Choosing High School Homeschool Curriculum

Once you have a high school plan, you’ll want to plan out courses and curricula toward a post-graduation goal.  When choosing curricula, keep in mind questions of whether you want to manage the course yourself or outsource it, whether to use physical or digital curricula, and what your student’s learning style favors.  It’s worth noting that what works for one subject (eg, math) might be different for another (eg, history). 

For each of the core subjects – history, math, science, and language arts – look at your student’s goals.  Is the class something that will help them succeed in their career path, or is it simply a state requirement to check the box?  Does your student learn this subject best through reading, video, or instruction with real-time feedback?

Outsourced & Online Classes

If you’re planning to outsource to online classes, you’ll want to check out whether they run synchronously or asynchronously, accreditation status, and decide whether to choose a full program or individual classes.  It’s worth noting that when outsourcing a class, you often don’t get to choose the base curriculum being used for that class.  Also keep in mind when choosing outsourced and online classes that:

  • Technology has glitches
  • Communication is crucial
  • Time management is key
  • Online doesn’t equate to an “Easy A”

In the past few years, we’ve experienced an educational revolution of sorts, with a cultural shift toward online learning.  You can learn a lot more about choosing the best online options for your family in Four Things to Consider with Online Classes.  There are so many options, though, that it can be overwhelming!  After vetting hundreds of options, here are some of the Best of the Best Online Learning Options.

Sparks Academy is one source of online classes that are offered in both synchronous and asynchronous options. All core classes, including math, history, science, and language arts, are offered at various high school levels!

Advanced Learning Options

Dual Credit – Local community colleges are usually accessible to high school students, and courses can be taken online or in person.  This is a good way for students to get a jump on college credits at a reduced cost and can help with the transition from high school to college classes.  There may be mature discussions and readings as part of dual enrollment, as these courses are intended for college-age students, so be sure that this is an appropriate fit for your student.

If you plan to use dual enrollment credits to transfer toward a four-year degree, you will want to check with the intended transfer college to make sure they will accept the coursework.  Not all colleges will accept coursework from outside, and some have very stringent standards.  Be sure to contact the college directly and get an email with your answers; this way you have that information in writing.

CLEP  – CLEP tests allow you to earn college credits via exam.  You can take a course through websites such as Modern States, or you can simply sign up and take the exam if you feel confident in your knowledge.  As Modern States is free, it’s worth enrolling and completing the online videos, and you may be eligible for an exam waiver after completing the course.

Free & Discounted Curriculum Choices

  • Sign up to receive this semester-long FREE course for high school students on the subject of Psychology.  In this course, they use video and text to take a jaunt through the brain — how it works, when it gets miswired, and how to cope with those issues.
  • Snag an e-book on Homeschooling the Upper Grades.  This covers a wide variety of topics and issues facing the homeschooling parent of teens. In this FREE book, we are also blessing families with fun goodies!
  • If you use The Good & the Beautiful for language arts, bookmark the TGTB extensions page, where you’ll find video playlists, extra printables, quizzes and practice tests, and more that homeschooling moms have created and pulled together all in one place!
  • At Sparks Academy, your students will be part of an interactive co-op with other high school students. Current class offerings are for The Good & the Beautiful language arts and Notgrass history (four levels of each subject), Apologia science (three levels), and Consumer Math.
  • SAVE 10% on Homestead Science with code RANGE10.  This hands-on science course includes agricultural and entrepreneurial principles, making it a cross-curricular course that will appeal to students not pursuing a STEM major post-graduation.

Curricula Choices Year by Year

These are the programs we used and found comprehensive and quality for middle and high school. Remember to start with the end in sight, including the required number of credits for each subject, per your state law. In addition to curriculum choice, you may also include living books, hands-on studies, and novel studies to enhance the learning experience!

Teaching Math to Creative & Right-Brained Learners

We hear a lot about living books and how these are used to foster a love of both reading and learning in children, but what about living math?

Living math is real-world applicable and can include things like balancing a checkbook, altering a recipe, comparing prices, building a treehouse, making change for a customer, or calculating square footage.  It can also be more playful, such as using math for arts or crafts. 

As with living books, students are more apt to retain principles when they are tied together with other ideas and subjects.  If your student is working on a fun project and comes across the need for a particular math principle, they learn it and incorporate it with that creativity, and that’s where the magic sticking point comes into play.

