Homeschooling High School

The past years have brought about so many unknowns for families all over the world.

If you’d told me that in 2024, we’d still have so much uncertainty on our minds that was changing how we do things in our daily lives, I wouldn’t have known what to say!

Because of COVID restrictions, pandemic worries, travel limitations, health concerns and a certain amount of uneasiness, we made a last-minute decision to keep our younger two back from boarding school and continue their high school through homeschooling.

It was a huge decision for our family and one that I knew would change our lives.

Diving back into homeschooling full-time at the high school level is incredibly daunting. Honestly, it wasn’t something I ever thought I would consider doing so it caught me a bit off-guard.

With a few twists, turns and multiple course changes, we’ve settled into a routine that fits the personalities of the girls, gives me a bit of freedom and also, keeps the fun, free homeschool approach that we’ve always loved.

For elementary school, I’d used mostly My Father’s World and a bit of unschooling for the girls. I still absolutely love MFW but I knew I would not be able to get the books and curriculum to our overseas home in a short amount of time. I also knew that going full-on unschooling for high school wasn’t going to work either.

I needed to read, research, and figure out a new path for our next homeschooling adventure.

Thankfully, with having homeschooled before, keeping connections with other homeschooling mom friends, a few laptops and a good internet connection, I was able to put together a program that works for our family in this season.

Not only have we put together a program that works, but I’ve also fallen in love again with homeschooling. 

What a gift to have this time with the most precious gifts God has given us, our kids.

With the rest of parents in our position, we’re holding each decision lightly, knowing things change quickly. I’m choosing to cherish it all right now, as it unfolds.

And, let tomorrow worry about itself, right?

With all of that in mind, here are some tips for homeschooling high school online.

1} Know your kids. I can’t stress this enough. One size does not fit all for homeschooling or learning. Annalise is doing a full, online curriculum. It works well for her and with lots of note-taking, quizlet making and reading, she’s doing great. But that system does not work for Abby. The amount of reading, processing and quick memorizing can be stressful, challenging and frustrating for her. She needs more hands-on learning than that curriculum can provide. She doing a more traditional homeschooling day with a mix of a few different curriculums and programs.

  • Teaching Textbooks – math
  • Schoolhouse Teachers – printable Bible, History, Electives, Health, English and more!
  • Easy Grammar – simple, easy addition to any English or writing
  • Time4Learning – solid, video led core subjects
  • Monarch – I’ve used this for language
  • ThinkWave – online grading system for record keeping, reports and transcript. This one is a lot to keep up with but if you’re into details, this one is for you.
  • AppleCore – another great transcript and record keeping website {this comes free with a Schoolhouse Teachers membership!}
  • IXL – This one has been a life saver. It’s allowed Abby to go back and fill in whatever holes she has from changing schools, countries, curriculums and cultures. She can start at whatever grade she wants to, review, practice and slowly build skills she feels like she’s missing. Get the family membership!

Important note: We’re doing all of this without one single physical book or printing hundreds of pages. Everything is online. The majority of their classes are graded, tested and recorded online. They open their work online, download work, use PDF Expert to edit PDFs as needed, write on and save homework with google docs and then use those things for lessons, quizzes and tests. Everything is saved to folders on their desktop or google drive. With kindle, youtube, google drive, online encyclopedias and sometimes, a simple google search, we fill out the lessons and are making it work for the girls.

2} Don’t be afraid to adjust or make changes as you need to. As I mentioned above, within a few weeks of school starting, I knew the online curriculum that we’d chosen wasn’t going to work for Abby. Even since starting a more traditional homeschool approach, I’ve made changes here and there with one class or another. Don’t be afraid to make changes as you learn more about homeschooling, more about your kids and more about what fits your family or your situation. It’s never too late to make a change that helps your kids learn and grow. For example, I made changes to her science and English about 3 times. But we’ve found something she loves and that’s invaluable in the long term.

3} Research… but not too much. If you google homeschooling, you’ll immediately get overwhelmed. Research a few, well-known curriculums, read parent reviews, watch tutorials and make a decision. Research what your state requires for graduation and make sure you’re planning and working towards those requirements. Find a few homeschool blogs or instagrams that you like for encouragement and tips. Video chat with another homeschool mom or two. But don’t get bogged down with all the reading, digging, reading, and more digging that will make you stuck and keep you from just jumping in to your own homeschooling journey.

4} Keep it simple. I had a homeschool mom give me this advice very early in our homeschooling years. Keep it simple. There are a million things you could be doing. So many ideas, formats, plans, schedules, classes… so much. Follow the guidelines for your state, choose things that fit your child, create a schedule for your family and then, go for it. Almost every day I wonder if I should be doing more, teaching this thing or that thing. Following this advice is key when I feel like I’m not doing enough or feel the temptation to add more to our day.

