Maybe you feel like you could never homeschool high school because your oldest is in elementary school and you just can’t imagine it. But like with parenting, you’ll grow into the role.
And even if you’ve never homeschooled before and you’re just starting with a high schooler, there are key tips that will help you. Because you CAN do it.
In this post, we’ll walk through at least 9 benefits to homeschooling the high school years. We’ll also give you some tips about being a brand new homeschooler during the high school years. And then, for those of you who are transitioning into teaching 9th -12th, you’ll find some actionable strategies here too.
Don’t miss the links to free resources like a grade sheet, transcript template, electives planning pack and Trello cheatsheet. And be sure to also check out the multiple podcast episodes about homeschooling high school – all are linked in this post.
My posts contain affiliate links.
The Importance of Mindset
I remember babysitting a friend’s three-year-old when my oldest was only three months old. I couldn’t imagine having “older kids” because I wasn’t to that stage yet.
But I grew in my parenting abilities as my kids grew. I became more confident in each stage as we naturally progressed. This is why most people don’t start out with a twelve-year-old. They start out with a baby.
And so it is with homeschooling.
The problem is that homeschooling at any stage is a lot of hard work and you imagine that the older the kids are, the harder the academics will be.
How will you ever do it?
You’re not alone.
Part of the solution is actually a major mindset shift for you.
Here are the four points that you need to consider:
- role of mom
- responsibilities of teen
- key tips
The key to homeschooling high school is recognizing that your role will change. It has to.
When your kids are young, homeschooling is by nature very mom-intensive as you teach them the foundations of each subject.
Once your kids are independent readers, you can afford to be less hands-on.
Your role will change from primary instructor to mentor and cheerleader. Your job is to craft an educational experience and communicate goals and expectations. You are their mentor and guide.
But if you’re not to the high school years yet, then you need to plan the steps you need to take to make this transition happen smoothly. In what ways can you start to transition your role?
If you know that your role as the homeschool mom will naturally become more hands-off, does that give you hope as you look to homeschooling high school?
Because it should. By the time kids reach high school, the whole educational responsibility shouldn’t be on your shoulders. This is where the next point comes in.
Download a free electives planning pack
As our teens get older, they should take more responsibility for their day-to-day education.
This is where active learning is key.
Many teens in the traditional school system are allowed to be passive learners.
I know this (and you do too!) from being in the traditional system for years.
I was a classroom teacher in the system, and I know how much time and energy I put into crafting interesting lessons, only to be discouraged by the passivity of many kids.
Kids slink into class, get into passive learner mode, allowing their teacher to be the most active as they teach lessons, and the teens are passive learners, merely taking notes (if that).
Homeschooling high school successfully requires that your teens take on an active learner role.
Here are some questions to ask:
- What steps can you take to encourage your teen to a more active role in their education?
- Are your curriculum choices encouraging independence from your teen?
- How can you keep your teen accountable for their work, yet encourage independence?
Once your mindset shifts as to your changing role, and your teen embraces an independent and active role, then here are some key tips to keep in mind as you plan for the high school years.
Choose curriculum written directly to the teen
If the curriculum you pick requires you to teach your teen each day, then homeschooling high school will be a chore.
Find curriculum that is written to your student and clearly tells them what to do each day.
Find open and go curriculum where you work on the next part or next lesson each day.
Some of our favorite curriculum that encourages independent learning:
- Apologia Science (with the Student Notebook!)
- Writing With Skill
- Notgrass History
- CTC Math or Thinkwell Math
- Compass Classroom
Set up Systems
When your kids get to high school, there are a lot of required courses and tasks to keep track of. That’s why you need good systems.
Set them up once and let them work.
Our favorite it Trello. It’s a free online app that takes a few minutes to set up for the year, and about five minutes every weekend to reset for the new school week.
Download the free Trello cheatsheet
Create basic homeschool high school plan
Before your kids are even in high school, you should create a basic high school plan with specific courses and curriculum ideas.
This doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone, but having a general plan before you get there will take some of the apprehension away.
