It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School

I have been a somewhat lonely homeschooler for the past several years.  It began when we chose to homeschool high school — and most of our homeschooling friends did not.  True story:  out of the 20-30 families we knew who homeschooled back when our children were in the early elementary grades, I can think of only a handful of them that continued homeschooling through the high school years.

I confess that this bothers me.

If you would like to LISTEN to this post instead of READING it, click play!

Of course I’ve wondered why this phenomenon occurs — because I don’t think it’s specific to just my experience.  In general, it seems that most families that begin to homeschool their elementary child do not continue homeschooling through high school.  I’m sure there are several reasons for this, but I have no doubt that one of the biggest is just plain fear.  Fear that homeschooling high school will be hard.  Fear of the more difficult subject matter — I mean, chemistry, and calculus, and AP History, yikes!   Fear that their child won’t get a good enough education to get into college.  Fear that they will shortchange their child in some way.  Put very basically, fear of inadequacy.

And I get that; I really do.  The idea of homeschooling high school can be very intimidating, even for those who have homeschooled through all of the elementary years.  But you know what?  I can truthfully say that it doesn’t have to be that hard, y’all!  Just think a bit about these things:

1) By the time they reach high school, your children will most likely have the ability to learn most things independently.

 That means that they will be the ones teaching themselves Chemistry (or any other “too hard for me to teach” subject), not you.  And lest you see this as shirking your responsibility, I would say that by forcing them to figure it out for themselves, you are actually doing them a valuable service. Education should be a continuous process; it does not end after high school or college. You want your child to develop the habit of processing information, occasionally working through something that may be more difficult, and coming to a place of understanding, by utilizing their own effort. It is by this process that they will be prepared to continue learning through college, during continuing education at the workplace, and later in life.

Of course, if something is just plain too much for your student to figure out, you might need to seek out someone who knows more about the subject than you do. That’s really not much different than finding a doctor when your child is sick or a piano teacher when they want to learn how to play music. There’s probably someone in your church, or on your street, or at your hubby’s work, who would be willing to answer a question or two over the phone every now and again.  And you’d be surprised how many questions can be answered just by Googling them.  More on that in #3.

2) The homeschool high school experience does NOT – I repeat: NOT – have to replicate the public or private high school experience.

The state does not decide the specifics of what your homeschool looks like; you do. Obviously you will follow the requirements of your state’s laws, but usually they provide a lot of leeway in regards to things like these:

a) You decide what high school courses are required for your student to graduate. You do not have to follow your local school district’s requirements. You can graduate your child whenever your own requirements have been met.  This is a very freeing thing.  For instance, if your child has no intention of majoring in anything technical at college and does not want to take math every year, then you don’t have to make them take it. (And I didn’t.  And guess what — they got accepted to college anyway! :-) For more about this, read How to KNOW What Your Teen NEEDS to Get into COLLEGE.)

b) You decide what to give credit for. If your child is a violinist and you want to give them 3 credits per year for violin because they practice three hours a day, you are free to do so. (And I did.) If your child is spending a bunch of time learning to drive, you can give credit for that (and I did). Homeschooling high school means your child’s interests and activities can be counted as part of the school curriculum, rather than in addition to it.  This means you don’t have to fit in as many academic credits or try to come up with a bunch of electives just to fill the schedule.  See how much easier this is beginning to sound?

c) You decide how quickly your child must complete a given course.  There is no need to rush through to be done by the end of the semester, unless this works better for you.  If your child needs to spend an extra week reviewing a particularly difficult chapter, you have the flexibility to take that time. You can continue working into the summer, if need be.  This is another case where you are not shortchanging your child but actually creating a better learning environment.  And knowing you can take as long as your child needs, because you are the decision-maker, definitely decreases the stress level.

d) Guess what? No homework. Because it’s all already been done during the school day.  And no getting up early, either, if you don’t want to. It doesn’t get much easier than that! Now listen, I know what you’re thinking, but just because these things seem simplistic doesn’t make them any less true.  And these are the type of thing that make the difference between a difficult day and a not-so-difficult one…

3) There are more resources now for making a success of homeschooling high school than ever before.  

Especially because of the internet. There are online courses, online tutors — and you can almost always find the answers that you just can’t seem to locate in the textbook by doing a search.  (Trust me; I know this, MANY times over.)  Homeschool co-ops abound; then there are conferences, LOTSA high school curricula, blogs such as my own — in short, there are plenty of ways to find support when you need a helping hand.  Knowing you are not alone in this thing goes a long way towards relieving those fears of messing up or being inadequate.

Related: Episode 66 – Ann’s Timeline for Homeschooling High School

And it goes without saying, that if I can do it, anyone can.  I am by no means an intellectual or a go-getter.  I am just little ol’ average me.  I was afraid, too, at the beginning; but as time went on, I realized I didn’t have to be.

All we have to do is take it one step at time, and what looked like a big scary mountain becomes something very achievable. Homeschooling high school is no different. At least that’s the way I see it. What do you think?

UPDATE: This article became the springboard for a Facebook group!  If you are homeschooling high school (or are thinking about it!), then come join us at It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School for encouragement and support! 

