The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling High School


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The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling High school offers tips on all aspects of homeschooling the high school years, from planning to post-graduation.

I spent a lot of time during my first pregnancy worrying about labor and delivery. I don’t like pain. Shocker. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I must have had myself pretty terrified because I distinctly remember one of the first things I said to my husband afterward. “That wasn’t so bad.”

True story, y’all.

Now, that I’ve graduated two homeschoolers, I feel that way about homeschooling high school, too. It terrified me. I just knew I’d screw something up beyond repair. But, you know what? Homeschooling high school wasn’t that bad.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling High School

Yes, you may need to step up your record-keeping game. Yes, you may need to consider tutors, co-ops, online classes, or dual-enrollment. But, you really can homeschool high school.

Here’s what you need to know along with some helpful resources so you can dig in deeper where you need to.

Homeschooling High School – How do I prepare?

You don’t want to wait until 9th grade to start preparing to homeschool high school. That’s just a recipe for stress. I like to use the middle school years, mainly 8th grade, to get my kids ready for high school. Some of the areas I focus on are:

  • Strengthening any weak areas. Does my tween need to brush up on his multiplication facts? Does she need to improve reading fluency and comprehension? Should we focus on writing?
  • Keeping transcripts. I like to keep transcripts starting in 8th grade. I get into the practice of maintaining more detailed records, and I have all the information I need to count some of my student’s 8th-grade work for high school credit.
  • Working independently. Middle school is when I like to start the educational baton-pass to my kids. By high school, I want them working primarily on their own.
  • Exploring curriculum choices. Don’t waste time with ill-fitting curriculum in high school. Use 8th grade to try out lower levels of potential high school choices when you can.

Getting Ready

Check out these tips for using middle school to get ready for high school:

Academics

The thought of teaching high school level subjects intimidates many homeschool parents. Take comfort in the fact that at this point we’re more facilitators than instructors. Our job morphs into guidance counselor and helping our kids find the right resources for their independent learning.

That doesn’t mean that we need to turn our students loose. We need to remain involved with our independent learners for oversight, tutoring, and guidance. Use the following tips for teaching many of the core high school subjects.

Science

When we hear the words “high school science,” we feel the first stirrings of panic thinking of dissecting frogs on the kitchen table or blowing up the house with a chemical reaction.

High school science doesn’t have to be scary. Believe it or not, it can be fun! First, we have to learn to teach high school science without sucking the fun out of it. Then, it helps to remember a few crucial facts.

  • Teaching high school science doesn’t have to mean biology and chemistry. There are many alternatives to traditional high school courses. My oldest loved marine biology, astronomy, and health.
  • You don’t have to teach high school science yourself. Look for online courses or dual-enrollment options. Try a co-op. It’s more fun to do science with friends, even if it’s just your family and a couple of others.
  • You don’t have to do dissections if you don’t want to. We found them fascinating, but virtual dissections and videos are an option.

If you still feel intimidated, check out these articles for more tips and reassurance:

Homeschooling High School

Language Arts

I’m a word nerd, so I love digging into language arts. In high school, the subject usually encompasses literature, composition, vocabulary, and developing research and analytical skills.

I like combining history, literature, and geography, so history lessons typically drive literature choices at our house. For example, we’ll do American literature the same year we do American history and world literature when we do world history.

And, don’t forget to include popular modern literature. I’ve read that many colleges find that homeschooling families focus too heavily on classics. It’s okay to include books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and The Hunger Games.

Here are some more fantastic language arts tips:

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling High School

Math

Science and math. Those are the high school two subjects that usually strike fear into the hearts of homeschooling parents. As with science, look for online courses, co-ops, tutoring, and dual-enrollment. Teaching Textbooks proved a sanity-saver for me. And, apps like DragonBox Math make even algebra fun.

History

In high school, I thought history was boring. So, for me, it’s essential to give my kids a different opinion of what is now my favorite subject. I love diving into history with literature, historical fiction, and captivating biographies.

For high school students, courses such as government, economics, sociology, and psychology fall under the social studies umbrella with history. My kids and I loved Constitutional Literacy from Apologia.

