Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 48 – Preparing for Homeschooling High School. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
When you are first starting to homeschool, high school seems impossible or at least impossibly far away. Your children were little, and everything was hard enough without having to worry about transcripts and college applications.
But years go by, and now suddenly those little children are 12 years old. High school is just around the corner! I’ve talked before about the benefits of homeschooling tweens and teens, and you can check out that article if you need inspiration. But for the sake of brevity, just know that the teen years are the best time to homeschool!
Maybe you are feeling anxious about it though. After all, this is when it really starts to count, right? Their entire future hangs in the balance! But having graduated three of my four kids, I am here to tell you that it isn’t any harder to homeschool in the teen years and they can absolutely go to college and succeed! Today I’m going to share some tips and advice as I get ready to start planning out my youngest child’s high school years!
So you’ve decided to homeschool through high school. Now what?
I’ve always hated that question. It’s fun to ask a preschooler and see what funny answers they come up with it. Fireman, astronaut, veterinarian, literal cartoon character… But that same question becomes much more anxiety-inducing for a teenager. Even so, knowing their interests can go a long way in guiding them as they decide what they want to do after high school.
My youngest is 14 and we’ll be starting our high school years in the fall. Something we talk about quite a bit right now is what she might be thinking about the future. Does she want to go to college? If so, for what? Start talking about the future now. They don’t have to declare a major at the age of 14, but knowing their strengths and passions is a good gauge when it comes to deciding if they are going to go to a four-year college, a trade school, join the military, or just get a job.
It’s okay if they don’t know what they want to do at all! In fact, most kids don’t. Thankfully there are four years of high school and you can bring this conversation up each year.
Once you have an idea of what they’d like to do after high school, you can start making a plan. Your teen will need a certain number of credits in order to graduate, and you should find out what your state requires for graduation. But if you know for certain that college is on the horizon, it’s a good idea to research what specific credits they are looking for.
What kind of schools or majors are they considering? Are they going to need to take higher-level mathematics or science courses? How important are AP classes for what they plan to study? Do you need to focus on and supplement some business-related studies?
Art schools are going to have different requirements than a typical 4-year institution, which will have different requirements from an Ivy-league. Knowing what a potential college will want to see can be really helpful in planning out their high school career.
For example, my daughter is currently finishing up her junior year at an art college. Since I knew that she wanted to go into art at the beginning of her high school career, I started looking at what the local art colleges wanted to see on transcripts. I knew that Robbie would need a portfolio, so we were able to sign her up for art classes at the local high school. In her senior year of high school, she took an AP Art Portfolio class that helped her create that portfolio. That class also helped her to earn a scholarship through the Scholastic Art Awards!
Since we knew the end goal, we could spend our time focusing on the things that were most important to her and not waste time on things that wouldn’t matter in the long run, like advanced mathematics.
This is when you need to assess your teen’s weaknesses. Do they need to spend some time focusing on writing? Catch up on math? Do they need to work on reading comprehension? I consider the middle school years to be high school prep. This is when they need to start working on honing their writing skills and getting ready to tackle the more challenging work that they will encounter in high school. If you are about to start high school and you are realizing that your teen cannot write an essay, don’t panic! You have four years ahead of you and it might seem like that isn’t enough time, but I promise, it is.
I loathe paperwork, but you are going to need to be on top of things when it comes to preparing for transcripts and college applications. But the good news is that it isn’t that hard. You’ve probably been keeping records all along, so you already basically know what to do. There are several tracking and lesson-planning apps and tools that you can use as well to make your job easier. I used one called My Homeschool Grades and it made it so easy to keep track of all of their classes and grades. My favorite thing was that it took that information and created a beautiful transcript for me.
This is it! The end of the race. You can see the finish line ahead. I know it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling anxious and worried about the high school years. But I want to remind you that homeschooling teens is fun, so don’t get so lost in the weeds of planning and transcripts and applications that you forget to live in the moment! I love teaching teens because we get to have some amazing conversations, read some of my favorite books, and share our favorite things with each other.
Your teens will transition from being little kids who need you for everything to people with their own (often strong) opinions. I love getting to see them grow up into people and if you are lucky, friends. This is the time to make some great memories before they go off into the world on their own for the first time. Remember to find joy in these last years of homeschooling.
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.