I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
As I write this post, I am starting our year of homeschooling with son #3 entering 11th grade. Each of my boys has presented challenges during the high school years. I thought it the perfect time to gather up some of what I’ve shared before and add new items as well to create an epic post on How to Homeschool High School and Keep Your Sanity.
- 1 Planning for Success When You Homeschool in the High School Grades
- 2 The Nitty Gritty Details for How to Homeschool High School
- 2.1 How to Organize Your Homeschool Plans
- 2.2 Selecting Curriculum for High School
- 2.3 Reviews of High School Level Curriculum Options
- 3 Final Thoughts on How to Homeschool High School
I do not claim to have all the answers. Rather, this is my sharing what I’ve learned from taking 2 boys through high school with a 3rd in the process now.
Planning for Success When You Homeschool in the High School Grades
Like any aspect of life where you have an end game in mind, you need a plan of attack. Or, you might call it a plan for success.
Whatever label you place on it, planning is an integral part of the process. You can’t discuss how to homeschool high school without mentioning it. That’s because these years help lay the foundation for what will come in the future.
Discern & Own Your End Game
There are many reasons why someone would choose to homeschool high school grades.
Maybe you’ve always home educated the kids and can not envision sending them to school.
Or, you might be dissatisfied with local education options.
Your child might learn better independently and has passions that won’t be considered in a regular school.
Those reasons need to be considered when planning out the high school years.
However, you and your student also need to discern what the ‘end game’ is when high school is over. Basically, what path will they pursue to become a productive member of society?
Do they plan to pursue a career which requires a degree?
Is there a trade which interests them?
Has the idea of military service caught their eye?
Along with “what more do I need to do education wise to be a productive member of society?,” there is also “do I plan to marry and have a family?” Because the two questions go hand in hand in helping find a career path or job that will support a family. (Most teens don’t necessarily think about those costs.)
Determine the Path to Your Goal
The courses you establish for their high school years take the end goal in mind. A student who wants to apprentice for a trade does not need quite the same course lineup compared to the one who needs to attend college.
I’ve tackled this subject a bit in Planning High School Classes for the Homeschool Parent. Specifically, it touched on what classes they need and the method I used to plan and track it all.
Something we had not truly done at that point was to do assessments on what careers a child is best suited to pursue. A review of CashCrunch Careers helped some with my 2nd son looking at what path to take. (As I write he is still uncertain and we’ll be digging deeper this year.)
Once they have an idea of what careers/jobs interest them, you can research how to do get there. And if it is a trade, find people in your community in those positions. You just might be able to apprentice some during high school.
The Nitty Gritty Details for How to Homeschool High School
Okay, once you have the goal and a general idea established, you need to get into the nitty-gritty.
Things to consider include:
How many classes per year can my student and I handle?
What progression of courses should we take?
Will I teach/mentor all the subjects or outsource some?
Is dual enrollment a possibility for my student?
How to Organize Your Homeschool Plans
When it comes to planning and tracking there are different ways to approach.
For high school, I have always looked at what was required for college admission and to qualify for state-based scholarships for graduating seniors. There are also great resources like Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork (reviewed) and The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens.
Although I like looking at printed calendars and lists, I have found keeping most of it digital is a lifesaver. Most digital options have the capacity to print out what you want when you want it.
My long-time favorite has been Homeschool Tracker Plus.
I purchased it for my computer over a decade ago and have always done the computer-based path. They stopped supporting the software several years back, but I was able to eek along. They do offer a cloud-based version now and I should be able to import my database to it. I just haven’t felt the need to spend the extra money yet.
This summer had me testing out MySchoolYear again. It is also a subscription-based service, but I am impressed thus far.
When I want something that isn’t easily printed from the digital program, I like using forms from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. (Read my review of this comprehensive subscription for Christian homeschool families.)
Reviews of different Homeschool Planners:
Selecting Curriculum for High School
Here is where there are so many options that it can be daunting. And, when you ask another parenting how to homeschool high school, the underlying question is often more about what to use.
If you have been homeschooling for a while, a few of the choices might have already been made. Such as religious or secular for materials. Spiral or mastery approach. Textbooks or living books.
Is The Program “Enough”?
However, high school is when you start thinking about whether the beloved program you’ve used in early grades will be “enough” for the high school years. Enough could be related to the required effort (rigor) or time to complete.
For example, we used Math-U-See through high school. Some people think it isn’t rigorous enough, yet my son transitioned into college-level math classes just fine. But, on the flip side, Teaching Textbooks was raved about by friends and a high school teacher friend looked at the level I was trying to use for 9th grade and said it was missing too many things.
Can My Student Earn College Credit?
Another consideration is whether your student can earn college credit while in high school. This can be done via dual enrollment or having them study for CLEP exams.
While this is a wonderful thing, for some people the cost of dual enrollment is too high or their student just isn’t ready for it. This is where those CLEP exams are great as the cost is significantly lower and you aren’t tethered to an instructor’s assessment of your child.
You can see one path for CLEP in this past review: How to Earn College Credit from Home with CLEP Prep.
Who Will Actually Teach My Student?
When people ask this question, it often goes back to feelings of inadequacy. Some states make it so difficult to homeschool and imply that only a certified teacher can truly handle it. I call baloney!
How your student is ‘taught’ is truly up to you. Planning and implementing everything yourself is always an option. However, that removes the need for the student to become more independent. I’ve tried to use a mix of some instructor driven, student-driven, and outside classes to help prepare them for after high school.
Many homeschool curriculum options are written for minimal or no prep for the parent. The texts are more conversational with all assignments clearly marked for your student. They can be given to a high school student and the parent then is more mentor than the teacher. You can focus more on helping them learn accountability.
