Should You Let Your Child Choose Their High School?

an empty school classroom

My children attend public school. This means they have a specific high school that’s in their district. On the other hand, they can attempt to transfer schools, go to a private school, or even be homeschooled.

The question is, should parents leave this decision up to their children? Should parents let their child pick their high school?

Parents and children should work together to discuss big decisions like where they go to high school. Your child’s education is still a partnership even through the teenage years. If there are different high school options, you should all explore the pros and cons before reaching a mutual agreement.

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Should Children Choose Their High School?

a mom with teenage son

This would have been a silly question when I was in high school. In the small town where I grew up, my options were “go to high school” or “drop out.”

There were no private schools, no alternative schools, and my parents would have rather had repeated root canals than home school me.

The world is a different place now. Online high schools are an option. Homeschooling is on the rise. Even many small towns offer private options.

Teens have choices when it comes to their education. However, parents still play a pivotal role in making these life-changing decisions.

Public vs. Private

Private school is not an option for my family. With the average cost of private high school being more than $16,000 per year, we had to decide between paying for high school or saving for college tuition. College won.

If price isn’t an issue, discussing private school with your child might be worthwhile.

A private high school usually offers smaller class sizes, more individualized education, and a focus on certain areas that might be very important for your family.

For instance, a religious school will have religion classes that your family might believe is vital for personal development.

Conversely, what if you want your child to go to a private school, but they prefer a public institution? Public schools offer more diversity, access to more after-school activities, and usually, a wider range of classes.

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool

Some kids want to be homeschooled. This might be because they have issues with bullying, or they feel it is healthier for them psychologically not to be put in a peer-heavy situation.

Children who face certain health concerns might find that homeschooling is the best option. They might prefer homeschooling because it allows them to study at their own pace.

A huge obstacle with choosing homeschool over in-seat education is that a parent must become a full-time teacher.

Not every parent is able to do this. Some work full-time. Others don’t have the patience for homeschooling. This move is a big one that cannot be taken lightly.

I homeschooled my children when the Covid-19 pandemic caused schools to shut down. It was, in a word, awful.

I am NOT a teacher. I LOVE my children. I did what I could to make it fun. I even had a class store, virtual field trips, and electives that they could choose from.

However, I still had a difficult time separating my mom duties from my teacher duties. We struggled and breathed a sigh of relief when it was all over. Homeschooling simply isn’t for everyone.

I had difficulty seperating my mom duties from my teacher duties.

When I tried to homeschool my kids.

Transferring Districts

My daughter is still in middle school, but she has already talked about transferring high schools when the time comes.

She is comfortable with the high school that’s in our district. It’s the one her brother attends. It’s a good school with a lot to offer.

However, another high school in our city is close to her dance studio. The idea of being able to walk from school to dance is appealing to her.

This issue is still a few years away. In the end, I will probably let her make that decision. I know this because she was allowed to transfer middle schools at her own choosing.

The middle school in our district is close to home, and most of her friends go there. However, she had the option to go to a middle school with a STEAM focus, and that was what she wanted. Because all other things were equal, it was her choice.

There may be many reasons to transfer districts. It could be because of the curriculum or location. It might be that one school has a better reputation than another.

If it doesn’t cause harm or frustration to the family, a child’s request to transfer should at least be considered.

Early Graduation and GEDs

adult talking to a teenager

Some kids aren’t able to finish high school in a traditional way. There are far too many reasons for this to list them all here.

If your child is in a situation that makes completing traditional high school a hardship, you might consider letting them graduate early or get a GED.

High school is about more than just an education. High school is where teens can explore different subjects and activities.

They might find that they love art, literature, history, or math. They could have access to work career-readiness classes that prepare them for a future in medicine, journalism, construction, or childcare.

A teen who states they wish to leave school early should spend some serious time thinking about whether or not this is the best decision for their future. Talk with a school counselor or a trusted professional.

Try every effort to ensure there is no other option before agreeing to end a high school career prematurely. An early out has far-reaching implications that may take years to finally resolve.

Key Takeaways

At a minimum, teens need to have input on their education. If all things are equal, they should even have the final say.

Do you agree? Do you think your teenager should choose their high school? Discuss it in the comments!

Have You Read These?

Frequently Asked Questions

If it doesn’t cause harm or frustration to the family, your son’s request to change schools should at least be considered.

It does matter what school your kids go to. Kids who go to better schools can potentially be set up for success for later grades and for college.