Homeschool Curriculum for High School

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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.

high school boys at train station

Homeschool?

High school?

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. 😉

mom and teen on tube

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.

array of classic literature books

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.

comic of grammar joke

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.

kids at eiffel tower with grade level signs

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.

beat up introductory algebra book

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.

used history and writing books on shelf

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:

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.

This post was originally published on July 15, 2014. It has been updated for content, clarity, and Covid.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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Comments

  1. Your curriculum looks good. My son is going into 9th grade. Some of the things he is using are: Notgrass history, Saxon algebra 2 with Art Reed DVDs, IEW (thru co-op), Abeka biology (also thru co-op)… Best wishes!

  2. High School scares me. I will begin my first homeschool year in August, oldest is 4 so we are starting preschool with abeka. I’m still trying to figure out where we will do “school” at, and where I will keep it in my old house that has no storage. I love seeing curriculum options and getting reviews from personal use.

  3. Hilarie says

    We’re just starting Teaching Textbooks (and homeschooling) this year with my 4th and 2nd graders. Is there something specific you recommend for supplemental math fact drills? Or just grab worksheets from wherever I can find them? I wasn’t sure if another math curriculum had a book of “fact drills” that we could use? Thanks!

    • I would just make sure they know their facts. Use cards, apps, games, or whatever. You know like when we were kids.

      • Cyndi Brady says

        We have used Calculadder with two of our boys. They are a timed, tiered series of worksheets. They come on a disk and you can print them out. They work pretty well.

        There is also a program called quarter-mile math that works well, too.

    • Traci Dixon says

      i love khan on youtube.com
      he helped me in my college classes! and i used to make my kids watch him when they got stuck when they were younger.

  4. Karen says

    I love reading what others are using 🙂

    My youngest (and only homeschooler–we started four years ago) will be in ninth grade this year!

    She will be studying precalculus (Art of Problem Solving book), chemistry, Arabic (using The Potters School online class), English (using Blue Tent Online class), ancient history (using History of the Ancient World audio lectures from The Great Courses/Teaching Company as a spine with about ten books as additional reading—am finishing the syllabus now), archaeology as an elective (using the most common Arch 101 text and its free companion website), and AP Human Geography (small group of 3 kids started meeting this month; my syllabus was approved by the College Board).

    Yeah, a busy year, but she’s motivated for everything but chemistry (and I’m a chemist haha)

  5. I have a senior and a freshman as well!

    The senior is doing Abeka Physics (although like yours he doesn’t need the credit he’s just curious), Math is Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2, English is various literature selections, IEW and Fix It grammar. You aren’t strange…I pick the Complete Idiot’s Guide for American Government too! I read the book on vacation and learned more than I knew from high school or college! We are giving The Easy Spanish a try for foreign language.

    The 9th grader is doing Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1, Abeka Literature, IEW & Fix it. We will do Abeka 9th grade science. I did Apologia with my senior and it was okay for him but I know my 9th grader and it would not be friends. We haven’t done any formal Geography study and she loves reading Missionary novels. So we are doing Geography around the World in 180 days by Apologia. She wants to learn French and a friend gave us The Easy French.

  6. Julie says

    I have had the same problems with Rosetta Stone. Finally got the kids to understand that not getting 100% on Rosetta Stone is OK by me. If I hear them say it correctly (I also speak French) and the computer says it’s wrong – it’s still right! It frustrates them, because they like to see those 100% green bars. But I still think it’s a great conversational program, and worth the hassle.

    • I’m glad to know it’s not just us. I was thinking that I needed to figure out the settings a bit more. Maybe I can turn that portion off?

  7. Brighid says

    One thing which I loved including was Dave Ramsey’s high school course for financial knowledge. It was a great combination of research projects (how much does a Rent Now item cost versus just saving up and buying it at a store?), video and knowledge check questions, tests, humor, etc.

    We also used The Annotated Mona Lisa, Apologia Science and Vocabulary from Classical Roots series! 🙂

    Rosetta Stone Latin was also a fail for us because it a) had the same sound issue and b) didn’t provide the grammar or language structure that I wanted my child to learn. Our statewide virtual high school provided the solution to that problem for Latin.

    German Online from Oklahoma State University was a great foreign language choice for my son who wanted to continue learning German.

  8. I will have a 9th Grader and an 11th Grader this year. I have no idea how these kids grow up so fast. We use Apologia Science as well as Teaching Textbooks. For the other subjects, we use Alpha Omega. It’s a bummer that you are having such a tough time with Rosetta Stone as it is supposed to be the best. Thanks for the info and links to other resources I may want to look into.

  9. Alison says

    I will have a 9th & 10th grader this year, and 4 other grade school students, a 3yrold, and a newborn! I LOVE highschool!!! Wow, these kids are great. I am finding that, yes, sometimes things are really hard or frustrating, but it is a real collaborative effort.
    I found last year, that 9th graders require a lot of hand holding. They need help transitioning to the new workload & need sometimes, daily meetings. On the flip side I found the desire to do the work well, was there too. My one hot tip is, if your teen is balking at something (iwe had this problem about not wanting to go over the work with me, or doing the discussion w/ me) just present food and it’s all good, lol!
    This year my 9th & 10th graders are doing Apologia, Dave Ramsey’s Finance class (0.5 credit elective), and a speech class (co-op) together. We use MUS for math (same thing here, keep doing those facts drills; we use XTraMath online). We use a four year history cycle that is intergrated with their lit studies, but they are in different time periods.
    I have been wondering about the IEW Fix-It for high school. What level do you use? We are using IEW’s Teaching the Classics to help with our lit. studies.
    I am in a quandary with forigen language. I was going to do Rosseta Stone Spanish, but it wasn’t in the budget this year. We have a great community college here, which they can take courses at starting at age 16. I think maybe next year this might be a good way to get those foreign language classes under his belt…
    Love this discussion! Thank you for all the great info.

