High School Advice from a Mom of 5 Homeschool Graduates

High School Advice from a Mom of 5 Homeschool Graduates

If you are scared to homeschool high school, fear no more! Special guest Ann Karako of It's Not That Hard to Homeschool has successfully homeschooled five teens through high school graduation. In this episode she shares her insights about dual enrollment, homeschool styles, the family dynamic, gap years, and more.

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Podcast Transcript

Janna Koch (00:36):

Welcome to Homeschool Your Way. My name is Janna Koch. I'm your host and the community manager at BookShark. Today in this episode, I am joined with Ann Karako. She is the creator of It's Not That Hard to Homeschool. We're going to be delving into some misconceptions around homeschooling and why people feel like they can't do it, but most of all, we're here to encourage you to let you know that this is something that anyone can do if they choose to do it. Ann, thank you so much for being here.

Ann Karako (01:04):

Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Janna Koch (01:07):

So you have been homeschooling for quite a while. Why don't you tell our audience how you got into this wonderful world of homeschool?

Ann Karako (01:17):

Quite a while is right, 22 years in total, graduated my fifth child in May of 21, so it was quite a ride. We had five kids in eight-and-a-half years, so there was a time there where they just all came into homeschooling and then left the house in a hurry too. What was going on was actually when my ... I only had three kids and they were young, very young, too early for school, we had a couple of babysitters from our church that were homeschooled teens, and we were so impressed with them. We actually also helped out in the youth group at church, so we were able to compare, if you will, the homeschooled teens to the non-homeschooled teens, and we chose the homeschooled teens to babysit our kids. Then the more we interacted with them, the more we saw that they looked us in the eye. They did what we asked them to do. They spent their time at our house engaging with our kids, not just putting them in front of a movie and then doing their own thing, and they were responsible and also they owned up to their mistakes.


All of these wonderful qualities that we saw in these homeschool teens, and it's going to sound funny, but we decided to homeschool our kids all the way through high school before the oldest even started kindergarten because we just saw the product and that's what we wanted for our family. A lot of people say, "Make a year-by-year decision," and that's fine for a lot of people, but for us, we were in it for the long haul from the start, and so that's what we did. It was a great ride for us as a family, always ups and downs and growth times and happier times, but all of it was just the idea of building up our kids' character and teaching them how to learn. Now, they're all, I guess I can call them all adults. The youngest will be 20 in December, so close enough. They're all adults that are responsible, living their lives responsibly, being productive members of society and that I enjoy hanging out with. To me, that was the ultimate goal, and I'm happy with that.

Janna Koch (03:34):

If that's not a testament to successful homeschooling, I'm not sure there is one. When you were in the thick of it, what inspired you to create It's Not That Hard to Homeschool?

Ann Karako (03:48):

Yeah. Well, in actuality, it started out as annieandeverything.com, play on my name because I was blogging about just about everything. I had recipes, I had budget ideas, I had all sorts of stuff, but the homeschooling articles seemed to resonate the most. Then the homeschooling high school articles seemed to be really where people ... there was a need that I could meet, and so I honed in on that pretty quickly. It's funny, one of the beginning high school articles that I wrote was entitled, It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, it just really resonated with people, and the same thing happened to me. When you do your research about high school, it gets super intimidating super fast because there are all sorts of lists that the experts want to give you that you should do this and you should do that, and if you don't do this, you're short-changing your kid and yada, yada, yada.


I looked at all of it and I was like, "I can't do all that." My husband had to remind me, "Ann, we're homeschoolers, we don't have to do all that." So we designed our homeschool to fit our family, not what all the experts or the other people were talking about. As long as you're fulfilling your state homeschool law, that's the only have-to, that's the only thing people can actually say you should do. I obviously support that, but beyond that, it's all your choice, and so that's the message that people needed to hear. I'm pretty good at finding the easier ways to do things, finding ways to do things that aren't stressful and don't put a big burden on my shoulders. So it became my message to tell that to people about high school and they've really seemed to be encouraged to hear it and thankful to hear it.

