Ready to homeschool high school? Here’s a list of homeschool curriculum choices that I’ve used over the last decade to teach my kids at home without losing my mind.
Combine the two? What are you totally nuts?
Nope. It can be done. It’s been done for decades with positive results.
Whether you’ve eagerly chosen to homeschool your child in the high school years or the decision was COVID-induced, the fact of the matter is that you can totally do this! You may not think you can, but you’re wrong. 😉
Mine is not research-driven evidence, purely anecdotal. That said, three of my children have graduated high school and now attend or have graduated from a Cal State University.
My three younger kids, those still “under my watch”, are in middle school and high school. I’m applying what I’ve learned with the older ones to improve my homeschool curriculum choices for high school. Here’s what works for us:
Homeschool Curriculum for High School
I was trained and certified as a secondary teacher in both French and English. I was a know-it-all, AP/Honors student in high school; I remember the definition of “challenging”.
I’ve tried to make our high school academically rigorous, though I have done it imperfectly. However, if test scores are any indication, we’re doing okay.
Or I am. I always tell the kids that standardized tests are more a reflection of my teaching more than it is of their learning. 😉
Overall, I want to focus on relationships with my kids. The teen years are often the time when parents and kids neither see eye to eye nor do they try to see through each other’s eyes. We suffer from this as well, but enhancing our relationships is one of the reasons why we homeschool.
I think I “get” my kids better than I would if they were gone all day.
Here’s what has works for us for homeschool curriculum for high school:
Homeschool Curriculum for Science:
Apologia’s Exploring Creation series – Our entire family really enjoys the work of Jay Wile. We elder four have all heard him speak at conferences and appreciate his perspective and way of communicating. I also like his balanced approach to common disagreements within the sciences.
We’ve gone through this science program in co-op settings and in-person paid instruction as well as online with Dr Wile himself.
This year, my kids (grades 7, 9, and 11) are taking online Science classes using Prentice Hall and Holt science books. I will update this post after I have something to report.
Homeschool Curriculum for Composition or Lit/Comp
Brave Writer online courses – Several years ago I discovered Brave Writer and fell in love. The creator, Julie Bogart, a homeschooling veteran and mom to five kids does a wonderful job of melding all the things that I learned in my teaching credential program with the homeschool setting.
Brave Writer blends copywork, dictation, and freewriting in a great way to help kids gain confidence, find their voice, and put words to paper. My older kids took many of the online classes, including Kidswrite Intermediate, Expository Essay, High School Writing Project, and Movie Discussion Club.
After a time, we found that the Brave Writer classes were just too expensive for our budget so we switched to a different online vendor.
Classical Learning Resource Center Literature courses – For the last few years my kids have taken different literature and composition classes with CLRC. Their approach is more traditional than the Brave Writer courses, and they address literary analysis in addition to composition. An added difference is that the classes are streamed live and involve both verbal and written interaction from the students.
My son, age 18, who took both Brave Writer and CLRC classes, recommends CLRC over the Brave Writer experience because of the live interaction aspect.
Since I was teaching the literature component when the kids were with Brave Writer, that was an added task for me. I appreciate being able to delegate more to the CLRC teachers.
Homeschool Curriculum for Grammar:
When my kids are enrolled in the lit classes, grammar is covered in part. Here are some programs we’ve used in the past.
Winston Grammar – I really like this program as a hands-on, kinesthetic way of teaching parts of speech. I’ve gone through it with middle and high school students.
Excellence in Writing: Fix It – This is a great booklet for multiple ages. It gives students texts from classic literature that has been “messed up”. There are grammar mistakes they need to find and repair. Apparently, the booklet I have, the one good for multiple levels, is no longer in print. Look for it used.
Rod and Staff: Preparing for Usefulness – I did this with my eldest son a few years ago. We never got all the way through the book because it is very tedious. It’s thorough, but tedious.
Homeschool Curriculum for Vocabulary:
Vocabulary from Classical Roots – This book series was recommended in The Well-Trained Mind and we’ve had good success with it in giving kids the tools they need to understand English vocabulary. My three older boys have worked through the books in the series, and I think it’s helped with their SAT performance.
The younger three are working through them now.
Homeschool Curriculum for Foreign Language:
Ah, foreign language. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. And also one that’s been difficult to manage.
