high school on the horizon

Homeschool High School

by Diane Kummer

Homeschool parents are a varied lot! Some of you have been teaching high school for many years, and because you are veteran homeschoolers in your circle of friends, many people come to you with questions. Some of you may be in the midst of homeschooling your first high school student. Still others of you have yet to begin the high school adventure, or you may have recently pulled a teen out of public or private school. 

Regardless of your level of experience, I believe there is value for all of us to be reminded of the basics. Teaching high school at home does not need to be a daunting task, but can instead be a wonderful opportunity to educate and enjoy your teens.

Prepare for Teaching High School

You’ll want to prepare for the task of teaching high school by picking up at least one resource book that lays a good foundation and provides many practical tips.

These are but a few of the choices:

  • The High School Handbook: Junior and Senior High School at Home by Mary Schofield.

  • Senior High: A Home Designed Form+U+La by Barbara Edtl Shelton.
  • Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission by Jeanne Gowen Dennis.
  • Homeschooled and Headed for College by Denise Boiko.

Information from these books will prove helpful many times throughout the high school years. All of the authors were homeschool parents, so they know your questions, the concerns you have, and the encouragement you need!

“Teaching high school is serious business, but one of the most crucial aspects is the opportunity to continue building strong relationships with your teens.”

Take an Experienced Parent to Lunch

One thing I love about homeschooling parents is that most of them want to support and encourage others. Take time to develop a relationship with a homeschooling family who is currently teaching a teen or with one who has already graduated one or more children. A free breakfast or lunch may be quite a lure! Inviting a homeschool mom or couple either to your home or to a restaurant will give you uninterrupted time for picking their brains. Potential questions may include the following: 

  • What do you see as the benefits of homeschooling high school? (You may first want to ask if they are having a good day!) 
  • What curriculum has worked for you and why? What curriculum has not worked and why? (Both of the preceding questions are necessary so you can compare and contrast curricula that may best suit your teen.) 
  • What part of homeschooling high school did you find to be a challenge? 
  • How did you structure your day? 
  • Are there any tips that you want to pass on to someone just starting out? 

Be an Excited Learner

In the same way you desire your teen to be excited about the learning experience, you’ll want to set a good example by investigating and exploring the many aspects of teaching high school. Keep your eyes open for teaching seminars. I’ll present five seminars at the 2013 HEAV Convention that give information you need to know, such as how to develop a high school plan, create a transcript, stay on track during the high school years, keep good records, and know about tests such as the SAT, ACT, PSAT and others. Although it always takes a special effort to be away from home, the information you’ll glean from a one-hour workshop at the conference may save you hours of time finding the information on your own.

Become Spiritually Equipped

Teaching high school is serious business, but keep in mind that one of the most crucial aspects of homeschooling your teens is simply the opportunity to continue building strong relationships with them. The teen years are pivotal ones, and you will see your child grow and mature in many ways. Do your best to keep the lines of communication open and carry on with the training you began many years ago. I recommend an excellent book on the spiritual training of teens by Paul David Tripp called Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens.

Watch and Pray

Homeschooling during the high school years is a noble task that may meet resistance from others, including your teen! When your decision to homeschool high school is challenged, it’s a good time to remember the reasons you are homeschooling in the first place. Especially during the high school years, pray about all aspects of your home education, including, but not limited to, courses to teach, curriculum to use, activities to participate in, and perhaps even changes to the family’s routine or schedule relating to mom’s teaching responsibilities. Pray for your teen’s spiritual growth and relationship with the Lord. Pray for your teen’s relationships with friends and his or her character development. Pray about…everything!

As a precaution, although spiritual fruit is a wonderful bonus when homeschooling your teen, it should never be the reason you homeschool. If it is, then the absence of spiritual fruit will lead to discouragement, weariness, and despair. Rather, see your faithful obedience to the task of homeschooling as an opportunity to trust in the Lord’s provision and power to take your meager sacrifice and accomplish His purposes in His timing and in His ways. Your focus will then rightly be on the Lord and His faithfulness―not on your child or your teaching.
With high school on the horizon, you have an opportunity to engage your teens and have front-row seats watching as they meet new challenges, develop personal convictions, and mature into young adults. A little preparation and planning will build your confidence and set you going in the right direction.

Diane and her husband, Tom, homeschooled their two children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Diane joined Home School Legal Defense Association and helped to develop the HSLDA Homeschooling Thru High School program and website. She is a conference speaker, columnist, homeschool math teacher, and consultant. Come and hear Diane speak at the HEAV convention! This article appeared in the Virginia Home Educator in 2013. It was adapted from “High School on the Horizon,” originally published in 2009 by HSLDA. Used with permission.

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