Should I Homeschool My High Schooler?

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Teen holding homeschool notebook. Who feels prepared to homeschool high school? Parents who have been high school teachers! These folks feel prepared to teach the subject(s) they taught in high school! Other than those folks, we all take a big gulp at the thought. 

College, vocational training, and real life yawn ahead like a deep ravine with no bottom. If you screw up now, well . . . your kid is screwed. Right?

The first step in decision making is to understand your state laws. If you have not read 10 Questions to Answer Before You Begin Homeschooling, do so now.

Common Questions About Homeschooling High School

Common themes emerge when parents consider this venture. 

  • Am I academically prepared to teach high school content?
  • How will I know what to teach when?
  • How much time will it take out of my day?
  • What about science and math?
  • What about high school sports?
  • What will we do about socialization – ie. what about things like prom?
  • Will my child be able to go to college?
  • Will my child be able to get a job if we do this?
  • How will he or she get a driver’s license?
  • Can we try homeschooling and opt to return to traditional school if things don’t work well?
  • My child is floundering academically and behaviorally. Will this option work for us?

In the weeks to come, I’ll go into more depth regarding these issues. Let’s talk about the biggest fears first!

Am I Academically Prepared for Homeschooling High School?

Most states allow you to homeschool high school with a GED or high school diploma. Online options may be your best choice under these circumstances:

  • you have a GED or high school diploma and struggle with reading  or comprehension
  • you have a GED or high school diploma and struggle with basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, decimals, and percentages)
  • single-parent families when the parent is employed full time
  • families where both parents are employed full time.

Online educational options are abundant and increase almost daily. If you and your student both have basic computer skills and a computer at home, carefully consider the available options.

There are just as many work-text, textbook, and literature-based academic materials available. Take time to explore hard copy educational options as well. Many folks choose these over computer-based options.

Happy Homeschooling High School Girl

Unless you choose an independent online learning option, two things happen as you teach high school. You learn along with your student. You also learn to accept that they learn things you are not learning. In fact, you may not really understand much about some material they are covering.

You must understand enough information to check and grade assignments. Some students can be trusted to check their own work and figure out issues they didn’t understand. Less trustworthy or struggling students really need a parent who is plugged in and ready to partner with their child.

Knowing What to Teach When

State law gives guidelines for high school subjects that equal credit for a high school diploma. If you have questions about which courses to teach when, Google is your best friend.

Google the high school closest to you and look at their course outlines (syllabus). Those will give you a good idea of subject order. You’ll see the courses offered in each grade and can plan from there.

For instance, you may see the following:
9th – earth science
10th – biology
11th – chemistry
12th – physics

There will usually be an explanation of any courses that should be taken before other courses as well. For instance, algebra is needed before chemistry. Chemistry involves algebraic calculations.

How Much Time Will I Need For Teaching?

By high school, most students should be working independently. A parent will do far less teaching and concentrate on planning and grading lessons. You will also review corrections and introduce new material.Homeschooled African American Teen studying

Between academics and electives, a student’s day should take 4 hours or so on focused independent work. The day will also include 1-2 hours of work with a parent or tutor reviewing new material and corrections.

You know how reliable, trustworthy, and independent your student is. Your time investment hinges on those 3 issues.

Returning to Traditional School if Homeschooling Fails

Policy varies from state to state. In fact, admission (or re-admission) of homeschooled students to public and private schools can vary from district to district or school to school!

Review state law to see if there is a uniform policy. Ask other homeschoolers about experiences they know of. Lastly, talk with your school district office or local school. Once you’ve considered input from all the sources, you are ready for any future change of plans.

An Unexpected Bonus

The unexpected advantage of homeschooling is the relationship you forge with your high schooler. You will understand their fears, dreams, hopes, passions, and struggles in a more intimate way when you become their partner in learning.

Today’s free 4-page checklist will help you think through the decision-making process. After completing it, you will have a good idea which homeschooling option will best suit your family.

Download it now! High School Options Checklist

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Susan

    Lots of great information here!

    Most states do not have any graduation requirements for independent (not public charter) homeschoolers. 😉 And what constitutes a credit? What is “high school credit-worthy?” This is an ongoing debate.

    My point is that while checking out what your local schools are offering for high school may give you ideas for coursework you may wish to offer your student, ultimately homeschool parents are responsible for choosing their graduation requirements and course of study. Some will follow the public school requirements for various reasons. But some use their freedom to explore areas that are not typically covered in a traditional public school program or to accommodate a learner who has special needs (be they gifted, challenged, or both).

    1. Carol Anne

      Yes, Susan, you are correct about most states not having graduation requirements. I should clarify. My advice to parents whose children plan to attend college is to make the transcript as robust as possible re college prep courses. I even encourage folks who think their children will never go to college to craft courses that will be transcript-worthy should a student decide at the last minute – are at age 21 – to go to college. Often, that just means name your courses judiciously with an eye on a future you didn’t see coming. My 14yo was intent on dropping out at age 17. By age 17, he was dually enrolled and planning to attend grad school at Vanderbilt. By the time he was 19, he was an EMT. WE just never know what’s coming down the pipe, sometimes! Ha.

      One of my enjoyable tasks as a homeschool mentor has been helping homeschool parents figure out out-of-the-box courses to prepare students for vocational and trade schools after high school. Then, we worked together to create course names, descriptions, etc. that would look appealing on a transcript of that same student did decide to go to college after all.

      I think that’s one of the things I love most about homeschooling. We do have the freedom to craft courses that appeal more directly to our student’s gifts and talents.

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