How to Homeschool in High School
Life Beyond Elementary and Middle School
So, you want to homeschool your student beyond elementary or middle school? How exciting!
In this article, I will:
- help you weigh the pros and cons of homeschooling through high school
- give you some direction on how to get started
- and share some options and resources that will make you and your student’s life a lot easier
How You Got Here
Regardless of your reasons to continue or start homeschooling your child at the high school level, the decision was likely a difficult one. Because let’s be honest, teaching is hard. It’s time-consuming. It’s tiring. And it only gets harder as the courses get more difficult.
As you start teaching your child more advanced courses, you may find yourself worrying about how much time it will take for you to (re)learn the material you are planning to teach. Not to mention the time it takes to gather materials, plan lessons, facilitate learning activities, grade assignments, and deepen your student’s understanding of the content.
But don’t worry! Keep reading! You have options! You don’t have to do everything yourself! And you don’t have to sacrifice the flexibility, quality, and independence you and your child want from homeschooling.
Is Homeschooling Right for You and Your Child?
Are you still unsure if you should homeschool your soon-to-be high schooler? That’s OK! Have a conversation with your family about the challenges and advantages of homeschooling in high school. Things will be different, and you want to make sure everyone understands what lies ahead.
The right decision is the one that is made together, regardless of what is decided.
Challenges of Homeschooling in High School
Not sure about what the challenges of homeschooling in high school are? Never fear, I’ll help break down the top five challenges for you.
1.Homeschooling Still Isn’t Mainstream
Even though the percentage of homeschooled students has basically doubled over the past 20 years, it’s still unfamiliar to many people. And unfortunately, people tend to criticize what they don’t understand.
But it will be alright. You have done/are doing your research. And you aren’t alone. There are a growing number of families who have made/are making the same decision as you, and you can speak confidently about why it is the right choice for your child.
2.Homeschooling Can Be Isolating
Thanks to the internet, isolation is not as big of an issue as it was 20 years ago, but it is still something to be mindful of. Your child’s identity will go through a ton of development during middle and high school. This development is made possible through their interactions with others, mostly their peers.
Even though feelings of isolation can be a challenge, there are lots of opportunities out there for your child to connect with others. No doubt your child has already made friends through your social circle, their neighborhood, sports teams, clubs, or through a homeschool network. Go here to see the homeschool organizations near you.
3.Homeschooling Will Make You Jump Through Some Hoops
Your child’s education isn’t just important to your family. It’s important to your community, your city, your state, and this country of ours. And like any important thing tied to public interests, there are regulations, requirements, red tape, and forms–lots of forms.
As long as you do these three things, your child’s education will feel less like doing your taxes and more like a choose your own adventure book:
- stay organized by developing a plan
- figure out and follow the homeschooling laws and regulations in your state
- find out about the homeschooling resources available near you
4.Homeschooling Is A Lot of Responsibility
You may be thinking, “Yeah, duh, I knew that already.” Well, I’m telling you again because it’s a challenging amount of responsibility. Being a parent and teacher to your child ALL THE TIME is a recipe for stress.
That’s because teaching isn’t your only job. You have a lot of other family-related responsibilities beyond the modest task of preparing a young human to live happily, productively, and compassionately on this planet for the rest of their lives.
You’re already a superhuman for taking this on, but even superhumans deserve a break sometimes. Here are a couple of great articles on how to avoid burnout and what to do when you’re stressed out.
5.Homeschoolers Have A Lot of Curriculum Options
It’s overwhelming. How do you choose??? There are published curricula specifically for homeschoolers, there are online courses, distance learning courses, and courses you can take through local community colleges. You can even design the courses yourself with or without the help of your child.
Co-ops, local homeschool organizations, and any fellow homeschoolers in your community will be great resources to help you choose your curriculum.
Advantages of Homeschooling in High School
Did you survive the challenges? Good. Now, on to the good stuff. Here are my favorite four advantages of homeschooling in high school.
