Episode 65: How to Tell if You Are Successfully Homeschooling High School

Overview: On those bad days it can feel like we are NOT successfully homeschooling high school. Here's what to consider so you can hold your head high!

Some days we feel GREAT! Other days, not so much, LOL.

On those days — or weeks, or months, sometimes — how do you keep confident that this homeschool high school thing is going well, that you are being successful?

The answer is in this podcast episode. There are some things to consider — some obvious, others less so — to help you maintain equilibrium and keep pressing on without feelings of failure or disappointment.

Remember, I believe you can CONFIDENTLY, COMPETENTLY, and CONTENTEDLY homeschool high school. So listen up to find out how!


On those bad days it can feel like we are NOT successfully homeschooling high school. Here's what to consider so you can hold your head high!

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This episode is sponsored by Voyage – a life skills course for teens

The transition from high school to adult life is a major one. How can you make sure that your student is well prepared for the leap? By accessing the right resources!

Voyage is an interactive, online program that walks high school students through key skills they need to transition into adulthood well. Whether they are trying to figure out a career, exploring a college path, or simply seeking to learn adult life skills, Voyage has the tools and lessons to help equip them for their journey. 

With five interactive modules covering personal development, career planning, college planning, financial responsibility, and everyday life skills, Voyage is designed for self-paced, independent learning, and it’s an affordable course at only $60 for all 5 modules

Visit VoyageCourse.com to learn more!

Episode 65: How to Tell if You Are Successfully Homeschooling High School

Related Resources:

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Feels Like a Failure: Maybe You're Looking at it Wrong — this is more for the elementary/middle years but might still be encouraging!

Opportunities My Teens are Missing Because We Homeschool High School

How to Teach the Most Valuable Skill Your Child Will Ever Need — this is about independent learning

Why Should You Homeschool High School? Crafting Your Mission Statement

Episode 63: Self Care for Homeschool Moms

Episode 72: How to Involve the Homeschool Dad in High School

Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School — has chapters about both independent learning (including how to get started in high school) and about your WHY — oh yea, and also about communicating with your teen

Episode 67: How to Decide about Extras for Homeschooling High School



Hi, I'm Ann Karako and you're listening to Episode 65 of the It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.

Because we have these bad days, don't we? We have these horribly bad days sometimes where nothing is going right, and the kid got a D, or we just found out — and this happened to me more than once; you'd think I'd learn — but we find out they haven't actually been doing their math for four months now, and we're just so disappointed in them. And the thought is, well then, if they were in the school system, somebody would be keeping better track and I have too much to do and I feel so overwhelmed…

Welcome to another episode of It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people. So you can confidently, competently, and even contentedly provide the high school education that best fits your teen and your family — and live to tell about it. I'm your host, Ann Karako, from annieandeverything.com.

Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast; I'm happy to be here with you today. I'm looking out my window and it's September, a beautiful afternoon, blue sky, leaves are still on the trees, but we know that's gonna probably start changing pretty quick.

And we might be in the thrilling part of a new homeschool year, but we know that not too far down the road, we're going to start to feel like we are not successful. Like we are not doing this thing as well as we thought we wanted to do this thing. Like our green leaves are turning colors and crumpling up and falling off.

Well, so let's talk about that today. Let's talk about are you being successful at this homeschool high school thing? What are some things to look at to determine whether you're being successful or not?

I mean, obviously there's one key thing that we can look at that really does say it all. And that is when you graduate your kid! Then you know you've been successful, and it doesn't necessarily have to look that pretty along the way, to be honest. Once they have completed the requirements to graduate, and you have maybe given them a diploma and there's a transcript that shows that they completed their requirements, then guess what? You were successful. Yay!

And maybe it was a big war to get to that point; but if you made it to that point, then hey, you were successful. Pat yourself on the back; it's a long journey; consider that box checked; yes, you were successful.

But OK, I mean, that is the reality, that is the very, very practical reality of this situation; but that doesn't mean we want it to look like that, and that that's all we're looking at, and that there was no feeling of success, there was no joy along the way, it was just a hard-fought battle and phew, we made it, so we must have been successful — no, that's not what we really want.

But if that's the way it works out for you, you know what? Don't worry about it. The fact that you made it through and did finish is plenty successful, because there are a lot of people who don't do that.

What does NOT indicate success

But let's talk about what maybe that feeling of success might look like. And I think before we look at things that mark success, let's look at some things that don't mark success that we might mistake for things that show success. Let me give you an example.