What does it take to homeschool high school? Not as much as you think.

Latest posts by Ann Karako (see all)

39 thoughts on “It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School”

  1. I could have written this – yes, I was the last one standing here when kids trned high school age. We had so much fun in those years! I have two more to come, but the first two were too much fun and were too successful to not repeat the performance! Thanks for getting the word out!

    1. It’s so neat to hear you had fun with your first two, Carola! I must confess that parenting/schooling during the teen years has been my most favorite phase. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

    1. Not all states require an umbrella school for homeschoolers. We are some of the last (high school) homeschoolers standing in our local group too!! :o(. Frustrating but we’re marching on.

  2. Thank you so much for this information! I have had my 7th grade son in a very rigorous homeschool program (for 4 years) that I’m just realizing is just not a good fit for him. I actually just got online to see what some of my other friends are doing for their jr. high and high school students (and one of my friends on fb shared your article), knowing that my son follows somewhat of a different drum beat academically, and I really want to see him succeed. I thought all of the tears and arguments over his writing assignments were just attitude problems, but now I really feel like I have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole (or whatever that saying is!). I want to tailor his learning environment to something that will grow his love of learning again. Thank you so much for this! I will share it with my husband, and we’ll come up with an exciting plan for my son. And he is going to love it!

    1. I LOVE THIS, Erika!! I’m so glad to hear you are encouraged! I’m confident you will have a wonderful time during the high school years. There WILL be times when your child is unmotivated and you’ll wonder if it’s all worth it; but I don’t think you’ll really regret it. Have fun!! And thanks for visiting, and for your comment! :-)

  3. Thank you for sharing this perspective. WE too found most of our homeschooling friends put their kids in school as they reached teen years. It is lonely sometimes, but I try and remember this is a season. Doing this through high school has its challenges but the Pros FAR outweigh them. What a delight to still have them share their hearts and thoughts each day. Seeing them grow and stretch their independence.

    1. Yes, Christa! “What a delight to still have them share their hearts and thoughts each day.” That is so true! Thanks for the comment! :-)

  4. Michelle Kinsley

    Awesome article! We are entering the high school years this fall and already this summer he has taken a computer apart and replaced a new video card and other parts, installed and reconfigured different aspects of his computers platform and seeks out appropriate help when needed. Basically, he’s learned more about computers and how to work/build/fix them in a few months than most kids learn in a couple of years taking computer science in a school setting. It is so exciting to just see him blossom after 6 years of struggling in public school and I wouldn’t dream of giving that up at this stage for anything. ?

    1. It sounds like you are starting off the right way, Michelle! What fun to see your son get excited about something after being frustrated for so long!! You will LOVE homeschooling high school! :-)

  5. I am LOVING homeschooling my girls in high school!! It’s another part of the journey in their lives that I would never want to miss. And, thank you , for confirming that most people make this SO MUCH harder than it has to be. It CAN BE a blessing, and an adventure. And FUN!!

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Angie! Yes, let’s keep it simple, so we can focus on loving our kids and relishing what little time with them we have left!

  6. Dear Ann, While I enjoyed your column, I’m confused when you write, “You do not have to follow your local school district’s requirements. You can graduate your child whenever your own requirements have been met.” I live in the state of FL and you are required to have 24 credits to graduate and while they offer a number of electives you can engage in, they specifically spell out how many math and what kind, how many science credits and which ones must have labs, they require 1/2 credit of economics and 1/2 credit of American Government, etc.

    So, what is your take on that? Thank you for your article.


    1. Hi Tina, I’m so sorry I did not see your comment before now. Every state is different, and I do not know Florida’s laws. But are you looking at Florida’s homeschool law, or just the requirements for the public schools? In many states the homeschool law is not very stringent about how many credits of each subject must be completed for graduation. Just because the local school district requires something does not mean the state requires it of homeschool students. A quick search led me to this page, which talks about the 24 credits and how they must be divided — but this is referring to PUBLIC school students… on the page for HOMESCHOOL legislation in Florida, I see no mention of requirements for graduation. This is just a cursory search, though, so I would definitely recommend you do further research for yourself. Good question!!

    2. From what I understand the above requirements are what will prepare them best to be accepted into the university. And let’s face it, many of us do better with at least a few guidelines to follow! The thought of absolutely no boundaries turns me into a nervous wreck….

  7. Thank you for this! My two eldest daughters have always gone to public school, and I have been trying to show them the benefits of homeschooling (since I am divorced, I need their father’s permission, and he is already wary of home schooling- especially if they aren’t on board with it). They are beginning g to sound interested, and it suddenly scared me. Wait- you mean this could happen? Now what do I do?! I’m nervous enough about beginning to teach my 4 year old son preschool! This post reminded me that there are a lot of resources- I’m not alone. Thanks!

  8. Thank you for writing this. It has come at a good time for me as I have been struggling with the fact that our 3rd child is nearly high school age and we are the only homeschoolers in a remote town (Australia). Photos of my online Facebook friends putting their homeschoolers into school have been a bit hard to see. Their kids look so happy in their new school uniforms. :) We are missionaries here and committed for the long term, but at times it is tempting to think we should be moving for our kids. So I appreciate your reminder today that it can be great. :) Bless you.

