After the socialization question (which is totally ridiculous, but that’s for another day), the second most popular questions homeschool parents get is “Do you plan to continue homeschooling in high school?“
I remember people asking me this when my kids were still in kindergarten and 3rd grade. I always wanted to answer “Um, no. I think I’ll try 3rd through 8th grades first.” People seem to be obsessed with the idea that high school is some how too difficult for parents to teach — especially high school math and science.
We are just finishing up my daughter’s 10th grade year and it is really going well. She is learning, planning for the future, and enjoying it. The transition to high school has been pretty smooth for us thanks to lots of advice from veteran homeschool mentors and lots of research.
Lately, I’ve been getting questions via email and social media from nervous parents about homeschooling high school. How do I know what curriculum to choose? How much math and science do students need? What if I can’t teach math?
While I am happy to give suggestions, I am in the midst of homeschooling high school myself and can only share what has worked to prepare us for high school and what my mentors have shared with me. Here are my top tips for taking the fear out of homeschooling high school. You can do it!
Tips For Homeschooling High School
You can watch the Facebook Live session and hear me explain each of these tips.
Start Preparing Well Before High School Begins
The end goal of high school is not a piece of paper. The goal of high school is to prepare your student for life after high school. For some students, that will mean college. For others, that will mean work or internships. Whatever their path. They need to be prepared.
When students finish school, they will not be spoon fed information. They will need to figure things out of their own. This is true in college and the work force. You need to develop independent learners.
We started teaching our kids to learn independently in elementary and middle school. It started small and in developmentally appropriate ways. We started with reading. They went from reading aloud and then discussing the book or passage to reading by themselves and answering questions on paper. Our kids also learned educational independence in nature studies. If they found something they were captivated by on a nature walk, it was up to them to research it and report their findings back to me.
By the time we reached high school, my daughter was almost a self-learner. She is responsible for her studies and getting assignments done. My job has gone from teacher to facilitator and grader. She now has the ability to find information out on her own and is learning responsibility.
Begin With The End In Mind
As we just talked about, the goal of high school is to prepare students for life after high school. To reach that goal, you are going to need to know what you need to reach it. Here are 4 things to keep in mind:
- your state graduation requirements
- college entrance requirements
- career goals
- necessary life skills
You can look up your state’s graduation requirements by just Googling them. These are the minimums you need and are usually quite easy to attain. Keep in mind that if your student is planning on attending college, the minimum will usually not meet most college entrance requirements.
When we started planning for high school, my daughter was unsure of what she wanted to do when she graduated. She didn’t know if she wanted to spend 4 years in college, get experience through internships and apprenticeships, or join the military. I knew I wanted to put her in the best position to win, so we researched what each path would require and what life would be like in each scenario.
A helpful tool that we used was the Career Exploration Bundle from 7 Sisters Homeschool. This resource has a career exploration questionnaire and workbook to find out what makes your teen tick and what interests them. It really helped my daughter narrow her interests. There is, also, an interview guide that is so helpful when applying for jobs and internships.
In our daughter’s case, she wants to work with exotic animals in a zoo or rehab setting. She could get an entry level job with no degree, but her advancement opportunities may be limited with no degree. If her goal is to advance through the ranks of that career path, she will probably need a 4 year degree. So, we looked at what schools had a 4 year degree in animal science and found out what their entrance requirements are. Those became our 4 year high school goals. That way, when she did decide there would be no cramming in credits or internships at the last minute. She would be ready for anything.
Related post: College Prep Tips For Homeschool Students
Create A Road Map
Once you determine the amount of credits and other criteria necessary (volunteer hours, internships, etc.), you need to create a road map. You have a goal. You just need to figure out how to get there.
Your road map will include each year of high school, each subject area, and the required number of credits. For instance, if you know your student will need 4 years or credits of English, then list English under each year of school. There is no need to add a specific curriculum at this point.
Do the same for each subject. If you know you need several electives or just 2 years of a foreign language, add them in where you think it would work for your schedule. Remember, this is not set in stone. The idea is to help you visualize the steps that you need to take to get to your goal.
Many people create an excel spreadsheet, use a printable, or just use a notebook to make their road map. Do what ever works for you and your student. Yes, don’t forget to get your student involved in this entire process. After all, they are the ones who have to do the actual work.
Once you have your road map created, start planning the 9th grade year. We started this process in middle school. We used middle school as prep years for high school, so that when 9th grade rolled around my daughter was ready for high school level studies.
In the spring of my daughter’s 8th grade year, we sat down with our list of courses she needed to take in 9th grade that was generated when creating our road map. It looked like this:
- English – 1 credit
- Math – 1 credit
- Social Studies – 1 credit
- Foreign Language – 1 credit
- Electives ?
Using this list, we started filling in the curriculum we knew she wanted to use based on past experience. I wanted my daughter to take ownership of her education. She already took the Career Exploration questionnaire and had an idea of where she was heading. We had researched what it takes to get there together. I wanted her to choose the right curriculum for her.
We also had the opportunity to review Rosetta Stone homeschool spanish. She really enjoyed it, so we stuck with that. That left us with a lot of curriculum to choose. To do that, we headed to your local homeschool convention and a trip to a Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati.
At the conventions, she was able to see what was available. She could actually touch and look through textbooks, talk to authors, and families with experience with each curriculum and resource. In the end, my daughter was so excited about her curriculum that she actually started her history/literature curriculum from Beautiful Feet in the car on the way home!
I have to admit, choosing the core curriculum was easier than choosing electives. There are so many choices, but not all are quality or able to hold my daughter’s attention. One source has stood out to us for their variety of courses available and the quality.
7 Sisters Homeschool offers high school electives written by veteran homeschool moms who have taught their children and others in co-op situations. They know that busy work and fluff aren’t what students and parents want or need. Their lessons are meaty and to the point. My daughter has used and enjoyed many.
Here are the choices my daughter made for her first three years of high school:
Get A Planner Or Organizational System Both Parent and Student Can Use
Now that you have your road map created and your curriculum purchased, it is time to think about the day to day planning. I have found that it is best that the student and the parent both have a planner, and those planners should work together.
For instance, I have always used planners with my kids. On Sunday night, I plan the week’s lessons and I write in each of their planners what they will be doing each day. When they were younger and I did each lesson with them, I just followed along in their planner. As they got older and started working more independently, I wrote down their schedule in my own planner, so I could make sure they were actually getting done what I asked.
Now that we are homeschooling high school, there are some additional things to record and keep track of than just schedules. There are credits, grades, volunteer hours, days in school, and course descriptions. Keeping track of all this is a little beyond my paper planner. My solution to our planner and record keeping woes is Homeschool Manager.
Homeschool Manager is a web-based planner and record keeping system that not only lets your record all of your important homeschooling data, it creates reports, transcripts, and report cards! Plus, there is a parent portal and a separate student portal. The schedule gets entered once and both parties can see it.
My daughter can work independently and when she completes an assignment, she checks it off. She can also enter her math grades since Teaching Textbooks gives the grade immediately after each completed lesson. I can enter grades for assignments I grade and we can both track her progress at any given time. It is wonderful!!!!
You CAN Homeschool High School!
Above all, you need to remember that you can homeschool high school. It will take some planning and research. It will take you getting to know your child even more than you thought you already did. I hope these tips will give you what you need to get started.
This is the home stretch of your homeschooling life. Just take it step by step and enjoy the process.