How to Homeschool High School: What to do When Your Teen Bombs a Test

By request: How to Homeschool High School: What to do When Your Teen Bombs a Test.

How to Homeschool High School: What to do When Your Teen Bombs a Test

What to do When Your Teen Bombs a Test

It happens to the best of them: A poor grade on a test. How should a homeschool parent handle their teen’s failing grade? One of our 7th Sisters recently asked me about her co-op classes struggle with a Psychology test. She wanted tips on how to help them get back on their test-taking feet. (BTW- coming soon: 7Sisters Introduction to Psychology from a Christian Perspective 3rd edition!)

There are two people who are affected by a homeschool high schoolers poor test grade:

  • The homeschool high schooler
  • The homeschool high schooler’s mom (or dad, tutor or co-op teacher, if those were doing the supervising or teaching)

Let’s look at both in order to know what to do when your teen bombs a test. Starting with the adult in charge (mom, dad, tutor, co-op teacher).

Adult’s perspective on handling a teen’s failing test grade

First off, remember: Your homeschool high schooler’s grade is not about you.

  • It is easy to slide into the error of heavy equipment mothering. You know the kinds:
    • Snowplow moms:

      • These moms go ahead of their teens, shoving everything challenging out of their way. However, when teens experience no challenges or hardships, their emotional and education growth is actually impaired. They do not develop skills for problem solving and the stamina for the challenges that life will bring them!
    • Helicopter moms:

      • These moms who hover, giving their teens the answers to their academics, informing coaches how to coach, or forgetting that their teen’s friends are their teen’s friends (not theirs). They are living their teens’ lives instead of allowing their teens to live their own lives.
    • Bulldozer moms:

      • These moms push their teens to the point that their teens are frustrated, angry and exhausted. They are moms who envision the very best life for their homeschool high schoolers so drive their teens to achieve their dreams.

Your homeschool high schooler’s grade is not about you, unless you have not supervised at all.

The other person involved in the bombed test score is your teen. Here are some things to consider:

Your homeschool high schooler is telling you things about how they learn, how they prepare for and take tests, and how they are feeling.

Perhaps they are telling you that:

  • They do not understand test-taking skills, especially in unfamiliar formats?

  • They do not have mastery of the material?

    • Do they need to sit down with you and discuss the questions they missed? Maybe it will help you and your teen to find the holes in their understanding. (Once they understand, perhaps they can do something for extra credit to show they know: an essay, a test-retake for partial extra credit, a project.)
  • Do they need to organize their study time better so they are not cramming for their test?

  • Do they need a different text or teaching format?

    • Feel free to make adjustments! That is one of the joys of homeschooling!
  • They were distracted or forgot to study?

    • This is a good time for your teen practice facing a mistake and taking a healthy next step. Discuss it with your teen:
  • They need to experience getting a failing grade, then following that with a good grade next time?

    • Do you need to allow a re-test for partial credit?
    • Should you give them extra credit to bring the grade up?
    • Do you drop their lowest test score.
    • There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. Do what helps your goals for your teen.
  • They have test anxiety?

    • Here is a post to help with reduce test stress.
    • Remind them that a poor test grade does not mean that they are a failure. In fact, failure is not a character style. As Einstein says, “Failure is success in progress.”

Failure is success in progress. - Albert Einstein

  • They not really know how to study for a test?

    • I have found that sometimes, teens don’t read the text and just study the chapter questions in preparation for the test. This works okay for multiple choice but rarely for short answer or essay questions. They may need to learn to outline a chapter to create their own “study guide” as well as review their text’s chapter questions.
  • Are there some learning difficulties that need to be addressed?

    • This is a good time to get those addressed.

So, what to do when your teen bombs a test? Don’t worry, check things out, adjust and bounce back (both of you).

For more on homeschooling in imperfect circumstances, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.

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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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