I’ve homeschooled for twenty-nine years and one thing that has remained consistent in the homeschooling community is that homeschoolers get nervous when it’s time to think about homeschooling high school.
However, in today’s times, it’s easy (and fun) to homeschool during the high school years!
What makes it so great to homeschool high school?
First, you can customize the curriculum for your student.
The online world has exploded, and blended learning is genuinely the homeschool high schoolers’ secret weapon.
Online education makes it easy for our teens to pursue areas of interest and passions, adding a depth of knowledge that can’t be recreated in a public school setting. Your children will have time to read widely and then dive deeply into subjects that interest them.
We’ve known many homeschool high schoolers and graduates who have traveled extensively doing missions work in the country and internationally, in big cities and small villages, on medical and teaching and drama teams.
This customized hands-on training is a valuable life experience – one that can’t be replicated in a classroom.
If something isn’t working, you can change it.
Not every student, or even every sibling, learns the same way. With homeschooling, we have the opportunity to teach the way our children learn best. Maybe you have a hands-on learner AND an online learner in your family. You can accommodate both of their needs by homeschooling high school.
Next, opportunities for electives have exploded.
Online courses abound, both live and pre-recorded or self-paced. You can find OCW (Open Course Ware) from colleges and universities. YouTube and Ted Talks are also fantastic for high school students. The options are so numerous it’s hard to keep up with it all!
Electives can also be pursued at your local college or trade school.
Learning opportunities are only limited by your ability to get out and pursue them.
Technology allows foreign language and cultural studies to be up close and personal.
For example, my daughter interacts weekly with her Hebrew language instructor. He is in Israel and we are in the upper north Midwest; worlds apart and yet uniquely connected. Fellow students will be traveling to Israel later this year and plan to meet the Rabbi on their travels.
The world has gotten smaller and more accessible!
Homeschooling during high school is growing in popularity, and with this growth comes more opportunity!
Today, there are camps that market specifically to the homeschooler.
Some of these include TeenPact, Summit Ministries, Patrick Henry Camps, and more. Don’t overlook local offerings! My kids have been heavily involved in theater and performing Shakespeare for years, thanks to local enterprising moms with vision and talent.
And if you are worried about college credits and what’s beyond high school, take heart.
Here, too, opportunities abound. Many states offer inexpensive dual enrollment credits, many of which can be completed online. Post High School programs such as Apprentice University and Praxis offer kids fantastic life skills, job training, and opportunities for networking, all while allowing the kids to work while schooling.
They can graduate debt-free and skill-rich.
Also, homeschool high school help is available right at your fingertips.
You can outsource classes that you are insecure about teaching, or that you simply don’t have time for. If your child is struggling, help is easy to find. Google is an excellent source of information, and if you are still struggling, you can find academic advising or consultation.
Online support groups also abound! For example, our Facebook group, True North Homeschool Tribe is a great place to find wisdom and encouragement for homeschooling your high schooler. We share curriculum, resources, great jokes, and support. You aren’t doing this alone!
Homeschooling high school affords us time with them before they launch into the world as independent young adults.
Relationships built during these high school years are priceless!
The days may be long, but the years are oh-so-short.
Homeschooling High School allows us to enjoy that precious time with these amazing young people whom we love so much.
Homeschool for College Credit – A Review
Homeschooling for College Credit by Jennifer Cook De Rosa is a beautiful how-to manual for hacking college credit.
For anyone with kids who plan to go to college, it is a must-read.
The average student graduating from college takes six years instead of 4 and has, on average, $27,000 in debt. It’s also important to factor in college completion rates. According to Alissa Nadworny, 6 out of 10 students who start a college degree never complete it. Those saddled with debt, without an economically feasible plan to pay it off, may end up in deferment. Currently, more than half of student loan debt is in deferral. This affects quality of life on many levels.
Undergraduates can take out up to $57,000 in school debt and graduate students up to $135,000 in debt. Given the stats, it just makes sense to look for an antidote to the college debt disaster. This book is the antidote!