Download the homeschool schedule planning pages pack
Start a transcript and keep records
When my kids start 9th grade, I keep a high school binder with these items:
- transcript in-progress
- grade sheets for each class
- key tests or projects from those courses
- book lists
- standardized test results
- other key items related to hobbies, jobs, internships, or school
Here’s the transcript template that we use in 9th-12th grades.
Task your teens with recording keeping in high school. Each time they take a test or have an assignment with a grade, have them record points earned and points possible onto the grade sheet for that course.
At any point, you should be able to divide points earned by points possible and find a percentage grade for a course.
By requiring your teens to keep track of scores, you are initiating that active learner status and putting yourself in the mentor role. It’s good for both of you!
Download a free student grade sheet
Benefits to Homeschooling High School
So, why should you consider homeschooling high school? There are so many benefits, and each family will have their unique perspective. But here are a few keys ones to think about.
- Teens miss out on negative school experiences, such as bullying
- Opportunity for stronger family bonds
- Ability to create customized high school experience
- Tailor education to teen’s passions & goals for the future
- Flexibility to pursue employment, apprenticeship, internship, dual enrollment
- Real life opportunities for community interaction
When you homeschool high school, your teen has the freedom to pursue his interests. Is he crazy about history? He has the freedom to spend extra time studying his favorite subject. Is he an athlete? You can adjust his schedule so that he can participate in sports teams. Is he a musician? He now has the time to practice his instrument more than he would if he was attending public school.
Earn College Credit through Dual Enrollment
Your high schooler can receive homeschool and college credit for classes in high school. Just research Dual Enrollment at your local community college. Tuition is usually lower than you would normally pay as a college student. Your high schooler can fulfill requirements that your state has for graduation while at the same time earning credit toward his college degree. Total win.
Do you have an entrepreneurial high schooler? Homeschooling provides the flexibility and time to start a business. Think of the life skills your teen will learn as he starts a business and learns to manage money, time, customers, and responsibilities. You can even count business hours toward elective credits.
Unique Learning Opportunities
Your high schooler can work in an internship or apprenticeship. Do you have a friend who is an electrician? Allow your teen to work with him one day a week to learn the trade. Does your daughter love to sew? Have her partner up with an expert seamstress in your town and learn by doing. Homeschoolers have the ability to craft unique learning opportunities, especially in high school.
Family Responsibilities and Bonds
Because your high schooler learns at home, he can personally contribute to the running of the household. He should at a minimum be doing his own laundry and bedding, while also taking turns with meal prep and clean up, and yard work or household projects. Your high schooler can also participate in family life at a deeper level than his peers who are at public school all day. Your teen practices compassion as he reads to his younger sibling. As the parent, you are able to be the primary influence in your teen’s life. In a few short years, they will leave the nest and your role as the parent will change again. Embrace the last few years of creating strong family bonds.
Homeschool provides an unparalleled opportunity to customize your teen’s educational experience. Once you define the specific goals for each of your kids, you can tailor his courses in high school to capitalize on his interests. If your state requires 3 credits of science to graduate and your child is not going to need more than that on his transcript, instead of slogging through physics or advanced biology his senior year, let him take those additional credits in English or journalism, because that is where his passion lies. If your daughter is looking to major in music in university, then load up on electives that will help her transcript shine and help her grow in her strengths.
When you are homeschooling the little years, everything is mom intensive. You might feel like you’ll never progress past this exhaustive stage, but you will! As your kids grow, each stage in homeschooling brings more independence for them and less daily work for you. Your high schooler is now a mostly independent scholar and you are a cheerleader, mentor and coach.
Your high schooler should also be gaining responsibility for his own schedule. Kids in public school are told when to go to class, what assignment is due the next day, and what to study for the chapter test. Your homeschooled teen has learning goals to accomplish and has to arrange his school schedule to meet those goals. He uses tools to manage his time and assignments.
You can take college trips whenever it fits your schedule. Your family can also visit museums, vacation destinations, or take field trips on the “off season” when most kids are in school. Your teenager can work a job or go to an internship when other kids are in a brick and mortar school. Want to visit grandparents? No problem, just do it. We love the flexibility that homeschooling high school brings.
Podcast Episode 160 – Transitioning to Teaching a High Schooler
If you’re going to be homeschooling high school very soon, or if you still have kids in K-8 but want a heads-up about what’s coming, this episode will help you figure out the way roles change when homeschooling the high school years, plus we’ll tell you our top tips for how to navigate those years.
