Copied from: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10Fq2...actSBM/pub
This report has been created as an educational service by Shauna Reisewitz, director of Pacific Sands Academy
5 Alternatives to Traditional High School, and Why You Should Let Your Teen Try One Out
If you would like to schedule a 20 Minute FREE consultation to discuss these choices click here.
You love, know, or ARE an UNHAPPY teen in school.
Are YOU the unhappy teen? For the purpose of this report, I will be writing towards your parents, trying to convince them to give you another option. But go ahead and read this and share with them! I will be writing more towards you too, eventually.
Friend me on Facebook! I’d love to keep in touch!
(Pacific Sands Academy)
PARENTS: Perhaps your teen is more interested in non-academic subjects and just isn’t focused on her schooling; perhaps the social scene is not a fit; perhaps she’s chomping at the bit to do something else, but school stands in her way; perhaps she wants academic opportunities but finds school stifling and unchallenging.
At any rate she’s told you she wants out—and you are considering it.
Congratulations! Actually considering giving your teen this option is more than most people do, really!
We are here to tell you—yes. Give your teen a chance, let her leave her uninspiring, uneducational school.
Uneducational school? Well it is for your teen.
Here are 5 Alternatives
You Might Consider:
1. INDEPENDENT STUDIES PROGRAMS
A. District-based. Many school districts have independent studies programs. This is a place to start. Public independent studies programs have the same requirements as public schools. And they are free.
B. On-line. There are over 100 online schools. A couple that seem to get a lot of traction are Laurel Springs Academy
and Keystone National High School
. Many Universities have online high school programs as well. Here is Stanford’s
. These generally run about $7000-$15,000 per year for full time enrollment. Part-time enrollment is also generally available.
Most Independent Studies programs (public or private) have students follow a traditional academic course. So if your teen is interested in traditional academics, and is independently motivated, one of these may be a good option. You may want to buy Tom Nixon’s Complete Guide to Online High Schools.
to help guide you in this decision.
2. ALTERNATIVE HIGH SCHOOLS IN YOUR AREA.
Often times alternative high schools simply are smaller, more intimate ways of approaching the same paradigm of education, but with interesting twists. A quick internet search will reveal alternative schools in you area. Some schools focus on arts or sports, and if your teen’s interests line up with the focus of the chosen alternative school’s, education here may be a viable option. Private schools tend to be expensive— starting at about 15K per year.
Enrollment at a democratically-run Sudbury style school
. This is a growing movement in education— At these schools, self-determined learning is celebrated, and occurs in a community based on equality and mutual respect. These schools have no curriculum, no tests, and allow interest-led learning to happen naturally. Students vote on mentors and advisors to work in the schools, who will then guide the students in fields of their choices. These schools generally take students ages 5-19, and are often more affordable (around 5-8,000 per year) than other private schools. Enrollment may likely be a welcome relief for your teen this idea appeals to him, he likes making friends, and if you have a democratic school in your area
3. TESTING FOR DIPLOMA EQUIVALENCY:
Once your teen either earns a diploma or passes a
diploma equivalency exam, she gains the following:
- freedom from the law that compels her to go to high school.
- independent access to community colleges.
- freedom to work without a work permit in the state of CA.
(Take a look at this page
for other state requirements.)
When she turns 18, she gains all these advantages simply because of her age.
You probably already know that your teen can take the GED anywhere in the country when she turns 18.
However, you may not know about the CHSPE. California has the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) available to teens who are 16 or have completed their 2nd semester of their sophomore year. This test carries the same weight as the GED and by California state law is the legal equivalent to a high school diploma. Interestingly, a teen doesn’t need to be a resident of California, she just needs to be in California, and many people come from neighboring states to take it. Wisconsin and New York have similar versions. In Wisconsin you need to be in the state for one week before taking the test; in New York, one month. If this option appeals to you and your teen, you can creatively approach these hurdles!
Will your state accept the CHSPE? The U.S. Constitution (Art. IV, Sec. 1) has a “full faith and credit clause” that seems to apply. You can't be a high school graduate in one state and then not be a highschool graduate in another state. This should be sufficient for community college acceptance in other states, but it never hurts to check with your college(s) of choice.
