Two years ago, my daughter attended a public magnet school for 7th and 8th grade but asked to be homeschooled for high school. Homeschool is PK-12 instruction that is implemented and/or curated by the student’s parent(s) within a structured or unstructured learning environment. Homeschooling rates have continued to grow in the United States since 1999. In 2012, 3.4 percent of school-aged children were reported as being homeschooled in 2012. Today, more than 5% of homeschooled students are African-American. I had homeschooled her for 5th and 6th grade and knew the benefits of homeschooling, but, became nervous about high school. Could I adequately prepare her as an older student? Did I have the time? I am an educator who develops programs and curriculum for schools and institutions serving other people’s children, but, here I was questioning my ability to do that for my own child. It was short-lived, but, unmasking. I determined that not only was I capable of homeschooling my rising high-schooler, but, it was an awesome opportunity to include the college experience in our homeschool program so that I could help her navigate college as a homeschooler before she embarks on a college journey on her own after high school.
To get started homeschooling a high-schooler, I had to change my mindset and then assess my resources. Some parents believe that if a child has been in public school for most of their lives, then, it may be too late to homeschool for high school. This is certainly not true! I’ve homeschooled off and on throughout my daughter’s educational journey, and homeschool is never a bad decision, regardless of what year and what age. Parents of African-American children are choosing homeschooling for various reasons. Many of the reasons stem from the disproportionate numbers of Black children who are suspended in public schools, to the criminalization of behaviors displayed by Black children in comparison to those of white children. We’ve heard of the school to prison pipeline and the impact of children being taught by teachers who are not culturally competent. In my situation, my daughter and I were alarmed by the spate of shootings that had taken place at or near the performing arts high school she was slated to attend. My altered work schedule allowed for me to say “yes” to her and return to homeschooling for her high school years. I knew I had the time resources and with me working on college campuses, dual-enrollment was an educational resource that was a perfect option for us.
Dual-enrollment for homeschoolers
My daughter is now about to begin 11th grade as a homeschooler and her fourth semester of community college as a dual-enrolled student. Dual-enrollment is an opportunity for high-school students to take college credit courses while still in high school. Dual-enrollment rates in the US have reached up to 82% as over 46 states have policies that promote this option for high school students. There are different names that institutions may use to describe when high school students take college courses while still enrolled in high school — including parallel enrollment or concurrent enrollment. However, dual-enrollment is the more common term and this article will refer use it unless specified otherwise.
Our family chose dual-enrollment for our homeschooling high school student because it was a great opportunity to help her with navigating the college environment while still having her under our wing. It also allowed for her to take college-level courses in areas she excelled in, like writing and the arts. Finally, she is able to earn credit for general education requirements that all colleges require, so, if she chooses to attend college, she will have already taken those courses.
Take advantage of discounts and deals
Because many community colleges are encouraging high school students to get an early start on college, there are a host of different programs that your local community college may offer to make the cost work for you. I also encourage you to look at community colleges that are not necessarily in your immediate city or county but, still in state. For example, the community college in my county did not offer my daughter discounts for early enrollment that she was offered at another state community college. We chose to enroll her at the out-of-county community college because it was cheaper, had better course options and was convenient to my work. As a parent, ask the contact at the community college you are inquiring at if they have discounts for high-schoolers, homeschoolers and those who are in-state. Also, ask if your child would be eligible to earn an associate’s degree if they take the necessary courses in a work pathway.
There is so much more I intend to share on this journey, but, this is a great starting place for the parents still considering dual-enrollment as an option for their homeschooler. Best of luck on your journey!
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is a homeschooling mother, a multi-media strategist and professional creative who has built an expansive interdisciplinary career as a professional in higher education, media, student development and the arts. You can join her mailing list and register for her courses for homeschooling families at StudentMediaOnline.com.
Are you homeschooling an African American child who also takes courses at a community college? If so, consider having your child participate in this study for a $25 VISA Gift Card.