Why Our Daughter Chose Homeschooling for High School… and Why I’m Secretly Happy About That

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Why Our Daughter Chose Homeschooling for High School… and Why I’m Secretly Happy About That

We’re now on the third and final loop of our 9-month monster RV road trip – it’s about time! This is the leg of the journey we’ve been looking forward to from the onset… the trip out west!

We’re hopeful that we saved the best for last. We had a lot of fun doing our road trip out west in 2020 and the one we took in 2022 – and those were just sleeping in the back of a Honda Pilot. Being able to spend a little more time enjoying the areas we appreciated so much should be even nicer.

In the meantime, our 13-year-old daughter, Faith, is continuing her homeschooling. She’s been doing this now for 5 years. Even though it was initially intended to be sort of a bridge to a different school when we moved to Panama back in 2019, it’s become something good for her and also for us as a family. Heck, we couldn’t be on this huge road trip around the country in the first place if she was in a physical school.

But… all good things must come to an end, right?

We’re at the tail end of the school year and we’ve put the onus on Faith to decide if she wants to go to a bricks-and-mortar high school next year or continue homeschooling. There’s no doubt that each has its pros and cons and Faith knows that, too, and that made her unsure which to choose for a while. Don’t worry – she’s a mature kid who can handle this and we’re helping her understand the good and bad of both options.

But she needed to finally decide because we’re wrapping up the road trip probably around the beginning of June. If she wants to continue homeschooling, it’s not that big of a deal. If she wants to go to a physical school though, the choice as to where to move to becomes a little more pressing. We would need to figure out a neighborhood with a good school system, move into the neighborhood, and enroll her in the school system.

If you didn’t figure it out from the title though, she’s decided that she wants to continue homeschooling… at least for the 9th grade.

In a way, this does make me “secretly” happy, but it’s probably not for the reasons you think…

How the homeschooling journey began and continued…

If you’re new to the Route to Retire adventures, Faith started homeschooling back in 2019 when we moved to Boquete, Panama. It was definitely different and it took some getting used to for everyone, but it’s worked out well overall.

It’s given us a chance to be involved in her education directly, including her curriculum. We can help her in areas she struggles with and she can pass through the areas she’s good in more quickly. When you’re not in a classroom full of kids at various levels of understanding, the day can be much more efficient and quick. A typical school day tends to only be about 4 hours, but I feel like she’s learning a lot more in that short of time than she likely would in a physical school.

Plus, living as an expat in a foreign country for those few years provided opportunities to take some outstanding field trips that not many kids get a chance to experience!

Homeschooling has come a long way since the stigma it had decades ago. Now there are so many organized curriculums to choose from that can help you get the right structure in place or if don’t want to directly do the formal teaching yourself. It doesn’t hurt that the power of the internet means most of the teaching can be through instructional course videos, along with quizzes and tests to ensure your kid’s on track!

Not every kid is a good candidate for this though. We’ve been lucky that Faith has adapted fairly well. She now gets up a lot of times in the morning before we even do and jumps right into her schooling for the day. She’s currently doing a combination of using Study.com for some of the curriculum as well as a lot of reading, learning Spanish on Duolingo, and personal finance.

Although Lisa spent a lot of time teaching her when we first got started, Faith now does most of this herself unless she runs into something she can’t research and figure out herself. In the meantime, part of the homeschooling schedule on Fridays is personal finance. Sometimes that’s her and I having a discussion, sometimes it’s her reading a book from my highly recommended reading list, or sometimes it’s listening to an episode of The Clark Howard Show, which I wish everyone would do.

Next year, she’ll be reading the awesome book from JL Collins called, The Simple Path to Wealth. I’ve been teaching her many of these concepts for a few years, but JL does a fantastic job of pulling this all together and explaining it in a language anyone can understand.

Homeschooling has been great for Faith and she’s done well with it. When we first started this, I was a little worried that she wasn’t going to learn as much as kids in regular schools, but I think it’s been the opposite for the most part. She’s a smart kid and I think she’s probably learning as much, if not a lot more, than most kids her age. That’s because she’s getting a combination of the school side of the equation as well as a lot of real-life experiences that we teach on the fly throughout the day.

Of course, the flexibility homeschooling provides has worked well for us, too. We started it because we weren’t ready to put her in an international school in Panama but over the years, it means we can travel a lot more together without worrying too much about her school schedule. I mean, we’ve been traveling the country in an RV now since October of last year!

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Yeah, but what about the socialization side of things?

Without fail, the elephant in the room always comes down to the socialization aspect. That was a worry of ours in the beginning, too.

After all, most kids spend the majority of each year in a school with hundreds of other kids. A homeschooler doesn’t have that opportunity to make friends otherwise, right?