Visual Latin – We love Visual Latin, both the CDs and the online classes. Dwane is hilarious and makes Latin fun, if you can imagine. My eldest took Dwane’s online Latin courses to meet his high school requirement.
Rosetta Stone – (insert frustrated emoticon here) We have tried Rosetta Stone twice now, once with Spanish and then with French. I’m not sure if it’s user error or what, but we have such problems from a technological perspective. You speak into the mic and the computer tells you if you’re wrong or right.
I know that my kids were saying the French correctly and the computer kept saying they were wrong. I tried it and it said I was wrong! I have a pretty good accent, people, so I was a bit shocked. I know some folks have great success with this program, so I’m hoping we can make it work for us.
Language City – My second son chose French. He did two okay years with Language City, but the teacher bailed at the last minute during year three due to lack of enrollment. I would not recommend that program.
Seasons to Grow (formerly Classes by Beth) – Son the third chose Spanish. He had two great years with Señora Kaiser. She was great at following up with me when things were threatening to go off the rails. She has since retired. I can’t speak to recommend their current instructor.
CLRC German – My fourth son chose German! He had two great years with Frau Pack. She was great at being involved in his progress and checked in with me often. I really appreciated partnering with Jen.
FishChick13 is just now embarking on her foreign language journey. We chose something with CLRC. I will let you know how it goes.
Homeschool Curriculum for Math:
Oh Math and I have a love-hate relationship. I have made many mistakes as a math teacher, but lo and behold! Most of my kids aspire to STEM careers, so I didn’t ruin it all.
Teaching Textbooks – After making a few mistakes in my math curriculum choices, we settled on Teaching Textbooks for math starting in grade 3. This does need a little supplementation and the course sequence is not ideal, but it “works” in terms of teaching and grading.
If you go with TT, be sure to do these things that we learned the hard way:
- supplement with facts drills so that you know your kids can say their math facts quickly and easily
- make sure they do all the practice problems
- make sure they try a problem twice
- make sure they watch the solution when they get it wrong
- get through Geometry before your child takes the SAT
However, once my older two got to college we began to see some of the gaps in their math background, particularly in being able to show their work. This prompted a change to…
CLRC Math – Mrs. Angle (her real name) was my saving grace for math with kids 3, 4, and 5. Unfortunately, she passed away last winter after battling cancer. Two of the kids are continuing with the CLRC program while FishChick11 is doing Khan Academy.
Homeschool Curriculum for History & Literature:
For 11 years we’ve integrated history and literature, reading primary source texts alongside history texts. We’ve cycled through the history of the world in four-year increments. We’ve cycled through four or five times now.
This system works really well when teaching multiple children of varying ages. We all study the same time period, but each child does so at his own level.
We’ve used varying combinations of the following:
- The Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer
- Tapestry of Grace
- Omnibus I by Veritas Press – we started book 2, but I felt they misapplied scripture in some of the discussions
- The History of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer
My three younger kids have done the cycles since they were babies. This year we’re trying online classes for American History. It’s topical rather than a span of time, but I think it will be an interesting change.
So, those are the basics. Obviously, I haven’t mentioned Fine Art. My kids have all chosen different things for their art requirements, so we’ve followed their lead in providing those resources and learning opportunities.
One kid took online photography classes; another piano lessons; another architecture.
A word about dual enrollment
One of the things I wish I had known about ten years ago is dual enrollment. In some states, our included, high school students can attend community colleges for very low fees and get credit for both high school and college.
My second and third sons both did this during their senior year of high school and it was a fantastic experience that I highly recommend. We learned a lot of things (like drop dates and asking a professor to audit the class so you can do better the next time) that have served the boys well in college.
Both kids entered college with credits under their belt and some extra confidence that they could tackle college.
Another word about online classes
My eldest entered high school in 2011. I thought I knew more than I did. And I thought I needed to do it all myself. I stressed so bad about paying a local science teacher to take some of the load off.
I was wrong.
I don’t need to do it all myself. I get to orchestrate and manage my kids’ education, but I don’t have to have a finger in every book.
Having other adults speak into my kids’ lives, having my kids learn to adapt to someone else’s schedule and listen to someone else’s critique has been a great blessing.
And high school is a great time to make this happen.
More Tips for Teens
This post was originally published on July 15, 2014. It has been updated for content, clarity, and Covid.