This 300+ page tome is chock full of fantastic information.
Chapter Headings Include:
- Congratulations: You’re a Guidance Counselor
- Thirty Ways to earn College Credit
- Behind the Scenes
- High School Planning
- Dual Enrollment Advice
- Transcripts and Record Keepings
- Homeschool Exit Strategies
- Completely Free Tuition
Unique & Worth Every Penny
What makes this book unique and worth every penny can be found in Chapter 2: Thirty Ways to Earn College Credit.
This chapter goes way beyond the standard fare of CLEP, DE, and AP and the Big 3 and includes companies, colleges, hacking MOOCs for test prep, and so much more. My daughter, for example, is studying her 3rd foreign language in High School and is professionally interested in becoming a translator. Guess what? There are exams specific to language mastery, that can be taken from anywhere in the world that rack up college credits if your students have mastery in a foreign language.
This is a pragmatic book, one that talks about how to guide your teen in a way that makes sense. Included is some tough love regarding degree killers: time, money and socialization, the ROI of a degree (Yes! And why aren’t government loan dollars somehow tied to this?) how the trades are worth considering and strategies for teens who don’t want to go to college. This book is chock full of worthy information that every parent of high schoolers should be thinking about and considering, along with their high school student.
One of my favorite chapters is how to go to college for free. I love it because it is creative and thorough and includes eight different ways your student can earn free tuition.
This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about their high school student’s future.
We are entering a massive shift in the world of work, and young adults burdened with debt or lack of skills/training will be ill-equipped to handle the fast, global changes that are already taking place. This book will help you assist those young people in your life to strategize a clear, concise plan as you homeschool for earning college credit as efficiently and economically as possible.
Jennifer Cook DeRosas does the research for you. It’s all here, in her highly informative and easy to read book, Homeschooling for College Credit; Your guide to resourceful high school planning.
I highly recommend it!
Couple this book with Beyond Personal Finance and join us for Life Skills for Teens. You might also want to read some of the resources we have here on the blog, including Yes! Your Child Can Learn a Foreign Language and High School Dual Enrollment Tips.
If you don’t already follow the Life Skills for Homeschool Teens Facebook page, you will want to bookmark it to keep up with other parents of teens and get the latest scoop on resources for teaching those essential life skills plus encouragement and fun with other homeschool parents who have the same concerns that you do!
Why should your high school student take dual enrollment classes?
Have you seen how expensive college is? Do you like to save time and money? Dual enrollment classes for your homeschooled junior or senior might be the option you are looking for!
We homeschooled three of our five kids. When our homeschooled son was a senior, he took dual enrollment English. It counted as his high school English credit, and it could have earned him college credit if he had passed the class!
I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Our youngest two took dual enrollment in their junior and senior years. This enabled one of them to finish college in three years, and the youngest will enter college this fall with seven classes under her belt.
Who should take dual enrollment?
Remember our son who didn’t pass English 101? I am not saying it is an easy class, but apparently you have to turn in your work! I took this as a learning experience (although it was frustrating). Considering I’m an adjunct instructor at the same college, I felt he could have asked for my help. But he didn’t, and he even owned up to what he did – or didn’t do.
A few things that can help you determine if your student is ready for dual enrollment:
- Learning style
- Responsibility level
As homeschooling parents, we tend to think our child is brilliant (and they are), and that they are totally capable of anything. It is good to be realistic, though. Has your student ever taken a class or course from another teacher? Maybe even at a co-op? How did they do? Do they understand their responsibility in what and how they learn, can they take directions from someone? Can they stay on task and complete the assignment?
Learning style is important too. Colleges don’t make many allowances for differences in learning style. Again, being honest with yourself and your student about what they can do is important.
What should they take?