Janna Koch (05:39):

It's interesting to hear you talk because I myself was homeschooled during high school in the '90s, and now being a homeschool mom in the 2000s, and we really have seen such a shift in the things that are accessible to homeschoolers and what you can do with homeschool. Now, looking back at my experience, I'm like, "I think maybe I was more like a correspondence schooler in high school." Granted, yes, I did it at home, but it was nothing like just doing what was ... making sure what was required. They told us what to do, and I feel like more and more homeschool has become the opposite of that. We're not being told what to do, we are really living education with our children in everyday life. I'm starting to think that maybe I should change my bio that maybe I really wasn't homeschooled in high school then.

Ann Karako (06:37):

I don't think you should change it, and here's why. Every family gets to decide for themselves what version of homeschooling works for them. So for some people, it is that whole exploratory, "Hey, we're going to learn as we go," and that is really enjoyable for them and they don't get stressed out by that, and they're okay with maybe it being a less-structured environment, that's great for them. On the other side of the scale, there are the people that actually set up desks in their dining room and mom sits at her desk and the kids all sit at their desks and they're using textbooks all day, I have no problem with either one. As far as correspondence school goes for high school, again, I have no problem with that.


It's not to me, I'm going to say something really maybe potentially controversial, to me, it's not about the education itself. To me, it's about the family dynamic. It's about keeping the family unit together. It's about not developing all of these individual lives, but rather having family interdependence. It's also about teaching our kids their character, and it's about teaching them how to learn. So there are many different ways to learn, and so I just want to take any burden you're starting to think about or anything anybody who is listening or watching might be thinking about that there's only if you're doing the exploratory education type of thing for homeschool that's the only right way to homeschool. No, no, no.


In fact, I wrote an article, a guest article on the iHomeschool Network Blog that says, "In defense of school at home," because a lot of people say, "Oh, but it's homeschool, it's not school at home." I'm okay with school at home. I say, however you need to do your homeschool that fits your family, that fits your organization level, that fits your need for structure versus need for less structure, I think that's still homeschooling because it's still being held at home and you're still deciding what curriculum you're going to use. Even if that's a correspondence school, that's something you've decided to do. It's different when we're going through the public school and they're telling us everything to have, but we're learning on the video at home, but we're still enrolled in the public school, that's different. But what you did, your parents chose that for you because that's what worked best for your family, and I'm totally fine with that. Don't even worry about it.

Janna Koch (09:08):

Ann, that's why we can be friends. I was thinking that while I was homeschooling, correspondent schooling, however if we need to make these definitions regardless-

Ann Karako (09:08):

I don't think so.

Janna Koch (09:19):

... I was getting my school done on my own within a few hours and I worked almost full-time in my junior and senior year. I had interaction at a company with adults. I think it really propelled my love of communication and interpersonal skills that I don't know that I ever would have had without those experiences. So I definitely, I know there was purpose in that for me and even for my girls as we look at what they're doing. They're doing several things. Now, it's almost like homeschool opens up this beautiful journey of making the priority the priority. So my girls not only are taking college courses at 16, they are working, which I sometimes like, "Ah, they're working," and then I remember my experience, and so that was really good for me. Then one of my daughters plays volleyball for the local high school, and so we have all these opportunities that if we were boxed in with a certain type of education, it wouldn't have worked.


For my husband and I, we really believe that education not only should be the love of learning, but creating responsibility and knowing what your civic duties are. My daughter the other day said, "Oh, I think I'm going to call out of work because I want to do something," and we were both like, "Whoa, excuse me? We don't just call out of work because you want to do something." When then she explained to us that actually she meant she was going to see if someone could cover her shift so that she could go do something else, and after we both got really worked up and I said, "Okay, I'm so glad we talked about this because your dad and I were really starting to worry about your character, that you're just going to leave your co-workers high and dry because something better came up," and those are the type of things that when you homeschool in high school, it's a different experience than when you're homeschooling your elementary-aged children.

Ann Karako (11:22):

Yeah. Yeah. Very true. Very true, so many more possibilities out there for sure. Again, it's just about whatever is best for your family. I don't care how many times I say that, but choose what suits your teen and your family. Actually, as the homeschool mom, we also need to take ourselves into account. We need to maintain our sanity so that everything runs smoothly so also, it's got to suit you.

Janna Koch (11:54):

Let's talk a little bit more about how It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School. I know that some buzz words that are around right now in high school education is concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment. Since you have already walked through some of that, why don't we just talk about your feelings behind the pros and the cons of these opportunities that parents and teens have now in high school?