Living Math in Action

Our son began his work at the tender age of five.  His earliest works, all made of cardboard and duct tape, were crude adaptations of Greco-Roman armor that he had seen in picture books.  Fast-forwarding, he learned how to use the internet to look up pictures of other, more specified, types of armor and added aluminum foil and basic sewn pieces into the mix. 

Through the creative process, he was also learning how to measure, how to calculate said measurements for fitting, and how to size things up or down to scale….all math principles, and all to a kid who abhors math.  (Seriously y’all, I don’t think I have a single ‘bad homeschool day’ story for this kid that didn’t begin with math.)

Today, he does welding and metalwork, creating full-scale arms and armor from scratch and to historic standards.  He does the research, creates the pieces, and then gives it a personalized flair.  He does so many calculations for every single one of these pieces, but since the math has a purpose and application, he says that it doesn’t feel like math to him.  If you have a budding artist, chef, or builder, you will probably see the same trend as well…play to it!!

Today, he’s learning entrepreneurship along with his creative math skills, where at Sparks Forge & Armory, he creates beautiful, accurate, and detailed historical reproduction crossbows, scabbards, swords, daggers, maille (chainmail), armor, and other medieval artifacts. Each piece is handmade and unique! 

You can see many of his patterns and early work at Cullowhee Creates, a website / blog he started as a portfolio.  Unbeknownst to him, he was also learning organization, cataloging, and basic HTML as well!   

For an even more basic start on patterns and creating hands-on costume projects, check out Recycled History.  All projects are created with items found around the house….many that would be headed for the trash bin….and the book includes directions and photo-directions.  Projects are history-based, and span from ancient civilizations to modern times. They are designed to get kids excited about learning, and include sculpture, costumes, flat art, woodworking, and more! 

Right-Brained Kids and Math

Boys of our boys are right-brained learners when it comes to math, which made it very difficult for this left-brained mama to adjust to teaching.  However, rather than teaching math facts using pencil and paper and sterile problems, we had to find out what each kid really likes and relate math to that. For example, our other boy loves shopping, so we decided to teach him how to use money while shopping, and then work with him as he saved up for something special.

Hands-on learning and movement are very important to right-brained learning, especially when it comes to math.  Manipulatives are your friend here!  There are so many manipulatives available for elementary school, but fewer for the upper grades.  Here are some of the best hands-on resources we’ve discovered and loved:

  • Coordinate Board – This oversized dry-erase board is perfect for students in pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry who need to master coordinates and use them for linear equations and geometric functions.
  • Beautiful Discovery – These boxes help students to learn math, art, science & code, in a beautiful way, deCODING nature’s patterns.  Each one includes natural wonders & all you need to model them with art, math, and code.  Each month’s box has a webpage full of videos and interactive models to help students discover deep patterns & beautiful math underlying nature’s diversity. 
  • Number lines – These dry-erase boards are perfect for learning to add and subtract with littles, but can help with skip counting and multi-step problems with older children.  My only complaint is that there isn’t a negative numbers board, which can be butted against the positive one, as many students struggle with the concept of adding and subtracting positives and negatives.  In this case, simply turn one upside down and use it for negative numbers!
  • Money set – If you don’t have one already on-hand from the elementary years, it’s never too late to use a money kit to teach about borrowing and carrying, as well as to master counting change – a skill that many employers complain kids don’t know how to do today!
  • Magnetic Tiles – While it’s true that they may know the basic fractions, many students struggle with adding and subtracting fractions, borrowing and carrying, and that’s what this set helps with as they visualize it, move the pieces around, and master it.
  • Place Value Flip Chart – If you have a student who has mastered place value at an early age, congrats!  Many students, however, don’t master this until middle school, and special needs learners may take even longer.  This flip chart uses different colors to make it easier to distinguish between different place values for number manipulation (adding, etc).
  • Place Value Chart – Another dry-erase board, this one goes hand in hand with the flip chart to help students with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing using proper place value placement.

Incorporating Real-World Math

We make time for the things that are important, and this is no exception.  If your school day is strictly planned out, with no time for creative play, you’ll find it difficult to get that hands-on experience which incorporates living math.  Here are some strategies to help:

  • Slow down.  Build in free time each day for play, creativity, and even boredom.  (Boredom breeds creativity…ask any Gen-Xer.)
  • Stock up.  Have the supplies on hand for creative play, be that cardboard, aluminum foil, Legos, crayons, various types of foods, or whatever your student is into.
  • Step back.  Allow your student to get creative without direction, criticism, or even an excessive amount of praise.

