Videos” (MAD-V’s) will bring to light problems in the world that make the students mad enough to make them want to get involved to try to come up with ways to make-a-difference.
Then to make sure that high school age Terra Scholars continue to have outlets for their ingenuity, inspiration and determination all year long the HLA offers an Ambassador program (for those who like to give speeches), a Docu-league (for aspiring documentary film-makers) and a yearly adventure travel opportunity. The 2014 adventure should be particularly interesting as the HLA plans to fill the Huntsville, Alabama Space Camp facility to its capacity with homeschool families that want to learn more about space and experience many aspects of real astronaut training. The HLA will even be sponsoring fundraising activities all year long to help those that might need to raise some extra cash to be able to participate.
The HLA also offers an exclusive social network just for members where cyber-bullies, phantom accounts and on-line predators are virtual impossibilities because of the procedures used to establish accounts.
Over the coming months there will even be a “Future Business Leaders” program, a “Create-your-own-course” program, Community projects to get involved with, mentorship and apprenticeship opportunities as well as a whole host of opportunities for those who are graduating. The HLA offers Association “accredited” diplomas, a “Graduate Registry” and soon a placement agency for homeschool graduates. One of HLA’s affiliates is currently contacting every tech school, college and university to determine its level of interest in recruiting homeschoolers and what scholarship programs might be available to them. The HLA is also working in conjunction with another affiliate to establish a university where students can design their own degree programs using free classes being offered over the internet, CLEP and DSST credits, work experience, etc.
With all of these programs now available through the HLA to supplement what the local and State support groups are doing, there truly is no disadvantage to homeschooling through the high school years and the advantages are too numerous to count. Just letting students know that their opinions and efforts truly have value, even before they become official adults, will make a world of difference in the lives of those Terra Scholars. Complete details about the HLA and its programs can be found at their website.