Ann Karako (12:21):

That is a great next question from what we were just talking about, because again, you're right, they are buzzwords. Dual enrollment is one of the biggest buzzwords right now, and the problem with it is that everybody thinks that if they're not doing it, they're not doing a good job homeschooling. I just want to say that's not true. There are so many factors to consider about dual enrollment that people don't realize. So the pros are totally yes, if your kid is doing dual enrollment, and for those that don't know, it means that your kid is taking college classes during the high school years and thereby getting college credit and high school credit for the one class. If your kid's going to the community college and taking say, I don't know, English composition, then they can use that as a language arts credit for their high school diploma and they can also possibly transfer that credit as a college credit to wherever they want to go to college, and then they don't have to take it again in college.


It sounds great when you put it like that, wonderful, but it's not a good fit for everyone, and so I really encourage people to think that through. You just have to remember your kid has to be a college student if they're taking college classes, so you don't become the homeschool mom anymore. They have to be the ones communicating with the professor about every single thing. They have to be the ones following the syllabus. They have to be the ones getting their work done on time. So if they don't have the maturity level to do that, it won't be a good fit for them. There are just tons of other factors involved in dual enrollment that people don't think about and then they feel bad when it doesn't work out for them. I'm here to say that, to be honest with you, I think dual enrollment is not a good fit for the majority of families and students rather than the other way around. None of my kids had it.


We lived really rural and when it came time for us to think about doing that with my oldest kid, it was me that was going to have to drive her three times a week, 45 minutes away to this campus when I had four other smaller children or younger children, I should say, in the house that I'm trying to help them do their homeschooling and whatnot, and it just wasn't possible for us. Not to mention we're not in a state where it's free, so it would have involved significant expense, and so we didn't do it. None of my kids had dual enrollment and they got into colleges just fine. I think one thing to remember is we don't have to validate our homeschool. We don't have to validate our homeschool diploma. I think that's one reason that a lot of people do dual enrollment is, "Oh, I want to prove to them that my kid can handle college-level work and that means my homeschool was a good homeschool."


Colleges don't expect any of their applicants to be able to handle college- level work before getting to college, they just don't. There are too many high schoolers all across the country that don't have any kind of dual enrollment going on. For some reason as homeschoolers, we seem to think it's what we're supposed to do. But when you look at the public school students across America, it's just a small percentage of them that are getting that opportunity at all. So colleges are expecting your kid to be able to handle high school-level work, not college-level work. So if you have a diploma that's just high school classes, that is okay. It's totally okay. I don't know if that's where you were going with that. I honed in on that, but it's a hot button topic with me because I hear it so often and I don't want parents to get discouraged or to take on more than is good for their teen or their family.

Janna Koch (16:05):

We are a family that actually is utilizing this for a number of reasons, and it's not actually probably going to work out for my youngest. So my twins have October birthdays, so they were always the oldest of their class. Believe me, when it came time to say what grade they were, I wanted to change their birthday because them being twins, I needed them to go to preschool. I was that mom. I never wanted to homeschool my kids. Anyone who's listened to any of my episodes know that. That was not my idea of have children in homeschool them, even though I was homeschooled, so it's kind of funny. But it ended up being that because they were almost a year older than most of their peers in any type of educational setting, they tended to be a little more mature and they're girls, so that really helped out. I'm a talker, so we talk all the time and I probably talk to my kids way above their heads and just expected them to follow along.


One thing that I have noticed is in the family environment that we have, we still try to have dinners together. Now my girls do work and so sometimes that doesn't always happen, but for the most part, most days of the week we are at the dinner table, and we talk about these college classes that they are in because you have 15, 16-year-olds, sometimes even 14-year-olds being educated by a college professor who is used to working with adults, young adults. So some things are said that were like, "Hmm, okay. I don't know that I would've necessarily wanted you to be exposed to that conversation at this point, but since you have and you're home at night, let's talk about it. Let's talk about these things. Let's grapple with how does that make you feel and do you agree with it? Do you disagree with it? How does it align with our family values?"


