Homeschooling High School: Our Family's Journey

Reposted from our former website. Thanks for your inspiring story and the encouragement to tackle high school, Susan!

by Susan Ragle: Homeschool Mom, Community guest blogger, Support Group Leader, Disney Addict

"Ten years ago this summer, my family began our homeschool journey. Today, we are the proud parents of a college graduate student, Lauren, and a wonderful 11th grader, Katy."

So there I was back in 2003, at my first homeschool conference, unsure of what to do. I was afraid. “What if I mess up?” You know this question; it is a question we all ask ourselves. But, we felt led to homeschool our daughters, so I dove in head first. I had done my research and knew what curriculum I wanted to buy. I went to the first conference and joined everything in site (HSLDA, MHEA, and Bartlett-Wolfchase). I purchased all new curricula from Bob Jones University. We had decided to leave Katy in the public school system and homeschool Lauren through high school and then pull Katy out and homeschool her from sixth through high school. Things have a way of changing, as you will see. Then it was time to homeschool. We had a good first year; a test year. It was a year for Lauren and I to get used to being together virtually all of the time. We leaned things about our chosen curriculum and how we wanted to change things up for the following year. We also learned that French was not her favorite language and this prompted a change to Latin (which comes in very hand for her chosen field). You see, Lauren had decided at age 11 that she wanted to be a doctor. In our minds, we always thought “MD”. Turns out God meant PhD as you shall see.

In our second year to homeschool Lauren was able to join Bellevue’s Victory Marching Band (as she had several years of band experience in the public school setting) and she also became a member of Eta Chapter of the National Homeschool Honor Society. She was also very active in Girl Scouts. Throw in academics on top of all that, and she was one very busy girl. I just have to laugh when people ask me about homeschooling and socialization. I will tell you now; our girls were/are way more active as homeschoolers than they ever where as public school students.
Junior year saw an addition to our homeschooling activities; we pulled Katy out of the public school system and went ahead and brought her home. She had a horrible third grade year at the local elementary school and we could just not send her back. So, we laid done some rules and for the next two years, I homeschooled both girls. Lauren’s junior year also showed us something significant. We enrolled her in Crichton College as they had a program for homeschool high school students to come and participate in their chemistry lab. I knew I could not do this at home, and wouldn’t you know – this is where Lauren fell in LOVE with chemistry. So she knew her what her college major would be, though we still did not yet know her path. It was just a simple thing of me driving her down to that college once a week for a lab class and she KNEW.
Senior year for Lauren continued to be busy. She started taking the ACT her junior year and continued for a couple more times her senior year. She even took the SAT once “just to see what it is like.” She started her college applications that fall. One of the things I had her to do for a “class” her senior year, was to research for college scholarships and to apply for the ones she qualified for. When Christmas got close, she had several offers from the colleges she applied to (six) and narrowed her decision down to two. Then ultimately it came down to receiving full scholarships at the University of Memphis.
Lauren graduated with honors with MHEA in 2007. In 2011, she graduated with honors from University of Memphis – a four year Biochemistry degree for $10 (Those science fees that last semester were killer!). She now is graduate student at the University of Memphis pursuing her doctorate in Bio-Organic Chemistry – and they pay her! I could not have dreamed for it to be any better. Who knew 10 years ago this is where she would be?
Now we are training up Katy. Katy has discovered a love of bowling (she comes from a long line of bowlers on her dad’s side) and she bowls on the MHEA Varsity team. She loves her youth group and does as much with them as she can. She is my artistic child. So, for Katy, we are looking into schools with art programs. This summer she attended a week-long art camp at Freed- Hardeman University (right now her #1 choice university) and absolutely LOVED it! She is all about creativity and takes amazing photographs. Katy will also be doing dual enrollment this year. This is something we did not do with Lauren because at the time it was still too new, untried, and pricey.
With Katy, I was a little more adventuresome with our curriculum choices and as the years have passed and we have had her tested each year, I see where I might need to tweak some areas (personally, a good reason to test) and have tried several different curricula. Even with just two years left, we have made some major curricula changes for this coming year. I am really thinking outside the box.
So what did we do? How did we train up these amazing young women? I really feel like at times we did a lot, and other times, not much at all. We put God first. He is the one who got us here, He is the one who has helped us all along the journey, and He is the one that has made all of this possible.