When we started homeschooling our oldest child 9 years ago, we didn't know how long we would continue. But now she's completing her 8th grade year, so on the horizon is the beginning of high school! And yes, we are planning to home school high school.
I have been gathering information on this new venture for 3 years through home school conventions, online resources, and talking with friends who have already home schooled their high school students. It began as intimidating, but with some great resources and advice, I now feel prepared and capable to navigate the next four years. I wanted to share with you the basics of what I've gleaned that has helped me go from feeling overwhelmed by homeschooling high school to feeling I have an understanding and a plan that I'm excited about for our firstborn child.
My Father's World curriculum - what we use for all of our school age children since 2014. I love it because it is a perfect blend of Charlotte Mason and classical education, without being too much work. Because it's a complete planned curriculum, I can simply buy the entire package and follow the 34 or 35-week schedule. The high school level will provide all of the credits necessary for a college-ready transcript. I look forward to what our daughter will learn through the books and projects planned for her.
The Homescholar - a wealth of resources and encouragement for everything from understanding what makes a high school credit, to how to make your high schooler's transcript stand out to college admissions personnel. I have attended 3 of her free webinars and kept the valuable notes from these in my homeschool binder for reference, along with her transcript and course description examples. It was from her I first understood the benefits of CLEP and AP exams, and dual enrollment. I have not subscribed to any of her services, but am grateful she explains things even a beginner like me can understand, and shares her "can-do" attitude with all who will take the time to listen.
HSLDA - many informational articles, easy to use templates, and high school records services are offered. The link I provided will take you to their high school resource page where you can find articles on everything from encouraging you that you can homeschool high school, to pursuing scholarships for college, or preparing for other post-high school plans like a gap year, the military, or a trade school. They also have sample transcripts and other forms and guides for record keeping.
fivejs.com is full of articles and resources about homeschooling in general, and I have had fun reading her plans for high school and getting ideas.
http://letshomeschoolhighschool.com/ is one I just discovered yesterday which has some free printables and some articles which I have yet to explore.
Homeschool Convention Workshops - this is where I gained a wealth of information in a short period of time. I spent 2 days at the closest big convention I could get to, and targeted high school related workshops. These are often led by individuals or organizations who have a product or service to sell to homeschoolers, but they're giving you a lot of free information stemming from their experience and research. I went with the goal to glean information but not purchase anything. There are some discounts to be had if you buy at the convention, but I have found it's best to come home, think about it, and then purchase the product if I still need it. Often I can find a similar discount later, or the product used for less.
Some of the information I gleaned there included:
- knowing how and when to find and apply for many kinds scholarships, both large and small
- guiding your student through choosing a major, a college, and a career
- how to earch college credit during high school (dual enrollment - something some public high schools facilitate)
- how and why to do college level research in high school, and what that looks like
- strategies for doing well on the ACT, PSAT and SAT, when to take them, and how the PSAT can earn your student the designation of "national merit scholar" which yields scholarships.
- websites I can reference to discover scholarships my students qualify for (from Dan Bisig of collegeandbeyondllc.com
- websites where my student can explore her strengths and interests and match those to careers (from Carol Topp, author of Career Exploration)
I also attended workshops for a couple products I am strongly considering purchasing for my children. One is a computer coding class for kids called Youth Digital, and the other is a game that makes doing fitness at home fun and easy called Fitivities.
Advice I Have Gleaned
Your student should begin thinking about what they might like to do after high school before they begin high school if possible. Changing your mind along the way is possible, but you should have some solid ideas before Junior year. The reasons are because you want to know if the colleges you may pursue have particular academic requirements, and if certain electives would give them an edge at being prepared and even accepted at that school. Also, even if your student is not currently planning to go to college, it is good to have taken the credits they would need to apply for college if later in life they decide to go back to school. Even later in life, the college will want to see their high school transcript with the application.
You should look at what credits are needed to graduate from high school in your state. For me, this is a bit tricky, because my husband's job in the Army means we'll move partway through. But, the comparison I did between college-prep coursework in the state, and the requirements listed by the universities my daughter is considering gave me a good plan to work with. Then I compared that to the credits my curriculum provides, considered possible electives to add or change out, and made a 4-year plan for my daughter's high school, which is subject to change.
My daughter will be doing some free personality tests and career assessments online, and looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook online to come up with more than one career she thinks she might like to pursue. (We won't assume she'll stick with her current future plans, as she is young, and could change her mind.) Then we'll look for elective opportunities, extra-curricular activities, and volunteer options that will add to her "resume" so-to-speak, her high school transcript, to help her stand out and look unique and inviting to college admissions personnel.
I will write course descriptions for the classes she takes each semester to include in her records so any college admissions officer who may question what a home school student actually learns, has a clear explanation of her education.
I do not feel compelled to grade every single assignment. I also will base her grade on more than just tests. Tests, reading, and other assignments will each hold a percentage of her grade, somewhere around 1/3 each.
We will try not to overload her with so many academics that she doesn't have time for friendships, extracurricular activities, and time to just explore her interests. I love giving my children resources with which to learn, and I want my daughter to have a complete transcript at the end of high school. But she doesn't have to learn everything about everything before she turns 18.
I hope these resources and summaries give you the same confidence I have gained.