High school is the home stretch and can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re homeschooling. Is homeschooling high school different from homeschooling lower grades? Can you even homeschool high school? Can your homeschooled kids get into college or a good trade school? As these questions, and more, are bouncing around, it might seem easier to send your kids to school. That way, you know they’ll get a good preparation. But depending on your situation, where you live, or your concerns, that might not be an option for you. We’d like to help you start homeschooling high school with confidence.
Can you homeschool high school?
Yes, you can homeschool high school; parents and guardians are legally and physically capable of homeschooling through high school to graduation. Homeschooling high school may be a little different from homeschooling in the lower grades. The general structure is still the same, so if you have any experience homeschooling, then you’ve already laid the groundwork for starting to homeschool high school. If you’re pulling your kids out of school and just starting to homeschool at the end of 8th grade or are starting homeschooling in 9th grade or later, you can still homeschool high school You will need to do some basic research on homeschooling first, but it’s still possible.
1. Learn about homeschooling.
If you’ve been homeschooling for a while, go ahead and skip to step 2. If you’re new to homeschooling, you’re going to want to learn what homeschooling is and how to get started before you dive in with homeschooling high school. Homeschooling high school isn’t illegal. However, there are legal requirements that vary by state that families must be aware of when they intend to start homeschooling high school.
2. Get familiar with state requirements for high school graduates.
Homeschoolers aren’t required to meet state requirements for high school graduates. However, each state or county has its own laws and regulations for high school graduates; these are the expectations that schools have to meet to function in that area and what schools are expected to provide for their students. These requirements matter because they align with what colleges expect and want to see on a student’s transcript. Matching your student’s credit earnings and courses completed to the state requirements for high school graduates will help streamline college, trade school, and job applications. It also shows that you did your research and have good intentions for your child’s education.
3. Prepare a homeschool high school schedule.
In preparing your homeschool schedule for high school, you’ll need to ensure that you’re meeting time requirements and course requirements. State requirements for homeschooling require learning in the core subjects: math, science, social studies, and English language arts. For college and career readiness, high school students should include time in their schedules for elective courses, especially a foreign language and physical education.
How many hours a day should you homeschool high school?
High school students should generally spend between 5–6 hours learning a day or 990 hours per year. If your state or homeschool organization doesn’t require you to submit time reports for your homeschool, this requirement may not be a big deal for you. This is the average amount of time that high school students should be spending on their education.
High School Homeschool Schedule Ideas
Homeschool families have the freedom to adjust or change their schedules to better meet their students’ needs. When preparing your high school schedule, keep in mind the following:
- You have other scheduling options. You aren’t confined to the typical standard school schedule of one subject for one hour, five days a week. High school students often have longer projects or building lessons that might benefit from a block schedule involving several back-to-back lessons or class hours rather than every subject once a day.
- Using a homeschool planner can simplify your scheduling process. A planner that’s right for you can significantly improve your homeschooling and record-keeping experience.
4. Nail down 9th grade study skills.
Getting effective study skills nailed down before 9th grade can make all the difference in high school for your student. Students who know how to study and study well learn more and learn faster than students who don’t.
- Study smarter. Help your students to learn how they study best so they’re not losing time on study methods they don’t need.
- Learn how to recognize important information. Chapter headings, bold terms, and review questions all act as guideposts to relevant information students might need for tests, projects, and research.
- Master the summary and paraphrase. Memorizing information often does not make you think about the information. Instead of memorizing or before memorizing, encourage your students to learn how to put information into their own words.
- Learn how you need to be organized. A planner helps no one if no one will ever use it. If your student can’t or won’t use a planner, then don’t have them use it. Some students do better with a jumbled notebook and sticky notes than a neatly organized planner. Requiring them to use an organizational tool that doesn’t help them will add stress and work to their load, which is already heavy in high school.
- Ask why. Teach them to make a habit of asking why when they have questions. When they’re interested enough to learn why, they’re often interested enough to remember the answers.
- Practice breaking down projects into ordered steps. Big projects and writing assignments take time and a lot of steps. Students need to learn how to see the steps separately so they won’t get overwhelmed by the project as a whole.
- Practice working steps backwards. Many students don’t realize when they need to begin something to finish on time until it’s too late. One way to teach students to break projects up is to ask how long it takes to get to a familiar destination. If they know they need to get to soccer practice by 3, it’s a simple series of steps to calculate how long the journey takes and how long it takes them to get ready to find out when they need to get ready. It takes time for students to learn how to think this way, but it’s a useful skill to have for high school and beyond.
5. Encourage independent learning.
If you’re homeschooling multiple students in high school or aren’t confident in teaching every subject, having independent learners can make homeschooling high schoolers much more straightforward. Independent learners are self-motivated, inquisitive, and eager to learn. Curriculum tools like video lessons or digital lesson plans can give your independent learners the tools they need to learn. If you don’t really have independent learners now, encourage your students to become independent by giving them gradual responsibilities and ownership of their own education. This might mean letting them set their own schedule or choose their extracurricular activities or electives. If they can follow instructions without needing constant oversight, they’re likely mature enough to be independent learners.
