Overview: It’s honestly not that hard to homeschool high school. Find the encouragement and resources you need to feel confident that YOU can do this!
NOTE: This post was originally published in 2015. Back then this blog had a different name, but over time, the title of this post seemed the perfect fit for my first Facebook group, and a podcast — and eventually for the website, too. It’s truly not that hard to homeschool, including high school, and this website will help you create the best homeschool for YOUR kids, YOUR family, and YOU — so you can be confident! (P.S. The article itself was updated in January 2022.)
When we first started homeschooling high school back in 2012, it was pretty lonely. Most of our friends who had started homeschooling with us in the early elementary years did not continue homeschooling through the high school years. I used to wonder why, but now I think plain ‘ol fear might have been the reason they sent their teens to public or private school rather than continuing to homeschool for high school.
You might know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve been homeschooling all along, but now your oldest is in middle school, so you see high school looming ahead — and you’re terrified. Or maybe your kid has been in a public or private school all this time, but with the state of the world these days, you’re wondering if homeschooling is a better idea — but high school? Yikes! That will be just too hard!
And I get that; I really do. The idea of homeschooling high school can be very intimidating. First there is the more difficult subject matter — chemistry, calculus, and classical literature, oh my! You wonder how you can possibly give your kid a good enough education to get into college.
Then there are the nitty-gritty concerns about how to make a transcript, or where to get a diploma — or even just trying to figure out how to grade a paper. What makes you qualified to do any of that?
And overall, you basically feel inadequate. You worry that you will shortchange your kid in some way, miss something important, and possibly ruin their life. ACK!
Well, after graduating five kids from our homeschool, all of whom are living not-ruined lives, LOL, I can truthfully say that it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. Sometimes the “experts” make it sound much more difficult than it needs to be. Consider the following:
Reasons why homeschooling high school is really not that hard:
1) By the time your kid reaches high school, they will most likely have the ability to learn most things independently.
That means that they can teach themselves Chemistry (or any other “too hard for mom to teach” subject), and you won’t have to. All of my kids did this. I actually had MORE time when they were in high school than I did when they were younger, because I didn’t have to be as hands-on anymore.
Lest you see this as shirking your responsibility, I would say that instead 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. This is how 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.
How do you make independent learning happen? Read this: How to Teach the Most Valuable Skill Your Child Will Ever Need.
Some of you are no doubt thinking right now, “But what if my teen is NOT ready to learn independently?” I have thoughts about that, too. Here’s an article (with an included video) that should help: When You Fear Your Homeschooled Teen is Behind. I’m also going to create a new podcast episode about how to handle high school when your teen still needs a lot of your help. Stay tuned!
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 homeschool law, but usually there is 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! You can ensure yours will, too, by doing a simple exercise in this article: How to KNOW What Your Teen Needs to Get Into College.)
The “experts” will give you long lists of courses to take, books to read, and hoops to jump through to be successful at homeschooling high school, but I’m here to say that most of them are just plain wrong. Don’t be intimidated. You truly can tailor-make your high school homeschool to meet the needs of YOUR kid, YOUR family, and YOU — without any hoop-jumping.
Determining your own graduation requirements is not a difficult process, especially when you understand your freedom in this area. Read What You Need to Know about Homeschool Graduation Requirements for more details.
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 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 fluff courses just to fill the schedule. See how much easier this is beginning to sound?
The Complete Guide to High School Electives for Homeschoolers is a great resource with more information about using activities and interests as high school credit. Another helpful read is Clearing Confusion About Homeschool Credits — this article helps you determine which activities to use for credit and which to consider as extra-curricular only. And if you want to their entire courseload — even core courses — to be based on interests, then take a look at 4 Keys to Unschooling High School Successfully.
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 even continue working into the summer, if need be. (We did this basically every year, LOL.)
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.
Worried your teen will get “behind”? This is an unwarranted concern. Read this article (with an accompanying video) to feel better about the whole thing: When You Fear That Your Homeschooled Teen is BEHIND.
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!
Having control of your family’s entire day, rather than having to follow the schedule of the public or private school, is a HUGE stress-reducer. You can even take the day off, or travel, or do school in your jammies — whenever you want!
3) There are more resources now for 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. Or better yet, your teen can do the search. These online resources definitely help in the quest for getting things off of your plate and onto your teen’s. (See #1 above.)
Also, homeschool co-ops abound, and there are conferences such as the Great Homeschool Conventions — at which I will be speaking in 2022! — to help you find like-minded moms to swap stories with, share ideas, and give yourself a pick-me-up.
The sheer amount of high school homeschool curriculum options has increased greatly over the years. I’ve reviewed lots of them — see all of my reviews, plus information about how to homeschool high school in each subject, here: Ann’s Homeschool High School Curriculum Reviews.
Plus all the great homeschool blogs out there — I mean, of course you’d come here first, right? LOL — that will give you encouragement and information to walk the journey.
And don’t forget my Facebook groups: For high school, join It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School. For the earlier years, join It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool K-8. Both have active memberships that will answer questions and give support whenever you need a helping hand. Plus now you can interact directly with curriculum and college reps who sponsor the groups.
Knowing you are not alone in this thing goes a long way towards relieving those fears of messing up or being inadequate.
For a dose of audio encouragement, subscribe to my podcast! You can find all the episodes here: The It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School Podcast.
4) 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. My motto is “I don’t do complicated,” LOL!
I was afraid, too, at the beginning; but as time went on, I realized I didn’t have to be. I stopped listening to the “experts” and started using my old-fashioned common sense. And lo and behold, I graduated five kids who all got into college (although all did not finish; more about that here: Is College a Good Fit for Your Homeschooled Teen?) — and we all lived to tell about it!
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. Take the first step, and before you know it, you’ll be handing your teen their diploma. And you won’t regret a moment!
Helpful Resource Links:
New to homeschooling high school and need a pep talk? Click here.
Want guidance getting started? Go here: How to Homeschool High School or take a look at my book, Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School, which walks you through all the steps of research and planning so you don’t have to be afraid of missing anything. You can see it here: Cure the Fear.
Want to make sure you are doing everything to be ready for college? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Preparing for College.
Worried about transcripts? I’ve gotchu! See Homeschool Transcript Essentials: What You Need and Don’t Need.
HUGS!! You’ve got this!
- Episode 92: Is Your Teen Showing Consideration for Others? - December 2, 2022
- Episode 91: Unschooling Teens — My Experience and Advice (with Julie Polanco) - November 18, 2022
- Episode 90: Are You Giving Grace to Your Teen? - November 4, 2022