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The High-School-at-Home Elephant

Many years ago, when my father came home with a newly welded piece of farm equipment, he announced that the welder’s children did not go to school but learned at home.  My father was intrigued, but I was scornful.  No parent could possibly teach children at home!

Years later, I took the plunge and became a homeschool mom myself.  After all, I told myself, how hard could it be to teach little ones?   Then I heard of people homeschooling teens.  Yes, actually homeschooling high school!  That, most certainly, was ridiculous beyond belief.

Inevitably, a few years later we faced the fact that we had no viable alternative; we, too, would be homeschooling high school.  It would just have to be possible.  Other families had graduated well-balanced, academically successful, committed Christian young people.   We prayed that we would, too.  The academics were a bit worrying, since we had forgotten so much.  But we planned to get organized, buy textbooks, hire tutors, join coops, and even relearn some subjects ourselves. 

Now, two years into high school, I realize that our biggest concern does not involve academics at all.   What haunts me are issues like  credits, report cards, transcripts, documentation, university admissions, scholarship applications, whether to give grades, how to assign marks, parent-assigned marks vs. professionally-assigned ones….

I’m still not sure how to deal with these issues.  Probably the same way one paints an elephant, one brush stroke at a time.  Homeschooling high school is an awfully huge elephant.   

If I could draw, I’d give you a picture of this elephant, properly labelled:

  • The head of this wise, intelligent beast would be planning
  •                      One tusk would be legal requirements and the other post-secondary requirements
  • The neck would be the arts, endeavours that praise God with joy and beauty
  • The elephant’s body would include main areas of study:
  •             The backbone would be Bible
  •             The shoulders would be English literature and composition
  •             The hips would be math and logic
  •             The ribs would be history/geography and the belly science 
  •             The chest would be foreign languages
  • Without legs the elephant would not move; four legs would be
  • Christian obedience and character
  • Service
  • Skills for everyday living,
  • Physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health
  • The tail would be all the documentation and marking
  • And the trunk would probably be mom and dad, flexible, ready with dust baths and water baths, strong yet gentle, ready to give hugs, and ready to trumpet whenever necessary.

An artist I know was painting an elephant for her young son.  When this little boy first saw her canvas, full of color, he cried.  Everyone but his mother knew that elephants are grey, not colorful!  He desperately wanted a grey elephant, but he did not know what his artist mother knew:  the most wonderful greys are made up of many different colors. 

I hope that the elephants we and our children make in these four years will be full of joyful color.

Next Thursday, the Lord willing, I hope to share which part of the elephant our family is tackling first this year, and how we’re going about it.  

On Tuesday, I plan to review a book about homeschool moms who have home businesses.  Combining the two, home schooling and home business, sounds very intimidating to me, but lots of families do it and thrive. 

Wishing you a blessed Easter weekend.

Talk to you on Tuesday!



  1. LarabaK says:

    Our eldest is 9 so I'm not there yet, and honestly high school homeschooling is so terrifying to me that I don't dare even THINK about it. Nevertheless, sending them off to high school at a public or private school is not an option for us. God has impressed on our hearts that our kids need to be home. I do know we have a faithful God, who will guide us in the task of teaching our teens.

    I look forward to your continuing posts on the topic.

  2. houseofhope7 says:

    Thanks for stopping by my site. Like you, I'm always glad if the things God has been showing me can be of help to someone else. I'm looking forward to what you have to share on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

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