6. Plan to teach the required subjects.
States generally require homeschoolers to teach math, science, social studies, and English language arts at every grade level. High school students need school credits in certain courses to build a transcript that meets their desired college’s expectations. The expectation is for students to spend time in each subject and to demonstrate a high school level of understanding of what they covered. For specific information regarding what your college of choice requires, contact or have your student contact their admissions department with your student’s intended major.
Homeschooling High School Math
Most states, and therefore most colleges, expect to see at least 3 credits in high school math. High school math typically covers two levels of algebra, geometry, and precalculus or a financial math class. Since states often only require 3 credits, that does mean your student may not need to take precalculus or algebra 2, which may be ideal for students whose abilities are best represented in other subjects. You may satisfy course requirements with algebra 1, geometry, and a financial math class. Please note, however, that some states specifically require an algebra 2 credit.
What is a credit?
A credit is a representation of the time and effort a student has put into learning course material. In general, students will spend 100 to 200 hours in a year, complete projects, and maintain good grades to earn a single credit. However, different states have different ways of measuring credits. For high school transcript purposes, it’s simpler to use a single credit to represent one full-year, two-semester course that includes roughly 180 days of work.
Homeschooling High School Science
State requirements for science are generally more varied, averaging between 2 and 3 credits for graduation. In general, students should plan on completing a life science course, typically biology, a general science course, often physical science, and chemistry. One or more of your science courses should include laboratory activities of at least an hour per week. It’s also important to remember that advanced science courses like chemistry and physics often require or co-require an advanced math course like algebra 2. So, if your student’s educational plan does not include algebra 2, you may need it for certain science courses.
Homeschooling High School Social Studies
Social studies encompasses history, geography, civics, government, and economics, and most states require 3 credits in social studies. Specifically, most states require high school social studies courses that cover United States history, world history, the history of the state the student lives in, civics, geography, American government, and economics. Each of these topics does not need to be a course on its own, but transcripts should reflect courses that include all these topics at some point. Although, it’s generally expected that students will earn a half credit each in economics and government.
Homeschooling High School English
Almost every state requires 4 credits in English. Few states give specific requirements for what high school English should cover, although other standards do give a baseline for high schools to work toward. Without specific homeschool requirements, a homeschool high schooler may not have a focused course of study for English. However, for college acceptance and career readiness, it is highly recommended that high school English courses include a review of standard English conventions, research and writing, and a variety of literary selections covering many genres, authors, and timelines.
Homeschooling High School Electives
With the core course requirements only giving between 13 and 15 credits, and most students needing 22 to 24 credits on their transcripts for college admission, homeschool high school students will need additional elective courses to round out their transcript. Among those elective courses, education in a modern language and a physical education are generally required by most states and expected for college admission. Other high school electives to consider include Bible, art, speech and debate, computer programing, robotics, and music.
How to Give Credit for Elective Courses
If your elective courses are structured programs with practice time and a form of assessment, either from an organization or a private teacher, it’s generally safe to count those courses as single credit courses for each high school year your student has participated in them. If your electives are courses that you have created yourself, you will need to meet the standard expectations of a one-credit course. You’ll want to keep records of the course showing
- Time spent in learning—an average of 120 hours
- Measure of achievement—a grade or score to reflect how successfully the student mastered the content over time
- Projects or tests—demonstrations of learning in that course
7. Prepare a homeschool high school transcript.
Your homeschool high school transcript should include a list of courses completed from 9th to 12thgrade with final grades or a pass or fail for each subject as well as a GPA for each semester or year. It’s best to begin preparing your transcript from first semester of 9th grade, and keep all graded work, tests, and projects until graduation.
Accredited Homeschool Programs for High School
Many parents believe accreditation is required for high school students, but while accreditation can simplify the record-keeping and reporting process and give you an authenticated transcript, it’s not required. Accreditation is simply a means of verifying the academic integrity of your child’s education. Typically, when you’re a member of an accredited homeschool program, like the Academy of Home Education, you will report all grades to the program, and those grades will be used to create a finalized high school transcript. The program may also provide a diploma. Even though accreditation isn’t required, it can be extremely helpful for homeschooling the high school years.
What’s the most important and hardest year of high school for college admissions?
Junior year can be incredibly important for high school students and very difficult. Junior year is close enough to graduation for students to realize that their high school education is coming to an end, but far enough away that they can still add in any missing electives. It may be tempting to pile on electives and missing courses in your student’s junior year, but if you’re prepared at the beginning of high school, you can balance out your student’s high school education so junior year won’t be overwhelming for them.
Homeschooling High School with BJU Press
BJU Press offers full grade packages for K5–12th grade, including video course options supported by our revolutionary new homeschool planner, the Homeschool Hub. If you homeschool high school with our program, your students will earn 4 credits each in core courses of math, science, history, and English language arts, and you can add up to 4 credits in Bible and up to 3 credits in Spanish. With our video course program, you can complete courses on your own time, so your student will still have time for other elective courses or extracurricular activities like private music lessons, sports teams, martial arts, art lessons, gymnastics, or any other course they’re interested in.