I’ve shared a lot about homeschooling and love helping others find the joy in it. And more people are finding themselves homeschooling than ever before. There are unique challenges with each age group. Preschoolers and kindergarteners have a hard time sitting still. In elementary, there’s a lot of energy and questions. But in middle school and high school, there can be a lot of eye rolling and questioning of your abilities as a parent and teacher. So how can you not only survive this time but also enjoy it? Keep reading for tips on how to homeschool high school! And learn how your high schooler can earn college credit while still at home!
1. Know your role as a parent when you homeschool high school.
When you are homeschooling a high school student, you will most likely be more of a facilitator than a teacher. Although there may be some subjects that you are actually teaching, in many cases, homeschool high school involves a lot of independent learning. Particularly in hybrid homeschooling, teenagers will mostly be doing their own thing. So what’s a parent’s role? It’s mostly to make sure your teenager is on track, staying on schedule, and finishing their work in an honest and timely manner. Be available to your child, and check in with them frequently. I love having a family circle time, or meeting time, when the whole family, including the teenagers, come together. Make them part of the family and the homeschooling, but also give them their own space.
2. Don’t underestimate what you can teach while you homeschool high school.
Although Geometry might be difficult for many parents to teach, you can certainly still contribute to your teenager’s education. What was your favorite subject in high school? Was it History? English? Driver’s Ed? Whatever your favorite subject was, I bet you might actually enjoy going over it again with your child. I know it might feel overwhelming to actually get into the details of Chemistry again. But if you loved it once, you’ll love it again. You might even love it more when you’re passing on what you know (or remember) to your child.
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3. Take time to include life skills.
One of the best side effects of having a family where you homeschool high school is that you have more time for teaching life skills. I haven’t been in many local high schools lately, but I have a feeling Home Economics isn’t part of the curriculum at most schools anymore. But when you have your teenager at home, you can have meal planning as part of the lesson plans! Or what about changing the oil in the car? I recently taught my teenage son how to mop the floors, and he was glad to know for preparation for owning his own home some day. You have lots of knowledge to pass on to your teenager, and it doesn’t just come in books. When planning your day or your week, don’t forget about these skills:
- Meal planning
- Oil change
- Vehicle maintenance
- Changing air conditioner filters
- Paint touch ups
- Fixing a toilet
- Changing a lightbulb
- Lawn maintence
You get the idea! If you do it in your home, it can be part of a lesson plan for a teenager. Help them feel more prepared to take on the world by making this part of your curriculum.
4. Earn college credit while still at home!
When you homeschool high school, there are so many curriculum options! There’s dual enrollment, virtual school, hybrid homeschooling, AP courses, and so many other options. It can be overwhelming! But no matter what your teenager’s needs are, you can find something that works for you and your family.
Did you know that your homeschooling high schooler can earn college credit while still at home? In fact, many homeschooled students complete entire AA degrees at home before even stepping foot on a college campus! There are many ways to do that, and here are the options:
- AP courses- homeschoolers can take these courses online, and an exam at the end of the year is required to earn college credit.
- Dual enrollment- in Florida, and in many other states, dual enrollment courses are FREE for homeschooled students. These can be taken in person or online. Credit is earned by passing the course. But be sure that your student is ready for this course because it will show up on their permanent college transcript.
- CLEP exams- this is one of my favorite ways to earn college credit! Your student can study for a specific exam, and then take a 90 minute test to earn credit. My son has taken four of these exams in the past two weeks and has passed all of them! This is one of the fastest and lowest stress ways to earn college credit. There is a cost for the exam, but to our family, it’s worth the saved time and money in college.
There are also ACE credits and DSST/DANTE exams, but these are generally only accepted at about 50% of colleges. So for that reason, I do not recommend that method.
