Planning on homeschooling your teens? Here’s an authoritative guide on how to homeschool high school.
An Authoritative Guide on How to Homeschool High School
Are you feeling intimidated by the idea of homeschooling high school? Don’t worry. You CAN do it! Your 7Sisters are here to help. (BTW- there are 6 of us 7Sisters, so who is the 7th Sister? YOU are!)
How do we know you can do it? Well, we 7Sisters have homeschooled our kids through graduation as well as advising hundreds of local homeschool high schoolers. They have all made it through homeschool graduation!
We have got a system down that has become our *unofficial authoritative guide* for homeschooling high school. We want to share it with you, right here!
As you prepare to homeschool your high schoolers, take a look at our guide. Use it to develop your own way to homeschool high school. (Remember: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. If our way does not work for your family, you can create your own process!)
Homeschooling high school: Here’s how
Step 1: Pray
As 7Sister Kym always says, “Pray first, last and always!” Families who are homeschooling high school need God’s guidance and help. It would be a hard task to homeschool without God’s help! Here are some of our thoughts on prayer and homeschooling high school.
We truly believe that prayer is the true secret of success in homeschooling high school!
Step 2: Set goals
As 7Sister Marilyn says, “Why would I give up all my free time to homeschool if I didn’t have goals?” Why are you homeschooling high school? Then that’s your main goal.
What are the other goals that you and your teen want to accomplish by the time they graduate? Here are some of our ways to set goals for high school. (Don’t forget to invite your teens to participate in goal setting!)
Take a deep dive into goal setting for homeschool high school with our Authoritative Guide to Planning Homeschool High School and if you have not discovered our Homeschool Highschool Podcast, check out these episodes on goals and planning.
Be sure to set realistic expectations! For more excellent tips for start-up goals for your homeschool high school, check out this post from our friend, Marcy at Ben and Me.
Step 2A: For new homeschool high schoolers who are transitioning from traditional school settings
As a newbie homeschooling high school parent, you will want to start with your teen’s school records. Using those records, decide what your teen has left in order to fulfill high school graduation requirements (see Step 3). Then set your goals.
You will find our Authoritative Guide to Transitioning to Homeschool High School to be helpful. Be sure to include your teen in this process! You can find more tips from our friend, Melanie Wilson on Homeschool Sanity Podcast.
Step 3: Choose courses that will meet graduation requirements
There are 26 or 27 basic credits that homeschool high schoolers need to include on their transcripts. However, as you choose your courses remember:
- Each state has specific requirement for graduation (check your state’s Department of Education website or Homeschool Legal Defense for your state’s requirements)
- Supervising organizations (like umbrella schools or charter schools) will have their own requirements
- Individual colleges will have different courses that they are looking for, check college websites for that information.
With those in mind, these posts will explain course requirement that will cover many students’ needs:
- Authoritative Guide to Homeschool High School Literature
- Another Authoritative Guide: Electives in Homeschool High School
- 10 Tips for Turning Transcript Courses into Career Exploration
- Homeschool History and Social Studies Credits
Also, keep in mind that your homeschool high schoolers are not just earning basic education requirements. They are also preparing for life. You can capture all those life preparation skills on the transcript. This Authoritative Guide to Life Skills will help.
Step 4: Note the difference between college-bound transcript needs and non-college bound transcript needs
There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…or to be a person or to choose a career. Some young people are called into a career that requires college, some are called into a career that does not.
First off, some homeschool high schoolers are planning on going into the military. If so, talk to a recruiter as soon as you can, so that your transcript can reflect what they need to see. Your teen might also want to join an organization like Civil Air Patrol. Check out these tips for preparing your teen for military careers.
College-bound homeschool transcripts need some course that SPARKLE. These special courses help your homeschool high schoolers’ transcripts grab the attention of admissions officers. Here are some posts that explain choosing and naming these courses.
- Starting in 9th Grade: Making Transcripts College Attractive
- Why Generic Courses Aren’t Great on the Homeschool Transcript
- Making Sure Your Teens Get College Acceptance
- Sparrow’s Home blog: 2 Things You May Be Missing
Non-college-bound teens need to concentrate on other areas, like life and career preparation. Here are some posts with ideas for those teens:
- Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Careers that Don’t Require College
- HSHSP: Being the Mom of a “Just Average” Teen
- Planning Courses for Average Homeschool Teens
- Why Trade School?
- How to Create a Master Portfolio
- Is My Homeschool Student JUST Average?
