Thinking about homeschooling through the high school years can be intimidating, especially when it comes to choosing curriculum, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Let’s walk through the most important issues to consider, then check out the recommended resources. Really, the high school years can be very rewarding, and dare I say, even easier than the early years of homeschooling!
Roles in Homeschool High School
Why did I mention that homeschooling high school can actually be easier than you think it might be? That’s because of the changing roles between you as the homeschool mom and your teenager.
Remember when your child was little and couldn’t read yet? If you were homeschooling back then, you know how time-intensive it was for you as the homeschool mom. Everything was dependent on you or it didn’t get done.
Hopefully by now, your child has grown in character and responsibility, and you’re able to step back and function more as a resource coordinator, mentor, cheerleader, and coach. You’re not the main teacher anymore, especially in the technical subjects! Your teen has either learned how to teach himself or you’ve found a great resource for outsourcing the instruction.
These roles naturally should change through the years. If they haven’t, start there are do some digging. When the roles are in their proper place, you’ll be able to homeschool the high school years with confidence and peace.
Goals in the High School Years
When your child reaches the high school years, whether they’re in public school, private school, or homeschool, their future goals become front and center. But especially with homeschooling, you have the wonderful opportunity to customize their education and experiences in the 9th-12th years.
State Graduation Requirements
The first step is to know and follow your local or state graduation requirements. This will vary, depending on where you live. HSLDA has information for all the states in the U.S. and they also have a Canadian site with legal information as well. When you map out the high school years, make sure your state graduation requirements are met so your child qualifies for a diploma.
Plan on keeping a transcript through the high school years to show that your student has fulfilled the necessary courses.
Future Education Goals
The next topic that will greatly influence the direction you take in the high school years is what your student hopes to accomplish in the future as far as more education is concerned. Do they hope to attend community college? Or university? Do their future goals include graduate school? Knowing these answers will help you to know what needs to be included in their homeschool high school years.
Some students will need to focus on honors science courses. Others will want to make sure they have plenty of time for private music lessons. Whatever the future goals, include these in your planning, required classes, and transcripts.
Many of our high schoolers would benefit from an apprenticeship opportunity! This traditional learning experience has really fallen by the wayside in our modern educational set-up. But maybe we should consider bringing it back!
Apprenticeships are not only valuable for hands-on professions, but they can help even those students who will be pursuing higher education to get a glimpse into future job scenarios.
The great thing about homeschooling is that you can help to set up an apprenticeship opportunity for your child and include it on the transcript! Use your freedom with scheduling to craft a unique and customized high school education for your teen.
Speaking of customization, your entrepreneurial teens can be encouraged to pursue starting a business of their own in high school! Yes, you can even count this on the transcript.
Check out these posts for more information:
- Challenges & Solutions to Teen Entrepeneurship
- 5 Courses Teen Entrepreneurs Will Love
- How to Teach Your Teens to Create Income Streams
- Selling on Etsy Masterclass for Teens
- Podcast Launch for Teens
Entering the Workforce
There’s nothing wrong with letting your teens enter the workforce during the high school years. Not only will they be able to learn a strong work ethic, but they can save for their future while learning about personal finance in a hands-on way. It’s great for our teens to learn these life skills of managing money while the risk is low when they make mistakes.
Consider including this in the high school plan if it fits with your teen’s goals.
High School Math Curriculum
Let’s start with math curriculum sources for the high school years. Many of our teens should be mostly independent in their studies by high school, but they will likely still need some instruction in math! Here are some courses to consider, both textbook based and online.
Textbook Based Math
We have used BJU Press Math from Kindergarten all the way up to high school! If your teens are independent learners, they can use the textbooks from BJU Press to teach themselves the material. However, if your teens are not strong and confident in math, this approach may not work for you.
I asked my homeschool blogging colleagues for their best math curriculum recommendations, and they shared in this post.
Online Math Courses
Thinkwell Homeschool offers high school math courses in 6th to 8th Grade Math (6th Grade to Pre-Algebra including Essentials and Honors) as well as High School Math (Algebra to Calculus including Essentials and Honors). Get an inside peek into how Algebra I worked for our high schooler.
We’ve also used CTCMath for several years now, mostly for our teens. We love how the videos are bite-sized, and the online course platform keeps a running grade for each course. You can set the minimum required grade to pass each lesson, and CTCMath offers one low price per family – no matter how many kids you have!