Plus, be encouraged that homeschooling high school can be even more rewarding than the early years!
Podcast Episode 129 – Starting Homeschool in High School
What about starting homeschool in high school? Do you know what steps you need to take for paperwork for your state or district? What else do you need to know? And what are the benefits of pulling out of a traditional school setting to embrace homeschooling during the high school years? We’ll cover all of this in today’s episode!
If you are starting homeschool high school, you’ll want to listen to this episode and check out the links below! There are steps to take to start out, then also some tips and ideas to consider to have a successful experience.
How to Start Homeschooling High School
First, check HSLDA for your state laws. Does your state require testing, a portfolio, minimum hours, or certain courses in the 9th-12th years? Make sure you’re in compliance and hitting all the requirements for graduation from homeschool.
Next, find out what future colleges will want to see on the transcript and plan ahead. Or, if your child is entering the workforce or the military after high school graduation, figure out what will be needed on the transcript and work backwards.
Finally, keep a transcript during the 9th -12th years. This is not difficult! Don’t be intimidated. You can find an editable transcript link and other resources to help you keep track of the GPA and have an official-looking transcript upon homeschool graduation.
Homeschool High School Successfully
You can homeschool high school successfully! Here’s what you need to know:
- You can outsource
- Teens have a flexible schedule to include more time for a job
- They learn time management & responsibility for their progress
- Active learning vs. passive
- Apprenticeships or internships are easier to manage
- Teens can start a business and include it on the transcript or work more to save for future
- You can customize their high school education (let them help choose a direction & courses)
- Teens have more time to pursue hobbies and interests or work
- Dual enrollment saves money
- You have more time to build a relationship with your teenager than if they were gone all day at school
- It’s better for teens to socialize outside their peer group
- You can include life skills in the curriculum
Homeschool High School Resources
The Homeschool High School Electives Planning Pack will help you keep track of hours and properly document creative electives you may choose to use in your high school. Download and print out several Student Grade Sheets for FREE and encourage your teens to keep track of their grades in each course. Then, at the end of the semester, transfer the final grade onto the transcript! Remember, you want your high schoolers to take responsibility for their education. Having them help in the paperwork is one way of doing this.
Here are links to our favorite resources & curriculum for the high school years:
- Visual Latin by Compass Classroom
- Apologia Science Courses
- Friendly Chemistry
- Chemistry 101
- Notgrass Exploring World History
- Selling on Etsy Masterclass for Teens (business or entrepreneurship elective!)
- Podcast Launch for Teens (use as a speech elective!)
- Inductive Bible Study Courses
Podcast Episode 212: How to Plan Out a Successful High School Experience
Are you wondering how to plan ahead for the high school years? Now that we’ve graduated 3 kids from our homeschool (2023), I’m sharing everything you need to know to be organized, effective, and successful. And most of all – enjoy this time with your young adults!
Podcast Episode 181 – Giving more responsibility to your teens
What are the steps that you can and should be taking in the high school years to give more responsibility to your teens and literally work yourself out of a job? That’s what we’ll discuss on episode 181 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast.
Get 2 weeks FREE of the Compass Classroom Premium Membership!
Podcast Episode 14 – Homeschooling High School
Many parents think – “I’ll homeschool elementary school, but I could never homeschool high school!” My response: why do all the important foundational work in K-8 only to miss the fruit of grades 9-12? The high school years are so rewarding! Today’s episode discusses the mindset shift necessary to homeschool high school, along with key tips and the benefits.
Podcast Episode 59 – Chat with a Homeschool High School Junior
A few years ago, I recorded this chat with my high school junior to talk about his experience as a homeschool student.
In this interview with my oldest son, we discussed:
- pros & cons of homeschooling from his perspective
- what it’s like to homeschool through the high school years
- advice to other homeschooled teens
Final Thoughts on Homeschooling High School
So to wrap this all up, you need to know the bottom line: You CAN homeschool high school!
Find your tribe, get in a groove that fits your unique family, and go for it! It’s a lot of work (like anything else worth doing), but the rewards are amazing.