Homeschool Tidbits: Homeschooling High School Q&A Part 2

April 19, 2024

Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 70 –Homeschooling High School Q&A Part 2! In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of four children—three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!

If one thing stresses out a homeschooling parent, it’s the idea of homeschooling through high school. So many opt out entirely because it seems like too much to tackle on our own.  But having graduated three of my four kids, I can tell you that not only is it not as scary as you think, but it’s totally doable!

A few weeks ago, I asked if anyone had questions about homeschooling in the high school years, and because you asked so many questions, I had to turn this into a series. A few weeks back, I made Part 1 in this series, where I talked about credits, transcripts, and planning – so if you haven’t seen that yet, definitely go check it out!

Today, I’ll be answering a few more questions. Let’s start with the one that stood out to me:

How do I not mess this up?

I’m going to assume that you are approaching high school and have been homeschooling for at least a few years. You haven’t messed it all up yet, so chances are good that you aren’t going to suddenly drop the ball now. There are just a few more things you need to do now that maybe you weren’t doing before. And if high school academics scare you, you can outsource the things that scare you the most! I do NOT teach math. I find math curriculum like Denison Algebra that does the teaching for me.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and this is a big undertaking! But we need to cut ourselves some slack once in a while, too. I’ve been at this for 20-plus years, and in that time, I’ve met and talked to hundreds of homeschooling parents. I haven’t met a single one yet who has ruined their child in any way.

So take it one day at a time! Remember why you chose this: make a plan, keep good records, and your kids will be fine!

Do you think high school is the time for serious academics or a laid-back approach? / How can we keep it fun?

I feel like these two questions go together. I think I fall somewhere in the middle. What I look at first is where my teen is headed and what their goals are. I believe there is something to be said for serious academics, but I don’t think that every student will necessarily need a rigorous education. I think it’s more important that they develop a deep curiosity about the world and learn how to seek out information to satiate that curiosity.

All four of mine went into the arts in some way or another – I have a writer, an illustrator, an animator, and my youngest wants to do something with art, too. She’s currently writing a webtoon and learning how to make animation.  So a lot of our homeschooling is  focused on the arts and creative writing. But we also delved deeply into history, science, and literature because I see those as non-negotiables. And, of course, we do math, and I make sure we hit on the courses we need to for graduation, but if I know they are going into an art field, I’m not going to push higher mathematics UNLESS they want to do that.

As to keeping it fun, it is completely possible to have a fun high school experience. I think many of us are doing really fun stuff in the high school years; it’s just not as photo-worthy as the elementary years, so it’s harder to capture for social media.

I think the key is giving them opportunities to express themselves in a way that excites them. So, instead of a constant stream of essays, I might have them write a short story or graphic novel. Or make a piece of art or design a game. For example, Regina and I just read Macbeth, and then we read a short story inspired by the play. For her final project, I had her write her own short story inspired by Macbeth. She was so excited to write this story – and it was a clever retelling about a girl killing her boss so she could take over his store. She did the same thing with that story that she might have done with a literary analysis essay, but it was a much more rewarding experience. She is already talking about expanding it into a novel.

A lot of what we do is reading together and having rich discussions. We watch movies together and talk about them. We take long walks and talk about life. Are these academic things? Not necessarily, but I think they work towards building a foundation for curiosity and our relationships, which are equally important.

How much of our day should be spent on academics?

This will entirely depend on the student, of course. I am going to say, on average, probably 4 – 5 hours. Some teens work faster and some slower than others, so it might be up to 6 hours. I try to arrange our schedule so that we have some lighter days. Usually, I make Fridays our short day unless we have gotten behind on things during the week and need to play catch-up.

We need to be careful that we aren’t overwhelming our teens. If your teen can’t finish their school work before dinner daily, it might be time to reassess. What is happening that is taking so long? Are they getting stuck? Is the work too hard? Are they bored and not completing it because they don’t see the point? While I think we should be challenging them, I don’t think it should take the entire day. There’s a fine line between challenge and drudgery; we want to ensure we don’t cross it. Teens especially need more sleep and downtime. So, if you find that your days are getting too long and everyone is feeling frustrated, you might be just trying to do too much.

How do you handle career guidance?

Ok. I’m going to get brutally honest here. This one is tough because right now, it’s rough out there. My 24-year-old spent a year in Korea as an English teacher, and now she’s back and trying to find a job. My 21-year-old is about to graduate from college with a degree in illustration and hopes of getting into animation – a notoriously tough field to break into.

I am all about helping them find a career that makes them happy and where they feel like they can be their best and most creative selves. But I also have to remind them that eating and having a place to live is nice too.

I have no idea what things will look like when my youngest graduates high school in 3 years. I don’t know if she’ll go to college (right now, she says no because she wants to make art and doesn’t see a need for more school – we’ll reassess that each year.) She volunteers and helps teach karate at her karate school, which teaches her many leadership skills and could potentially lead to a job down the road. Since she wants to go into an art field, she’ll be taking many art classes over her high school years to help her hone her skills.

If your child has a passion, help them follow it to the best of your ability. Seek out classes, mentors, and internships. But, especially if their passion is in a creative field, remind them that day jobs are a thing until they find a way to make money through writing, music, or art.

I hope I’ve helped today to make homeschooling high school feel less intimidating. I have loved homeschooling my teens – it’s honestly been some of my favorite years in our journey. I hope I’ve inspired and motivated you to tackle homeschooling during high school!

Coming up next…

I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!

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Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

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