5} One day at a time. This is practical as well as encouraging. Practically, you should keep track of each day. Count them so you know exactly how many days of homeschooling your kids have completed. I do this in a simple calendar that also marks what we do each day. Something like this weekly appointment calendar that breaks the days down into hours for you. At the top of each day, you can see where I’ve numbered the day of school with the goal of hitting 180 days. I also keep track of break days, holidays, sick days, half days and whatever else comes up each week. You can get much more elaborate homeschool planners but I’ve always kept up with simple processes more than something I can’t quickly do each day.

Then, as an encouragement, take this homeschooling journey just one day at a time. Take a deep breath. Tomorrow is another day. Each day starts with no mistakes and new mercies. One day at a time.

6} Keep good records. For homeschooling high school, this is critical. Keep record of everything. There are a few ways to do this. I’m using google files to keep track of finished work samples. I have lesson plans for each class where we date, mark and edit with each day’s work. This is all in preparation for a homeschool portfolio that I’ll create for each year of high school. This portfolio will support her homeschool transcript and make sure that, although not accredited, it will carry weight when she graduates. I’ve also reviewed our schedule, plan and curriculum choices with a certified teacher who will then review the year when we’re done. Also, since this is high school, Abby plays a big role in keeping these records. Don’t feel like you have to do it all for them!

7}  Be creative. I tend to be quite relaxed when it comes to all the extras. When I see something they need to learn or a fun way to fit in a lesson about one topic or another, I let that direct our time. For Thanksgiving, we took half a day for a home economics style baking class. She helped read recipes, measure ingredients, prep food, watch our very finicky oven and practice kitchen safety. For music, Abby is taking voice lessons with my sister via zoom. She practices on her own a few times a week and will have a Christmas recital in December. For PE, we can visit the pool to swim or walk on the beach or do a yoga video. We’re using Crash Course on youtube for random things they are interested in. So far, we’ve done the course on study skills and then, the history of theater. We watch WorldWatch for a little news (CNN10 is a free option!) and current events discussions. Both are watched while eating pancakes or drinking coffee around 9am to start our day. We value sleeping in a bit at our house! With homeschooling, you aren’t locked into a certain way of doing things. Be creative and make it fun for your family.

8} Don’t forget to be social. This is really hard overseas. It’s one reason that I didn’t want to homeschool high school. The opportunity for social interaction with other teenagers is quite small. Building friendships is tricky. But we’ve slowly reconnected with some of their friends from past years in our neighborhood for pool visits, youth group, game nights and even an upcoming youth retreat for TCKs. They video chat with friends from school or family in the states. We’re finding the balance between the busyness they had at boarding school and the temptation to just stay home with homeschooling. Thankfully, my girls are good friends and they love being together!

9} Know the risks. There are risks to homeschooling high school. Will they be ready for college? Can you teach the hard subjects? Do you have a network to help if you can’t? Will you keep up records? Will their transcript work for college? Will they be ready for the SAT or ACT? Also for Abby, her IEP will be invalid and she’ll need to be retested if she were to need it validated again. There are costs – financial, emotional, relational. You aren’t going to be able to mitigate, answer, fix or manage them all. Do your best. Build your support system. Ask for help. And trust Jesus in this homeschooling process.

Update – We’ve found a local occupational therapist that has been incredibly valuable in this area! It’s basically SPED tutoring and it’s made a HUGE difference for our girls. Her reports will help us with the IEP process going into college.

10} Be patient and stay flexible. Be patient with yourself. Being a homeschool parent is not easy. Being a high school homeschool parent is nearly terrifying and quite overwhelming. But you can do it. Be patient, take it slow and have grace for bad days. You’ll need the same patience and grace for your kids. This isn’t a walk in the park for them either. Stay flexible, especially right now. Don’t be locked into something that might not be working. Don’t push for something that is frustrating your kids. Don’t let bad days make you feel like you can’t do this. Be patient and stay flexible. One day at a time.

11} Don’t miss out on dual-enrollment options. Since the writing of this post, Annalise has switched completely to taking dual-enrollment classes. She’ll be on target to finish her freshman year of college when she graduates high school in just a few months. Most college websites have information on the process to get them signed up. Start with one class so your child can learn the new format, understand how a college class works, talk to a professor… then, if it’s going well… go for it! These classes count for high school AND college credits for a much lower cost than a normal college credit.

A few other things… we came up with a homeschool name, colors, mascot, and verse in addition to our normal family mottos. We don’t have a homeschool group to be a part of, but if you can join one, do it! We’re still connected with our international school which is helpful for testing or high school questions.

We daily choose a very chill, relaxed style over letting the days get stressful. We’re making our homeschool what we need it to be for this season.

If you have other questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments of this post or request a coaching session.

If you have advice or thoughts, I’ll take that too!

This is a continuously evolving process for me and I’m learning new things every day.

Oh, the adventure of homeschooling high school online!

Do you homeschool high school?

What are some ways you make it work for your family?

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