English and Literature Curriculum
Most states will requires four years (or four high school credits) of English. But, your student might not study simply grammar for four years. That’s because the English content area covers many sub-groups of content. So, once you take a look at your state graduation requirements, you may realize that you have a lot of leeway in how you structure your teen’s English credit.
English Covers Multiple Content Areas
Here’s what this might look like. English covers at least these sub-groups of content:
So, you can see how each year’s English credit might focus on more than one discipline, or it could deep dive into a singular focus. Of course, follow your state’s laws, but if you have flexibility, you can craft English courses to fit your student’s needs.
Before we dive into specific recommendations, let me also encourage you to think outside the box for some of these. For example, the hardest one from the above list to do in homeschool is probably a speech elective. But what if your teen could start a podcast and count all that work toward a speech credit on the transcript? It’s totally possible plus it can be a lot of fun! Your teen will likely learn more speaking skills than are even covered in a traditional speech class in public school.
Book Lists for High School
You could use a traditional literature curriculum for high school which dives into literary analysis, or you could choose to have your student read widely according to their interests. Of course, it’s probably a good idea to have them read “the classics” if they intend to pursue higher education.
If you’re looking for lists of great books, but also want to be able to sort through genre, difficulty, and more, then check out the site ClassicalReader.com
Whether or not you use an official curriculum for literature studies doesn’t really matter. If you let your student pick the book and want a way to assess their understanding, just have them write a book review when they’re finished. They can even post it online, which is a fun way to make it more meaningful.
For more book lists, check out some big curriculum companies and see which books they require in high school as part of their program.
- Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)
- Memoria Press
- Notgrass History (they actually include a literature credit within their history courses)
- Compass Classroom
Finally, Hillsdale College offers FREE literature courses on their site.
Grammar Review Curriculum Options
Many of our kids will have learned grammar all the way through since the elementary years. So, depending on your teen’s proficiency with grammar concepts, you may just need a short grammar review each year in high school. Here are some of the grammar resources we’ve used for this in our homeschool.
You could also find courses in some of the companies that were linked above in the literature section.
Writing Across the Subject Areas
One of the best parts of homeschooling is being able to customize everything and make it relevant and connected. So, instead of having a writing course that is totally disconnected from every other subject, why not have your high schooler write across the subject areas? That is, teach them how to write a five paragraph essay, but make the content of the essay based on what they’re studying in science or history. Or connect it to current events.
Your student doesn’t even need to take multiple choice history tests as an assessment for history. You could have them write a short essay explaining the cause and effect or importance of their history topic.
If you want some help in teaching writing in the high school years, then check out these well-respected companies:
- Getting Ready for College Writing with Better Rhetor
- Writing with Skill
- Institute for Excellence in Writing
Science Curriculum for Homeschool High School
Will your student be pursuing higher education in the sciences or is your main goal with homeschool science credits to check the boxes and graduate? It’s okay if your student isn’t super passionate about the sciences! And it’s great if they are! Really, just consider your teen’s future goals as you research curriculum and high school science resources.
Here are a few resources that we’ve used through the years.
Apologia curriculum is written from a Christian worldview perspective. Their courses are very thorough and on the more college prep side of things. They are written for your student to work through independently, so that is a big plus.
Here’s how we’ve used Apologia courses in high school.
The 101 Series
Now, our dyslexic student just couldn’t keep all the tiny facts from Apologia straight in his mind. He’s not pursuing a degree in the sciences after high school, so we didn’t think it would make sense to struggle through an Apologia course. Instead, he wants to big idea, the main overview, and the relevance to real life. So, we turned to The 101 Series for some of his science courses.
We have used their biology and chemistry videos. They also have lesson plans to flesh out the concepts and give assessments for being able to assign a grade on the transcript. We haven’t used all of this, but the videos themselves have been excellent for what we’ve needed.
Then, with the great video overview from The 101 Series, we’ve used the next company’s textbooks for the assignments in both biology and chemistry.
Friendly Biology & Chemistry
The Friendly Chemistry course was a good fit for one of our kids.
The lesson format and sequence of topics in this course was very helpful for my dyslexic teen. While other chemistry courses can tend to get down in the weeds rather quickly, this course seems to emphasize big picture understanding before moving on.
