Different Philosophies of Homeschooling High School

Sometimes we get questions about the 7SistersHomeschool.com’s philosophy of homeschooling. What is our educational philosophy? Wait for it…

Let’s start with these 2 vital concepts when discussing the different educational philosophies!

If you’ve known Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for any time at all (or our Sisters, Marilyn, Allison and Sara), you know our most important educational philosophy concept: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school!

There’s the right way for your child, for this year; for your family, for right now. But needs, goals and interests change. So that leads to a second educational philosophy concept: We have to be flexible if we want a healthy homeschool high school!

Now, let’s look at the different philosophies of homeschooling high school on an *educational philosophy continuum*.

What are the influential philosophies in homeschooling high school? There are a number of educational philosophies, so it helps to visualize them on a continuum from highly structured and rigid to and free-formed and flexible.

The truth is that in practice, most of us homeschooling parents really are *eclectic*. While we might like a certain philosophy, we usually find that in real life we need to mix and match.

  • We might need a teen to take a college class (highly structured) or an online class (usually highly structured)
  • We might want to take some Charlotte Mason approach classes through online programs like Dreaming Spires Home Learning (listen to our friend Kat’s discussions with Vicki about writing research papers, teaching Shakespeare and homeschooling in Britain).
  • We might find that our co-op classes lean toward the Classical model.
  • We might give our teens time each week to explore their own interests and have them log hours to earn an elective or Career Exploration credit.

These are all great ways to homeschool high school with an eclectic educational philosophy.

Back to the continuum: Different homeschool high school educational philosophies live on a continuum from rigid to flexible. Here are a few examples (remembering that there’s not a right or wrong way to homeschool high school).

On the highly-structured end of the continuum there’s School at Home

School at Home is a format that follows a set program (like Keystone or K12), with online classes similar to a classroom format. We sometimes call this *school in a box*.

Good thing: This is a great format for teens who love structure and following formats and rules.

Pitfall: Teens who don’t like lots of structure, or being slowed down by a *classroom setting*, will wrestle with boredom.

Also structured is Classical Education

One concept behind Classical Education is creating an infrastructure of learning. The Classical model of the comes from the ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates and became the standard educational model of the Middle Ages. In Classical education, Latin is the foundation of all education and follows the structure of first learning Latin Grammar, then Rhetoric, then Logic.

Good thing: Homeschoolers who love Latin and critical thinking will LOVE Classical education. It really is a format that develops thinking minds.

Pitfall: For teens who are not linear thinkers (ADHD, creative thinkers), this model might be tougher.

Less structured is Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason’s educational format is based on reading, narrative, writing, beauty, observation and experience. It is a real-book and real-experience type of program. Usually the high-school level course have lots of rigor in the writing and reading components at the minimum.

Good thing: Teens learn to appreciate and notice beauty and become articulate in their communication styles.

Pitfall: For teens who do poorly with dictation and narration, they might feel lost.

Moderately structured is Goal-Driven Homeschooling

This is 7SistersHomeschool.com’s model (although we don’t believe in getting ulcers over anything formattish). When teens learn goal setting in high school, they have an important tool for success. They will need to be able to set goals through college, career, and life in general!

We believe that homeschooling high schoolers benefit by learning to set goals, so we work alongside our teens to help them set 2 types of goals:

Long term goals: What we want for them (and what they want for themselves) by the time they graduate- what kind of person do they want to become and life preparation do they need?

Short term goals: What we need to accomplish each year in order to meet those long-term goals.

Good thing: What our teens like about goal-driven education is that they know where they are going. What do they need for graduation? Career preparation? College preparation? Life-skills preparation? On the other hand, what if teens don’t learn to set goals? It’s like when you get in your car and start driving but don’t know where you’re going, you end up somewhere you don’t know…

Pitfall: Teens who aren’t used to goal setting might begin to feel pressured by the goals. Remember to be flexible, not perfectionistic.

NOTE: We also have a firm philosophy that homeschool high school curriculum should include no-busywork and be adaptable to different levels of rigor. Here’s a post explaining our curriculum philosophy.

Relaxed Homeschooling, Lifeschooling, Unschooling are on the far-end of the relaxed side of the continuum.

These are the educational philosophies on the relaxed end of the spectrum. The homeschooling high schooler chooses an interest and explores it in an in-depth, student-directed, delight-driven manner. There is not a structure. The idea is that if a teen is busy exploring a gift or interest, education will be an automatic outgrowth of the experience.

Good thing: These teens tend to be all-in, really invested in their interests. They know how to become subject matter experts in their giftings.

Pitfall: Teens who aren’t used to structure must learn to fit themselves into the box when they get their first jobs, or find a career that fits their learning style.

To wrap things up, here are some words of wisdom and advice:

  • When you think about what your family actually needs, you’ll probably find that you have needs for a bit of several of these styles.
  • No matter which way you homeschool, God is in charge of the outcome. Not you, God is in charge of the outcome. (Our fellow podcasters, Fletch and Kendra of Homeschooling in Real Life, often say this and they are correct.)
  • As our Sister Kym always says: Pray first, last and always.
  • If your homeschool high school philosophy is prayer oriented, your homeschool program is on the right track.
  • No matter what you plan, God might have another idea. Remember: A mom’s mind plans her way but God directs her path.

REMEMBER, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. Be happy with what fits your family best! And your teens best! And be ready to trash your method (or curriculum) anytime it is not working for you. We have so many choices!

Join Vicki for a helpful discussion of the philosophies of homeschooling. Here’s a fun episode from our friend Melanie Wilson of Homeschool Sanity Podcast. It’s her Top 40 episodes and you’ll find information there to help empower you for homeschooling success.

Want some more information on Goal Setting?

5 Easy and Important Steps to Goal Setting for Homeschool High School


  1. Follow this link to our iTunes page.
  2. IMPORTANT STEP: Under our Homeschool Highschool Podcast logo, click on View in iTunes
  3. This will take you to iTunes and our own podcast page.
  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
  5. Click RATINGS AND REVIEW. (Please take a minute and do this. It helps others find us. Thanks!)
  6. Thanks!


  1. Tap the purple Podcast icon on your phone
  2. Tap the search icon on the bottom-right of your screen
  3. In the search bar type: Homeschool Highschool Podcast
  4. Tap the Homeschool Highschool Podcast icon
  5. Tap *Subscribe*
  6. Please tap *Ratings and Review* and give us some stars and a comment to help others find us more easily.
  7. Thanks!

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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