Homeschool, Homeschool high school, Homeschool HIGH SCHOOL Made Easy
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High School Year by Year | Homeschool High School Made Easy 4

Welcome to the month-long series “Homeschool HIGH SCHOOL Made Easy,” a follow-up to the popular “Homeschool Made Easy” series (now published on kindle). I’m sharing tips from my experience as a homeschool graduate and homeschool mother, showing YOU how easy and enjoyable these high school years can be for you and your teen. Be sure to sign up for the entire series so you don’t miss a thing!

There are only four short years in high school. And trust me when I say they go by really, really fast. Like, blink-of-an-eye fast. Faster than you can drink a pot of coffee. Faster than your teen can mess up a clean house. Faster than you can lose your minivan keys. So, really fast, in other words.

I wish I had a big-picture-overview of what the four years of high school would bring when I had started off with my firstborn. It would have saved me some stress and nagging and anxiety. Now that I’m in the middle of my second time through homeschooling high school, I realize that there’s a pattern here, a nice set of steps between “oh my word, this is FUR REALS!” and “wow. it’s over already?”

Yes, homeschooling high school can sometimes seem overwhelming. But in reality, it can be easy — one day at a time.

So before we get deep into all the nitty-gritty of homeschooling high school, each subject and requirement and transcript and life skill, I thought I’d whisper some soothing words of big-picture-planning into your ear. Because that’s ever so comforting, isn’t it? Not sure you agree? Read on, and see if this doesn’t make you feel better than you ever imagined.

Freshman to Senior, What Your Homeschool High School Student Will Learn

Freshman Year

Ninth grade is a big step from middle school to the scary high school (insert Hitchcock soundtrack here). This is the year you and your student go from that frozen-in-the-headlights state of paralyzing fear to the confident “we got this” swagger of homeschool high school pros. It will happen, I guarantee, just wait for it.

In the meantime, while you’re waiting, help your student do this (one at a time, not all at once, unless your name is Lea Ann the Crazy):

  • Become increasingly independent in study skills.
  • Manage schoolwork time and identify how, where, and when he learns best.
  • Research your state graduation requirements and plan a general high school course accordingly.
  • Ensure completion of core classes (English, math, science, history) and any electives.
  • Track grades and have that “oh no, this is harder than I thought” moment or two.
  • Try an extra-curricular (sports, music, etc) or two or several, then freak out over how busy and overcommitted you are.
  • Make friends at church and get involved with your local ministry.
  • Have a few heart-to-heart discussions between both parents and the student about balancing school work, extracurriculars, ministry, household chores, friends, and video game time (some of you will feel like that last one is a greater priority than others).

Homeschool Made Easy

Sophomore Year

Instead of stressing over it, take each one a year at a time, a goal at a time, a life lesson at a time, a prayer at a time.

Tenth grade is perhaps the best year of high school. The student has (hopefully) had a spiritual revival toward the end of freshman year about being responsible (all the praise hands) and has a more realistic expectation of high school work. He’s probably streamlined his studying and academics to just what he needs to get the job done, and he’s more realistic about how well prepared he is for tests and projects. He’s got high school under control and may be ready to even take on more.

So if the freshman year ended well, the sophomore year should be just building on success:

  • Let the student take charge of his academic plan with just an end-of-the-week meeting to report on progress and take tests. No more micro-managing.
  • If there’s an elective he wants to try out, this is the year to do it.
  • Check those state requirements again to determine if your student will graduate with minimum, standard, or distinguished achievement (advanced) program. There’s often a considerable difference in requirements for each level. For example, see the Texas state standards here or google your own state’s standards.
  • Teach the student to track his own grades and understand the future financial implications (scholarships!) of his GPA.
  • Encourage your student to make a list of possible careers, college majors, and schools he is interested in. No pressure, just fact-gathering and dreaming.
  • Take a sport or PE class, if he hasn’t done so already.
  • Volunteer to participate in a ministry at church (nursery, choir, children’s Sunday School, etc).
  • Begin a job outside the home part-time and take on some part of his own financial responsibilities (buying his own entertainment, clothes, electronics, etc).