The good news is that our concern was relatively unwarranted. When we were living in Panama, Faith started taking horseback riding lessons there as an extracurricular activity. She met another homeschooler there and these two became the best of friends. Faith, her Panama bestie, and some other girls there have had a lot of fun over the years. Even though we moved back to the U.S., she’s constantly in touch with them through texting and video chats… all day long – just like you’d expect a teenage girl to be doing.

Then once we moved back to Ohio, Faith started horseback riding lessons here (she loves horses! 🙂 ). She enjoyed it and found out she could also volunteer there… so she started doing that. And wouldn’t you know, she made friends with a girl at this place who also homeschools. Now these two have become best friends.

While in Ohio, Faith spends a ridiculous number of hours “at the barn” volunteering with her best friend and some other friends she made there. She absolutely loves it there and they’re constantly texting each other all the time when not there… and texting with her friends from Panama the rest of the time.

The point is that homeschooling isn’t the social disaster that many still view it as being. It helps that Faith’s outgoing enough to make friends, too.

That being said, I think the harder part for her is that we’ve been moving around too much. We moved to Boquete, Panama in 2019 and she made some good friends and then we moved away in 2022. She makes more good friends in Ohio and then we hit the road for a 9-month road trip.

Once we get back from this trip in a couple of months, we’re going to try to stay put in Ohio for a while to let Faith enjoy her time with her friends.

Ah, they grow up so fast… now decide on high school!

When we first started these adventures, Faith was young. She was only 8 years old when I retired and 9 when we moved to Panama. Early retirement granted me my wish to spend more time together with her for several years as she was growing up. But now she’s almost 14 – the “quality time with Mom and Dad” train has mostly run its course. She’s a teenager and it’s time for her to spend more time doing “teenager” things and a little less time with the family.

It was a good run though!

So what does all this mean?

For the past couple of years, we’ve let Faith decide what she wanted to do each year – homeschool or physical school. Last summer, she decided that she wanted to do her 8th-grade year homeschooling. She was also thinking at the time that she would want to go to a physical school for the start of high school (fall of 2024). She understands the plusses and minuses of both and, at the time, wanted the opportunity to go to high school for the socialization side of things.

Well, after making such a good friend at the equestrian center in Ohio (along with her other friends there), she’s decided that she’s going to continue homeschooling… at least for her freshman year of high school. She’ll then need to decide next year if she wants to do the same for her sophomore year… and then again for her junior and senior years.

So it looks like we’re going to have a high school homeschooler for next year. When we started this years ago, I never would have anticipated it continuing for so long.

But, I’m also pretty glad about it…

Why I’m “secretly” happy about this decision

For a while, I was leaning toward wanting Faith to transition to a physical high school. Again, it goes back to the social side of things. I mean, my post from last week, The Art of Aging Well: Navigating Friendship and Mortality, was inspired by recently spending time with my closest friends from high school again. I completely understand how important it is to build and grow friendships.

In my high school days, we didn’t have cell phones and our home phones were shared with everyone in the family so it was just easier to go hang out with each other. We spent most of our time constantly by each other’s sides – hanging out at each other’s houses, biking (and then later driving) all over town together, and just being physically around each other.

But we need to realize that that was during a different age and times have changed – they always do. Most teenagers don’t hang out the same way I used to years ago. They spend more time texting and video chatting than they do actually hanging out. It’s sort of strange to see from the outside but that’s just the way it tends to be nowadays.

So, I changed my tune a little. And since Faith never seems to have a hard time making close friends – even while we’re moving around so much – maybe this isn’t a big worry after all. Faith spends hours and hours with her friends at the equestrian center, too, so I’m not concerned.

Besides, if she’s making such great friends with us moving around so much, it should be even easier when we stay put when we get back!

Now, when I say “stay put”, I mean that hopefully, we’re not moving away so much. We’ll still be doing lots of traveling. And we’re hoping to do a lot more in 2025 – just in smaller bouts of just a week or so at a time.

But if you were thinking that the reason I’m secretly happy about having a high school homeschooler is because we have the flexibility to travel and do things during the school year and week, you’d be incorrect. Don’t get me wrong – that benefit is huge and makes travel tremendously easier, cheaper, and less crowded since we can schedule our plans during those times.

But that’s not the big reason.

We’ve been supportive of either option (physical school or homeschooling for high school) because both have their strong and weak points. However, homeschooling by its nature removes a lot of the problem of those horrible cliques and cattiness that so many girls experience in high school. Girls can be outright mean to each other sometimes. Hmm, I feel like there was some sort of great movie about some mean girls…

As a male, I didn’t have to deal with this in my high school years (though we had our own issues), but I do know that high school can be difficult for teenage girls. I also know from friends and family just how much harder it’s become nowadays for their teenage daughters than it was in our generation.

I wouldn’t have let this be a factor for Faith in deciding whether to do homeschooling or not for high school, but it’s still a relief in my mind. Figuring yourself out as a teenager can be hard regardless, but when these types of problems come into play, it can be even more difficult. So that’s just one less potential issue to go through in her life… unless she decides to do a physical high school down the line.

