8 Good Reasons to Give Your Homeschooled Teen an Extra Year of High School

Wondering if you should rethink the traditional 4 years of high school and choose a different path for your homeschooler? Here’s why you may want to bypass the usual route and embrace a 5-year high school plan instead.

Wondering if your homeschooled teen should bypass the traditional 4 years of high school and opt for a 5th year? Here's why this approach may be exactly what your homeschooler needs.

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Aren’t you grateful that homeschool freedom doesn’t end once the elementary years are finished? Even in upper grades, you have the flexibility to put that freedom to work for you however you wish. 

That’s where this extra year of high school comes into the picture. It’s just another way to customize education for our children and equip them for their unique futures. 

Your Homeschooler Might Need an Extra Year of High School if…

Before we jump into the logistical reasons to add an extra year of high school, I want to mention that we embraced the idea of an extra year for our son after he finished his freshman year. It’s not something we considered until that point, but it made sense for him once we thought it through. Now that we’re a couple of years into this approach, we’re so glad to have this extra year of high school in front of us.

Also, I discuss a few of these points in detail in this post about choosing a 5-year high school plan. It’s a good read if you want more than the overviews below.

Now that all of that is out of the way, here are 8 reasons your homeschooler may benefit from an extra year of high school.

1. You want to complete your homeschool to-do list.

One of the great things about homeschooling is the opportunity to provide a well-rounded education. Well, sometimes we want to seize as many opportunities as possible just for the sake of learning and sometimes we find ourselves with more plans than we have time to implement. That’s certainly been the case for our first experience with high school at home.

We’ve been steadily working along all this time, but we’ve still got things we want to cover, extracurriculars to try, trips to take, and skills to strengthen. If you can relate, know that you don’t have to sacrifice any of those plans. You can opt for the traditional four years if you want, but there’s also nothing wrong with adding an extra year to enhance the experience.

2. Your student is younger than grade-level peers.

Hear me out. Being younger than most students in your designated grade level isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can complicate things in the upper years. Regardless of why your younger student advanced sooner than most, being a grade or two ahead doesn’t mean he’s ahead in every way.

Simply put, being “ahead” doesn’t guarantee that a student is ready for career training, college, or even dual enrollment. Social and emotional maturity are equally important for success; an extra year of high school gives a younger student time to develop that maturity without being rushed into the next phase too soon.

Being a grade or two ahead doesn't guarantee college or career readiness.

3. You want to reduce unnecessary overwhelm.

You know that lifestyle of learning we’ve all been working to cultivate in our years of homeschooling? Unfortunately, it gets hard to maintain that love for learning once the high school years kick in and the pressures begin to mount.

Let’s face it, there’s not much room for self-led learning, personal creative endeavors, or volunteer work once part-time jobs and dual enrollment enter the picture. That’s where an extra year can be lifegiving.

One more year of homeschooling allows you to spread out the subjects YOU assign over a longer period of time while your student adds important, but sometimes stressful commitments to the calendar.

Related: How to Plan High School at Home After Sending Your Child to Public School  

4. Your teen wants time for internships.

Just like it’s smart to test-drive a car before purchasing, it’s a good idea for your homeschooler to know the realities of a field of study and desired career before diving into college or the workforce.

By adding a fifth year to your homeschool plans for high school, you give your student valuable time to secure internships in potential career fields, experience the work in person, and reduce the risk of changing majors. This, in turn, reduces the risk of wasting lots of time and money on tuition for classes that weren’t needed after all.

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And let’s remember that college-bound students aren’t the only ones who benefit from internships. Internships provide experience with specific employers and positions and are an added bonus for transcripts and resumes.

Better yet, this allows a career-focused student the chance to course correct and even change directions if needed, but without damaging future employment prospects. That additional year of high school makes all of this interning possible. 

5. You want to roadschool for a while.

Traveling is awesome and it allows your student to experience the world and learn things in unique and valuable ways. That said, roadschooling can eat into the time needed to properly complete the subjects required for student transcript and college admissions. That’s why an extra year of high school can be so helpful for families who are traveling.

Related: What to Do Before Taking Your Homeschool on the Road

6. Your teen needs makeup time.

It’s not uncommon for students to excel at some subjects while needing help with others. In other words, homeschooled teens are humans just like the rest of us and that means they’ll naturally have strengths and weaknesses. That’s normal.

Whether your student needs to repeat a course for better understanding or just needs a few more months to complete that last level of math, an extra year of homeschooling makes room for all of it.

Homeschooled teens have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.

7. You want to build margin into your high school plans.

Just like other times in the homeschool journey, margin makes a huge difference in the high school years.

Whether it’s a family member experiencing prolonged illness, selling your home and moving across the country, or something completely different, having margin built into your schedule makes room for life to happen without completely derailing your teen’s last couple of years of homeschool.

8. You want to continue a relaxed homeschooling approach in the upper grades.

It’s tempting to believe that relaxed homeschooling has to end, that things have to “shape up” and get serious once high school rolls around. Thankfully, the transition to high school doesn’t have to be a shock to your homeschooler.

This goes along with avoid unnecessary overwhelm, but an extra year of high school built into your homeschool plans allows your student to progress academically while staying true to your vision for home education. Better yet, you’ll still have time for all of the things that often get overlooked in the high school years!

Wondering if you should rethink the traditional 4 years of high school and choose a different path for your homeschooler? Here’s why you may want to bypass the usual route and embrace a 5-year high school plan instead.

A note on the logistics of an extra year of high school:

In closing, I encourage you to embrace that extra year of high school if it would benefit your student. An additional year doesn’t go against the norm as much as you may think and even looks pretty similar to dual enrollment from a logistical perspective.

Make a call to the admissions offices for any college your teen is considering to see how they’ll want an extra year documented on their applications. I did this recently and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to receive guidance for documenting an extra year. And if your student doesn’t plan to attend college, call it a 13th year and be finished with it all!

Lastly, remember that homeschooling and customized education go hand in hand from preschool to high school. If that means the high school years seem unconventional for your teen, so be it. Put your homeschool freedom to use one more time and enjoy that extra year at home.

Does your homeschooler need a 5th year of high school?

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