- Homeschoolers Have A Lot of Curriculum Options
- Homeschooling Gives You Flexibility
- Homeschooling is Ideal for Learning Independence
- Homeschooling Prepares Your Child for Life after School
1.Homeschoolers Have A Lot of Curriculum Options
You see what I did there? The power to choose your child’s curriculum is likely one of the big reasons why you find homeschooling so attractive.
You can tailor the curriculum to your child’s needs and interests more than any other mode of education. And you can directly link the curriculum to your child’s life and experiences. How amazing is that? That’s the dream!
2.Homeschooling Gives You Flexibility
Choosing to homeschool gives you options, and those options give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to the courses your child takes, when your child takes them, and what other activities your child can take part in.
If your child is an athlete, or an artist, or a musician, or a writer, your child can dive deeper into their passions because they can work on academics at their own pace and on their own schedule.
3.Homeschooling is Ideal for Learning Independence
Homeschoolers are more independent. They have to be or else their parents would probably crumble under the responsibility of homeschooling (see Challenge 4. Homeschooling Requires A Lot of Responsibility).
By the time students are ready for middle or high school level coursework, they should have the foundations down: reading, writing, basic math, some curiosity about science, and some understanding of historical events from multiple perspectives.
More importantly, they should know, or be beginning to know, how to monitor and direct their own learning. Here are some examples of what might be going on in your child’s head when they are learning independently:
- “Oh, that’s a big word. I don’t know that one. I need to look it up.”
- “I am not getting this math problem. I need to go back and look at the example problems to figure this out.”
- “So, wait, there’s this stuff called DNA in my cells that I got from Mom and Dad, and it interacts with the environment to determine who I am and what I look like and why I hate broccoli so much? Woah. I cannot wait to tell Mom about this. It’s not my fault broccoli casserole makes me gag.”
4.Homeschooling Prepares Your Child for Life after School
Whatever is next for your student—college, an internship, work, a service project, or a gap year—your efforts to homeschool them will prepare them for it. Beyond just learning how to learn, your student will have learned how to solve problems, overcome obstacles, communicate effectively, explore their interests, develop their talents, and get involved in the community.
Most importantly, however, they also will have learned how to ask for help. Successful students know they don’t know everything. They don’t do everything by themselves. They know their limits and just like mature adults, they know when they need help and how to get it.
The Choice is Yours
The choice to homeschool for high school comes down to these three questions:
- What type of education do you and your child want?
- Will your child be able to get that from a local school, in total or in part?
- Do you have the means to provide your child with an exceptional education at home?
If you don’t think you will be able to get the education you want for your child from a local public, private, or charter high school, and you have the means to provide a high-quality education to your student at home, then homeschooling is the right choice for you.
So, what do you think? Is homeschooling right for you, your child, and your family? Keep reading to learn what to do next.
How to Get Started with Homeschooling for High School
Ok, so you’ve made the decision to make the leap into homeschooling your high schooler. Now what? Here are the 5 things you can do to get started today!
- Understand Your State’s Homeschooling Laws
- Define Your Goals
- Choose a Curriculum
- Identify Local Resources and Grow Your Network
- Acquire Materials and Supplies
1.Understand Your State’s Homeschooling Laws
This was already mentioned as a challenge, but really it’s just a small hurdle. Go here to find the homeschooling laws in your state and read up.
You will likely find that you still have a lot of flexibility to design your program as you wish. Start thinking about what records you will need to keep and how you will keep it all organized. Don’t wait to plan that out. Start mapping out your plan with this homeschool high school credit planner.
2.Define Your Goals
What do you hope to accomplish with your student over the next year? When will they be able to graduate? What will happen next? Will they go on to college? Get an internship? Go on a mission trip? You can tailor your program to achieve whatever goals you and your child define.
It may even be helpful to write mission and vision statements for your homeschool. Framing your program and its purpose in such a way will not only remind you why you made the decision to homeschool in the first place, but it will also help guide your future decisions, as well…like the next one.
3.Choose a Curriculum
Choices, choices, choices. So many choices. Use your goals to help you determine what choice to make. Nothing still calling out to you? Experiment! Come up with a short-term plan and try out some content from various sources to see what works for you and your child.