As a bonus, I can also say that it’s nice not to worry about some other kid who loses his (or her) mind from having his own issues and starts shooting up the school. Granted, shootings can happen anywhere, not just in schools, but it’s a comfort not to have that concern for a portion of the day.

So, for what it’s worth, our daughter will be homeschooling as she starts her freshman year of high school in the fall.

She’s planning to knock out some college during high school as well through different avenues such as college credit through Study.com, taking CLEP exams, and/or taking college courses at a local university. That’s a tough load for a kid but it’s something she wants to do and it’ll be a little easier to do while homeschooling because of her shorter school day and the flexibility she has to rearrange her homeschooling classes as needed.

Will this all work out? I’m sure it will.

Will it work out as expected? Probably not.

Life changes all the time and you can’t expect it to be a perfect road or you’ll be let down routinely. All you can do is look at what you know today and make the decision that makes the most sense. Then re-evaluate routinely to see what’s changed and determine if you need to adjust course.

That’s the way life works and I’m glad that Faith is already seeing that the “normal” path in life isn’t always the best one. For her, this makes sense. Homeschooling works well for her and hopefully, it will in high school as well. If not, she’ll change directions – no harm, no foul.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

— Wayne Gretzky

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

14 thoughts on “Why Our Daughter Chose Homeschooling for High School… and Why I’m Secretly Happy About That”

  1. My 2 cents (aka unsolicited advice)…
    High school is a trash bin, I would skip it. To go from the flexibility and freedom Faith has had most of her life to the structured grind? I just don’t see it. As soon as Faith can pass whatever test is required for a community college (my kids took the Compass test), I would have her taking CCP (College Credit Plus in Ohio). You can take CCP classes as early as 7-8 grade. Books and tuition are free (up to 30 credits a year). You get dual credit. The fact that she is used to doing things online is perfect. You take a lot, if not all those gen ed courses online to knock them out. Take all the core courses in person depending on major. You have the freedom to try different things to figure out what you enjoy and might want to do as a career. And if she does well it doesn’t have to stay at the CC level. Many private and state schools participate. My son’s friend is finishing his EE degree 2 years after high school next month. Mine will finish in 3 with a very light spring load. With the cost of college being stupid high and the fact that a degree doesn’t have the same value as when we went to school makes it a win win. I can’t recommend it enough…

    1. I love unsolicited advice! 😉 No, I really do! That’s amazing on what your kids did and the buddy knocking out his EE degree. I need to dig into some of these things more – and quick- so we can get Faith rolling. I haven’t heard of the Compass test so I’ll look that up and look into everything CCP entails. Thanks, Scott – very much appreciated and congrats on raising kids like rock stars!!

  2. I did a quick search of Stark State CCP and they use Accuplacer. These are standardized tests in case the student hasn’t taken the ACT etc. Usually you have to pass a reading or English comp section to take most classes and a math section for placement into the appropriate level. My kids took them at the school at the time. They might do them online now. Good Luck! If you have any questions, just ask.

  3. Great choice! Our daughter will have to decide on homeschooling for high school next year. Do you use Modern States to get the CLEP for free? It’s a great resource. Happy travels!

  4. For me, the “free play” social side of high school was not so good. I was very immature, and I was still more mature than most. Organized stuff like football and drama made HS tolerable. That, and I was wicked smart, at least in comparison to peers. Then I faded off….

    1. Haha, I loved the “faded off” part, which doesn’t seem accurate at all based on all the great input you give on my blog posts! Yeah, high school can be a mixed bag for sure. I enjoyed it for the most part, but only after I hit the lowest of lows before changing my attitude completely. If I hadn’t, who knows where I’d be today except for maybe 6′ under. That’s the nice thing about homeschooling – you don’t need to spin that mixed bag roulette wheel.

  5. Chiming in here, with 5 homeschool kids successfully launched.
    The hardest part for me was being their Guidance Counselor, as they begin to choose their path beyond high school.
    Previous posters here have great advice, as you learn about CLEPs, ACT, AP, Dual Enrollment, etc.
    You three can work together to determine what options are available to Faith, and what programs interest her.
    (I look forward to hearing how your CamperHighSchooling goes!)

    1. That’s interesting on the guidance counselor part of things. I have thought about that a little before and had been curious if there was some person/place that she could discuss things with, but I never dug into it. Guess now I know… it falls on us! 🙂

      1. You three will do fine. My new mantra is that there are Pros and Cons with every choice.
        It’s just a wonderful way to pursue your daughter’s (and your family’s) unique path.

  6. Faith sounds like an amazing young lady. I’m sure she’ll do just fine with homeschooling. She isn’t the typical American teenager and she will chart her own path.
    Our son is much more typical. He wants to fit in and he’s doing well in regular school. That’s okay too.

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