How to Help Teens Get Their Research Papers Done

Frustrated parents sometimes ask us how to help teens yet their research papers done.

How to Help Teens Get Their Research Papers Done

How to Help Teens Get Their Research Papers Done

I homeschooled my five teens so I have been through the research-paper writing process MANY times! I found that my teens fell into three categories of research-paper writers:

  1. Passionate about papers!
    1. I had a couple of teens that loved writing research papers (really- no joke!). These were teens that got started on their papers right away and I had to actually give them a page limit or they would have turned out a tome.
  2. Do I REALLY have to write a paper??
    1. One of my teens were reluctant research paper writers. They got it done because it was required.
    2. This is where our umbrella school came in handy. At the umbrella school, my teens had an academic advisor- another homeschool mom, really- who they had to set goals with, meet those goals and show them to the advisor. So I would always say to my reluctant writer: “It’s not MY fault, your advisor says you have to!” this actually worked!
  3. Compliant but not excited…
    1. A couple of my teens did not complain about writing research papers, but they did not love them either. They just accepted their fate. However, these teens were the first to tell me that when they got to college they were some of the best prepared students in their Freshman Composition course.

Homeschooling high schoolers need to write some research papers. The teens who are passionate about their papers may not need much guidance. However, for teens in category 2 and 3, it might be good to have some steps to help them navigate the process.

Here are some steps to help teens choose topics, set goals, get organize and complete their papers with pride!

There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…or to get those research papers written. However, I’d like to share some steps that worked for us.

Step 1: Choose a topic

When my teens decided on a meaningful or inspirational topic for their paper, it made the whole process easier!

An area of interest

Choosing an interest is one of the best ways to get a teen inspired for their research paper. Help them make a list of:

APA Style Research Paper Writing Guide


  • Things they love to do
  • Places they love to visit
  • People they admire
  • Topics they want to learn about

If this is the first time your homeschool high schooler has written a research paper, 7Sisters APA Research Paper Writing Guide is a good choice. It takes teens step by step through the writing process, including how to choose a topic.

A career exploration topic

Many of my homeschool high school advisees have used their APA research paper to explore a career they are interested in. When teens choose these topics, they can explore:

  • Job descriptions
  • Training and/or needed
  • Whether if a career choice is viable
  • Will there be reasonable income
  • What is the job market projected to look like in ten years?
  • Interviews with professionals

This might be a good choice for juniors and/or seniors. The formats that are best for this kind of paper is APA and Chicago-style.

A leveling-up activity for a core class or elective

If your homeschool high schooler is aiming for an advanced or honors credit but using a college-prep textbook, he will need to log extra hours to get that high-powered credit for the transcript. One way to get some hours is to choose a topic that enhances the core course AND log hours in research and writing the paper.

Step 2: Once they have a topic, they can set goals

Work with your teen do decide goals:

  • Due date for final draft
  • Length of paper
  • Schedule for:
    • Research completed
    • Outline completed
    • Rough draft completed
    • Final draft completed

Use Scheduling Backwards to help organize the scheduling of each goal. Also, it will help you discuss setting dates for halfway points toward each goal (even quarter-way points for teens who need more support).

For more on teaching teens time management, check this post.

Step 3: Finally, help them complete their papers with pride!

Give your homeschool high schoolers a copy of the rubric that you will use for grading. Have them grade their own paper before giving the final draft to you. This helps them edit their papers well because they know exactly what you are looking for. Not only that, but it helps them take pride in what they have done.

Research Writing Readiness
Click image for full description.

BTW- Every 7Sisters Research Paper Writing Guide includes a suggested rubric that you can use for your teen’s paper.

Also, if your homeschool high schooler is an extremely reluctant writer, you may want to start with a simple report form. Here is a freebie to help you work through a research paper for reluctant writers together.

Plus, here is a guide for your middle schoolers, to coach them through research writing readiness!

Your teens may love writing research papers…or not! Either way, they will gain confidence as they work their way through, and then complete, these important projects!

Download a research paper writing guide and help your get started on a great writing project!

How to do Research Paper for Both Career Exploration and ELA can also be a great way to get this assignment completed.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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