Homeschooling is the most rapidly growing segment education, and can be done is a way that supports your teen, and his interests. Methods vary– from schooling at home, to charter programs within school districts, to interest-led learning to unschooling.
In California, if you homeschool independently, you don’t have to worry about state standards and testing requirements, while if you homeschool using the support of a charter or public school, you generally have to follow state standards and testing requirements. Different states have different requirements
. Check that link out for starters.
Again, a quick internet search will yield many options where you can find support. You can start here.
Homeschooling has many advantages. For one, it can be very free form- and take any number of paths.
Your teen can study subjects that interest him in ways that interest him. You can also find more interesting ways to approach less interesting topics.
Homeschooling for teens can include taking community college courses, participating in sports, clubs and activities, spending lots of time pursuing personal interests, taking online courses, volunteering, traveling, blogging, starting a small business.
You can homeschool on a college prep track, or not. Check out this book: College Without High School
, a step by step guide on how to homeschool through high school—college prep style.
Unschooling is a branch of independent homeschooling that fundamentally believes that learning is fun and happens all the time
, especially when kids are interested, engaged, see connections and are self directed. It does not happen when kids are coerced or bored or don’t see the point.
If you haven’t unschooled before, unschooling would start with a deschooling process
, which is just as important (if not more) for the parent as the kid.
In unschooling, parents work in partnership with their teens to help them follow their interests and passions. They don’t worry about covering particular academic subjects.
Unschooled teens live life following their interests. They often become experts in their fields, take college courses, travel, get deep into video games, work jobs, hang out with friends, create blogs, participate in community activities, to name a few possibilities.
Unschooling is a growing underground movement, and you can find lots of information online. You can start here
to find information about unschooling teenagers. And here
to find more about living joyfully with your teen and unschooling in general.
If you would like to schedule a FREE 20 minute consultation, about what option might suit your family best, click here!
So why allow your teen to do one of these alternatives?
- Isn’t it better for her to “tough it out and get her education?
- You had to do it.
- It will make her stronger.
- I’d be ruining her chances to go to college!
- I can’t homeschool!
- We can’t afford private school!
Here’s what we know, and why we believe you should explore these options!
1. School Does NOT Equal Education.
Education is the process of preparing oneself intellectually for one’s place in the world. It entails learning which is quite different from being taught.
Schools are places where kids go and teachers teach. Learning doesn't necessarily happen there for all kids. For learning to happen, the learner has to be interested and engaged. If your teen is neither interested nor engaged in school, he is wasting his time.
Your teen can get educated and learn in other ways— by pursuing what interests him through life experiences, online education, the internet. We live in an information age, where anything you might want to know is available at the click of a button. Schools, the medium of education from back in the day when information was a commodity, for some kids are outdated now; information is everywhere.
Albert Einstein quipped once that “education is what remains after one has forgotten everything one learned in school.”
Your teen already learns all the time about what interests him. Think of your teens passions, and how he already knows quite a bit about that non-academic subject, probably more than most adults. Giving your teen freedom from school’s time requirements gives him the opportunity to pursue a real education, preparing himself for that ever nearing world of a life of independence.
2. She can still go to college.
When your teen hits 18 or has passed the CHSPE (or similar exam), she can go to Community College. Community Colleges are wonderful resources, and often have technical programs as well as academic. Community Colleges offer many opportunities to study a wide variety of subjects, thus giving a young adult a huge opportunity to find himself academically, before transferring to a 4 year college (or not).
If your teen is motivated to go to a four year college, she can pursue a college prep program online or at home, and still have the opportunity to apply and get into any number of four-year colleges. More than 1000 colleges
have admitted homeschooled students, and studies have found that homeschooled students actually complete college at a higher rate and get better grades on average. Check out this book: College Without High School
, a step by step guide on how to leave high school and still pursue a college prep life.
3. Leaving school will give your teen TIME to pursue what he loves, and the OPPORTUNITY to discover that he is, infact, smart.
We have all heard the statistics that high school dropouts are less likely to be successful in life, and more likely to engage in criminal behavior, etc. However, consider this idea: high school dropouts consider themselves failures, and were not engaged during their formative teen years, and fundamentally do not believe themselves to be intelligent. Their intelligences were not celebrated, built upon, and challenged in constructive ways.
