A little over a year ago, a neighbor approached me–full of concern for a friend, who was wondering how to start homeschooling midyear. Second semester was well underway–but her friend found herself in crisis-mode and in search of alternative educational choices for her daughter in high school. The friend was facing a divorce–which involved moving. The logistics of keeping the daughter in her current high school to finish the school-year were impossible–totally not an option. However, the sweet girl didn’t want to go to a new high school. My heart broke for the teen. I know how traumatic it is when your family falls apart–but I can’t imagine the added stress of attending a new (not-so-good) school midyear. It was just too much–time for emergency homeschooling.
Homeschooling is a huge decision and commitment and should never be taken lightly–but sometimes you find yourself or a loved one in crisis mode. And you should know that homeschooling is a real option to help you through–even if it’s just a quarter or semester. Or perhaps, homeschooling becomes a permanent educational choice for your family. This is my 14th year homeschooling–I love it. But I’m also a former elementary public school teacher and former virtual school teacher–so I know about those options as well. And I know all too well about emergency homeschooling…
Our Mid-Year Homeschool Story
My oldest two children attend our public high school (which is a story for another day–they were homeschooled up to that point). During our public high school experience, my son needed to come home part-time for health reasons.
But our school was LOVELY. And supportive in every way. They structured a schedule for him that he felt good about, and he became a duel enrolled student. He attended class at the high school every other day, mostly for electives. And we homeschooled English, Math, and Chemistry the other days! We followed our state’s guidelines (Kansas)–please be sure to check your state’s requirements before making any homeschooling decisions and for help in withdrawing your child from traditional school.
Unique Homeschool Options:
For my family, a blended homeschool/public school experience was the best solution. Emergency homeschooling will look different for each family and circumstance. In our situation, my son really wanted to graduate with his class. His goal was to rejoin his classmates full-time the following year. Your child may just be in elementary or middle school–so graduation might not even be on your radar! Your goal may be to leave traditional school permanently. Regardless of what grade level you will be homeschooling or how long you plan to homeschool–please know that you can do it! God is with you and leading you through this difficult time–I pray that homeschooling will be a comfort and blessing to you and your family!
Here are the options I shared with my sweet neighbor looking to help her friend:
Option 1. Public (or any Private/Traditional) School:
*Look into going part-time. For high schoolers, in particular, perhaps only attend core classes required for graduation. Maybe your child can skip some electives and have early dismissal, or like my son: go every-other day. If this is something you want, partner with your school’s counselor and/or social worker. Become allies!
*Ask about credit-recovery options that can be done at home, or if there are some kind of online/work-at-home options available (often given to students who have extended illnesses).
*School counselor or Social Worker may be a good contact about these options!
Option 2. Homeschooling for Remainder of School Year:
You may decide that you’re ready to homeschool independently. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to give it a try and now seems like the perfect time! The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a treasure trove of information to get you started!
It can be difficult deciding on curriculum when you start homeschooling midyear. If you have a younger student or you plan to homeschool long-term, purchase curriculum that matches up with their grade or skill level (many curriculums offer free placement testing). If you need to finish it over the summer or the next school year, no worries!
Here are some other curriculum options to get you through short-term situations:
**Khan Academy offers free classes in nearly every subject area—a cost-effective way to finish the school year.
I taught my son 10th grade part-time at home. Here’s what I did:
We used Khan Academy to work through Chemistry.
I did not use a formal curriculum for English. Instead, we chose about 2-4 literature pieces to study each quarter. You can find many literature guides online and on Amazon. He wrote responses to each piece. We also focused on one larger writing project each quarter—persuasive paper, compare-contrast paper, etc…I ordered a vocabulary/grammar workbook from Amazon for his grade level—these are usually inexpensive, and there are a lot of good choices. My son liked The Only Grammar and Style Workbook You’ll Ever Need (and there is a guide book called The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need).
We used Saxon Math (Algebra 2)—I’ve used Saxon Math since my kids were in kindergarten. I love it! You can find placement testing on their website. (Saxon isn’t really a short-term fix…but I knew it would fit with what my son had been studying in school. Plus we felt so comfortable using the curriculum–there was no awkward transitional time wasted trying to figure out how to use it best).
Please note that if you choose to return to the public school system (which includes Virtual Charter/Public Schools)—that school may or may not accept your homeschool credit! Keep work samples and record any books/materials you use. I created a transcript and course descriptions to give our school when my son returned (which were ultimately accepted). I use Lee Binz, The HomeScholar’s products to help me both write course descriptions and create transcripts. She is amazing! Check out her free webinars and resources if you are homeschooling high school!
More Short-term Curriculum Choices
**Another great curriculum I currently use and plan on using with my middle school daughter through high school is called Tapestry of Grace. It follows a Classical Model, and students cycle through history every 4 years. Tapestry of Grace (TOG) includes literature, writing, history, geography, and other electives (philosophy, bible, art/music). At first glance, TOG looks a little overwhelming—but just pick the subjects and activities you want from it. One of my favorite features of Tapestry of Grace is its multi-level structure– you can use it from Kindergarten through Grade 12! Perfect for multiple children in multiple grades! They offer TWO free 3 week samples on their website—one covering Ancient Egypt and the other covering Colonial America. You can definitely use the samples to get through a quarter of the school year (some people stretch each week out for 2 weeks)!
**You may consider independent study for Science—allowing your child to research/explore an area or topic. So many great resources—online, library, Netflix…You may not need to do science at all—each school district has different requirements for graduation. For example—we only need 3 credits Science credits for graduation in our school district.
**For the last quarter of Math, you might consider something like personal finance—I know Dave Ramsey has some great resources/curriculum created for middle school and high school students. I’ve never tried them—but I would love to!
Option 3. Virtual School
Most states offer some type of public virtual/charter schools. My state (Kansas) has several excellent Virtual School Options—these are considered public schools and are available to students living anywhere in the state. Virtual Public Schools often offer high school programs and issue diplomas upon completion. Check your local options out online. Many of them hold information sessions for prospective students and their families throughout the spring and summer. Enrollment may not be open year-round—but it may be an option to consider for the next school year.
Option 4: Community College
(Obviously–this option only applies to high schoolers!). I have homeschool mom friends who enroll their high school juniors and seniors in our local community college for at least some of their course work. The parents then give their kids high school credit for the college classes–also known as dual credit or dual enrollment.
Change Can be a GREAT Thing!
As hard as change is–sometimes it’s the catalyst for something great…If your family’s journey has been difficult and has now brought you to a place of change and transition, my heart and prayer is that your strength and joy will be renewed. May this new chapter in your child’s education be a fresh start and filled with blessings!
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions (leave a comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org)!
P.S. Pinterest is one of my favorite places for homeschooling ideas and inspiration–follow my boards!