Maybe you will find a single source or method that works for you, and so you stick with that. Maybe you find a reliable source for core courses and another for electives. Maybe you like the mixed bag, experimental approach. Just be sure to record everything, whatever you do. Just like a scientist!
4.Identify Local Resources and Grow Your Network
Reach out to local homeschooling organizations or co-ops, connect with other homeschool families, talk to your own friends and family. Just like it is important for your child to feel supported and not isolated, the same applies to you.
We also really liked this Homeschool High School Podcast episode entitled “How to Homeschool Highschool When You Don’t Know Everything”. These veteran homeschool moms know how you feel!
5.Acquire Materials and Supplies
This is school after all. You’re going to need stuff: pens, pencils, folders, notebooks, you know the drill. Some curriculum packages include course materials, while others do not. You just want to make sure you have everything for the planned courses before getting started. Trying to get started without that stuff would be like trying to bake a cake without any flour…or sugar, or salt, or baking powder, or milk, or—you get the idea. It’s not going to happen.
Hooray! It’s finally here! Don’t forget to have fun! Use the flexibility of homeschooling to your advantage and take school on the road with you for an extended trip.
How Apex Learning Virtual School Can Help
Hey, guess what?
Remember all those challenges and advantages we talked about earlier? Apex Learning Virtual School can help you with those, we currently do help families with those, and we have been doing it for almost 20 years.
Individual High School Courses
We are an accredited online high school, our high-quality courses have been independently approved, and our experienced teachers are state-certified.
Over 15,000 students enroll in our individual courses every year. We help students get ahead by offering AP®, Honors, CTE, and other courses that they don’t have access to locally.
Just check out our course catalog to see all the courses we offer.
Our catalog includes 13 College Board-approved Advanced Placement® courses that are designed to help all students achieve their academic potential. Plus, we have AP® teachers who are or have been AP® Readers for the AP® Exam.
We have over 100 courses that are NCAA-approved to ensure that student-athletes can play Division 1 or 2 college athletics.
If you live in California, we have over 60 courses that are UC-approved. Yep, that’s one less hoop for you to jump through (see Challenge 3. Homeschooling Will Make You Jump Through Some Hoops). Learn more about UC-approval for homeschoolers here.
Our digital curriculum creates active learning experiences to keep your child engaged as they read, watch, listen, inquire, write, discuss, and manipulate. Our content is delivered in manageable chunks so that your child can gradually build knowledge and deepen their understanding. Built-in supports allow your child to get more assistance when needed.
We use interactive elements to give your child the opportunity to explore and understand new concepts, allowing your student to move at his or her own pace. A typical lesson has a variety of activities including studies, practices, readings, journals, labs, discussions, projects, and explorations.
Full-Time Online High School
If you and your child are interested in attending an online high school full time, you can enroll your child in our private academy, that means you don’t have to worry so much about your state’s laws and requirements because your student will earn their high school diploma from our school.
Our full-time program offers a 12-month school year so that you can enjoy the same flexibility you get from homeschooling. Whatever your student’s needs and timeline are, our guidance counselor and services team will work to help your child achieve their goals.
Check out our School Profile to learn more about our full-time program and to see how our students do better on the SAT and AP Exams than the national average.
Support for You and Your Student
At our full-time school and in our individual course, your student will work independently. But they are not alone.
Our experienced online teachers provide individualized feedback on written assignments and are happy to answer your child’s questions along the way. Your child can also reach out to our online tutors to get help in real-time if they get stuck on a lesson or assignment.
You will receive a progress report for your student every week so that you can continue to be an active participant in your student’s education.
Since our curriculum, teachers, and online tutors will be there to support your child’s academic growth, that means you get to focus on the fun stuff, like:
- supporting your student’s growth as a person,
- connecting them to others in your community,
- teaching them to persevere and overcome obstacles,
- coaching them on how to manage their time,
- re-coaching them on how to manage their time,
- and ultimately making sure they have the best educational experience possible.
Wow, raising humans is hard!
Whatever you decide, and whatever curriculum providers you go with, we are so excited for you and your child. What an exciting journey you all are undertaking! Best wishes and please call us at 855-550-2547 if you need help, we’re great listeners.