What would happen if your family situation changes and you feel the need to put your child into public school in the middle of high school? In some states it's easy to take kids out of public high school, but much more difficult to put them back in. This combination of concerns leads some parents to consider abandoning homeschooling during the later grades and put their kids into public or private high school in 9th grade. For others, the fear leads them to consider accredited programs. It's not because they don't like homeschooling, or because homeschooling isn't working for their family. They do these things because they're afraid of the "what if" situation:

  • "What if" there is a family trauma and we have to put our kids back into school?
  • "What if" the high school doesn't accept credits earned at home.
  • "What if" my child is put back into the 9th grade, and made to start high school over?

The good news is that you don't put kids into school because you are afraid! There are other options!

You can't prevent learningYou can't PREVENT a child from learning. Even when there is major life change, major trauma or major illness, you can still allow your child to learn at home. They will learn - whether you're paying close attention or not. And if there were a major family emergency, how much would the student learn in a public school anyway? Wouldn't your child still be concerned and traumatized? School isn't a panacea or balm, after all. It doesn't solve the family problems. The challenge of educating a traumatized child will exist whether that child is learning at home or at school.

Forced un-schoolingOne time I heard a speaker who had faced years of family trauma. The homeschool parent faced repeated serious health issues, which caused serious financial issues which lead to near homelessness. Our state happens to require yearly testing. Each year she would "fail" at homeschool, leaving her kids to learn on their own as she dealt with the struggles she faced. Essentially it was a forced, against-your-will un-schooling situation. Yet, each year their test scores remained right where they should be - or even went up! They kept learning and kept succeeding, even without mom's help. Even though I didn't un-school my own children, I always thought it was a worthwhile homeschool choice. Did it matter that she was forced to un-school? No. It was still successful. She was so motivating to me!

Challenges happen everywhereI have seen the other side of the story first hand. My son was in public school through 4th grade. A brief recap:

Second grade:

  • Teacher got pregnant and they had 6 weeks of a substitute,
  • Didn't finish the text books.

Third grade:

  • Teacher got pregnant and they had 6 weeks of a substitute,
  • Didn't finish the text books.

Fourth grade:

  • Teacher got into a car accident and was out 8 weeks, with a variety of substitute teachers.
  • That year they barely got 1/2 way through their textbooks
  • Class was in constantly in chaos

That's when I realized that even IF we had challenges at home, it would STILL be better than that situation.

True trauma is invasiveIf something truly traumatic were to happen, would it only be felt at home? No. When tragedy occurs, it's not an isolated event that stays inside the walls of your house. Tragedy lives inside of people, not places. Children will still feel the stress and be affected by it regardless of where they go to school. When they are at home, at least they can be with family members who truly understand their unique situation. At school, they may experience pressure, performance anxiety, and frustration. Sending a child to school because of a true trauma is NOT going to make that trauma go away; and it's not going to shield the child from feeling pain or loss. Being in the loving arms of family will help them deal with the issue in a productive manner, rather than feeling the need to pretend it doesn't exist so they can fit in a school environment.

No-panic strategies to getting kids into public high schoolIf something serious changes or there is a family trauma, and you've prayerfully concluded that formal schooling is the answer, here are some strategies that may help.

Testing and Records Option
If you are concerned, document as much of your high school as you can with testing. SAT® 2 tests, AP®, and CLEP exams, for example, will prove (in a very "academically-friendly" way) exactly what the student knows. These test scores can potentially be transferred to the public school - IF you speak to a reasonable principal (unfortunately, reasonableness isn't guaranteed.) Keep a yearly transcript for yourself, just in case.

Private School Option
You could approach a private or Christian school with your situation, instead of turning to a public school. They tend to be more flexible, more understanding, and more oriented toward helping homeschoolers. You could show them your records and test scores, and see if they will either accredit your homeschool experience OR admit the student for their final year of school.

Dual Enrollment Option
You could skip the end of high school all together. Enroll your student into a community college instead of the high school when they are able to do the work. Although your child still won't have and "accredited high school transcript" they will be doing college level work. That will allow them to transfer into a university later on.