When they enjoy the project, and aren’t just completing projects in a textbook, your children will be more apt to pick up on, retain, and love the skills they are learning!

More Information

  • Although it’s workbook-based, these real-world math problems are an alternative to regular textbooks and incorporate many facets of daily life.  Download the book here.
  • Real-World Math for Students who Ask “WHY?” For so many students, math is thought of as boring and unnecessary.  They just don’t see the reason why they need to learn the material.  Do you have one like my middle school student…who struggles constantly with math, and is always asking WHY?! 
  • Teaching Math to Visual Learners  Most people have a combination of learning styles, but tend more toward one than the others.  If your child prefers to draw pictures with his word problems…he might be a visual learner. 

Engaging & Grading Your Teen’s Writing

Teaching writing takes time and one-on-one instruction.  It involves modeling, editing, providing feedback, and publishing, something that not all parents feel equipped to handle.   While there are ways to outsource writing instruction and feedback, every parent can master the basics with a little guidance!

Break down the assignment

Whenever they start a new, major writing assignment, I always tell students in the Sparks Academy classes, ‘How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!’

Break assignments into daily goals, and hold your student accountable for meeting those goals.  If they have a persuasive, five-paragraph essay, daily goals might look like creating an outline, researching and citing works, developing a rough draft, writing the first half, writing the second half, editing and polishing, and writing the bibliography.  Need help getting started?  Download this free 12-page booklet on writing a research paper.

Make a Plan

This one goes hand in hand with breaking down the assignment into bits, but I’m big on planning and organization.  After all, failing to plan is planning to fail…and no one wants to fail.

Give It a Purpose

“Why” is not a question that goes away after the toddler years, and you might find it cropping up even more in the teen years than in the previous ones.  With writing, as with anything we’re told to do, it’s important to know the why.  Are they writing solely for a grade, or is there some intrinsic motivation as well?  Will it be published in a magazine, like at Sparks?  Turned into a book, such as these amazing options?  Published in a paper, magazine, or on a blog?  Included in the student portfolio?  Repurposed later as a college or scholarship application essay?  (For the record, I’ve found the last one to be a real motivator for my older teens…who know all too well the pain of writing and re-writing dozens of essays for said applications.)

Write for Fun & Variety…and for Yourself

I’ve found that when I give my teens a choice about what they write, they’re do so much less begrudgingly.  I have one that prefers to write either historic non-fiction or dystopian stories.  Another prefers mystery / crime solving stories and would happily never write another research paper.  Those are their preferences, so when it’s time to just practice writing, that’s what they opt for, but it’s important that they also work on other skills, too.

  • Poetry and symbolism
  • Descriptive writing with vivid details
  • Expressing an opinion (logically and thoughtfully)
  • Process writing / how to do something
  • Research papers
  • Creative writing
  • Making lists
  • Writing a business letter

It’s true that we do many of these things orally, sometimes on a daily basis, but it’s important to also know how to write effectively, without visual aids (emojis, graphics, charts, etc) or tonal inflection from our voices.

When you want to practice writing skills, but don’t have a specific assignment (summer fun-school, anyone?), writing prompts are a handy tool.  There are so many different options to choose from, including pop culture, history, science, animal-themed, anime-themed…you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something that sparks your teen’s interest.  Maybe they’re really into the Hobbit and want to try your hand at writing a fantasy novel of their own

Teach Self-Editing

After writing a rough draft for any type of writing, students should take the time to read over it themselves before passing it off to the parent / teacher.  You can print out the checklists below and let them use it, or just tell them to set it aside for a night and read over it the next day.  (You’d be surprised how many errors can be spotted just by having a fresh set of eyes!)  Reading the paper aloud is another good way to spot issues with flow and communication, too.

Use a Checklist

After self-editing, it’s your turn to read over their paper and provide feedback.  Use these free downloadable checklists to guide you through grading your student’s writing assignments.  Remember that it’s also important to point out all of the things your student did WELL on the assignment.  Editing with grace is more likely to net well-received feedback.  Honey, not vinegar.

