Home Schooling Basics
Many parents choose to home school their children for a variety of reasons. Some parents want to provide a more rigorous academic focus, or they want to tailor their child's education to their learning style. Others keep their children home for religious reasons or for safety concerns. Families that choose to home school come from varied backgrounds and ethnicities; they may have strong political or religious beliefs.
As of 2014, the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) reported there were about 2.2 million students being home schooled in the U.S. Today, home-based curricula, which are often guided by the state, can not only be taught by parents or tutors, but also by online charter schools. Depending on the region, home-schooled students may be able to participate in public school classes, athletic teams and extracurricular activities.
Academics and Graduation
NHERI reports that home-schooled students do not appear to fall behind their public school educated peers academically. The institute also notes that as of 2014, home-schooled learners scored an average of 15-30 percentile points higher on standardized tests than their public school counterparts.
According to the nonprofit group Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), home-educated students preparing for graduation should generally have completed the following courses:
- At least two years of a secondary language
- 2-4 years of history
- 2-4 years of science
- 2-4 years of math
- 4 years of English
In order to prepare for college, home-educated students can take the same advanced courses as students in public schools. This means participating in Advanced Placement classes or enrolling in college-level courses. In addition, home-schooled students at the junior and senior levels are advised to take the SAT, ACT or both.
Graduation Ceremonies, Diplomas and Transcripts
Graduation ceremonies among home-schooled kids are becoming more common. Once a year, many regional and religious home-school organizations provide graduation ceremonies for a nominal fee. What's more, graduation gear suppliers who cater to home-school students help evoke a sense of celebration by selling caps, gowns and class rings.
As far as diplomas go, certain accredited schools and organizations provide them for home-schooled students who have followed a prescribed academic sequence. The same company that provides graduation gowns and class rings might also provide blank diplomas. If these options aren't available, the person who oversees the students' education can create and issue formal diplomas.
Arguably more important than a diploma are transcripts, which are needed to apply to college. Consequently, parents and other home-school teachers should keep strict records of the classes their students have taken, as well as course-specific achievements and overall GPAs.
Check out this article on college search tips that can help home-schooled and traditional students after graduation.