The Adventure Continues: Homeschooling High School

Whether you have been homeschooling all along, or are just making the switch to homeschooling high school, these years are intimidating.

The elementary and middle school years are often full of wonder and discovery as little children grow into young teens and parents develop into confident teachers comfortable in their roles.

Then something odd happens. Our sweet little learners now wear size 12 Converse All-Stars and are fighting pimples and reaching for razors.

Homeschooling high school has arrived. For many parents what has been comfortable now feels like foreign territory as parents realize that now, homeschooling the high school years is serious business. This is what intimidation feels like.

Build Your Network

Seek out families that have successfully homeschooled high schoolers and ask them for advice about curriculum and local resources.

Work With Your Teen to Identify Goals

Is your teen college bound? Does your teen like to work with her hands to make things? Are they interested in a certain skill or craft? Discuss their dreams and goals to decide the best use of these high school years.

Consider Adding a Little Structure

Unschooling families and those on a purely delight-directed path may wish to be more intentional during the high school years. If you’ve been lax about record keeping, tighten your belt now so that your student is prepared to show a potential employer or college what she did during her last years of school.

teens planting

Look Beyond Your Walls

Learn what resources are available for online and local classes at both high schools and colleges. Many older teens are ready to spread their wings by attending classes, and this will give you a break from having to teach every difficult high school subject. Can’t find a history, literature, or chemistry class that you like? Hire a local expert to teach your teen and a half dozen of their friends.

Look Beyond Classes

During the high school years, kids benefit from apprenticeships and job-shadowing. They can also develop leadership skills by teaching younger children or by starting a small business. Of course, keep in mind local regulations applying to minors working. All of these opportunities enrich your teen’s high school years.

Respect Your Teen As a Partner in Educational Choices

When your teen was a younger student, you made all the educational decisions for them, but now you will benefit from working with your teen. Together, craft a unique and personalized high school path. Sit down often with your teen to evaluate your homeschooling path and make corrections if needed.

Incorporate Life Skills

Teens need to know how to budget, balance their bank account, do laundry, cook, interview for a job, maintain a car and home, and stay healthy.

teen girl cooking

Is Test Prep in Your Teen’s Future?

Students interested in attending a competitive college should learn strategies for taking the SAT and ACT, the two tests most widely used by college admissions offices. You may not have previously prepared your children for any standardized tests. Now is the time to dedicate time to learn how to get top scores on these tests. Work with your teen to identify how to aside time to prepare for these tests. Consider checking out library books for test preparation before deciding to pay for expensive courses. If your student prefers books that can be written in, check thrift stores for test prep books that cost only a few dollars.

Your Teen Still Has One Foot in Childhood

Your teen is physically maturing at an incredible rate but can still get easily frustrated or act silly now and then. Enjoy these last glimmers of childhood knowing that soon childish ways will be totally abandoned.

Avoid Comparisons

Rejoice in your teen’s strengths and gifts and thank God that your high schooler is unique and wonderfully made. When you catch yourself comparing your teen to someone else’s kid, choose instead compare your teen to where they were a year ago, five years ago, or when you first started homeschooling them.  Celebrate their accomplishments and rejoice in their individuality.

Remember That You Are Still Homeschooling

Enjoy the freedom that homeschooling offers. Take breaks when you or your teen is overwhelmed. Accelerate or slow down a class if it is not at a comfortable pace. Don’t be afraid to use a book designed for older or younger students. Complete high school in three years… or five. Throw off the chains that bind you to the rules and customs of other schools and do what is right for your teens.

teen with camera

Understanding High School Credits and Transcripts

Work together to come up with a plan to cover 21 or more high school credits before graduation. A high school credit is equivalent to at least 120 hours of school work or the completion of a traditional high school text book.

As you create a list of potential high school classes, decide which ones you will give a letter grade to and which ones will be only be awarded a “pass” grade. All academic classes should receive a letter grade whereas some electives such as PE and Driver’s Ed may be better graded with a “P.”

Many families continue with a non-traditional high school schedule incorporating job shadowing, volunteering, outside lessons, and home business work into their schools.

The Transcript is Your Planning Foundation

Before your teen completes his first high school course, create a blank transcript that shows planned courses. Note future courses in red. Anticipate a credit for all year-long classes and a half-credit for semester-long classes. Since you are homeschooling, there are likely to be exceptions to this. For example, an hour-long art class offered weekly throughout a student’s high school career could easily result in a full credit.

Transcripts are often arranged in subject order, with all classes taken in a certain area such as math or language listed together. They can also be chronological, with all classes taken a certain school year listed together. You may find it easier to create a subject-order transcript since homeschool classes do not always start and end as the school year or semester starts and ends. Either way, keep track of when your student finished classes because some colleges may ask for a chronological order.

As your teen finishes courses, record his letter grade (or P for Pass on non-graded courses) and change the font color to black to indicate that he’s completed the course. Similarly, keep a list of quick descriptions of high school classes in a separate computer file. This should include resources (textbooks) used and instructors, besides parents, as well as a few words describing the class.

In addition to classes and grades, include extra-curricular activities, awards, volunteer records, and leadership experiences into your teen’s transcript. Keep this section succinct as it will be viewed by college admission officers or company resource officers that will be reviewing many documents in a short amount of time. You want to pique their interest and help your teen stand out.

Ready, Set, HOMESCHOOL!

Once you’ve sketched out a high school plan for your student, you are ready to start on this wonderful adventure.

AP Courses and Placement Tests

AP stands for Advanced Placement. Advanced placement courses/tests provides college level introductory classes. Successful AP placement provides extra opportunities for your student. They can lead to scholarships and get your student into college at an advanced level. There are many options for AP credits for homeschoolers. To read about an example of AP courses and test helped one homeschooling family, check out this article.  For more information on AP classes that are available, AP tests, and CLEP tests check out this info from HSLDA .

Dual Enrollment

There are a lot of opportunities for homeschoolers to take Dual Enrollment courses. These give them high school and college credit for the same class. These classes are not weighted as heavily as AP courses are, but they still are a great opportunity for the college bound student. These can be completed online or at a local college. The majority of Dual Enrollment classes that happen in a brick and mortar are at community colleges. Many public schools have programs for homeschoolers to take Dual Enrollment classes on the public school district’s dime. There are many things to consider regarding Dual Enrollment for your student. Check out this article for some food for thought when considering if dual enrollment is right for your teen.

Calculating GPA (Grade Point Average)

Traditionally, grades are assigned points (A is 4.0, B is 3.0 and so on). A student’s GPA can easily be calculated by adding up the points and dividing this by the number of credits completed.  Do not include pass-only grades in your calculation. Some schools, including homeschools, count advanced placement or honors classes on a scale where an A is 5.0 and a B is 4.0. Include your student’s GPA on his transcript. Don’t forget to include a short explanation of the grade point scale you chose to use.

Keep an Eye Beyond Graduation

High school years are the perfect time for college visits, job shadowing, and exploring options for beyond high school. While some of these visits are terrific one-on-one time with your child, bring along little siblings on some trips, as they will be high schoolers soon, too!

Celebrate!

Finishing high school is an immense accomplishment. Work with your teen to plan and carry out an amazing graduation ceremony, big or small, to celebrate the end of their homeschooling and to wish them well in the next stage of life, for which they are well prepared.

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