    1. My heart goes out to you, Linda! I think I know what you’re feeling; here we get bombarded with how they are missing out on opportunities for sports and other extra-curriculars… But it totally CAN be GREAT! I count our time together as a family as just as important as those things… did you see my post about 10 Reasons I’m Thankful to Homeschool High School? Maybe that will help, too. Thanks SO MUCH for your comment! :-)

  9. We started homeschooling last year (8th grade for my son) so I’ve been pretty intimidated knowing he’s in high school already. This made me feel so much better because you’re right, he can teach himself a lot of this stuff. Thanks for the reassurance!

  10. I have to admit that I’ve been thinking, nervously, about high school too. But we just did our annual evaluation. Our evaluator (certified teacher) explained a lot to me. I feel a lot better and way more confident. I dreaded the thought of placing my girls BACK into the public school system. Now I know I don’t need to.
    I also live in Florida. I too got the guideline sheet about how many different credits my kids will need. But it’s a guideline.
    My 12 yr old is dancer. This year she will attend conservatory (dancing from 9 am to 11am) everyday, and dancing 3 evenings a week as well. I found out that she will get “credit” for all that dancing. All of those hours will satisfy her PE, Arts, and extra credit hours.
    With all the online (and other purchasable types) classes and curriculum, I feel like we can do this. I’m really looking forward to it.

  11. Hello, A friend told me about the FB page entitled the same as your website. I requested access since I have a boy in his Sophomore year and we are homeschooling. Would love to have access to the group and learn all that I can to get him through HS. Can you grant me access?

  12. Hi, I am currently a junior in high school and am about to start the school year, however I am trying to convince my parents to let me be homeschooled. I am a very independent learner and would be teaching myself (which is what I have to do in school anyway because they do not adequately cover the material) Part of me convincing them is to create a presentation that shows I would be fully covered for Junior and Senior year. The only trouble is, I feel that I can’t find the right cirriculum! I’ve searched plenty of websites that all tell me the same thing, and it’s becoming overwhelming. So much so that I just want to stop the process, but then I think about how much I dislike traditional school and start researching again. I guess my question is, is there a blog post that you have about high school curriculum and what you use? Or do you know of any good websites that I could check out that might be more helpful? This would be a great help to me! Thank you!

    1. Hi Kitt, great question, and I am so impressed that you are willing to do the research and make this happen for yourself! I do have a post that will get you started on how to know which curriculum to use. You can read it here: How to KNOW What Your Teen Needs to Get Into College. It was originally designed as the first post in a four-part series to help you through all the steps of planning curriculum. That series is what I used as the foundation for my book, which fills in with a lot more info and how-to videos and printable charts to fill out. I think that might actually help you the most, so that you can confidently show your parents a plan that will check all the boxes to satisfy them. :-) You can read more about the book here: Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: How to Be Sure You’re Not Missing Anything. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions: ann (at) annieandeverything (dot) com. You go, girl!! :-)

  13. We have never homeschooled our children. Last son is going into high school fall of 2018. He is a good student. We want to travel and school him. We (his parents) are retired. Is that unfair to him? Also no idea how to homeschool.

    1. Hi Holly, of course it’s fair to him! You are the parents, and you have a wider experience and can see a bigger picture than he can. It sounds to me like he would learn LOTS by travelling, things that he could never learn in a public school. As far as how to homeschool high school, I wrote a book about it which will help. It’s called Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: How to Make Sure You’re Not Missing Anything — and you can see it here:

  14. It’s so funny because many of the arguments or questions about homeschooling high school are the same ones people have about homeschooling to begin with and the answers are still the same. It’s not that hard! :)

    1. So true! And yet for some reason we start to think it’s gonna be completely different — but it’s really not! Thanks for the comment! :-)

  15. I totally agree that homeschooling high school doesn’t have to be hard and you can prepare your kids for the future they were created for!
    Cathy Posey

  16. Ann,

    (insert BIG sigh of relief) Where do I start? I have been homeschooling my children for an “eternity.” When I began I always knew, in the back of mind, that eventually high school would come. However, at the time it seemed like high school was far from my radar and I just knew I would conquer it when the time came. Well…. the time came and it came sooner than I anticipated. Here I sit, staring at my computer screen in complete wonderment and awe because I do not know where to start. I am ashamed to admit that it all snuck up on me. I have been so busy working, getting my eldest child (who is entering his freshman year) to and from work and activities that now I have to figure out curriculum. In all actuality, I should’ve been doing this the last several months. I felt defeated, I felt like I had failed before I even started. You just delivered me a big helping of relief, encouragement, and HOPE! Thank you! I can do this! I am going to do this. Thank you, Ann!

  17. Cherish Howard

    Thank you Anne, I was so worried about homeschooling high school I almost had a nervous breakdown :). Now I can see that it really doesn’t have to be that hard. I look forward to reading more of your posts and enjoying the encouragement you offer to other homeschooling mamas. You are awesome!

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