Gen Eds – general education requirements – are a good place to start with dual enrollment. If your student knows where they might go for college you can check and see what gen eds are required. They’re fairly typical1:
- Arts & Humanities – intro to art or music, intro to philosophy or ethics
- English/Literature – basic English classes teach how to write essays which is a vital skill for college
- History – U.S. history or Western Civilization
- Math – many colleges use the student’s ACT or SAT for dual enrollment course placement. It can be a good idea to back up a math level if you think your student is missing basic skills
- Science – intro to biology or general chemistry can be fun at the college level
- Social Sciences – intro to sociology, public speaking, intro to world religion
Why take dual enrollment classes?
Some feel that high school students should just enjoy high school and not add in college-level classes. I understand that, but I don’t agree. Why? Well, the benefits of course!
- First of all, it gives them the chance to learn from someone else. This provides the opportunity to succeed and fail. Just like with my son, some kids will not do what they should. I do believe it is better to learn this now before “real” college begins. In the long run, failure can be a great motivator.
- It can save you and your student money. Some states offer free college-level classes or some kind of scholarship.
- Your student can save time in college. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is 120 credits, so the more you have gotten through dual enrollment when you start college, the less time it will take to finish your degree.
- Dual enrollment courses can give your child the chance to study something they’re interested in that you might be unable to offer.
- Life skills – I cannot stress this enough. Your student will learn life skills while still living under your roof and in the relative safety of home. These skills include organization, time management, how to study, responsibility, and more.
Information for you
Dual enrollment courses, requirements, and policies can vary widely by state. The Education Commission of the States has a wonderful information page that gives state-by-state guidelines.
In many cases, your student must have taken the ACT or SAT to take dual courses, and there is often a minimum GPA requirement. Another great website for dual enrollment programs by state is CollegeVine.
Just Googling “dual enrollment” nets about 97,000,000 results! That can be overwhelming, but I suggest you start with your local community college. Look at their website for the dual enrollment counselor. You can also call or visit the college and take your high school student with you! I ask lots of questions of our counselor, and they are wonderfully patient. I think you will find dual enrollment to be a great addition – in saved time and money as well as educationally – to your child’s schooling.
About the author:
Jen Dodrill has been married 34 years, is a proud mom to 5 kids, and she homeschooled the youngest three. The “baby” graduates in May, but Jen refuses to bow to empty-nest syndrome! She teaches Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor and writes curriculum under History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers. When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her kids and adorable granddaughters. Connect with her on her blog – Jen Dodrill History at Home, Instagram, Facebook, and her favorite place – Pinterest!
Resources for Homeschooling High School
True North Homeschool Academy has some high school resources you may not be aware of, so we thought this would be a great place to mention them. Learn more about high school testing here. If you want to know more about other ways to earn college credit early, such as the CLEP exams, you will find essential information in this article. For students who want to accelerate their career, you can read all about tools that will prepare them for that in 21 Ways to Accelerate Your Career.
Don’t forget that our experienced Academic Advisors are available to answer all your questions and help guide you and your student to high school, college, and career success.
One of the services that we provide through True North Academic Advising is career and life coaching. Kids often have a big idea of what they want in life but don’t have the experience get them there in an expedient and cost-effective way.
In addition to our Academic Advising, you might want to check out our Orienteering course. We use Cheri Frame’s Career Exploration Guide as the spine for this dynamic, interactive live on-line course!
Why does Career Exploration matter to high school students?
Career Exploration, as Cheri explains:
- Increases students awareness of career options
- Helps students see how they fit into the working world
- Encourages students to plan high school courses based on their future goals
- Improves academic performances
- Saves time and money by pursuing a defined goal
- Introduces students to employment skills valued by all employers
The Career Exploration and preparation course guide consists of 2 parts.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 1:
This section is designed to allow the student to get to know themselves better and gain a clearer understanding of their vocational interests. This section also helps the student confirm their interests through various activities.