GED Option
Consider a GED to show that your student is already a high school graduate. Here is a link to information about the test: Information on GED The GED was designed for people who don't complete high school for some reason. Family crisis is just one of the many situations they see on a daily basis. Homeschoolers can utilize this method of completing high school just like any other student.

Retroactive Accreditation Option
Some accrediting agencies may provide high school credits retroactively. North Atlantic Regional High School, Clonlara, and others may provide this service. They look over all the high school records and testing, and then provide high school credit after the fact. The chances of trauma are unlikely. You don't have to get an accredited transcript ahead of time like it's life insurance.

Classroom Option
Sure there are acceptable school and classroom situations, but that doesn't have to be your first or only choice. Remember Lucille Ball and the conveyor belt, because the classroom option doesn't allow for individual variation. Consider that option very carefully. You know your child best.

Remember: you don't have to prepare for trauma by putting kids into school before anything happens. Homeschool without fear!

Making plans for fallWhen I was homeschooling, it seemed like each spring people would decide to go back to school. Now that I'm working with large numbers of homeschoolers, I'm seeing another side of the story. Now I'm seeing the opposite: people pulling kids out of school to begin homeschooling. You don't see them as much because they aren't your friends - yet! But from my perspective, there are actually more people pulling kids out of school (even in high school) than people who are putting their kids BACK into public or private school.

Don't give up!

Listen to what I read today in the Bible, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galations 6:8-9.) Or, in a words of A.A. Milne: "Be brave, Little Piglet!" (Winnie the Pooh.)

Don't give up! Don't quit homeschooling because of fear. You don't have to second guess yourself. Just stand firm, and don't panic. It's working, and you're doing a good job. This is a time of year when many parents experience a moment of normal homeschooling-high-school-panic. It will pass. Do not give up!

Homeschoolers are resilient - even in the midst of extreme difficulty. Everything is not always peaches and cream, and sometimes trauma happens. Sometimes LOTS of trauma.  If you are having an extremely difficult time, with situations far beyond control, please read this mother's story and be encouraged.  She has wonderful  20/20 hindsight about what works when dealing with family trauma.

Amy, from Homeschooling Raising Arrows spoke at the Teaching Parents Association Homeschool Convention on the topic Homeschooling During Crisis. Below is the link for that session: Homeschooling During Crisis Session


Text may be reprinted without permission if used in full, including the bio box (below) and this copyright, except for use in a book or other publication for rent or sale.

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's Free Resource Guide, "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School." You can find her at www.HomeHighSchoolHelp.com.


"Hi Lee,
You helped me out a couple of years ago, and assisted me with a high school transcript for my son Landon. I was just beginning to deal with some brain
tumors and several surgeries and so appreciated your help. Things are still not as easy for me as they used to be and I did very little homeschooling with my then 13 year old Austyn that 2008-2009 school year.

We really have had our share of trauma these past almost 6 years. In October 2004 our 19 year old son Brad died in a tragic accident. The grief made it nearly impossible for me to concentrate on teaching Landon and Austyn or for them to concentrate on learning. It was nearly a year of just spending time together and not putting any pressure on them to accomplish much in the way of school work.

I really do not see that this set them back in any way.

I can not imagine them having to have been in a public school setting during such a traumatic time in their/our lives.

Homeschooling gives us the flexibility to just stop and take a break and resume when the time is right.

I thought I would give you an update on Landon. In June he graduated with honors from Eastern with a degree in business administration and economics. He did get two scholarships of $2000. We didn't really have the time and energy to pursue more, these past 2 1/2 years have been filled with doctors, hospitals, surgeries etc. Landon now 21 lives in Spokane and in January of this year started a business called Community Restorations, he buys and restores foreclosed homes. He bought a home for himself too, remodeled it and moved in the month of December. Landon is our 5th child homeschooled and another success story. One to go! Actually our final child, Austyn, now 15 took the compass test and passed. In a year he will begin dual enrollment. He is interested in taking a computer class there so he will probably do that this September.

"I enjoy getting your email news letters, thank you and thanks for your help back in 2008 when I really needed it".

Thanks again,
Linda in Washington


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