Whether your kid is getting all A's or not is not something to look at to show whether or not you are being successful homeschooling high school. Plenty of kids do not get all A's. It is not necessary to have your kid redo all of their work in order to get all A's in order for you to feel like you are being a successful homeschooler of your teen.

I frankly don't even recommend that practice anymore in high school. I can understand perhaps why it might be something that's happening in the earlier years, but by the time we get to high school or certainly junior and senior year, if we are preparing our kid for college, then we need to prepare them for the reality of college. And the reality of college is that there is not redos. If they get a B on a paper, then they get a B on a paper; they don't get a chance to redo it for an A. If they get a C on a test, that is what they've gotten; they don't get a chance to redo the problems and keep redoing the problems until they understand enough to get an A. That's not what college looks like.

And at some point we do have to have our kids be accountable for their work the first time around. If they are in the practice of being able to redo anything at any given time until they get an A, are they learning to do their work the first time well, and thoroughly? Or are they learning that they just have to do something and then they'll get a chance to do it over?

I think it's very important to teach them the lesson that first time counts. Because then they will learn to be well-prepared for that first time and not just, “oh, let's see how I do, because I know I'll always be able to do better.” No, how about “no, let me prepare really well, so that I can get as good as I can possible get the first time around.”

So if you're looking at your kid's grades and saying, “Well, my kid's getting B's and C's; I don't think I'm being successful homeschooling high school,” guess what? Remember, in the public schools, kids get Bs and Cs all the time, and nobody says the public schools aren't being successful because kids graduate with less than a 4.0 average. Why do we think that homeschoolers have to graduate with a 4.0 average or even an A average? None of my kids had a 4.0 average. And in fact, I had two of them that had B averages on their transcripts, their final GPA — Okay. It might've been one. Oh that's right; my son had a 3.47, and then I rounded that up to a 3.5. LOL

So don't worry about the grades that your kid is getting, if they're not all A's. Now sure, if your kid is consistently getting C's and D's, then there is some work to be done academically. It does not mean that you're failing at homeschooling high school, though. Let's not look at grades as a determining factor.

College acceptance

Here is another thing that is not a factor that is going to determine whether or not you're successful. Whether or not your kid gets into college is not something that says you were successful homeschooling or you were not successful at homeschooling. Plenty of kids may not get into college, and all that says is that college is probably not a good fit for them, and maybe they should try something else. That's all that says.

There are lots of kids in the public high schools and private high schools that never go to college, never get into college. They're still educated well. It's just that that's not what their bent is; that's not a good fit for them. The same thing is true of our homeschool. If your kid doesn't get into college, if your kid applies to colleges and doesn't get into them, it's okay. That's a data gathering exercise. Now we know, either we need to do more work to prepare them for college, or it's probably just not a good fit for them. That is okay. That says nothing about your homeschooling. Absolutely nothing.

Others' approval

Here's another thing that I want us to remember that does not measure our success. And that is whether or not somebody else approves of your homeschooling or thinks that you are doing well. Now let's get real here for a second. Many of us have relatives that are kind of keeping an eye on this homeschool high school thing and have expressed their doubts about whether this is a good idea. Our kid is going to miss opportunities, or whatever their worry is, and we feel like we are needing to prove it to this person or these people. And there are these little voices in your head, they become these voices in your head that are constantly there, and you're almost always measuring what you do based on how you think this doubter is going to think about whatever's happening at the moment.

Let's not do that anymore. Let's not give those people free rent in our heads. Let's get them out of our heads. We are not homeschooling, we are not making choices about homeschooling, we are not making choices about our day, about coursework, about curriculum with these people in our heads helping us make those decisions — or I hope we're not. This is not why we're homeschooling, and we don't have to prove it to anybody that our homeschooling is successful or not successful. Don't be using that as a gauge as to whether you're successful is whether you can prove it to this other person.

You know what? You cannot predict how people are going to respond. Sometimes they'll change their minds pretty readily; other times they just have something up their craw, and even if your kid got into Harvard, they would still say, “oh yeah, but…” Let's not try to please other people with our homeschools. Let's stand strong on our own decisions, what we believe is right for our kids and our family and not worry about somebody else. What somebody else thinks is not a determiner of whether our homeschool is successful. Phew! Alrighty.

Your teen's approval or agreement

And here's another one that does not show whether or not you're successful homeschooling. And that is that your kid is always obedient, always follows along with the program, always is loving homeschooling high school, always agrees with your values and your opinions. I congratulate you if you have a kid like that. But for many of us, our teens grow into very different individuals than we expected them to — and even very different opinions and values sometimes than we have ourselves. And in some ways this can seem disappointing, but I don't want you to look at it that way.