Part 1 Overview – Career Exploration: Choosing a Best Fit
- Keys to your future
- Your Vocational Profiles
- Occupational Profiles
- Informational Interviews
- Final Review
Part 1 is designed to be used in homeschools or co-op settings. Cheri includes many web-links and resources right at the beginning of the guide to get you started on the road to understanding your student. Some examples include Learning Styles, Motivation Triggers, Grit Scales, Business Essentials, to name a few.
Career Exploration & Prep Course Part 2:
In part 2, students are guided through a capstone project in their career area of interest. This section will allow students to define and hone skills relevant to the career areas that they have selected in Section 1.
Part 2 Overview – Career Preparation: Skill Smart
- Capstone Projects
- Skill Smart
- Professional Portfolio
Students are also encouraged to read a biography of their choice as well as “Start Here” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
The Guide consists of reading, assignments, and projects. Students should plan on 3-4 hours per week to complete the lessons, reading, and longer-term projects. Students should prepare to partner with their parents or a cohort, such as our Orienteering course will provide, to make the most of this course.
So what do I love about this program?
I love how this program starts off right by encouraging students to seek and find a team of mature mentors that they can learn and grow from. It is an excellent exercise in seeking out Godly leaders who can speak into their lives.
Additionally, there is a fantastic Bible Study right out of the shoot that sets up the Biblical basis for work. Conscientious, hard workers are in high demand these days. Cheri guides the kids through a Bible study on this and lays such an excellent foundation for the joy, responsibility, and God-given inspiration for work. Directly following, there is a study on family and cultural expectations. This facet is an oft-overlooked section of most career exploration programs. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I love the fact that students look at the careers and vocations that are part of their family. We are often more influenced by family members and legacies than we realize.
A Cost of Living Project is also included. An excellent project that every high schooler should complete before their graduation from high school!
All of this before the student begins a Vocational Profile, which includes Personality Inventories, Occupational Profiles and Evaluation, Credentialing Evaluation, and Job Shadowing. This Vocational Profile is a thorough and detailed overview of career exploration for each student based on their personality and interests.
Part II will focus on students building their skills and showcasing them in a way that will take them into the beginning stages of developing their professionalism.
The Capstone project includes critical thinking, public speaking, research skills, self-sufficiency, team-work, planning, media literacy, planning, and goal setting. Students will learn and understand the difference between hard and soft skills. As a podcast host, focusing on Soft Skills, this makes me happy. The Capstone project asks the student to create a quality program or experience for themselves that will develop their professional self and ability. SMART Goals, resumes, and interviewing skills are covered.
Career Exploration and Prep is an excellent course for young adults of all ages. The target ages are 16 and up, but the resource is acceptable for motivated younger students as well. I would recommend this Guide for families and co-op situation.
A great addition to our Academic Advising Program, and integral to our Orienteering Course offered this fall and taught by Lisa Nehring.
(The following is a guest post from Lolita Allgyer, Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis.)
8 Software Tools Teens Can Master Today
Getting a job looks pretty complicated when you’re young. That world is far away, right? That comes after you graduate college and are ready to take on the world, correct?
Not really. In fact, today it’s never been easier to gain expertise in the areas that all businesses are eager to build out. Innovation has made it possible for young people like you to break into some of the coolest careers available! One of the best ways to set yourself apart today is to learn software tools that are common to many businesses. Here are just a few examples:
If your résumé says “detail-oriented” this should be on your list. Even if it’s not, mastering Google’s tools will give you experience quickly in the art of organizing and systematizing data. Get your Google Suite certification here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Write a blog series showing the little tricks most people don’t know.
- Make a tutorial series outlining the basic concepts of each part of Google Suite.
- Create a short webinar geared toward people who quickly want to navigate Google’s products.
- Write a Medium article detailing how you mastered Google Suite.
This is a must if you want any kind of analytical role. Without spreadsheets you’ll be left handicapped! Learn Excel and learn it well. Even for those who hate numbers and want nothing to do with data, mastering excel will give you an edge in the digital world, where many people aren’t organized. You can get many different levels of Excel certification here!