Step 5: Decide how each credit will be earned
This is the big one! Will your teen use textbooks? Log hours for a Carnegie credit? Take a class online/in a co-op/at an umbrella school? As we always say: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. Choose what is best for your teens. Here are some posts to make those choices:
- How to Homeschool High School: Earning Credits
- What Format to Use for Courses
- How to Prove Your Credits Mean Something on the Homeschool Transcript
- Combining Credits: Literature, History, Elective, Fine Arts
- Pros and Cons of Taking College Courses in High School
- What Are Umbrella Schools?
Note: If your teen has special needs, homeschooling high school is an excellent choice. You can sculpt each course to meet your teen’s needs and interests. We even have an Authoritative Guide to help you develop out-of-the-box credits for your teen.
For parents interested in unschooling their teens, here’s an interview with Julie Polanco to help.
Step 6: Choose courses and experiences to develop your teens’ strengths
Use the higher levels of rigor (such as College-Prep Level, Advanced Level and Honors Level) to build on your homeschool high schoolers’ strengths. This helps your teens to grow intellectually (and personally, as they stretch their abilities). Here are some posts that explain levels of rigor.
- HSHSP: The Power of Homeschool Parents (Interview with Anita Gibson, author of StarFinder-finding your student’s strengths)
- Homeschool High School Transcripts: Course Level Do’s and Don’t’s
- How to Decide Levels on the Homeschool Transcript
- Showing Rigor on the Homeschool Transcript
Step 7: Choose courses and experiences to explore your teens’ interests and values (Career Exploration)
You don’t have time to not have time for Career Exploration. Much of what homeschooling high school is about is helping your teens explore their interests and values. Ask yourself these “What is” questions. What is:
- Important to them?
- God-given gift(s) that they already understand?
- Their current awareness about themselves so far?
- The area of “need to know” in their lives?
Here are some posts to help you take next steps with Career Exploration:
Step 8: Choose courses and experiences to help your teens explore their callings
As 7Sister Vicki says, “You were created on purpose, for purpose!” Understanding God’s callings for your teens lives is a lifetime process, but they should get started in high school. Here are some thoughts about helping your teens explore their callings.
Step 9: Choose courses and experiences that develop character
When you homeschool high school your teens, you can teach them, as part of their education, skills that truly matter. Here are some posts about character building:
- Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Teaching Teens to Create a Welcoming Culture
- Training Teens to be Ladies and Gentlemen
- 3 Character-Building Ways to Enhance the Transcript
- Character Development: Teach Your Teens to Time Audit
- Raising Teens Who Care
- 3 Ways to Help Teens Think of Others More than Selves
You will get best results when learning about character (or any topic) if you take a conversational approach- talk together, ask questions. (For more on conversational homeschooling, check this post.)
Step 10: Choose curriculum
You’ve got lots of ideas! Now it is time to choose your curriculum! This is a lot of fun…and a lot of pressure. Think about what is best for your family’s interests, abilities, budget and lifestyles. And remember: Just because one particular curriculum works for your friends, doesn’t mean YOU must use it. There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school!
Check out these “How to” posts with more information that you can imagine! How to:
- Homeschool High School: How to Choose Curriculum
- Individualize the Curriculum for a 9th Grader
- Create an Individualized the Curriculum for a 10th Grader
- Making a Powerful 11th Grade Year
- Make the Most of the 12th Grade Year on the Homeschool Transcript
- How do eTextbooks Work and Why You Should Use Them
- BJ Homeschool’s Top Frugal Resources for Homeschool High School
Step 11: Develop life and college or career preparation skills
Homeschool high school years are the time for life and career and college prep. There’s so much to learn. Here are a few skills:
- Teach Teens to be Thinkers, Not Parrots
- 5 Skills That Matter More Than the Homeschool Transcript
- Life Preparation Skills
- 5 Skills Teens Need Because They Will Become Leaders Somewhere
- 5 Practical Ways to Teach Teens to be Culture Creators
Step 12: Keep good records
Record keeping is necessary. You need a syllabus and/or a course description for each course. You may keep them anywhere (a crate or binder). We suggest you create a Master Portfolio and include these in it. Here are the how-to’s on record keeping, syllabi, course descriptions and Master Portfolios.
- Record Keeping for Homeschool High School
- Also, check out our Authoritative Guide to Record Keeping for Homeschool High School
- How to Create and Use a Syllabus
- How to Homeschool High School: How to Write Course Descriptions
- We provide suggested syllabi at not cost for many of our courses (Check the co-op section of the store.)
