Homeschooling High School: Figuring out Coursework

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One of my biggest concerns, when beginning to homeschool high school, was figuring out the courses. I mean, some of them were pretty easy – algebra, geometry, chemistry – but what else did I need to include? After all, it had been over 20 years since I’d been in high school.

To figure it out, I went where all good Internet-age mamas go: Google!

I searched “graduation requirements” plus my county. I didn’t have much luck there, so I wound up searching my state, Georgia. I finally found a county I’d never heard of who had very considerately put their graduation requirements and course descriptions online.

Another option would have been to look at the entrance requirements for any colleges that Brianna wanted to attend, so that we could tailor our courses to meet their requirements. However, since she didn’t have any specific schools in mind, we just went with the general graduation requirements for our state, since those should meet the basic entrance requirements of most state colleges. The plan was that we could tweak, as needed, when we got closer to deciding on a college.

The reason that I chose this route was that I want Brianna to have the option to do whatever she chooses after graduation. Going with the assumption that she will want to attend college, I wanted to make sure that what we were doing would meet those requirements and that she would at least be exposed to the same types of courses and level of work that her fellow graduates, whether public-, private- or homeschooled, would probably have had.

12-365 Pencils[9]

What we came up with – and what is probably fairly standard – was:

  • Four years of math
  • Four years of English/language arts
  • Four years of science
  • Three years of social studies
  • One year of physical education
  • Three years of foreign language and/or fine arts
  • Four electives

Basically, that means she’ll be doing the standard things like: Algebra I and II, geometry, consumer math, biology, chemistry, physics, world history, American history, and so on. Your pretty basic high school courses and we’ve got some wiggle room with the electives.


After we determined the courses, I made a table for my reference showing when we planned to do what – Freshman year: algebra, English, biology, world history, health/P.E., and an elective, for example. I was able to use the course descriptions that I found online to flesh out things like what “English 101” would look like in our home.

She took a year of Spanish before deciding that she really wanted to learn Japanese. Okay, okay. I pushed the Spanish because there was a great, very affordable class being taught for homeschoolers by a woman fluent in Spanish. Brianna hated it because she wasn’t interested in Spanish; she was interested in Japanese.


So, we’ll probably count the Spanish as one of the three years of a foreign language, even though she’ll have to take two years of Japanese – or do another year of Spanish – for the “two years of the same foreign language” requirement.

For P.E., we’ve counted her three years of volleyball. For the health portion, part of the requirement has been to read books such as And the Bride Wore White and I Kissed Dating Goodbye, since I consider abstinence until marriage as part of her physical well-being. Of course, there are also things like nutrition and physical fitness that are just part of our daily lives and discussions.

Then, I determined how Brianna would receive credit for each class…and that’s what I’ll be covering tomorrow: the three options for assigning credit for high school courses. Hope to see you then!


Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th!

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. This is a great topic, and one that so many homeschoolers need to explore….BEFORE it's time to start that freshman year.  Having lots of resources at hand and research begun is really empowering when high school looms on the horizon.  I know high school seemed very different for me as a homeschool mom; the confidence I'd felt in the younger grades seemed to fly out the window when I knew I was now building a high school transcript for my kid.

    I love that you are thinking wisely about what a "Health" credit should include; I am doing the same with my kids, and I bet those kind of books will contribute more to their actual overall health than a lot of the other materials we will read/use!

    This post from our blog at 7 Sisters might be a helpful, encouraging resource for homeschoolers who are looking into high school.  https://7sistershomeschool.com/2011/08/30/how-to-homeschool-high-school-a-quick-reference/

    A final thought:  If I could go back and talk to MYSELF at that first-kid-getting-ready-to-homeschool-high-school point, I would say this —

    RELAX.  It's okay.  God's in charge of this.  High school is no harder for Him than 2nd grade.  He's called you to homeschool; He'll show you how to do it in high school.

  2. When you get to high school there will be a fresh supply of "ney sayers", however (!), what the Lord calls you to He will enable you to do. I have 4 children, one in middle school (home). Three graduates (homeschooled), 1 a corpsman in the Navy, 1 makes films with her husband ( The Redemption Ride ), and 1 photographer. Gird yourself up, this is where the fun really begins!

  3. My son wants to study Japanese.  Which program do you use?  We lived in Japan for four years and he has a really good Japanese friend, plus he's studying karate so he wants to learn it to brush up on it.

  4. I know what you mean about that confidence going out the window. The freedom you felt in the younger grades suddenly gives way to sense of inadequacy. My confidence has slowly returned, but it took awhile.

  5. We're using Ultimate Japanese. It's a book/CD combo so they can actually hear the language being spoken. When my oldest took Spanish, the teacher, who was fluent in Spanish, used Ultimate Spanish by the same publishers, so I took that to be a good endorsement.

  6. Thank you so much for this series. I'm homeschooling my 7th grade daughter and thinking ahead to high school has me quite nervous. Looking forward to gleaning much wisdom from you to use as our jumping point!

  7. Kris, thanks for this series! My eldest's high school years are 2.5 years away, but that will fly by. I'm already considering how to "frame" her high school courses with an eye toward college requirements. I think ahead that way. 😉

  8. When my oldest started "homeschool high" two years ago, it seemed extremely daunting to me, not so much trying to figure out what to teach (I knew my state's graduation requirements), but how to teach the higher maths and sciences in particular (I barely passed Trig myself). Several things were very helpful: (1) dual enrollment: my daughter was able to take some college level courses for the price of textbooks, and I didn't have to do the teaching; (2) local co-ops: very helpful for subjects that lend themselves to a group setting, like public speaking, journalism, and science labs. Getting professionals in the community to volunteer time (for eg. an editor from a local paper to help the kids put together a newsletter) is a great benefit; (3) the vast amount of free learning resources (including full courses) that are being made available on the web; sifting through them all can be a challenge, but well worth it if you find something of quality. Speaking of which, if anyone is interested, I am building a subject-by-subject  list of free high school courses that follow North Carolina's graduation requirements. Check it out — and if you have any links, please leave them in comments. 🙂


  9. Thanks for the informative post!  We're not quite there, but it won't be long!  Not sure what my kids will want to do for high school, but I want to be prepared if they decide to continue homeschooling during those years.

  10. I live in GA and would love to have the link of the county that listed its grad requirements and course descriptions. My two oldest are both 8th graders so I've spent this year practicing transcripts, grades, credits, course descriptions, etc. your 10 days series has been quite helpful.

  11. Hi. I haven't been ignoring your request. I was waiting until I had time to look for the information. Unfortunately, I've searched and I can't find where I originally saved it. I'm pretty sure, though, that I just searched "Georgia graduation requirements." I'm sorry that I couldn't be more help!

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