In Florida, homeschoolers also have a wonderful opportunity to qualify for the Bright Futures scholarship. This is a full or partial merit based scholarship that has minimal requirements. The requirements change year by year, but the award is granted on community service hours and SAT or ACT scores. There is NO GPA requirement for homeschoolers! This is a wonderful opportunity for homeschoolers to get college for FREE!
5. Find shared interests.
When you homeschool high school, it can be easy to feel distant from your teenager. Even though this might seem ironic, since you’re in the house together so much, it’s true! It takes work to feel connected to your teenager. In my experience, the older they get, the more effort you should put into connecting on a personal level. So how do you do that with your teenager? You do it in the same way you would do with a friend!
Do your best to find a common interest, like certain movies or music or hobbies. And then cultivate that just like you would with a friend. My oldest son and I have a deep passion for Disney World. I thought I was the biggest Disney fan I’d ever known. Then my son grew up and had me beat by a mile! He knows more trivia than most people I know! It’s so wonderful to be able to share my passion for Disney with someone I love so much. What an unexpected joy of parenting! Your teenager wants to spend time with you. They might just not be sure if you actually want to spend time with them.
6. Make them feel needed.
It’s a basic human truth that we all like to be needed. Parenting teens is no different. When you need your daughter to help you organize your 5 year old’s room, she feels useful. She may grumble about it here or there, but when you praise her and tell others about what a good job she did, she will feel proud. When your son mows the yard and does an excellent job, and you recommend him to your neighbors, you are acknowledging his competence and independence.
It’s natural for teenagers to want to feel independent. It’s a natural part of growing up, and you are preparing them to leave your home as capable adults. This is a journey, not one single point. So far, in my experience with teenagers, it’s helpful to make them feel needed and wanted, and to also acknowledge the ways in which they are different than the younger members of your household.
7. Encourage social connections.
One of the most common concerns when you homeschool high school is the social connections. And with a little bit of effort, this is really no concern at all. If you do hybrid homeschooling, like our family, you’ll still have a connection to a school community. On the days at home, allow your child to FaceTime and text about school work. Encourage mostly talk about school work, but know, as a parent, that there will be other chatter too. And that’s ok!
Beyond digital connections, think about what activities your teenager would enjoy. Is it golf? Basketball? Theater? Art? With a little research, you can find some activities for your teenager. When you are homeschooling high school, it might take a little more effort, but it’s still worth it.
8. Create your community as a parent when you homeschool high school.
It’s important for your teenager to have social connections. But it’s also really important for you to have that as well! When you homeschool high school, you might have to make more effort to create a community for yourself. Having support is really important.
And remember, your community doesn’t have to come from just one place. You can find friends from many different places and groups, and then piece together your own support network.
9. Outsource what you can.
What do you need help with at home? Depending on your budget, think about whether you can afford a house cleaner, or maybe tutoring. What stresses you out most? That’s where you should look for help. Does a certain subject always cause friction between you and your child? If so, think about how you can outsource that. Is there an online course he could take? Do you know someone who could tutor? Get creative with the ways in which you get help. But seriously consider outsourcing whatever you can in order to bring more peace to your family.
10. Homeschool high school? Hug your teen.
When you are the parent of a teenager, you can visually see right in front of you how much they are changing. Their bodies are changing, their voice is changing. Driver’s ed, dating, college; there are so many new things, and so many things that make you feel like your teenager barely needs you. And it’s true, they don’t need you as much, in many ways. But they still need your love.
It might sound simple, but it can’t be overstated. Your teenager still needs you to hug them. They still need you to rub their back now and then. In fact, they still need you to say goodnight and maybe even lay down with them and talk about their day. They are growing and changing so fast, and of course things are different. But in so many ways, they’re the same. Depending on what speaks to them most, they may really crave physical touch from you, and sometimes parents have a tendency to really back off of this when their children reach the teen years. Don’t do it! Give that hug. Hold their hand. Ruffle their hair. Even if you haven’t done it in years, just go in for the hug, and I bet you won’t be rejected.
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