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Make a Youtube tutorial series (like this one created by a Praxis participant)
- Create spreadsheets with data from your favorite sports team, and write an analysis of your findings
- Find a small business you love and help them build a simple CRM
- Start tracking some of your routines and write an article breaking down what works and what doesn’t
Salesforce is today’s top CRM platform. If you’re considering a marketing or sales role, learning how to navigate a CRM is essential. Even if the companies you end up working for don’t use Salesforce, your basic knowledge of a CRM will be valuable for understanding the way sales and marketing funnels work! You can get your Salesforce Administrator Certification here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Build a basic CRM for a small business near you.
- Create minute-long videos about your tips for learning Salesforce and post them to your social media.
- Create a short podcast series where you teach Salesforce for those who have no clue where to start.
- Coach someone through the process of learning the program!
Email is still the biggest way businesses communicate with each other. It’s crucial to learn an email management software, especially for anyone who is interested in marketing or customer service! Mailchimp is one of the more common platforms. (Hubspot would be another example of a tool that fits in this category.) Chimp Essentials is a great course for learning Mailchimp! Check it out here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Build out an email funnel for a company you’d like to get hired at. Make sure your copy is strong and that you have the HTML files on standby so they can easily access them!
- Create a simple mailing list of your own. Play around with signup forms, open and clickthrough rates, and email copy.
- Teach a couple of small businesses near you how to use the platform for their companies!
- Run a webinar where you teach the tricks you learned while studying Mailchimp
It’s an obvious for someone who wants to go into marketing. But I think it’s equally as valuable for salespeople and customer service associates to know what goes into running an ad! Facebook’s certifications can be found here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Build a small Shopify store and run ads to get people to buy your products
- Find an entrepreneur who has a small marketing budget and offer to run ads for them.
- Write a daily blog post about what you’ve learned in Facebook Ads world.
- Put together a Tweet thread that summarizes what you’ve learned.
Want to start your own business? Interested in sales or marketing? Then master Google Analytics! You’ll be empowered if you know what the data means and how to act on it! Access Google’s Analytics Academy here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Plug in your personal website and write an analysis of what you learned and what you can do to optimize the site.
- Make screenshare videos of Google Analytics functions that are helpful to you and upload them to Youtube.
- Write a simple E-book on Google Analytics and publish it.
- Find marketing groups on Facebook and write up some blog posts on the topic to share with them.
(Need more great ideas for your teens? Check out our other career planning posts.)
Video conferencing is a big deal in today’s world. If you’re in customer service, sales, or any other role where you talk to people often, it’s good to have mastered the ins and outs of a service like Zoom. Mastering this tool also means being able to walk other people through minor tech issues with the program, so make sure you can communicate what you’ve learned effectively! Zoom has some pretty cool live training for each of its different functions. Check it out here!
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Create a tutorial teaching newbies how to run a webinar via Zoom.
- Write a series of blog posts about creative ways to use the platform for business.
- Record a live training session where you’re walking someone through the basics of Zoom.
- Go on Quora and search for people’s questions about Zoom. Now that you’re an expert, you can answer them!
Want to manage a team someday? Thinking of starting a business? Then it’s time you learn to master your workflow! Trello is one of the best tools to plug in no matter what your job description is. There’s a pretty cool Trello course here.
Ideas for documenting your knowledge:
- Invite your friends to Trello and plan a couple of events on the platform.
- Try managing a project you’re completing solely through Trello. Write a Medium article about what you learned.
- Create an Instagram or Facebook story showing people how you use Trello!
- Create a time management course and showcase how Trello can help time management.
Final ideas on software tools teens can master –
- You can host all these tools and your other skills on a free Crash profile. Using the Crash platform, you’ll be able to show your work in a beautiful visual format and create personalized pitches to companies you want to work for. Take the fun Crash career quiz to get started!
- Remember to build skills in as many areas as possible. If you’re in sales, that’s great. Lots of people are in sales. But if killing a sales role AND you have a bunch of marketing tools in your back pocket, you’ll be able to leverage many more opportunities! In today’s world of opportunities, it pays to have a diverse portfolio!
