7 Things I Learned from My First Year Homeschooling a High Schooler

Homeschooling Through High School Can Seem Like A Daunting Task.

Homeschooling through high school can seem like a daunting task

Even though my husband and I were both entirely homeschooled (except for some college courses in high school), I still doubted my ability to homeschool my kids all the way to graduation. As my oldest approached the end of her 8th grade year, I was still in denial and procrastinated planning. However, once I finally buckled down and began preparations, I found it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined. Here are a few specific things I learned along the way.

  • High school is where education begins to count—at least on paper. While elementary and middle grades are very important to giving our children a solid educational foundation, no one is going to ask about those grades in a job interview or on a college application. Employers will often care about a GED or high school diploma, and colleges want your high school GPA or SAT score. This realization simultaneously comforted and challenged me—comforted me because I didn’t have to stress so much about grades in the earlier years, and challenged me because the game is now on.
  • While early planning isn’t essential, it may be helpful. When should one start to plan for high school? Ask any group of homeschoolers, and you may get a wide variety of answers. Some may start scoping out high school plans when their child is in kindergarten, while others may not have a detailed plan until they look into college applications. Obviously, I leaned toward the latter, but I’ve realized that earlier planning can help you visualize the goal. I worried at times in the earlier grades about whether I was doing enough to prepare my children for high school and college. In laying out a solid plan for my first high schooler, I not only saw more precisely where I was aiming, but also felt reassurance that I’d essentially been looking in the right direction all along.
  • There are plenty of resources to help get you started. HSLDA not only has a whole series of articles on how to get started homeschooling through high school, but also offers online courses for grades 7-12. A high school preparation session at a homeschool conference may also be a helpful resource. And HSLDA’s state-specific information can help you determine any legal requirements specific to your state. Also, getting advice from homeschoolers in your area can be a great source of encouragement and help.
  • Co-ops can be an invaluable resource. If a certain subject seems too daunting to do at home or online—or if your high schooler wants or needs in-person classroom experience—joining a co-op may be a great option. As I’ve written previously, co-ops come in many shapes and sizes, so it may take a bit of looking to find the one that’s right for you. After just one year, though, I have absolutely confirmed that co-op will be instrumental in my children’s high school years.
  • You don’t have to finish an entire textbook—or even use a textbook in the first place. As this HSLDA article details, there are three ways for a teen to receive high school credit: completing a textbook, logging hours of a particular study, or doing college classes. One of the most influential points I learned this past year is that “completing” a textbook does not necessarily mean doing every single assignment in every single lesson. As a perfectionist, I tend to lean toward the absolute completion method; but as it was pointed out, not even most public high school classes follow this standard. Instead, a textbook is considered complete when a student completes around 75-80% of the assignments. That helps me relax a bit!The other thing I learned is that the informal, tailored plans I sometimes create for certain subjects can still count toward my children’s high school credit. They can even receive credit for a sport or other activity they do for fun! I will just need to make sure they log the hours they spend studying or working on this particular subject. See the article linked just above for more details.
  • You do need to keep good records. While I tend to hang on to anything my kids have completed on paper, I don’t always grade or even organize it very well. I realized, however, that my goal of completing a high school transcript would require more concentrated effort. It is much easier to grade materials when they are fresh in your mind, and much easier to compile class grades one semester or year at a time rather than waiting until college applications roll around! For more record-keeping tips (including advice if you have gotten behind or are stressing about how to grade), see this blog post by Rachelle Reitz. You can also find more specific tips on grading here.
  • My kids need spiritual maturity and life skills in addition to their academics.

Homeschooling through high school may have seemed an intimidating prospect at first, but I’m becoming more comfortable with it as I go. I hope the same is true for you!

Jessica Cole

HSLDA Blogger

Jessica is a full-time homeschool mom to her five young kiddos and a most-of-the-time student of human nature.

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