I want you to look at it as that you are raising your teens to be independent thinkers. And that means that you have given them the strength to even disagree with you on things that are important to them. And that has got to be okay. I have kids who are not planning on homeschooling their children when they have them. They've said this to me very clearly. That doesn't tell me that I was unsuccessful homeschooling high school. It doesn't tell me that at all. My kids don't have to have always enjoyed the process. My kids don't have to agree that homeschooling is the only way to educate. My husband and I made the decision for our family; when my kids have their own families, they will make decisions with their spouses for their families. And that's the way it should be.

And as far as political viewpoints, value systems, whatever it may be, that is not the determiner of whether or not our homeschool was successful — that our kid believes everything lockstep the way we do. Yes, we are raising independent thinkers who can form their own opinions, who make their own decisions, who can communicate for themselves and are not just parrots of us. This is a good, good thing.

Sponsorship announcement:

Hey, just want to let you know that this episode is sponsored by Voyage. The transition from high school to adult life is a major one. How can you make sure that your student is well prepared for the leap? By accessing the right resources. Voyage is an interactive online program that walks high school students through key skills they need to transition into adulthood well. Whether they are trying to figure out a career, exploring a college path, or simply seeking to learn adult life skills, Voyage has the tools and lessons to help equip them for their journey. With five interactive modules, covering personal development, career planning, college planning, financial responsibility, and everyday life skills, Voyage is designed for self-paced, independent learning. And it's an affordable course at only $60 for all five modules. Visit voyagecourse.com to learn more.

What does indicate success

Now that we've gotten those things out of the way, let's talk about some big picture perspectives as far as are you being successful homeschooling high school? What are some things that you can be looking at? There are a couple underlying thoughts and then one big huge thought. So let's deal with the underlying thoughts first.

Working with your teen

The first thing I want to mention is you are being successful homeschooling high school if you and your teen are working together towards graduation. So, what does that mean? You and your teen are communicating with one another; you and your teen are conferring about courses to take and curriculum; you and your teen are in dialogue regularly about assignments and expectations. That you are both working together towards graduation.

Sometimes that may mean you that have to adapt. Maybe certain credits you thought should be necessary, you might decide to pull them off the table because of circumstances or situations. An example of that would be if your kid hates math and you were planning on taking them all the way through calculus; well, maybe it's a good idea to drop that standard a little bit lower than that.

One thing that happened to us was I had an idea about foreign language that I wanted to get accomplished, and then my daughter was accepted to a school that didn't have a foreign language requirement, so we didn't complete the full amount that I was thinking was necessary. Because she was also running into some other deadlines and some overwhelm and over-scheduling herself, and so we adapted that.

As long as you and your teen are working together towards graduation, to fulfill those requirements, even if sometimes you adapt the requirements based on situations, then you are being successful homeschooling high school.

It is a thing that we want that relationship with our teen to be very important in this process. The academics can sometimes really be secondary. So if you guys are working together and getting the job done, even if it doesn't always look pretty, even if there's not always A's, even if you have to adapt sometimes, then you are being successful — and you will get to the end of the road and you will confer that diploma and all will be great. And that's a good thing. The communication, the regular communication, that is a good thing.

Does that mean that I don't believe in independent learning? That absolutely does not mean that, because I am a huge proponent of independent learning. Your teen, by junior year or senior year, in my opinion, it is well-advised that your teen is working almost completely independently — their own schedule, their own learning. And I've got resources about that.

But there still needs to be communication and dialogue between you about exactly what is going on, about where they are in the process, about when they're having any trouble. About OK, now that we've finished this credit, what's going to come next? And OK, now that we've finished this course, what curriculum should we do for the next one? Always dialoguing, always communicating, always coming to agreement wherever possible.

Sometimes you have got to pull the parent card; if you are constantly pulling the parent card, I would see that as a red flag. The older your teen gets, the closer to graduation they get, the more decisions they should be able to make on their own. And you should be hopefully agreeing with them for the most part, because maybe that's part of it, that you are teaching them, training them how to make wise decisions through all of this dialogue process.

But the main thing is, are you working together? And if you are, maybe that means you're more hands-on, maybe that means you're less hands-on. Are you both happy with how you're working together? Are everybody's needs being met? Are the requirements slowly being worked towards? Are you working together? That is one huge indicator of success.