Still unsure about grading your teen’s writing assignments?  Enlist the Writing Consultation Service offered by Sparks Academy!  While there are no grades offered for this service, the feedback provided is detailed enough in content, structure, and style for the parent to assign a grade.  Consultations are provided by an accredited language arts teacher with thirty years teaching experience.

Preparing for High School in Your Homeschool

The transitional period from middle sets the tone for the high school years and strongly influences post-graduate life.  I’ve always told my children that they can course correct, but setting the right course in the first place goes a long way toward a smoother path.

In the public schools, formal transitional planning is provided to all 8th graders entering 9th grade, including psychological, academic, social, and experiential preparations, so that they have an idea of what comes next and how to navigate it.  If you’re interested in utilizing the resources schools are providing to students, or at least using them as a jumping-off point, you can download this six-page guide.

Strengthen Areas of Weakness

Every child has his own strengths and weaknesses, and these can be harnessed to form an individualized plan, but it’s also important to note areas of weakness and choose which ones to strengthen during these high school years.  Perhaps your child is not as tech savvy as they’d like (or is that just me?) and wants to learn some additional skills.  Or maybe they are still socially awkward and want more opportunities to explore friendships, events, and other social situations.  Some kids need more experience with writing skills, and this is a good time to take additional writing courses or get one-on-one assistance and feedback to brush up those essays.

Special needs students who have not yet completed a formal IEP and set forth accommodations might undertake this paperwork with their parents, as it can help with standardized testing and other requirements for college entrance.  For more specific information on teaching special needs teens, visit Teaching the Special Needs Child and Life Skills for Special Needs Teens.

All students should also take this opportunity to catalog their strengths.  Where do they shine?  What make them unique?  Whether they plan to go to college, into the job market, or are undecided at this point, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is an advantage…it provides a starting point and allows you to set mini-goals to get to your big goal!

Tailor High School Years to Skills and Talents

Just because most ninth grade students take algebra, biology, world history, and composition doesn’t mean that your student is ready for those courses yet…or maybe they completed them in eighth grade.  One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that we can tailor each individual subject to our students’ strengths.  Maybe they are fantastic at writing, but struggling with math.  In this case, you can provide more advanced language arts classes and a slightly remedial math class.  (Please remember that, especially with math and writing, it’s more important to master the basics before moving on than it is to academically try to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’)

If you have a student ready for a math challenge, then allow them to take that algebra class in early and count it for high school credit.  Two caveats here – first, be sure to note on the transcript that  the course was taken in eighth grade, and second, do not use it as a way to skip out of classes later in the high school years.  If your student took algebra in middle school, then colleges are going to want to see some advanced math courses in eleventh and twelfth grades.

You can tailor academics with any curriculum, but here’s a walk-through for how to tailor them specifically with the SchoolhouseTeachers.com School Boxes…

Let Your Teen Have a Say

“Do a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  Allow your child to choose the coursework he’s interested in, and he’ll enjoy his school day.  Granted, you can’t let him choose every single thing, but electives are an easy way to give him that freedom.  Once he finds something he loves to learn about, you might find that he works harder at the basics so that he can get to electives!  

Another way to foster that independence and feeling of self-direction is to allow them to have more control over their day (scheduling).  One of the reasons teens give us attitude is because they are floundering between being an adult and being a child.  They want to be the adult, but they still need you to be the parent.  It can turn into a real power struggle.  Similar to allowing him to choose his electives, allow him to structure his day.  

We used responsibility charts – the kids knew what work must be accomplished each day.  While there were a few things that had to be done at certain times, they had a lot of freedom about structuring their own day.  Math was almost always shoved aside until last, but occasionally one of them did it first, saying “I just want to get the bad stuff done with.”  Lessons being learned…and now they are capable of that same discipline and self-regulation in their college studies.

Transition to Independent Learning

High school is when we begin to transition our students into college life.  A big part of that transition is learning time management.  As a teen, your student is juggling classes, extracurricular activities, athletics, a part-time job, and friends and family.  It can be difficult to remember all of the details!

A good planner works for you and your needs.  What is right for one person may not be the best option for someone else, so take a moment to investigate several options and find the one that works best for your student.  After they have that planner, allow them to be in charge of their day, set expectations, and give guidance, remain actively involved – have regular meetings with them.  These might be daily or weekly, but choose a rhythm that works best for you and your teen.