- Documentation is the most important part! You can master all these tools, but if no one else knows what you’ve accomplished, it’s not going to be nearly as valuable to you in the long run. Be open about your learning process, and create value for others with the skills you’re building!
Ready to take on the world of software? Let’s do it!
Loved this? Consider applying to Praxis. We’ll help you find and build your skills, then put them to work in a startup apprenticeship. You’ll get much more coaching like this, access to a community of entrepreneurial young people like you, and a portfolio of work that will speak for you wherever you go.
Lolita Allgyer is a homeschool grad who loves education. She is a Marketing Associate and advisor at Praxis, where she works with other young people to help them build careers they love through apprenticeships. She originally published this piece here on the Praxis blog. In her spare time she is learning as much about the world as possible. Her latest interests are French and the ukulele. Interested in an apprenticeship or just want to chat about this idea? She would love to hear your thoughts! Her email is lolita(at)discoverpraxis(dot)com.
Testing often gets a bad rap in the homeschooling world. Could it be that we are trying to create space for our kids to be free and expressive, without the constraints of externally imposed values?
I want to take a moment to advocate for testing our homeschoolers- especially as they begin looking at the big, “what are you going to do with your life” type of questions.
Testing could and may determine a lot of things for your kids, such as what career they are eligible for if they go into the military, what college or university they get accepted to, how much debt they take out for vocational training post high school, what graduate schools and internships they are eligible for and more. Furthermore, tests can indicate disabilities and allow parents and advisors to seek out services and that can enable students to succeed where they might otherwise fail, or get certifications and training that wouldn’t be possible for them without accommodations.
While test taking might seem like a way to pigeon hole our kids, in many ways, their future will be impacted by their ability to take tests well. Some kids are naturally good test takers; some are not.
A general high school test schedule might look like the following:
High School Testing – 10th Grade
PSAT -The PSAT is a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Each year the top 1% of 11th grade PSAT takers become semi-finalists. This is also considered a PSAT prep test.
ACT/SAT Test Prep – These tests attempt to measure college readiness and predict future success. Familiarity with each test and understanding test strategies (should you guess at questions to answer them or is it better to leave questions you aren’t sure about unanswered, etc.) will improve test scores, and many test-prep guides suggest doing at least three practice tests to ensure your best score.
The ACT – The ACT measures what a student already knows and will have learned throughout high school. Research indicates that 50% of those who re-take the ACT a second time improve their scores
The SAT – The SAT is a predictor of what the student is capable of. It deals with material that the student may not have learned in high school. There is no evidence that re-taking the SAT improves scores.
Students can take the ACT and SAT multiple times as long as they pay the exam fee.
High School Testing – 10th-12th Grade
AP Exams (Advanced Placement)- Colleges and Universities may or may not accept AP tests for credits/ Classes
CLEP exams (College Level Exam Placement) Students can begin taking CLEP exams as early as they want. CLEP tests scores can be “banked” for many years, but not all colleges and universities may accept CLEP tests for Credits/ classes.
High School Testing – 11th & 12th Grade
ACT – 11th & 12th
PSAT/ NMSQT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)– This test unlocks millions of dollars in scholarship money for qualifying students. Additionally, it can be a good indicator of how well students will perform on the SAT.
What about testing for military enlistment?
ASVAB Test – This test is given before joining the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). This one is a skills discovery test.
What about testing for Community College?
What if your student has plans to go to the local Community College instead of college or military? Will they be required to take the ACT/ SAT? Probably not, unless they want to Dual Enroll as a high schooler, in which case, they may need to take a standardized test. Otherwise, a high school transcript or a GED should suffice.
Having a general idea of what your student wants to do after high school can help you determine what tests to take and what test schedule makes the most sense for you.
If you are still unsure about how to proceed, check out our Academic Advising Packages and Orienteering Course.