When a teen starts his young adulthood in failure, he has very little confidence to build a life of joy and abundance upon.
Everyone is intelligent. School unfortunately values very few types of intelligence. Is your teen a master gamer? Is she super handy and loves fixing things? Is he a musician? A surfer? An artist? A tinkerer? A naturalist? The types of intelligence that kids develop in pursuing their passions are useful in life, yet our current school culture holds little value for them.
Reframe leaving school as an entrepreneurial move, not a cop-out. Leaving this traditional school culture gives your teen a chance to develop creativity in his real skill sets. And if he leaves school not as a high school dropout, but as a budding expert in his interests and passions, he will have a lot more confidence to take his next steps in life.
4. And from pursuing these passions, your teen is more likely to find a field that she cares about, and eventually find work she is passionate about.
Meet Ava, a teen who could not focus on school nor had interest in any academic subjects. She regularly got D’s and F’s in her academic classes. But we saw intelligence in her. She was extremely socially intelligent and a very talented artist. What she was interested in? fashion, hair and makeup. She stopped attending school, and attended a beauty school at 17. At 19, she currently has a successful and growing career as a professional makeup artist.
Or Zach, who had no interest in doing homework or completing academic subjects; as a result, he floundered in school and was on the path of not being eligible for a high school diploma. We saw intelligence in him. He worked on a ranch and was incredible with horses; he was also very handy and could complete any number of construction projects. He currently works in his father’s construction business, and part time on a ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Or Max, a student who at age 13, was just starting to learn his multiplication tables. He was always allowed to follow his interests at his own pace, and never went to elementary, middle or high school. He loved gaming and strategy, theater, magic and puzzles. He began taking community college classes at age 16, and is now studying advanced mathematics in Budapest through Hampshire College (where he is currently a Junior—and double majoring in math and drama).
Students we have worked with who either did not attend high school or left high school are currently involved in some of the following passions: attending college (UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Hampshire College, Cabrillo College, to name a few), choreographing musicals, teaching dance, mastering guitar, creating beautiful drawings (on line and off), designing web sites, designing and building underwater robots (and all kinds of other electronic devices), starting and running their own small businesses, volunteering in political, social, or environmental campaigns.
Most of all, they live lives of joy, interest and passion.
5. Your family relationships will improve.
If you truly let go of the school paradigm, and hand over control of your teen's education to her, your teen will be happier; not only will she be happier, she will be free, and ultimately become more responsible. You will have positioned yourself in her corner, supported her authentic self, and demonstrated that you have her back. You will begin to develop a partnership with your teen rather than the antagonistic-“butting heads” relationship you must surely have been experiencing trying to force her through a school system where she has been unhappy.
This takes loads of trust, time, nurturing, and loving support on your part, and won’t happen overnight. But you, as the parent, are part of this equation. By giving your teen new personal space and a new level of trust, you are setting the stage for some good times and great memories with your teen.
We at Pacific Sands Academy hope that this report has allowed you to begin thinking differently about your teen’s education. Please share this report with your teen and see if any of these options appeal to him.
And face it. Learning is not happening when he is stressed and unhappy. At least not positive educational learning. He may be learning that he stupid or that his opinions, passions and views are not important, though.
My name is Shauna Reisewitz, and I have worked with teens for over 20 years. While I have spent quite a bit of time in the traditional system (teaching high school science and math), I have spent more time in alternative education- from teaching in a school that focused on travel, to teaching overseas, to supporting learning in a Charter homeschool program, to currently homeschooling my own children.
I KNOW that learning occurs when kids (or adults) are interested, engaged, and have the opportunity to follow their own leads. Think of the last time you learned something new. It was fun, right? Did anyone coerce you? The same is true for our kids. With a little time to develop their own interests and passions, and a little mentoring, they can develop their own education, leading to a life of joy, fulfillment and abundance.
I would be happy to talk to you about your teen, his or her specific issues, and your fears or worries about leaving your traditional school.
If you would like to schedule a free consultation with me about what approach might fit best with your teen, please click here and fill in the form. I will be in contact with you!