When you go to college, your kids typically live outside of your home for the most part if they're at a university, and so you don't necessarily get those nightly opportunities to digest what's being taught to your child from an adult perspective that has a different worldview. For one of the positives for us is we get to walk alongside our girls as they're doing that so that when they do go to school away from the home, they already have that roadmap on how to walk through some of those things when it's like, "Hmm, I don't know, just because you're an adult doesn't mean that I have to agree with what you're saying." My children, we tell them question all authority with respect. It has backfired on us quite a bit as the parents, but I think it's regardless of how much work it's caused and heartache it's caused me, it's super important. It's one of my values. We get to question. We have a mind now. A downside that I'm really starting to feel as they are halfway through their junior year almost.


They are leaving and going to start taking upper level classes at 18. So I've now started to plant some seeds about a gap year and traveling. At first my husband's like, "What are you doing? The whole point was they were going to just go finish for two years." I'm like, "And then at 20 go into the workforce? Expect them at 20 to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives?" So it's another thing to consider when you're thinking about dual enrollment where that puts them in the age range and lifespan of higher education and what's that's going to look like for them. So at first my girls were like, "We don't want to gap year, then people don't go back to school." So there's so many options now that they can do and travel abroad within a gap year within the confines of programs that are safe and they're still being educated, just maybe not classically through a college, so it's amazing. You don't know what you don't know, and I'm like, "Oh, I got to know when I know more, then I can do better," right?

Ann Karako (20:10):

Mm-hmm. Yeah, that's good. Even a gap year is something that can have any number of looks to it. My son had two gap years. He actually just was not ready to go to college, didn't know what he wanted to do. He worked full- time for two years before an opportunity came up that seemed to fit him, and that's all he did was he worked full-time and stayed at home. There was no travel. There was no other type of learning or educational environment. But you know what? Learning how to work full-time and be there every day, eight hours a day, rain or shine, he would have to get up to be on site at work at 5:30 in the morning and it's a good half-hour drive away. So all of those things are absolutely valuable lessons that mature them as well, so that's the thing. Whatever suits your kid, your family and you, there's no one right way to do this thing. There just isn't.



I think the other thing that a lot of homeschool parents I think about, and I think you touched on it when you said that parents feel like they need to validate their choice to other family members, to their neighbors, to the world. So we have this idea like, "Well, if we homeschool, then we go to college. See, our homeschool worked because we went to college," and college is not for everyone. I actually went to beauty school when I graduated from homeschool, and then I worked in the industry before I ended up going into college. After I got my two degrees, I still did hair when I was an adult for ... it's just amazing. We have these ideas, but if we take that pressure off of ourselves as parents to say we have to prove something, it's like we don't have to prove anything. We're going to make our kids miserable because we have to prove that we made the right choice? There's so many options beyond classical education and beyond high school.

Ann Karako (23:33):

I feel like when our kids become teens and through the teen years, we learn a lot of lessons as parents. When the kids are younger, it's very easy to feel very positive about our parenting and our homeschooling and, "Oh, I've got these little soldiers who will do what I tell them to do and we're learning how to add and subtract and divide and whatnot," and the kid who is two grades levels above in math, and then we hit the teen years and all of a sudden that kid is struggling in math because algebra comes up and it's a whole new ballgame, and all of a sudden they're struggling; or we hit the teen years and all of a sudden the kids are questioning authority and not necessarily respectfully. They're making decisions that we're like, "Did I ever train you? Do you remember anything that we told you about when you were younger? I think the same thing is true when it comes to where they're headed.


It's we have these grand ideas when they're younger, "Oh, they're going to get a full-ride athletic scholarship because they're so amazing," or, "They're going to get a full-ride academic scholarship because they're so amazing," or, "They're going to go to this great college and just totally make a name for themselves or whatever." Through the tenures, we begin to realize that's not who this individual is. This individual is somebody completely different and they change so much during those years. I do think during those years as parents, we tend to get a little more humbled and we need to flex with that. We need to realize that this is an individual and they are a very valuable individual, and what they think is just as important as what we think and their emotions are just as important as our emotions, and just because we had these plans for them or these ideas about how things were going to go, and now they're going completely differently than we ever imagined them going, that doesn't mean it's bad or wrong, and it's going to be what's best for that kid.


I had them myself, I had all these ... the dual enrollment was one of those things that when we actually got to it, no, not a good fit for us, but I was imagining my kid getting their associates before graduating high school and all of those things that many people are able to do, and that is totally great for them. I'm not knocking it at all. I'm just saying it wasn't a good fit for our family. The same thing is true about going to college or what kind of career you think they should have. Any of those things, we as parents need to learn to get off of our pride, "It's got to go this way because that's how I'm going to look good," to a little more humble, "Hey, what do you want? What are you trying to accomplish? How can I help you get there?"