Homeschooling High School

Choosing High School Homeschool Curriculum

One of the best parts of homeschooling high school is getting your teens involved in choosing curriculum – even if that curriculum doesn’t look like traditional textbooks. Try these tips for including your teen in the process:

  • Take your student to curriculum fairs. Let her check out the curriculum options for herself. If the choices are overwhelming, choose a few you think she’ll like and let her choose from those.
  • Consider the way your teen studies. Some teens actually like workbooks. Consider if your student learns best with self-directed, hands-on learning, audio books, DVD courses, or textbooks. I appreciate curriculum publishers like Apologia who offer packages with a textbook, DVD, and audio CD. They have something for every type of learner.
  • Ask. Most teens will gladly offer their opinion if you ask. You may be searching for a hands-on, project-based curriculum when your teen just wants you to hand him a workbook and let him get it done. (Ask me how I know.)
  • Don’t just look at homeschool curriculum. By the time they’re in high school, most teens can handle courses designed for adult learners. Look for online courses from community colleges or consider sites like MasterClass or Udemy. My son has taken many classes on Udemy.

Don’t Change Your Style

Homeschooling high school doesn’t mean that you have to change your homeschooling style either. Just because you have to keep transcripts doesn’t mean there isn’t room for interest-led or project-based learning styles. Continue to do what works for your family!

Despite what the stereotypes might have you believe, we aren’t all raising National Spelling Bee champions or kids who graduate college at 14. Some of us even have {gasp} struggling learners. If that’s you, don’t miss High School for Academically Behind Children.

homeschool high school electives

Electives

Electives are the fun part of high school – the part where students get to choose what they want to learn in addition to the core subjects that they’re supposed to learn.

Nearly any topic, skill, hobby, or interest can qualify for elective credit. Students typically take at least seven elective courses, so they’re a fantastic way for your teen to dive into his interests. You never know when a passion might lead to a career or a life-long hobby.

Graduation

Many homeschool parents have questions about graduating their students. How do you graduate a homeschooled teen? When do you know they’ve met the requirements for graduation? The following articles address those questions and more.

homeschool high school graduation tips

Transcripts

Transcripts can cause homeschool parents undue stress. Like homeschooling high school, transcripts aren’t that bad. These articles will help you understand how to create a quality transcript for your student.

Getting Ready for College

Make sure that your teen is prepared for college – if college is in his future. If it’s not, there are plans for that, too!

Homeschooling High School Standardized Tests

College Entrance Exams

If college is in your student’s future, planning and prepping for entrance exams is an essential aspect of the high school years. These articles can help you get ready.

Are you homeschooling high school (or have homeschool grads)? What would you add as a must-have resource?

For more ideas, follow my Homeschooling Teens board on Pinterest.

Originally posted April 2015, completely updated and revised November 2018

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This post is part of the Ultimate Guides series from the bloggers of iHN. Check out all of the Ultimate Guides posts on topics about everything from homeschooling to homemaking to marriage.

iHomeschool Network Ultimate Guides 2015

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9 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this Kris! I have been saving some of your posts and a few others on homeschooling middle and high school. We are coming up on it soon. I want to have as much info in my tool box so I can get a better handle on what will work best for our family.

  2. Found this at the perfect time in my life. Thank you! I’m actually printing out all the sources and articles so I can refer back to them all in one place. Amazing info. Again, thank you so much 👍

  3. I need help applying for home school in Montana because I´m doing college and finishing high school and doing college at the same time but I´m moving from Georgia to Montana

    1. I suggest that you contact HSLDA (the Home School Legal Defense Association). You can find them at HSLDA.org. They know the laws in each state and should be able to give you guidance. Or you can contact a homeschool group in the area of Montana where you’re going to live and see if someone there can help you. You can find contact information for homeschool groups in each state at https://www.homeschool-life.com/group-coops.

  4. Great post and so many resources so go through! Do you have a resource you would recommend as far as what skills your child needs in order for them to be ready for high school? I want to make sure my child is academically ready for homeschool high school and we plan on using middle school to fill in those gaps, once we figure out exactly what they are.

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