How to Homeschool in High School

How do you homeschool in high school?   The greatest encouragement someone gave me when I was contemplating what high school home schooling  looked like, was - "It's no different; you just keep going."

When our children were entering the "high school" years, I had an idea that homeschooling was going to change completely.  However, our routine stayed the same, and most subjects stayed the same.  The difference was our learning methods and our focus.

By the time our children have reached the high school years, a foundational base of knowledge should have been laid. They should have a basic grasp of history and its stories, mathematical computations, a map of world geography in their minds, a general understanding of science and scientific fields, phonics, spelling rules, reading and how our language works.

As we homeschool in the high school years, our children will make links in their knowledge. This is the time when they answer why, how does this happen?, what forces make this?, what were the reasons which caused this and so on.

So, as the learning changes, the methods move from reading to understanding, listening to conversation and discussion.  It is the time to reason, discuss pros and cons, question motives, discern truth and this needs to be done in discussion and conversation, before it moves into written work.

So what does homeschool in high school look like?  Let me cover just a few general areas:

Math - Generally, in these years, children are continuing to apply the basic skills which they have learned in the primary years and are applying these skills to more abstract knowledge in the form of Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus.... and beyond in the final years of highschool depending on their ability and the field they are heading into.

The way in which you continue with math at this point is often dependent on the textbook or curriculum you want to use.  Some texts will use a more spiral approach in which they touch all strands (Number,Patterns and Algebra, Data, Measurement, Space and Geometry) each year, building knowledge upon prior knowledge. Other texts will focus more specifically on a strand of knowledge and develop understanding in this field. (e.g. Algebra 1; Algebra 2; Geometry..)

In these years the students are making connections between various operations, making judgments on applying their mathematical skills, so it is important that they have had a solid foundation on which to build these new skills.  See my Homeschool Math Sitemap for more information.

Writing - Writing is developed systematically by writing words - sentences - paragraphs - essays. If you keep this basic framework in you mind as you teach you will see that high school homeschooling is just a continuation.

  • Years 1-6 - Writing through narrations
  • Year 7 - Concentrate of sentences - subject verb agreement; correct usage; correct use of pronouns, correct use of verbs, correct use of modifiers
  • Year 8- Concentrate on Paragraph Writing - brainstorming, topic sentences, developing the paragraph, unity, linking expressions
  • Year 9- Concentrate on essay writing - brainstorming; making an outline; grouping ideas

Once the basic structure of an essay is learned, it can be applied to different essay forms - expository, process essays, essays of definition, compare and contrast essays and so on.  I have always enjoyed using the Write Source books as a Reference book detailing all sorts of writing forms.   See my page on designing your own writing curriculum.

Reading -  The main focus of reading in the high school years is to continue to develp a love of reading and open up the world through books. As we read across the curriculum we would want our high school homeschoolers to advance their reading level by reading more complex works of literature, primary sources in history and science as well as texts.

Here are some skills which would be important to develop as our teens read and we spend time discussing their reading.

  • To read widely - personal, silent reading.
  • To distinguish fact and opinion.
  • To recognize author’s techniques in developing the writing.
  • To recognize elements of fiction: Setting, Characters, Conflict, Resolution, Point of View and be able to identify them and discuss them in increasing depth through the years.
  • To recognize author’s viewpoints and worldview.
  • To use reading as a research tool.
  • To find relevant information.
  • To be able to outline, summarize and précis a reading.
  • To make personal evaluations on the reading based on the criteria of reality/ fantasy, fact, worth or acceptability.
  • To respond to literature based on emotions, identification with characters, reactions to language, and the author’s ability to capture the imagination.Find some more information on Reading Skills here.

Real life learning - Another wonderful opportunities our high school homeschoolers have is to spend time to develop their hobbies - researching, working and learning all different types of skills, depending on their interest. Homeschooling is a natural way to develop and encourage teen entrepreneurs and develop business skills. Homeschooled students often go on to develop their own businesses.  Why?  Because many (and this is a goal of most homeschooling families) have learned to be independent thinkers and learners. If they have an idea, they have time and the ability to find the resources they need to answer the questions and pursue their goals.

Homeschooling in high school is an excellent time to hone in on business skills and encourage our teen entrepreneurs.  Since some of my children have entered into web businesses, I have written more about teen entrepreneurs, developing business skills and starting a web business here.

So, I would love to encourage you to continue to homeschool through high school.  This is often the most rewarding time because you can see  and encourage interests to develop and blossom and you can take part in inspiring and opening opportunities to your homeschool teen.

Visit Marianne Vanderkolk’s at – a Homeschooling guide to help you uniquely design-your-own homeschool to suit your family’s goals. The website provides  a  step-by-step systematic guide which will help you plan and create the homeschool that suits the needs of your family and is in keeping with your goals,  subject choice, and preferred methodology.

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