Your teen is growing and maturing

Kind of related to that one is that your kid is becoming a responsible adult whom you are going to enjoy hanging out with.

Now, sometimes that “enjoy hanging out with” part becomes the problem. You know there are seasons, and especially in the early part of high school, it can seem like our kids are always opposing us. They're always challenging the boundaries. They're always challenging everything we say. They think they know more than we do about every single subject.

My experience has been that as high school draws to a close, that becomes less and less of an issue. However, even if it's still an issue towards the end of high school, that is okay.

Can you see, though, that your kid is becoming responsible, that when they get out into the world they're going to go to work when they need to go to work; they're going to do a fairly decent job at college, if that's where they're headed — passing would be a fairly decent job; they're going to do the things they need to to be a productive, responsible part of society, and at the same time, they're going to be somebody that you enjoy hanging out with for the most part.

Again, they're not going to agree with you about everything, so there might be some areas of tension, and maybe in high school you're not absolutely positive yet whether you're going to enjoy hanging out with them. But if you can see a trend in that direction, then you are being successful homeschooling high school. Again, it's a matter of that relationship.

The most important thing for most people who choose homeschooling high school is growing these teens into adults. That is what most of us are really, really, really wanting to do. And so if you are accomplishing that — and you probably are — then you are being successful homeschooling high school.

Your WHY is being accomplished

Last, but certainly not least, I want to bring up the main thing that always helped me determine if I was being successful homeschooling high school in the moment. Because we have these bad days, don't we? We have these horribly bad days sometimes where nothing is going right, and the kid got a D, or we just found out — and this happened to me more than once; you'd think I'd learn — but we find out they haven't actually been doing their math for four months now, and we're just so disappointed in them.

And the thought is, well then, if they were in the school system, somebody would be keeping better track and I have too much to do and I feel so overwhelmed… How, in the middle of those days, do we know whether or not we're being successful? Because it sure feels like we're not.

So here's what I always looked at: I looked at my WHY for homeschooling high school.

Now I have talked about the WHY for homeschooling high school many times before, whether in podcasts, or I've got an entire blog post about it. You know I will link to all the resources, all the related topics, all the related information will be linked in the show notes, which you can always find by going to annieandeverything.com, clicking on Podcast; and for this one, you want to look for episode 65.

The WHY though — spoiler alert (if you end up wanting to go to all of those other resources, they're going to explain it a lot more in depth) — but in general, your WHY is the reason you are homeschooling high school in the first place. Not just homeschooling in general, but homeschooling high school. Why are you keeping your teen at home instead of putting them in the public school or the private school? What is it that you hope to accomplish in your home that can't be accomplished in those other places?

There are so many possible answers to this, including your teen has an absorbing interest that they wouldn't have time to do if they were going to a regular school situation. For instance, my daughter played violin, and she needed three to four hours a day to practice in order to get ready for college auditions. She could not have had that much time if she were going to a standard school situation.

Maybe you need a flexible schedule; that was another one that was a WHY for us, because my husband being a pilot was gone so much of the time. And then when he was home, we wanted to spend time with him. And if my kids had been going off to school while my husband was home, then he would have hardly seen them at all, and they would have hardly seen him. So we did a lot of schooling, buckled down on the schooling, while he was gone; and when he was home we were able to be a lot more flexible about it. It was great for our family.

Other reasons — maybe you want to protect your kid from the things that are going on at the school: drugs, sex, common core, government sex ed, all those things that we know are going on and becoming more and more of an issue all the time. Maybe your value system is such that you want to teach your kids those values at home, rather than exposing them to things that are opposing to those values.

Maybe you want to build family interconnectedness. Maybe you want to do travel school. Maybe you do want to give them a higher level of academics, or maybe they're a student that needs a slower pace. And so you brought them home so they could go at the pace they need.

I'm just throwing out the ones that have come to the top of my head; there are so many reasons why we homeschool high school. And I always recommend that you think this through, and maybe even write a short paragraph that helps you elucidate, or even just some bullet points that helps you elucidate and clarify why you are homeschooling high school.

What is so important to you that you want to take on this homeschooling lifestyle all the way through high school? Write it down.

Lots of reasons why to have a WHY, but one of the biggest ones is that it is going to help you determine whether or not you're being successful, especially on those bad days. So in the middle of that bad day, pull out that paragraph that you wrote down.

See, that's why I suggest it be written down. Because you're not going to remember it in the midst of all the negative emotion. And also you just want it written down when you're in a state of neutral rationality; when you had the time, and the peace, and the overall emotional positive state that you could write these things down — you want to do it then. So that when you're in that negative emotional state you can look at this written thing that's very objective, black and white on this piece of paper, and see exactly what those reasons were.