Janna Koch (26:19):

I think we have a choice as parents, either we can be humbled by it or we can double down and start being more authoritarian with our teenagers. I'm here to testify that that actually doesn't work very well. If you choose to go down that road, be prepared that you're probably going to have more pushback than necessary because they are reaching a point in their development that they are trying to be more independent and that is where they're supposed to be, which is hard for a parent like me because they're not turning out at all as I hoped-

Ann Karako (26:54):

Mm-hmm, or thought.

Janna Koch (26:56):

Yes, but they're turning out even better.

Ann Karako (26:58):

Yes. Yes.

Janna Koch (27:00):

I'm like, "Oh, I keep saying I'm going to write a book. It's going to be called In Spite of Me."

Ann Karako (27:05):

There you go. Yes.

Janna Koch (27:08):

Because I really feel like all of these things, I will give an example, though. I was sitting with a guidance counselor and my daughter, both of them as we were looking at their next steps and the guidance counselor was like, "Oh, well, you've fulfilled your math requirements, so there's no need for you to take higher level math." To my girls, that sounded fabulous, "Yes, thank you. We're 15, we're done with math." Because I'm an adult and I no longer have holes in my frontal lobe, I had to say, "You know what? Let's wait a second here. At 15, do you really know where your life is going to take you? What if when you get down the road, you have a class or something sparks a passion in you and then you go, 'Oh, I can't do that because I didn't take college-level algebra and that's a requirement for this next thing?'"


Now could you always take it? Sure, anybody can go back to school. Anyone can continue learning. But I just thought, "Why put a stumbling block in a future road or path that you don't even know you're going to take?" So I forcefully encouraged them that yes, we were going to take college algebra and they both ... did they love it? No. Did they get the credit? Did they understand a little bit higher level math? Yes. Will that open doors now if they decide to take another course that had that as a requirement? Yes. I encourage parents to get buy-in from their teens, but not let a 15-year-old decide what their future is going to be because so many things are fallen through that hole, so many things.

Ann Karako (28:51):

Yes. Mm-hmm. Oh, I need to clarify. I certainly wasn't needing to bend over backwards and let them make all the decisions. They're not ready. I have an article on my website called What to Do When Your Kid Hates Homeschooling High School. I've gotten a lot of pushback on that article because in there I say, "Hey, there are some things we still get to pull the parent card for, and the decision to homeschool or not to homeschool is one of those ones that I feel strongly about." You're right, they're teenagers. They don't know the long-term results or consequences of the decisions they're making right now. We're the ones that have been around the block. We can see better, "Hey, this decision is not a good decision because of X, Y, and Z down the road." So sometimes we have to say, "Sorry, that's not the way that's going to happen. We are going to do it this way, but here's the reasons why, and I hope you can understand that this is why."


It's always about the dialogue. As long as we can dialogue about these things, they don't have to agree with us, but we don't have to be disrespectful to them either. We can dialogue and as you did say, "Hey, let's think about this a minute." So yes, we are still their parents, and we shouldn't shy away from those times when we need to pull the parent card and make a final decision. But we do need to back off of, as you said, the authoritarian type of parenting mindset in the teen years. It does need to become more of a dialogue, a give and take. Wherever you can meet them at least halfway, it's a great idea to do so. It just builds bridges and helps that relationship. Again, for me, the relationship was the most important part of the whole homeschooling process because I wanted the family to remain intact and the kids to be my friends as adults, right?

Janna Koch (30:52):


Ann Karako (30:53):

So the academics, the life goals, all of that is secondary to keeping that relationship vibrant and healthy and a give and take situation within the bounds of it still being a parent-child situation.

Janna Koch (31:09):

I think the more that we can give on the things that don't really matter, the more they're apt to listen to us on the things that truly do matter. So when my daughter wants to wear sweatpants to fly and it drives my husband nuts, I say, "Does it really matter? If it does, okay, then we'll talk about it. But why? Because it's how you feel they're representing you?" When I get that hair on the back of my neck stand up, I'm ready to pounce on my kids. I really have learned to ... I'm not 100%, but maybe 40, 40, 60. When I do, I'm so proud of myself, pause and ask myself, "Is this for their benefit or is it for my benefit?" So when we get to the airport and 80% of the people around us have sweatpants on and my daughter looks at my husband and goes, "I don't know what the big deal is," that's a learning lesson for all of us.