Step 13: Start a transcript
To work on the transcript, you will need to decide order of courses for each year, where to include extracurriculars, service hours, competitions, testing and how you will compute the GPA. Here are some posts to help with that:
- Authoritative Guide to Homeschool Transcripts (includes how-to and link to our downloadable, editable transcript in our estore)
- The Perfect Homeschool Transcript
- 2 Ways to Figure the GPA on the Homeschool Transcript
- GPA: Weighted or Not?
- 3 Things That Give Transcripts Sparkle Appeal
- Did We Miss Anything? Plugging the Holes in the Homeschool Transcript
- Why Your Teen Needs to List Competitions on the Homeschool Transcript
- 7 Tips for a Professional-Looking Transcript
- Should You Include Religion on the Homeschool Transcript?
- What are Extracurriculars on the Homeschool Transcript?
- What are Electives on the Homeschool Transcript?
Step 14: Decide how to assign grades for each course
We often get questions on how to grade assignments and how to assign grades for courses. This can feel overwhelming if you’re worried that there’s only one right way to do it. Think about your goals for each student. The grading process may look a little different for each one. Here are some posts that will help you decide how to grade:
- How to Homeschool High School: What to Grade and How
- 3 Ways to Assign Grades in Homeschool High School
- How to Score Tests in Homeschool High School
- Rubric for Grading Papers in Non-Language Arts Courses (7Sisters Writing curricula includes rubrics)
- How to Homeschool High School: Figuring First Quarter Grades
Step 15: Set up a plan and a schedule (but stay flexible with it)
Homeschool high school is a busy lifestyle. If you don’t create a good schedule, you and/or your teens will get lost in the *forest of wasted time*. Here are some posts on planning and scheduling:
- For college-bound teens, set out a four-year timeline
- How to Homeschool High School: How to do Scheduling
- Will You do Block Scheduling?
- More on managing the planning and time in these tips for homeschooling high school with Natalie Mack.
Step 16: Remain flexible
We can plan our ways but as we’ve often found out, things don’t always to our ways. It is God who directs our paths…and our teens’ paths. Sometimes you’ll end up ditching a curriculum, changing course formats, or dropping a course altogether. That’s okay! One benefit of homeschooling is being able to do what’s best at EACH moment. Here are some posts that help with flexibility:
- 50 Ways to Scrap Your Schoolbook
- How and Why to Switch Curriculum Mid-year
- Also, check out this episode with Sabrina (sharing the things she has learned about homeschooling high school): If I Could Talk to My Younger Self.
Remember: You can’t fit everything in but you can be creative so that your teens has the academics they need and the extracurricular experiences they need. Here’s a post to help figure out how to fit things in for homeschool high school.
Step 17: Do yearly reviews of your goals
Many homeschool high school families have a supervising organization or have reviewers by state regulations. That’s fine, but the most important reviewer is you. How are you and your teens doing with the goals you all have set? Here are some encouraging posts to help you do your own personal reviews:
- How to: Personal Goals-Review for Homeschool High School
- The WHY Question for a Yearly Evaluation of Your Homeschool
- Beware of the Desperate Need to Get it Right
Step 18: Decide if you will need PSATs, SATs or ACTs
Only college-bound teens need to take these tests. Some colleges are not requiring them any more. Here is some food for thought about whether to PSAT.
We 7Sisters have developed curriculum that teens like and helps them move toward the next phase of life. It is no-busywork and adaptable. Check out this post for more on what makes our downloadable curriculum a great fit for many homeschoolers.
Bonus Step: If you are concerned about your teens having the attitude to own their education, check these out:
- Homeschool Highschool Podcast Interview with Meryl van der Merwe (from the Homeschooling with Technology Podcast) about Helping Your Teens Own Their Education
Additional Bonus Steps:
If you are a single parent who is homeschooling high school, click here for a post with advice from single parents who have homeschooled high school! You can do this!
Our friend, Terry, McKee has a post on with lots of resources on homeschooling high school. Not only that but we have a great podcast on Handling Homeschool Fears, Interview with Homeschool Super Freak.
Follow our Pinterest board on How to Homeschool High School.
Remember, God’s in charge of the outcome! Homeschooling high school: You CAN do it! Thank you for allowing your Sisters be part of the process. Thank you for being our 7th Sister!
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Thanks for the good words, Pat!
Beautiful post, Vicki…so thorough! Thanks for all the time and effort you obviously put into this <3 <3