Note: This article from guest contributer Sara Dennis of Classically Homeschooling is chock full of super-helpful tips for homeschooling high school. Some of these I didn't know — and wish I had! Seriously, you might come away with a whole new way of doing things!
Are you in middle school with high school looming over you? Or feeling overwhelmed in the thick of it? Let me assure you that while homeschooling high school may seem intimidating, it doesn't have to be nearly as bad as it seems. This is why I’m going to share my own tried-and-true tips for homeschooling high school that will help you keep your sanity while giving your kids a great education.
Transcripts and testing may be important in high school, but I found that creating the transcripts was easy compared to the need to stay on top of the daily needs of my teenagers. Hopefully, these seven tips for homeschooling high school will help you as you enter these simultaneously stressful and wonderful years.
Helpful Tips for Homeschooling High School
1. Office Hours
Life gets busy when you have teenagers, and sometimes you’re not available when your teen has questions about their schoolwork. The trick is to set office hours each day. Office hours give you time to focus on your high school kids.
Office hours were wonderful. My homeschool time was focused on the younger children while my high school teenagers worked independently. Then the younger children went down for a quiet time and I held office hours.
Sometimes the teens would come over to ask me quite a few questions about their essays, math, or science. Other times, I was able to complete some small projects because no one needed me that day.
2. Dedicated Fridays
If you’re working or you have young children in the house, consider a high school schedule that dedicates Fridays to your high school teenagers. This will give your high school teenagers a class time to work towards. You can hold history and literature discussions, complete science experiments, and do art projects.
You can also use Fridays to make sure that everything is set up for the coming week. Do your kids understand the assignments? Are the papers printed out?
Dedicating Fridays to your high school students gives your high school teens the focused time they need for discussions and experiments while allowing you to balance other obligations in your life.
3. Inspect Your Child's Work
Many high school teenagers can work independently. However, you will still need to inspect your children’s work on a daily or weekly basis to make sure that it's being done and done to your standard.
Many parents have discovered that their independent high school teenager has gradually allowed the quality and quantity of their schoolwork to decline when they’re not being inspected or graded. Then you’re left with the impossible task of catching your child back up to where they should be or convincing your kid that they need to spend more time studying.
Schoolwork isn’t just a checkbox that needs to be checked off. The quality of the work matters.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource
Don’t be afraid to outsource your child’s studies. This may be signing up for an online class through an academy or co-op. You may choose to set up in-person classes instead.
One group of families joined together to hire a professor or grad student from the local college to teach science to a group of homeschooled students. It worked beautifully.
Another option is to again collaborate with a group of families and have each parent teach the subject they know the best. This can be a great way to help your high school students learn to meet outside expectations and deadlines. It also makes sure you’re not left attempting to teach calculus when you can't quite remember the Pythagorean Theorem!
You don’t need to teach everything your high school student needs to know. Outsource as needed.
5. Have Kids Plan Their Week
Pick up a student planner for your high school teenagers and teach them how to plan their week. Planning is a skill that kids need to learn, not a skill they’re born knowing how to do. Your teen needs to know how to balance their studies, friendships, and other responsibilities as they enter college and adult life.
Also, letting the kids plan their week gives them control over their schedule. They may want to attend an activity with their friends. Planning for themselves means they can arrange for their work to be completed around the activity.
Having your teen plan their week also frees you from the time needed to create a detailed schedule for your children.
However, do expect to spend a few weeks teaching your teen to plan. I’ve had children try to write all their assignments down on Monday only to be overwhelmed by the long list of to-do’s and never actually complete their work. Teach your kids to break their work into small bites before you let them plan their week independently.
6. Stay Connected
When you’re homeschooling high school, it’s too easy to make schoolwork the end-all-be-all of your relationship. However, that’s not the way to maintain a strong parent-child bond. You also need to have topics both you and your teen enjoy discussing.
There may be a new game your kids love to play. Try playing it yourself. Ask your child for tips on how to improve your play. Let your kid teach you.
You may choose to pick up a new hobby together or try a new sport.
The activity you choose doesn’t matter. The connection does.
7. Add Fun
Homeschooling elementary kids is fun. You can count field trips, shopping, and projects as schoolwork. But high school is serious. College and adult life are just around the corner and you don’t want to mess up.
The trick is that while your kids are older, they still need to have fun elements added to their homeschool day. Go ahead and visit the science museum or put on a play as part of your homeschool.
Have your kids do more of the planning for these things. Focusing just on the work will burn your kids out after a few months. Adding fun to your homeschool will help keep the interest alive and your kids enthusiastic.
All work and no play make homeschooling dull — at any age!
As you enter high school, remember that while the transcripts and college applications are critical components of homeschooling high school, your children are more important. Make sure that you follow through on their assignments to be certain they are completed to the level you expect. Have your teen practice making their schedule, and try out a weekly class time or a dedicated day of the week.
Perhaps the most important tip for homeschooling high school is to add fun to your homeschool day, which will help you stay connected to your teen. All too soon your kids will be grown and heading out the door. Give them a reason to want to come back!