In addition, instead of memorizing dozens of seemingly random facts, figures, and numbers, my teen was able to see how it all fits together and why the information is important. The student books are written in a conversational tone, which really makes them easier to digest than an overwhelming traditional textbook format.
In addition to these companies listed above that focus on science curriculum, you could purchase a family membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com and for one price, all your kids can access all the courses you need – including high school science!
Here are some of their classes:
- Advanced Chemistry
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Animal Science
- Earth Science
- Friendly Anatomy
- Friendly Chemistry
- Life Science
- and more!!
High School History Curriculum
Main History Courses in 9th-12th
The traditional history trajectory in school usually follows along these basic lines:
- World History
- American History
- Government & Economics (usually 1/2 credit each)
Now, once again, just a reminder to check your state laws and graduation requirements before crafting your homeschool high school plan. Your student may (or may not) be required to complete certain courses. Then, consider your goals and make a plan to include the history studies that would benefit your student the most.
Generally speaking, the traditional social studies plan listed above works well for most kids and covers most of the main content areas that students need to learn.
But, if your student wants to deep dive into a topic not listed here, why not? Maybe they’d like to learn more about Constitutional Law or take MicroEconomics in high school for a whole year. Go for it!
Check out these resources and courses that we highly recommend.
Hillsdale College (FREE courses)
Hillsdale College offers access to college courses for free. Of course, your student won’t be earning college credit for them, but you know that they are high quality. They are also very unique and deep dive into topics that many high schoolers won’t study in a traditional setting.
Here are some of their history courses:
- Western Heritage
- Athens & Sparta
- Winston Churchill & Statesmanship
- The Second World War
- Introduction to the Constitution
- The Federalist Papers
- and more!!
In addition to these online courses, you can also download for FREE their K-12 American Classical Education 1776 Curriculum.
Notgrass History provides a great curriculum that combines English, Bible, and History into one curriculum. If your teen completes all the assignments, they would earn one credit each for all those subjects. However, you can also decide to just use the history component, or just the history and literature together. Overall, it’s an easy-to-use curriculum that is written with Christian homeschool families in mind.
We’ve used their American History and World History courses and are looking forward to trying their high school geography course very soon!
They are also offering a 30-day free trial to HomeschoolHistory.com, which is a site that includes history-related videos, websites, games, and more. You can benefit from this site even if you don’t use Notgrass curriculum.
Compass Classroom is another excellent site that offers a great variety of homeschool courses. Here are their social studies courses that would be appropriate for your high school transcript:
- Worldview Course
- American History
- World History
- Ancient History
- Basic Economics
- Economics for Everybody
You can even download 4 free lessons from many of their courses to see if they would be a good fit before you buy!
Once again, if you have multiple ages and multiple subjects to cover, then a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership may be your best deal! Here are some of the high school level social studies courses they offer:
- Interdependence of the States
- Church History
- Civil Rights Movement
- Ancient History
- Classical Mythology
- Fashions in History
- Modern History
- Middle Ages
- Life of Abraham Lincoln
- and more!!
Bible & Worldview Courses
Christian families will want to include Bible courses throughout the high school years. Hopefully your teens already have a good grasp on the chronology of the Bible and the big story! Now, let’s grow their Bible literacy through actual Bible study habits and learning how to interpret Scripture.
Inductive Bible Study courses will teach your teen how to study through an entire book of the Bible using the Inductive Bible Study Method. They’ll work through these steps:
- Observation: what does the text say?
- Interpretation: what does the text mean?
- Application: how should this change me?
Or, your teens can take part in an online class through John 1-12. There is enough work (including quizzes and assessments) to confidently count this toward credit on the high school transcript.
Worldview courses can be found on these publisher’s sites:
Thinking Outside the Box for Electives
The final component to a well-rounded high school experience is to craft electives that will fit the goals and passions of your student. As homeschoolers, we can think outside the box! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Why not use podcasting as a speech elective? Your teen can launch a podcast around their interests or hobbies and use the experience and work toward a speech elective. Check out the Podcast Launch for Teens to learn more.
Check out these 5 Courses Teen Entrepreneurs Will Love to learn about how to use photography, design, or other hobbies to craft electives.
You may also want to check out the Homeschool High School Elective Planning Pack.