Another huge one for us was character, and avoiding the whole peer pressure thing that happens in high school. So that our kids could grow into who they really are, without being affected by a bunch of peer pressure and trying to change themselves to fit in and be popular. That was another one for us.

So on that bad day, you look at your WHY and you ask yourself, are we fulfilling this WHY?

So on my bad day, I was like, yes, my daughter is getting time to practice her violin. Yes, we are fulfilling that. Yes, we are fulfilling having the flexibility so that we can ease off a little bit more on school when Dad is home and spend time with him more, and then knuckle down more when he is gone. Yes, we are protecting our kids from the things at the school district that we are not in favor of. Yes, our kids' personalities are growing strong. Their little sapling trunks are becoming thicker so that as they just have that much more growing and maturing under their belts before they head to college, it will be a strong little trunk instead of one that's still bendy.

So all of these things are what I would look at on the days when I was not feeling successful. Because they were all objective things that I could look at and say, yes, this is happening. And it helped me feel successful homeschooling high school, even when I wasn't having the greatest day and wasn't feeling successful in that particular moment. Overall, I knew that we were being successful.

And that's what I want to encourage you with. It's not about the individual days, the individual moments, the individual disappointments, the individual arguments. It's kind of about the overall trend.

Yeah, there's going to be days of bad grades. There's going to be days of tension. There's going to be days that your teen drives you crazy. So, you know what, take a deep breath, pull out your WHY, read it over, remind yourself what you are trying to accomplish with homeschooling high school.

Sometimes it does mean we have to adapt a little bit. On that bad day, and you've pulled out your WHY, and you're looking it over, what if you end up saying, “Wow, you know what? We're not accomplishing this one thing that we thought was really important that we wrote down.” Well OK then, maybe it is time to make some changes to make that happen. For instance, if you're wanting family time together, but one of your kids — your teen — is so involved in outside activities that they're never home any night of the week, well, that could be why you're not feeling successful right now, because your family isn't spending time together because there's over commitment to things outside the home.

So maybe sometimes it brings us to the point where we need to make some changes in what's going on so that we can feel more successful, or that WHY that we thought was important can be brought back to the center again. And that's a good and valid exercise.

And the fact that you're thinking through those things also means that you're being successful. You're not just winging this. Nobody is ever just winging homeschooling high school. I mean, maybe for a short period of time, sometimes we do need to do that. But in general, it is something that we've thought through and thought out and we've planned. It's just a matter of sometimes in the execution, we can sometimes be discouraged.

Are you communicating with your kid, working together towards graduation? Sometimes that does mean adaptation, but are you in general doing this in a way that you are not overwhelmed all the time? You're making decisions that suit your teen, and your family, and even you, as you are working together through this thing?

I forgot to bring that up when I was talking about that earlier, and I want to make a point about that. As you are working together, make the decisions that suit you, suit your family, suit your teen — not what the other people say. If you feel confident in your decision making process, even if it's not what everybody else is doing, then that's a little way to show success in homeschooling high school. And that's something that you and your teen are working towards together.

If your kid is on the path to becoming a responsible adult who you can enjoy hanging out with, then you are being successful homeschooling high school.

And if you are accomplishing your WHY, then you are being successful homeschooling high school. All the rest is gravy.

So your kid is getting all A's without having to redo stuff all the time — great. But that doesn't make you successful. It's a nice little feather in your cap. Sure. But it's not the determiner of success. If your kid gets into college, and your kid gets scholarships great, great, great, great. But it's not the determiner of success.

If you are accomplishing your WHY, that is the main thing. And if you are communicating and working together with your teen, building relationship, and your teen is on track to becoming somebody who will be a pleasure to have in society, then you're doing a great job. You are doing a great job.

And I think for 99.99999% of you, this is the case. And if you are having a bad day, then pull this podcast back out and listen to it again. Send me an email; I'd be happy to help. There are so many things that we get emotionally distraught about in the moment, but over time, when we look back at them, we realize it wasn't a big deal. So let's look at the big picture and don't hone in so much on all the little details that aren't necessarily going right. Look at the big picture, and if it's going right, then you are doing fine. I hope you can hear me when I say that. I hope you can believe me when I say that, because it is the truth.

All right. I thank you so much for being here again. This is episode 65. You know where to head for the show notes, and share this with your friends, and I'll see you next time.

It's Not That Hard to Homeschool

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