  10. Kenyatta says

    I was about to pull my hair out, literally! I have a son that I intend to homeschool but I had no curriculum then I discovered this. What a lifesaver. Now how and when did your 9th grader get all this information in?

  11. Marilyn says

    Hi so new to homeschooling I need help setting up my daughter’s curriculum she’s in grade 9. Desperate

  12. Andi hurt says

    Thank you!!!!

  13. Christine says

    Great article. Very helpful…I know it is a few years old, but very helpful as my twins will be going into 9th grade this fall.
    With regards to the Excellence in Writing Fix it curriculum…there are different books, such as book 1, book2, etc. Does it make a difference in which book you start with?

  14. Sara says

    I love the looks of brave writer…the cost seems steep for only a month and a half online class though

    • They are not cheap, that’s for sure. I’ve found that the training has been worth it, though. And a semester long class works out to be $400 to $500 anyway from other places, so it kind of averages out.

  15. Monica hill says

    I have a 9th grader i dont no where to start for his courses help me please dont no if i should go to his homeschool and see can i get books or what please help

  16. Cecily Carroll says

    Thanks for sharing! We have nine children, seven in homeschool from K5 through 9th. We have used Saxon math last year and used the Dive dvd with Dr shoman to go with it. This year we are using Dr Shorman math. It’s all online, very college preparatory and very reasonably price. Not to mention my 8th and 9th graders love Dr. Shorman. 9th grader is doing Algebra 2, 8th grader algebra 1.They are also using Dive with Dr Shorman science/chemistry and Biology.They have tablets with ear buds and it’s working great for us with so many students of varying grades.
    For History we have used group based text books, such as America from the beginning and The Mystery of History.
    9th grader is also doing online guitar classes, and will be doing computer science this year as well. Every child is different, we learn as we go.
    I love reading input from other homeschoolers! Thanks to all for sharing.

  17. Are your high schoolers going to get their GED then move onto college? The high school/college transition scares me.

    • In California, we are registered as a private school, so we issue our own transcript and diploma which the CSU system has recognized without a problem. My eldest is currently a junior in college and my second son was recently accepted to CSU. So far the experiment is working. I really appreciate having had local moms to lean on who’d gone before me. The state you live in makes a big difference in what you do and how you do it.

  18. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge and experience with your readers. Very helpful information. Do you have any experience with Dual Credit for school students? Any information and/or tips would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  19. Holly Ford says

    Thank you so much for this! I will be homeschooling a 12th grader next year. This will be my first experience homeschooling and we will use most of the curriculum you have suggested. This was such a helpful post!

    • So glad to hear it! Have a wonderful time!

    • Also, for that age, check out what the local community college has available. My son was able to take trigonometry and emergency medical responder courses as well as a French pronunciation class for very low cost. It counts as double credit (high school and college) here in California.

  20. Anita Garifo says

    Hi Jessica,

    I have read so many great things about you! I have never home schooled before and I am seriously thinking about home schooling for my 9th grader. He is 14 and feels that he cannot learn at school, too many distractions and feels he will do so much better at home. The problem is that I don’t even know where to start, to present a curriculum to the state. I just don’t know where to start, can you please help me or maybe guide me in the right direction?
    Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you soon!!

  21. Jennifer Sutton says

    Very anxious my children have attended a small Christian school for their whole life. As a family we feel we need a more flexible schedule, some help in areas of weakness,and to lighten our financial load. As crazy as it sounds I have decided to homeschool as my oldest enters ninth grade. So I don’t get the trial and error of younger years. Feeling I need to get it right (or close to) pretty quickly. I, too, was little Mrs. Honors Society and have graduated with a post graduate degree. But I am a fish out of water right now. How would I go about her taking an honors/AP class as her peers do and will have weighted GPAs or will that even matter?

    • Hi Jennifer! I would recommend that you head to hslda.org and research what resources are available in your state. Finding local families is key to navigating these waters. We did not pursue AP, but my high schoolers are taking dual enrollment at the community college and two will be taking a CLEP test soon. If you can attend a homeschool convention in your state, that will be helpful as well as visiting the Home Scholar site: https://www.homehighschoolhelp.com Hope that helps!

  22. Andrea says

    I feel intimidated as this will be the first year I have all 4 of my kids in homeschooling. 2 in highschool , kinder and 4th. If u could offer some personalIzed help in any way Inwould sure appreciate it

    • Hey Andrea! I’m not in a place to offer homeschool coaching, but thankfully, there are lots of great resources out there! I’d direct you to check out KristiClover.com, The Home Scholar, and Brave Writer. Those three women write a lot about homeschooling and can definitely point you in the right direction.

      That said, I know you can do this! It takes some sacrifice and creativity, but it’s totally worth it.

  23. Kimberly says

    Enjoyed your post! Just wanted to add a clarification that Fix It Grammar is not part of EIW (Excellence in Writing). It is part of IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing), two completely different curriculums that many people confuse (for obvious reasons).

  24. Jeanie says

    Tell us about high school and credits referred to. How are you approaching having a high school “certificate” etc when applying to college etc. Thanks for any help in this department.

    • I think experiences will vary by state and specific college. Three of my sons have been accepted to a Cal State University near our home. One has already graduated. Their high school work was never questioned. My best guess, based on paperwork that we filled out, is that SAT scores were considered/strongly weighted in establishing their competence. I think this may be different in different states and even for different schools within the same state.

  25. “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.” — YES!!! I feel no shame when I’ve to outsource school to others and instead give thanks that we can afford to financially. It was very stressful doing everything yourself when you’re homeschooling many children.

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