Junior Year

I’m going to tell you the truth, the junior year is the hardest. The student does SO MUCH and makes big strides toward the leaving during eleventh grade. It’s good to start these steps now, in case life or mistakes or unforeseen circumstances get in the way; he has another year just in case.

After the relative ease of the sophomore year, you may (like me) be tempted to go back to micromanaging and nagging to make sure things get done. Fight the urge and let your student learn from consequences; it’s better to have these lessons now than when he’s thirty years old, right?

  • Let the student plan the junior year more, selecting from available curriculum and classes that meet his graduation requirements. You may even let him plan his school calendar (end of semester dates) and due dates. Ask him how much or little reminder he wants.
  • Focus on core required courses to prepare for college entrance tests; save easy, fluff, and elective courses for senior year (when neither one of you will be caring as much anymore, anyway).
  • Have the student narrow his list of potential majors to two or three, and make a list of three to five schools he is interested in attending.
  • Take sample ACT and SAT tests to find which one fits your student best. Register for a test date (preferably spring of junior year) and get started practicing
  • Take the student to visit a couple colleges and have him contact admissions departments for more information. Encourage the student to take the lead on college decisions and communication with admissions officers and faculty; it makes a big difference.
  • Find out your state requirements for a driver’s license and begin that process. Encourage the student to save up for his own vehicle, insurance, and maintenance (or pay his parents for use of the family vehicle).
  • Prioritize ministry and volunteering to keep the student others-focused during an intense period of self-care and growth.

Senior Year

This should be the gravy year. If your student did, indeed, complete all of the above, he is working part-time, driving his own car, paying some of his own bills, talking to his favorite college regularly, and honing in on his future career and ministry. He’s really busy and almost an adult . . . seemingly overnight.

BUT most students can’t get all of that done in one year. So senior year he can pick up the rest, checking off his steps toward independence.

  • Finish up any graduation requirements remaining. He may have completed his state’s minimum requirements as a junior. Encourage him to finish the year strong for better chances for college admission and scholarships.
  • Finalize his plans for college — if, where, what he’s studying, how he’ll pay for it.
  • Retake his college entrance exams, if desired.
  • Submit his applications to his college(s) of choice and follow the steps to admissions they provide.
  • If the academic workload is light, increase working outside the home to full-time. Take on more financial responsibility and save aggressively for college costs.
  • Once college admission is secured, begin paying tuition.
  • Apply for scholarships outside the college.
  • Continue volunteering in the church and community. Take initiative to fill in needs instead of saying, “Someone should . . . “
  • Discuss with both parents and student what changes (and what stays the same) as the teen transitions to an adult member of the family.

Does that seem like a lot? It does look overwhelming if you take the entire list and then look at your thirteen-year-old and try to imagine cramming all of that into him. It wouldn’t work, obviously. So don’t try. *cough, cough*

Take this just a year at a time. Some years (like tenth grade!) seem like a piece of cake. Others (I hate you, eleventh grade!) have a lot of change and pressure. Instead of stressing over it, take each one a year at a time, a goal at a time, a life lesson at a time, a prayer at a time.

Yes, homeschooling high school can sometimes seem overwhelming. But in reality, it can be easy — one day at a time.

What life lesson is your teen working on right now?

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2 Comments

  1. I wanted to pop in a say “hi” again; I just spent a chunk of time catching up on this series, and wanted to let you know that now I have my husband reading some of your posts with me. 🙂 While we know we want to homeschool “for a while”, high school has been a difficult conversation for us to tackle…your posts are giving us some guidance in developing our own family mission statement as well as how to talk about homeschooling for high school (while recognizing that we have lots of time, since our oldest is in preschool right now). Many thanks for your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great, Heidi! I’m glad you’re finding the courage to even THINK about homeschooling in high school! You’re right — you have plenty of time, so it’s a decision you can punt for a few years. But a lot of these principles apply so well to earlier years. I hope the series does help you keep homeschooling simple so you can enjoy it every day. : )

      Like

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