That said, transitioning to independence doesn’t mean completely letting go of the reins.  Teens still need you to be the parent (as do college-students, albeit with a more freedom), and this is not the time to let them fly without a landing spot.  When it comes to academics, let them have that freedom and responsibility, but read ahead in their textbooks and syllabi so you know what’s coming up.  As the parent, you also know what’s coming up with family and can help them remember to plan for all the things…

Improve Study Skills

Most kids don’t work on note-taking until the high school years, and it’s difficult to remember specific details without good notes.  The process of note-taking cements learning further by involving all three modalities of learning.  The engage the auditory when hearing the information, the kinesthetic by writing the information (by hand, not computer!), and visual when reading the information again.  If this is a new skill for your student or you just want to know why handwriting trumps typing in this case, you can access more specific information on note-taking skills.

The Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success bundle includes several lessons to brush up on specific study skills in addition to inventories, college prep assistance, and life skills for adulting in the early years.

By beginning to work on these five skills during the middle school years, you’ll help pave the way for a successful high school experience and what comes next!

Homeschooling the upper grades doesn’t have to be scary! If you have a middle or high schooler, this giveaway includes some resources that will not only enhance their learning, but help give them a well-rounded learning experience. If you’re looking to add some arts and literature to their studies – this Upper Grades Giveaway is for you!

Thanks to these amazing bloggers and brands that love supporting the homeschool community, we’re able to give back to homeschool families in the best way!

Check out this AMAZING Prize package!

Middle & High School Drama Bundle from In All You Do – This Middle & High School Drama Bundle has everything you need to teach about Shakespeare and study his movies and plays. Using the planner, students will know exactly what is required and needed to complete their studies. With nearly 90 total pages, this bundle includes: Shakespeare Notebooking & Copywork Pages, Romeo & Juliet MEGA Printable Pack, Movie Review Report & Drama Pack, and the Middle & High School Homeschool Planner (Perpetual).
Charlotte Mason Inspired High School Fine Arts from Music in Our Homeschool – With the “Charlotte Mason Inspired High School Fine Arts” online course, your high schooler will earn a full credit in Fine Arts! Study music appreciation, art appreciation, and poetry appreciation in this Charlotte Mason inspired self-paced online course. There are 9 months’ worth of lessons, and each month features a new composer, artist, and poet.
High School Academic Advising Consultation from Sparks Academy – Are you confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated by the thought of tackling homeschooling through high school? Let our years of experience as school counselors, homeschoolers, and educators guide you so that you can enjoy the process of homeschooling your students! High School Academic Advising includes:One (1) 60 minute consult via Teams, Personalized evaluation that will assess courses, course descriptions, and grades, Credit evaluation- credits needed for graduation & credits earned, Personalized Learning Plan, Curriculum Suggestions, Follow-up email support, and a discount for virtual classes & materials at Sparks Academy.
 

Learn more about each of the 2024 Upper Grades Sponsors


This giveaway wouldn’t be possible without our amazing sponsors! We encourage you to visit their site and take a look around at all their wonderful products perfect for homeschoolers! Thanks to these amazing bloggers and brands that love supporting the homeschool community, we’re giving away more than $160 in Upper Grades products!  

 

 

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10 Reasons to Love Homeschooling Your Teens

When we first began homeschooling, we met some pushback.  Granted this was long before homeschooling became en vogue and the explosion occurred, but the one thing that seemed to ‘calm’ the fears other people were having was that we were (per their assumption) going to send the kids to public high school.  (No, it was never my intention to send them back to school unless it became clear to us, mom and dad, that it was a necessary change, but why pick a fight years before you have to?)

Fast forward nearly fifteen years and we’ve experienced an explosion of the homeschooling community like no one could have predicted (thank you, covid).  We still got asked occasionally if they kids were going to high school, but simply said they were flourishing at home.  One son did do dual enrollment, and that was the right fit for him.  Another did votech classes at the local community college – again the right fit – but both boys also took several classes at home as well.

A lot of folks seem to be intimidated by the idea of homeschooling their teens through high school and graduation.  They don’t think they can do the academics.  They don’t think they have the patience to be around their teens that much.  Yet there are so many FANTASTIC reasons to love homeschooling your teens!!!