Now, back to helping them navigate classes, one of my twins was insistent she was not going to do a college-level biology course. I really dug my heels in and I was like, "You're going to do this biology course," and it was not pleasant, and even going into it. Well, she went and three days in she said, "I'm dropping this class." I immediately want to be like, "Oh, no, you're not." You want to talk about stubborn and stubborn, My daughter and I, we are just like, "You can't be more stubborn than me," she might actually be. So I paused and I had to ask, "Is this for her benefit or my benefit? When she came home and she said, "It's a three-and-a-half hour class, at the end of the day," she's my child that needs to be by herself to feel comfortable, she can give so much and then she's got to be pulled back.


She actually went in and figured out a schedule that was going to work that she wasn't going to take that class.The part of me that was my pride in parenting that said, "You're not going to tell me what you're going to do," I had to stop and go, "Okay, well she's almost 17, and if there are consequences from this decision, she's going to actually have to bear the weight of that. If there's not, then she's showing me that she can make good decisions on her own," but that was a hard pill to swallow, not a big fan of being told no about my children, but I also want them to be adults. I want them to not have to call me, and when they're gone, of course, they can and I will appreciate that and love that. But at the same time, if they're able to make these decisions without commuting constant affirmation to their choices, then I think, "Okay, then we're doing a good job."

Ann Karako (34:11):

Yeah, there you go. That's awesome.

Janna Koch (34:13):

Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed. I hope. I hope. What are some other things that you hear in your community about homeschooling high school that you just want to put to rest for some people or put their mind at ease?

Ann Karako (34:28):

Yeah, probably one of the biggest is the whole idea of opportunities that if you keep your kids in your home for homeschooling through the high school years, that they're going to miss out on all of the opportunities that are provided by the public school or a private school, and I don't think that's true. I think yes, they will miss out on the opportunities provided by the public school. Now in some places you can totally, as your daughter is, take advantage of certain opportunities that are at the public school such as athletic teams or choirs or bands or what have you. But in the areas where you can't, they might not be able to do those things, but there's usually a reasonable substitute. For instance, my daughter played violin and she joined the community youth orchestra as a community thing. Anybody, any kid could join, and so she was in that.


If your kid is an athlete, then travel ball teams are actually better looked at by college coaches because they actually do real sports. Higher-level sporting instruction goes on at the travel teams than does usually by the coach at a school who is also a teacher and may not even really be a coach, like they were never trained to be a coach type thing. It just depends, obviously, so that's another thing that you can usually find elsewhere. Most of the time, homeschooling provides a better opportunity for your kid to explore their interests than being horned in to a public school schedule where they're at school from here to here and then they've got homework up to here. In the meantime, your kid at home has all day almost to explore what interests them. The other thing about my daughter is she was behind on her violin learning curve schedule. She started late and then decided she wanted to major in it.


So she had to get through a certain level of instruction in a very short period of time to get up to the level to be ready to audition for college, so she needed to practice three to four hours a day. This was all driven by her. This was not anything that I tried to do. She's just a very self-motivated individual, and she could not have practiced like that three to four hours every day if she had been involved in been going to public school. So being home gave her the opportunity to have that opportunity to get ready to audition at college. So there are so many ways that homeschooling does not limit your opportunities, but actually opens them up. The other side of that coin is there are some opportunities at the schools that we didn't want our kids to have.


We didn't want our kids to be exposed to drugs. We didn't want our kids to be exposed to teen sex. We didn't want our kids to be instructed about sex and all of those other things by the government mandated lists of things that need to be covered, so among other things; bullying and peer pressure is another one. Those opportunities that your kids get at the schools, we didn't want our kids to have those, so we were happy they were missing on those opportunities. I just think if anybody is making their decision based on, "Oh, there's so much more that they can take part in at the school," don't make your decision based on that. With a little creativity and a little effort, you can generally replace just about anything that goes on there with something that you're able to do through your homeschool or even better.

Janna Koch (38:08):

Yeah, that's a great encouragement because I do think that parents worry. It's funny because sometimes I talk to parents and I say, "Okay, well you were a cheerleader in high school. Your husband played football, there's no guarantees that that's what your children want to do." Right?

