Homeschooling high school can be stressful. Here’s how to create a simple plan for homeschooling the high school years through graduation.
Having graduated 2 homeschooled children, and in the beginning steps of leading 2 more through their high school years, I have learned a lot, and have created my own simple plan and process for determining graduation requirements for my teens. Please, remember – this is a guide, a suggestion, a starting place for your own journey. Your family may have different priorities and they most definitely are on a different path, so act accordingly based on the family God gave you.
The high school homeschool plan we use is very simple, and one I literally “fell” into. It seemed right and good and easy. It made sense and didn’t over-complicate things. Some of it I learned from Lee Binz of The HomeScholar, some of it I gleaned from my own high school and college experiences, and some of it I totally winged and it worked!
Before I get too deep into how I planned out my high schooler’s graduation requirements, I want to share 3 resources I think are extremely helpful for parents of children who plan to go onto to college:
Homeschool to Higher Ed – Get $25 off with code: SAVE25
Step-by-step information to help your child choose a college, apply to the college, get financial aid, choose a major, and more!
The HomeScholar –
Class full of information from how to put together a transcript that doesn’t stress you out to how to plan for college.
36 University –
ACT Prep course that is phenomenal! They stay on top of all the latest about the ACT and then prep your child using motion graphics video.
All of these programs are well done, full of useful information, and are from a homeschool parent perspective. You can’t go wrong with these!
1 – Determine graduation requirements for your state (or the college your child most wants to go to.)
During my child’s 8th grade year, I get on the internet and look up the graduation requirements for the state we currently live in. That helps me to plot a course through their high school years.
However, with both of my graduates, we moved part way through their high school years. Because of this, I chose to use the requirements of the state they graduated in – even if that meant adding an extra class to meet a requirement we did not have in the previous state. An example of this was the Economics course my son was required to take that was not required in the state he began homeschooling high school in.
Some children know exactly where they want to go to college, so in those cases, it is a good idea to check out the requirements of the college they wish to attend. However, I have found that most colleges are more interested in your child’s ACT or SAT scores than what classes they took in high school.
2 – List every subject they will need + electives.
For my daughter, the requirements read like this:
- 4 units of English language arts (to include reading, writing, literature, communication, and grammar).
- 3 units of history and government (to include world history; United States history; United States government, including the Constitution of the United States; concepts of economics and geography).
- 3 units of science (to include physical, biological, and earth and space science concepts and which shall include at least one unit as a laboratory course).
- 3 units of mathematics (including algebraic and geometric concepts).
- 1 unit of physical education (to include health and which may include safety, first aid, or physiology).
- 1 unit of fine arts (which may include art, music, dance, theatre, forensics, and other similar studies)
- 6 units of elective courses
Once I had familiarized myself with the units she needed, I could fill in the blanks with the curricula we were already using, and decide if there was something else I would need to purchase along the way to fulfill the requirements.
For instance, she had Physical Science and Biology (with a lab). Once she had completed those 2 units of science, I discussed with her where her interest in science lay and she decided to pursue Advanced Biology (most like Anatomy & Physiology) because she’s an artist and felt this would further her understanding of the human body for her art.
Consider non-traditional sources to meet requirements.
Both of my older children attended several years of TeenPact – a teen-oriented program focused on Christian leadership, citizenship, and government. The homework and yearly “camps” more than fulfilled the Government requirement most states have. I gave both of them the Government credit based on their participation in TeenPact.
Likewise, my son attended years of Space Camp and other events at a state-of-the-art facility, so one of his science credits was Astronomy. I had no reservations about giving him a credit for his hard work and the knowledge he had gleaned during the years he spent attending the camp.
Create a reasonable transcript.
This is where most homeschool parents choke. This is also where I gained complete calm because I had taken the Total Transcript Solution course.
There are lots of transcript templates in this program as well as online. Choose one that makes sense to you as a parent. Then plug in classes and grades.
And let me give you a bit of freedom…
Because homeschooling is often quite fluid, you do not need to worry about exactly WHEN your child took each class, and some classes even count as more than one unit. You do need to name the classes things that make sense, but you do not need to lock yourself into a specific timeframe.
So, for instance, my older kids used Tapestry of Grace for their history. It was also their Literature. It was also their Geography, Church History, and Composition. And it didn’t always fit neatly into a single school year. So, I chose to give them credits in World History, Church History, and English I one year, then American History, New Testament Survey, and English II the next year, and so on and so forth. I didn’t stress about WHEN they took each class – be it Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior year, but concerned myself more with what curriculum met what requirement and what that unit should be named.
The other stressor for homeschool parents is that of grades. For our family, there will never be anything below a “B” – and even that is questionable. The reason is that there’s not a chance I’m going to let one of my kids “slide” by like that. If they aren’t understanding something, we will be redoing it until they do. A “B” in our family typically means you didn’t have full mastery of the subject, but you know enough to pass. I liken it to my high school Algebra – I tried and tried and survived, but mathematician I am not.
Make the Electives fun & useful.
In our state, there is room for 6 Electives – or classes of choice. When deciding what these should be, consider your child’s individuality, what makes them tick, and the direction they are headed after high school.
My oldest son earned an Elective in Computer Science & Programming. Guess what – he works in the technology industry! Megan earned an Elective in Photography. It’s one of her passions. (She also earned Electives in 3 languages! It’s what she’s good at!)
Electives should be fun and useful for growing your child into who they will become outside of their homeschooling years!
Purchase curriculum as you go.
When you start lining out your child’s path through high school when they are 8th graders, keep in mind that interests and circumstances change. You may not want to purchase anything beyond the year they are currently studying – just in case. And new updates are always coming out, so you might be sorry you purchased that great deal on a future math program only to find out there’s been a massive update the year your child actually needs it.
Don’t worry about a GED
Homeschooling has become so commonplace, that colleges no longer require a GED. Your homeschool is considered a “non-accredited private school.” For the workplace or college, a diploma from your school should be sufficient.
Read my post on Preparing Your Homeschooler for College (even if they don’t go!)
Don’t worry about gaps in their education (too much)
We all had gaps in our education. You cannot possibly get everything educational into your child’s head (nor should you!) before they head off into the “real world.” If you are stressed about the gaps you see in your child’s education, read my post: Why Homeschool Gaps Aren’t Mistakes.
And one last thing…have fun!
These years are fleeting! Once your child enters high school, it goes quickly, and you don’t want to be so bogged down by homeschool and graduation stuff that you don’t enjoy the time you have left with your teens!