Kids learn to work independently.  Some of the most important things for our kids to learn are work ethic, how to learn, how to ask for help, and independence.  (I realize the last two seem counter to each other, but each is important.)  With these, a person can go much further than someone who has memorized a lot of academic facts without mastering these four skills.  As teens, our kids are learning to step away from the nest, take responsibility for their learning, and find their own groove.  This will help them as they move to college or career, since mom and dad aren’t going to be there at every step to ensure they wake up, get to places on time, and do whatever they’ve been assigned.  Instilling these four life skills will help them, regardless of the post-graduation path.

Kids are exposed to less peer pressure.  True, there will still be times they are exposed to peer pressure through extracurricular activities, events, and other classes (like dual enrollment).  But much like a plant that is allowed to grow indoor for a bit before being hardened off in the spring, the longer we are able to protect that innocence in our kids, the more they will have a chance to learn who they are (and be comfortable enough to express that individuality) and what they believe before facing this tough world.

Rest and health are prioritized.  Most teens in public schools are not getting enough sleep.  Circadian rhythms aren’t really a priority for school systems, who have to juggle running the busses and employing teachers that have students of their own in the system.  However, homeschooled teens have the chance to sleep late, getting the rest they need as their bodies undergo this rapid period of growth and change.  They can work within their natural rhythms, being the early birds or night owls they were born to be!

Parents can still help mold character.  I can remember being out and about and always being told how well-behaved my children were…and thinking, don’t all children act this way?  Sadly, the answer to that question is no, they don’t.  It’s not something we saw on a regular basis, however, and those bad character habits weren’t impressed upon our kids.  (This is not to say that all kids who go to school have poor character, so don’t read that into it.)  As parents, we were able to help guide and shape behaviors based on being there regularly to provide consistent feedback.

Family time and togetherness are a regular thing.  While it’s true that we are occasionally all running in opposite directions as the kids have gotten older, we are all home and together during the day and ‘school time.’  This includes breakfast, morning meeting (yes, it’s even a thing at this age), and reading time.  Mom has breakfast earlier and we still read books together, aloud, as a family during breakfast time.  After breakfast, everyone cleans the kitchen (and if needs be, the house) together and we have a morning meeting to go over what’s happening during the day.  Siblings get to be silly together, and pester each other, and there is a genuine feeling of doing life together.

There is time to read for enjoyment.  True, there is also required reading for history, science, language arts, and other subjects, but there is also time to read for fun.  I started reading to the kids when they were babies, and have been reading aloud to them ever since.  (See the above point on family time and togetherness.)  We’ve acted out so many different stories!  Today, they are also big readers themselves, choosing a ‘fun book’ to read at night, on the weekends, on rainy days, and just whenever they feel like a school break.  Fiction, non-fiction, mystery, history…a little bit of everything dots their reading lists.

Conversations, both deep and superficial, are ongoing.  As I write this, I’ve just hung up the phone with my oldest, at college, who called because he has something weighing heavily on his mind and wanted to ‘talk a bit while he had time.’  During the teen years, there are so many swirling thoughts as they undergo physical and psychological changes, begin seeing some of the not-so-pretty stuff the world has to offer, and try to navigate their own way through all of these things.  Having a parent available, and feeling comfortable enough to have those conversation with them, are not luxuries every kid has, but I like to think that homeschoolers have a leg up here, since we spend so much more time during these formative years travelling alongside them…through the little things and into the big things.

There is time to explore special interests.  Whether it’s a musical instrument, a potential career path, or an extracurricular, homeschooled teens tend to have a little more wiggle room in their school day to fit in special interest activities.  That might look like a part-time job, an internship or volunteer position, more practice time for athletics or music, or (in the case of one of our teens) time to spend in the shop combining his loves of history and tools.

Check out this unique special interest from one homeschooled teen!

Both breaks and spontaneity are factored into the week.  Taking field trips and spontaneous fun aren’t just limited to the elementary school years.  Middle and high school kids love getting outdoors, going to the park or field, and enjoying the day, too!  Sometimes, granted, this also looks like putting school aside to do chores as a family (splitting wood in winter, cleaning house in spring, raking leaves in fall, etc), but it’s a break from the routine.  If they want to take a break and work on special interests, there’s time for that, too.  And when dad was travelling quite a bit, we were able to work homeschooling around that to spend all of that time exploring the world together as a family.