Ann Karako (38:25):

That's so true.

Janna Koch (38:28):

We don't have to live vicariously through our children. We don't have to relive those glory days. I didn't have glory days in high school, so there was no misconception for me there, and I was grateful for that, very grateful. Why don't you tell our listeners where they can find your material. How can they connect with what you're doing in the homeschool community?

Ann Karako (38:49):

Sure. So the main place would be my website, notthathardtohomeschool.com. It's mostly geared toward high school, but I am going to be developing a K-8 section in there as well. So that's going to be coming soon with more and more articles about K-8. Also, Facebook groups are a great place. I have two of them. One of them is called It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School. It just reached 34,000 members here a few days ago. Then the other one is, It's Not That Hard to Homeschool K-8 and it's over 10,000 members. So they're both great places to come and talk to other moms if you want to ask a question about a particular curriculum and anybody else's experience with it, or if you're having this particular conundrum about how to schedule things, or your teen is doing something that, excuse me, with their math and you can't figure it out, any number of questions you can come and ask and hear pretty much right away from other moms.


We also have sponsors in those groups who will communicate directly with you, interact with you about their products, and that's been really helpful for everybody. It's totally non-obtrusive. It's not in-your-face, but you can literally just talk directly to the curriculum provider with your questions, and that's pretty cool too. Then, I've got a very tiny Instagram account. I wouldn't necessarily ... and I also have a few YouTube videos. They're great, such as they are. But the other thing, though, is the podcast called It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School. That comes out every first and third Friday, and you can look for that on I'm pretty sure almost any podcast outlet that you would have on your phone or wherever it is that you listen to them. So those are the places to find me. If I can be so bold, I just wanted to share too that I do have a couple of books.


This is the flagship book. It's called Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School, and it will walk you through the research and planning process to get ready for high school so that you know haven't missed anything, and yet still within that idea of you get to pick what's best for your kid and you. Then Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School is a great companion to Cure the Fear. It will help you set reasonable expectations so you're not burdening yourself and setting yourself up for overwhelm. Then For the Record is all about grading and paperwork, and then, Taming the Transcript is about making that transcript for your kid because you can make one from scratch. You don't need to buy a service. You can, but you don't need to.

Janna Koch (41:19):

Wonderful. Well, before we go, why don't you share a homeschool hack with our families?

Ann Karako (41:25):

Sure. I'll share two, but I'll make them both very quick. The first one is in general, don't grade daily work, no need to grade daily work. This applies from K through 12, but it was really helpful in high school. Remember that when a kid has learned something from a lesson and now they're maybe doing comprehension questions or they're doing math practice problems, those are practice. They just were exposed to something and now they're getting the opportunity to practice it. It's not really fair to grade them on practice. That's like grading them when you take them out for a driver's training session. They're still learning how to drive. Are you going to knock off points because they do a rolling stop? No, you're not. We're just in the process of learning here, and so daily work, you can take a whole lot of work off your plate.


If you only put a grade on things like chapter tests and final drafts of papers or final projects, you still want to correct the daily work, obviously, to find out what was wrong and go back and fix it in some way, but you don't need to actually assign a grade to that. That just makes everything so much easier. When your kid is in high school, maybe they can start grading their daily work or checking their daily work. The second hack is when you're dealing with a teen, let them sleep in. It'll make for a happier life for both of you. Use those hours in the morning when your kid is still sleeping to work with the younger kids, but let your teen sleep in because they need a lot of sleep during this age. I think it will help everything in the household run a little smoother because they won't be so cranky. It's just another one.

Janna Koch (43:05):

Then in turn, we won't be so cranky.

Ann Karako (43:08):

Exactly. That's exactly right.

Janna Koch (43:11):

Well, Ann, thank you so much for coming on and talking to us today about why we really shouldn't be nervous to homeschool during high school. Thank you for the resources that you offer, the homeschool community, all the work, the blood, sweat and tears that you have put in over these years. We as homeschool moms coming up in to this, I speak for all of us when I say thank you and we appreciate you.

Ann Karako (43:35):

Well, it's been my pleasure, all of it. Thank you for having me on here today. This has been fun.

Janna Koch (43:41):

Thank you guys for watching. Until next time, bye.