Planning for High School Part 1 – Choices & Laws to Know

Written by Shannon

At the end of June I announced this month I’d be talking about Planning for High School, and today we begin that series.

I’ve purposely waited until now to begin, because it’s important to take those breaks as homeschooling parent. To find time to rest and decompress in between seasons.

As homeschoolers we have tons of options and choices, and there are no two home schools exactly alike.

Some of our choices are parenting decisions.
Some are choices we would have to make no matter the educational choice. 
And some are educational and administrative decisions as a homeschool.

In the US, if you choose to enroll your teen in the local public high school and receive what is called a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” (FAPE), there would be still be some choices to make, planning decisions to be made, based on the structure set forth by the state, the district, and the school.

The state education board has already mapped out the state’s public education graduation requirements and approved options for meeting those requirements.

The school district has already chosen their curricula, and decided what options each school was going to provide for each of the requirements.

They’ve also decided what type of additional educational services they will provide – and to what extent.

This is also true of any private high school program as well. They’ve already decided the graduation requirements, what options they are going to provide, and how they are going to provide it.

Bound by their funding, facilities, and resources, there are a limited number of choices for each student to make each school year and semester.

But there are choices to be made – typically about what classes they will take within the predetermined options, what extracurricular activities they will participate in, and how your teen will pursue their interests within and outside of school commitments.

As a homeschool, your choices and options are significantly greater. That’s part of the reason many of us choose to homeschool.

You and your teen have a multitude of choices and options available. And the ability to pivot and change direction as needed.

You are only bound by the homeschooling laws that apply, your homeschool’s mission and goals, your family’s needs, and your resourcefulness in finding options that fit your teen.

And quite frankly, that can feel very overwhelming.

Even when you desire – and even relish – the flexibility and options, sorting through all the options – which seem to grow every year – for the ones that are right for your teen, your family, your homeschool, and your methodology.

It can also get confusing, especially with different voices, from different experiences, are chiming in.

As I’ve said before, there is not one way to plan for high school. One size does not fit all. And it’s okay to change up the plan as needed.

My bias is to customize to your teen, to your family, and your methodology, within the laws that apply.   

So, Let’s start with the one thing you can’t control – the laws that apply. There are two or three laws that I recommending knowing or getting acquainted with:

1. The homeschooling law that applies to your homeschool.

In the US, each state has a different law or set of laws for homeschoolers. What do you *have* to do under your state’s homeschooling law?

Do you need to keep track of hours? Do you need to make sure certain subjects are covered? Do you need to submit a portfolio or assessment for review?

Each state is different, it is usually *not* the same as your local public high school.

Be confident in your right to homeschool, but know the law that applies to you and how your homeschool is set up.

2. The compulsory school attendance age range.

If you are like me and have homeschooled all the way through, you probably knew this for your littles.  Now you are on the other side, and can be useful to know.

In the US, this also varies by state; it can be as low as 16 and as high as 19. It is also good to read the exceptions.  

3. Child Labor Laws

If your teen wishes to work as an employee during their teen years – or if work experience is part of your homeschool’s requirements, then it is also helpful to know your local child labor laws.

There may be restrictions on what type of work, working hours, and working environment your teen can pursue. The environment for employing minors has significantly changed over the years. Knowing the law ahead of time helps the planning process. 

This all is just information. Not to worry about – just data that informs your homeschooling and choices. And gives you confidence that you are meeting the legal requirements.

There tends to be a great deal of pressure around the high school years. Making informed decisions based on your own research helps you be more grounded and confident in your – and your teen’s – choices for the high school years.

As we continue discussing planning for high school over the next few weeks, I suggest watching Transcript Basics in the Free Resource Library – specifically the April 2023 version.

In that video, you’ll see some common options for high school transcripts, how they are structured, as well as the common public high school graduation requirements in the US.  

If you have questions or situations you’d like me to discuss as we go, please feel free to reach out.

Until Next Time, Happy Learning!

Read More Articles:

Planning for High School Part 2 - Filters & Guiding Principles

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