Interested in roadschooling? Find out how easy it is to get started (even part-time)!

Finally, as the homeschooling mom, my hands-down favorite part about homeschooling teens is those private, quiet moments.  Hugs throughout the day.  That kind gesture when they bring me the coffee I sat down and forgot.  Sitting together on the front porch swing and having a one-on-one discussion after lunch…just because.  These intimate moments are possible because of the relaxed nature of our days, which homeschooling allows us, and it’s absolutely the best.

You Know You’re Homeschooling a Teen When…

Because laughter is the best balm for a soul…. Here are ten signs that you’re homeschooling a teenager!

You have an intimate relationship with YouTube.

Gone are the days of stepping on Legos and math manipulatives.  These days, if you want to help your teen figure out how to solve a math problem, you have to YouTube how to do it and hope that it rings even the teensiest of bells from your own schooling so that you can help your teen…or just let them watch and explain it to you.  Check out – Should You be YouTube Schooling?

Your children have turned into Hobbits.

They require second breakfast and Elevensies.  They have their days and nights mixed up.  Granted, some kids start this as early as birth, but it becomes a real issue when they’re teens.  Maybe they’ll work second or third shift when they graduate.  Or maybe their rhythms will even out.  Time will tell.  Got kids who love the Hobbit?  Check out The Hobbit & Writing Fantasy Fiction.

The dreaded question has changed.

Remember how often you got asked about socialization when your kids were younger?  Now you’re getting asked about things like dating, prom, and graduation.  Won’t they miss out on it?  Think back to your high school days…some folks loved those events, others tolerated them, and others skipped out.  The homeschool community has evolved such that, if you want to participate in these events, you’ll be able to find them (unless you live in a superbly remote area).  No one is missing out!

Arts and crafts are less cute and more functional.

Sure, you can’t put a dissected sheep eye on the refrigerator (and who would want to?), and it’s difficult to show off your kid’s vocational skills (which saved you quite a bit on that refrigerator repair), but just because you can’t pin these images doesn’t make them less worthy.  These life skills, fostered in their teen years, can really pay off in the long run when they help you out in the future.  Check out Career-Based Electives for Teens.

Photos become much more unique.

Whether because they’re adding stickers and emojis to digital photos, or just because they can’t seem to pose without making a face, sticking out their tongue, or putting rabbit ears behind a sibling, you haven’t had a decent photo of your kid in a couple of years.  Hold out for those holiday photos – Christmas and Mother’s Day are sacred, and you deserve a smiling photo on these.  Stay strong!

The expensive Legos have been replaced by expensive musical instruments / car parts / insert hobby or sport equipment here.

Gone are the days of kvetching over spending a hundred dollars on a Lego set.  Those are the good ol’ days.  Sporting equipment, car parts, new technology, and musical instruments….these are the things that have replaced those simple building toys.  Check out Should Your Teen Have a Job?

Read: Must-Have Supplies for Homeschooling Teens

Daily life and chores counts as an elective.

Home Economics, Homesteading (if you have a farm), Auto Mechanics, Shop…all of these are elective credits that you can give you child now that s/he is actively contributing to the household management and chores.  Cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, meal planning, and shopping all count toward Home Economics.  Check out A Self-Sufficient Life.

Field trips become a little bit scary.

It’s not so much because they’ve run off at the zoo…again…as it is because they actually drove you to the field trip.  I believe that teaching teens to drive shaves a full year or more off of parents’ lives.  Especially when they nearly miss their turn and take a 90-degree turn at 45 mph, going up on two wheels.  Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

The house is suddenly very quiet.

It’s not like when they were toddlers, however, and you knew the silence meant that trouble was just around the corner.  Which is not to say that there isn’t trouble around the corner, but it’s most likely happening outside of your home where you won’t know until later.  But then the house is loud at night when everyone is together for dinner again.  Think of this as a transition period for when you become an empty nester.

You become sentimental.

Suddenly you understand what people meant when they were babies and you were told, ‘The days are long, but the years are short.’  We only get eighteen summers, and then they spread their wings and fly.  Savor these four years of high school.  Transition your relationship from parent-child to more of a mentorship, and know that there may be bumps along the path to independence, but you’re supporting them, love them, and will miss them dearly once they graduate.  (Even if they don’t realize it.)