Enroll Them in a Class
If you have a subject (e.g. math or science) that seems too daunting, then defer to someone with an education in that area and a passion for the subject. Dual enrollment as a junior or senior is one option some choose.
Sometimes, you can find a community member offering classes for homeschool students. You pay the fee and they go to the scheduled classes. I taught science (labs only and a full physics class) when we lived in Alaska full time.
The parents always were grateful to have someone with multiple science degrees leading their students. One boy was with me for three years and went from disliking science to not wanting to stop reading his physics text.
Online classes are another option growing exponentially for homeschool students. I’ve had several people tell me to start doing my classes online since I’m not in one spot long enough for full-semester classes.
When your student is interested in a unique area, you may find a community member to help guide your student. This is often for career paths where apprenticeships are the norm. Or, they might want to get some hands-on experience through a job and count it as learning.
If you are able to find one that fits your needs, a cooperative learning experience could be a great fit. Some co-ops tend to focus more on providing enrichment and social interaction. But, if you can find one focused on academics, then it could work out well.
We participated in a wonderful co-op with a handful of families back in Maryland. Each parent had a role in teaching, but the amount of time invested was less than it would have been teaching all 3 subject areas (history, literature, and science) to multiple grades.
Other Articles Related to Selection Curriculum for High School Grades
Here are a few of the past articles I’ve written regarding our approach to selecting curriculum.
Planning High School Classes for the Homeschool Parent
History and Science for High School
Selecting the Best Electives in High School
How to Teach High School Language Arts Without Tears
Reviews of High School Level Curriculum Options
I’ve grouped these to make it easier to find by subject. Homeschool Review Crew sponsored posts should have a link at the bottom to take you to a link-up of all the reviews done for that vendor.
Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition
Aviation Education and History is Delivered Online
Computer Science for Kids Made Easy with Digital Savvy
Technology for High School with Homeschool Programming’s TeenCoder
Philosophy Adventure by Homeschool Adventure Co.
Tackling Formal Logic in Our Homeschool Using The Discovery of Deduction
Bring a Writing Instructor into Your Homeschool with Essentials in Writing
Guitar 360 Method: Beginner Classes Online
Christian Art History Curriculum: The Master and His Apprentices
Online Piano Lessons to Develop Skills
TOS Crew Review: Growing Healthy Homes
Easy to Use High School Foreign Language Instruction: Spanish I
High School Spanish II with Middlebury Interactive Languages
Homeschool Spanish Academy ~ High School Program
Homeschool Spanish Academy ~ Learning Spanish With Native Speakers as Your Guide
Hewitt Homeschooling British Literature: Mid – Late 19th Century
Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1
Memoria Press Poetry and Short Stories: American Literature Set
Nonfiction High School Writing from Sharon Watson
High School Writing with Student Writing Intensive
Writing Fiction in High School
British Medieval Studies Using Lightning Literature and Composition from Hewitt Homeschooling
How to Teach Essay Writing and Prepare for the SAT
Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers Review
Bring Great Literature Alive with Veritas Press Omnibus II
Fortuigence: An Online Writing Course For Teens
Bridgeway English ~ Student Paced Learning that Sets a Firm Foundation
Excellence in Literature: Introduction to Literature
Introducing UnLock Math, a New Homeschool Pre-Algebra Online Math Curriculum
UnLock Math Geometry: Bringing High School Math Online
Homeschool Math On the Go with Demme Learning
Math Essentials: No-Nonsense Algebra and Geometry
General Chemistry from Novare Science & Math
Supercharged Science: Easily Bring STEM to Your Homeschool
Homeschool Marine Biology from Apologia
High School Science for Homeschoolers: Physics 101
Science for High School Biology ~ A Research-Based Approach to Learning
Quality Science Labs Physics Experiments In Your Home
Science Online Curriculum ~ Chemistry from Fascinating Education
Teacher Friendly Chemistry ~ Review
TOS Crew Review – Friendly Chemistry
Learning Ancient History with Omnibus 1 from Veritas Press
Christian History Studies with Memoria Press
Middle Ages Made Easy with Veritas Press History Omnibus II
Ancient Rome History Made Easy with Classical Education Approach
Online Curriculum Supplement for Middle and High School Students (Standard Deviants)
Standard Deviants Accelerate: An Online Learning Resource
Arming Students for Optimal Learning with Victus Study Skills System Review
Honing Your Study Skills with In the Hands of a Child
Final Thoughts on How to Homeschool High School
The teen years are daunting enough. Helping guide your student through the high school years while homeschooling can be a joyful process. A bit of planning coupled with finding the best fit for learning opportunities is what is needed.
The above is just an overarching guide on how to homeschool high school based on my own experiences and adventures in learning.
Key Things to Remember So You Keep Your Sanity
Enlisting the help of others (especially outsourcing instruction) can be a great peacemaker for your relationship. I have found that my boys will work differently for someone other than me. Aside from that, there are times when I do not have the same expertise to instruct them.
It is okay to pivot! Sometimes the program everyone raved about just doesn’t work for your student or family. While it can be tempting to push through, sometimes it is better for everyone to set it aside and change your approach. Or customize what you’ll do. We did this with Sonlight for American History. Loved the novels, but not the anchor “textbook.” So we ditched that series and found a different anchor text.
Cherish this time with your child. Keep your focus on the relationship for the long haul. If that means outsourcing some of their instruction, then take that path. I did this for writing with my boys using Write at Home for a mentor approach. One less thing for them to see me as a critical grader, especially for a more subjective subject.
Finally, your child’s success in school and life is not a direct reflection of you as a parent. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you failed them somehow when they aren’t ‘succeeding’ like other kids. We each have our own path to walk in life. The best we can do is lay a good foundation in our children. Where they go with it is up to them.
What is your approach on how to homeschool high school?
Is there a specific bug-a-boo area where you could use more help?