You CAN Homeschool High School

Does the idea of homeschooling high school fill you with dread?

Take heart. You can homeschool high school.

Here’s the deal, there are so many more options than there were several years ago and they are expanding. Homeschooling high school is easier and more effective than ever before. My two cents about planning high school at home:

  1. Maximize your resources.
  2. Don’t switch around if you have something that works well (unless you have an amazing opportunity).
  3. Give your kids a lot of exposure to various opportunities (help your kids find them, interview, be selective).
  4. Pick subjects that teach what they claim to teach.
  5. Be realistic about your abilities.
  6. Be realistic about your kids abilities.

My son was involved in co-op (chorale, art, history unit study), on-line classes (pre-law and copy writing), private tutoring (creative writing, Latin, Algebra. II), classes at home (history, science), Great Courses & other DVD’s.

He also had the opportunity to travel to GA to campaign, go to Challenge and back to D.C. and is going to TP Nationals and Challenge staff training in the next several weeks. He was involved in drama camp, Shakespeare camp and the Festival of One Act Plays for 2 years. He worked one day a week as a farm hand and went ballroom dancing twice a month, and even helped with house rebuild projects and gardening, while doing a serious work out schedule.

He worked to fund his traveling, and travels to fund his sense of adventure. The drama is a great rhetoric exercise (public speaking/performance, memory work), not to mention fun, and was used to supplement literature. Ballroom dancing/working out equaled gym. Challenge, TeenPact events are great because they are serious apologetic/faith building programs in addition to exposure to politics.

Tips for Making a Plan

My plan for my kids was always to give them as many opportunities as made sense that we could afford and to have a clear college prep program. We did pass on some opportunities, and we didn’t participate in every single social event. Our kids didn’t do youth groups. That is part of the challenge of high school, determining where your time and energy should be, and what opportunities you have where you live. Our life in NM (activities for our older girls) was very different that the activities/opportunities our 3 younger children had.

If you have areas of weakness (for me sophomore and up, math and science), it can be helpful to bite the bullet and hire a tutor, get online classes, or take classes at the local high school. We tried program after program for math for our older girls and the result was that they felt inadequate about math and didn’t get a solid, sequential scope of upper level math. It would have been far less expensive to have just hired a tutor every week than switching around.

I see true value in finding something and sticking with it. We used Life of Fred for math. You can find lots of discussion online about the adequacy of it (or not), but we stuck with it. Our math tutor thought it was just fine and our son moved forward. If we had changed the curriculum again, that would have been time not spent moving forward.

I think the idea that every subject needs to be “Christian” is a bit odd. I have always taken the approach that I want the curriculum to teach the subject it claims to teach; Bible verses at the top of the math page just seems odd to me and confusing. The vote is in and multi-tasking does not work. I stay away from vendors that integrate their doctrine in the curriculum. It’s not that I don’t have a doctrine, it’s just that I don’t really want it taught pedantically. The exception to this, for us, is Rod and Staff grammar.

Do What Works for Your Family

My kids are not brilliant, but they are all pretty smart. They may not go to Ivy League. Most of them have more linguistic ability than symbolic. I focused heavily on writing/speaking, lit, history, while my husband does a lot of science exploration, apologetics, strategy focus with them. If my husband was homeschooling, they would probably all go into the science field because his love and passion for science is catching.

I do look at catalogs each year, but the siren song of “new, new new” can outweigh common sense so I stick with a few vendors that fit with my pedagogy and choose from them. For me, that limits choices, saves money and gives me a piece of mind because I am not always second guessing and wondering what we are missing.

I am also over switching mid year if things don’t work out or don’t fit with my kids learning style. I believe in learning styles, ages and stages and all of that, but I also believe that kids need to shore up areas of weakness. This might take more time on my part, but switching curriculum’s catering to a child is costly too. I have found that generally things don’t work when I am not directing, discussing or involved in what the kids are doing. In other words, it’s rare to find a truly awful curriculum and common to find homeschoolers who want the curriculum to work magic for them. The reality is, in order for homeschooling to work, you have to show up.

In conclusion, I am doing some things just the same for my younger kids as for my older with lots of opportunities, great literature, college prep classes, and totally different with more outsourcing of academic courses with my younger kids. It is exciting to see the homeschool world expand and grow and the opportunities that we can offer our kids, and afford, and grow with it.


What are you planning for high school?

You may find the following helpful as you think through your approach to high schooling your students.

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Article contribution by, Lisa Nehring whom has 1 husband, 3 graduate degrees, 5 kids and a black belt in homeschooling. She blogs regularly at about faith, family, and education with tons of book and curriculum reviews thrown in for good measure.