Saturday, September 21, 2013

Homeschooling High School

Does homeschooling High School intimidate you?  Do others tell you that you cannot do it?  When we began this homeschool journey almost 10 years ago, I was taking it year by year and thinking maybe I would only homeschool 2 or 3 years.  Homeschooling, however, has fit us like a glove, and now unless something drastic changes, we are committed for the long haul.  As my oldest is beginning 10th Grade and we have one year of High School under our belt, I am far from being an expert, but I have learned a thing or two.  I compiled a list of resources for a friend recently who is pulling her daughter out of public school and beginning homeschool with 9th Grade, and I thought I would share the list here with you.

I am linking to websites with new material; however, you can sometimes find a lot used on eBay, HSLDA's auction site if you are a member, CraigsList, homeschool sales, or through the local homeschool group.  First, here are some places I'd recommend connecting with:

Your State Education Department - See what is required of homeschoolers, what is required for graduation in your state, and whether there is any type of ID Card or discount card that may be helpful.  Sometimes you can get into state museums, zoos, and other resources that would be available for public school students for free or at a discount with a school ID issued by the state.  You may also be able to take advantage of some public school or other educational resources.  You are still paying taxes to the state that pay for public school resources, and there are some that are available for your use.  Make sure you map out what you are doing toward graduation requirements early in the game so that they do not sneak up on you Senior Year.  If your student is near driving age, you will also want to see what classes or tests may be required before getting a license.  You may be able to do these through the public school or arrange to take them privately.

HSLDA- Homeschool Legal Defense Association.  They have some free resources and some members-only.  I definitely recommend becoming a member.  They offer good resources and I think the legal representation for homeschoolers is becoming more and more important to protect our freedoms for the future.  I have looked at a number of transcript forms, and I like theirs the best.  

Local homeschool group - You may or may not want to participate in a co-op, but some groups offer a smorgasbord of field trips and activities from which to choose.  This is a good way for you to get support and for your teen to have a friend-base of others who are homeschooled.  Some groups have proms and graduations together.

Schoolhouse - Just a plethora of information on every subject imaginable from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Some free and some members-only.  The Homeschool Planner for High School is invaluable for you and your student, especially if you are just getting started and need help with organization.  The planner has every form and organizational tool you could possibly need.  I use the planners extensively.  You can read The Old Schoolhouse Magazine every month for free.  Here is the link to the latest one:  You can also see different homeschool products reviewed (all ages, elementary and high school) by their review crew here.  I used to be a member of the review crew.  In addition, you may want to follow all or some of the Schoolhouse Review Crew blogs for other homeschool information.  A number of them have students in high school.

Homeschool Freebie of the Day - Check every weekday for a free download or resource.  Some things are useful for high school and others are for younger kids.


If you want an all-in-one package, the big 3 are as follows.  I would not necessarily recommend that for high school, but it might be easier to start that way.

Sonlight - This is, in my opinion, the most comprehensive, all your lesson plans laid out, everything you need comes with it, and possibly the most popular.  The disadvantages for me were that it is also one of the most expensive, and it is much more structured than I prefer, as I have been become more and more eclectic in my school approach over the years.

Abeka - Abeka has a reputation for being highly academic and college-prep with more work-on-your-own things.  Friends of mine with a teaching background use it and love it.  There is an Abeka DVD program, in which the students receive all their teaching from the teachers on DVD and do their work on their own.  Abeka's main criticism is that they are TOO workbook-heavy, and some kids find it overwhelming and boring.  For us, I like something that is partly work-on-your-own and partly taught by me.  

Alpha-Omega - This is the one I used exclusively for elementary and am using partially for high school.  You can get the curriculum in Lifepac (workbooks), SOS (Switched-On Schoolhouse - same curriculum on computer discs), or Monarch (online).  This one has also been criticized for being workbook-heavy but I like it for being straight-forward and not having gaps.  

The above three are all very good curriculums if they suit your budget and style of teaching.  There are many other curriculums out there.  I like to look at personal blogs for reviews by people who are actually using the curriculums and not being paid as affiliates in order to get as unbiased a view as possible.  Many of the publishers offer sample lessons or free trials.

As I said, I've become more and more eclectic the longer I homeschool.  There's just so much good stuff out there!!  Here's what we actually used for 9th Grade, along with a few other suggestions:

English I - I used Excellence in Literature:  Reading and Writing through the Classics, which I had reviewed for the TOS Crew and enjoyed.  (My son did the middle school activities when we reviewed it.  I am now repeating what we reviewed and moving on with him adding in the "honors" high school activities while my younger daughter does the middle school activities.)  This curriculum assumes you've already had all the grammar that you need and works on higher writing and analysis.  If not, you can add a basic grammar workbook.  We used various other supplements for English I and did not complete the EIL, so we are finishing it this year in 10th Grade, and then we will move on to The One Year Adventure Novel.  I'm sure we will continue adding in supplements as well.  I can be easily distracted by good unit studies and activities!

Foreign Language - I used SOS Spanish I.  We liked the elementary SOS Spanish but didn't really care for this one, and I may switch to Rosetta Stone for Spanish II, or find a course where I could enroll my kids with an actual Spanish-speaking teacher.  I am taking a short break from it for the moment.

Math Algebra I - I used the Lifepac workbooks.  I've tried a bunch of different things and surprisingly, my kids really don't care for doing math on the computer as much. They like the workbooks.  Some other good ones to consider are Math-U-SeeSingapore Math, or Pearson.  A lot of people use Saxon, which did not work well for us.  Some good drill programs are Math 911 and IXL.  For 10th Grade, we will continue into Algebra II using AOP Lifepacs.

Science - Apologia Biology - I have used the CD version of Apologia sciences on the computer, but again, my kids prefer the good old textbook for this one.  Along with that, I got the lab kit from Home Science Tools, which actually carries lab kits for any mainline science curriculum you choose.  Then you have all you need for the labs without having to go hunting for it.  I already had a microscope, so I got the microscope kit with some pre-prepared slides and things, and I got the dissection kit complete with 4 shrink-wrapped specimens to dissect.  My younger girls don't like dissecting so much, so I might just let them watch dissections on YouTube videos when we get to that point.  We did Apologia's Physical Science in 8th grade, and we will do Apologia's Chemistry for 10th Grade this year.  Also, along with the Apologia Sciences, I use Knowledge Box Central's study guides.  I get the downloadable versions and print only the pages I need, and it helps the kids set up a beautiful, complete, and well-organized notebook in a 3-ring binder.  Great study help.  Sometimes they go on really good sales.  I used them even before I became an author for that company, so I'm not just trying to garner business for them!  :-)

Social Studies - I did Ancient World History and picked and chose things from different products I'd reviewed, including TruthQuest and Beautiful Feet Books, and lapbooks from Knowledge Box Central.  I like the history through literature (classical) approach.  You could use one book from either of the first two above for a complete curriculum.  You use their guides and check a lot of things out of the library as you go through, making this a versatile and economical study.  We are continuing World History and Geography this year and will probably do some Economics or Civics.  I've thrown some of these in with our Social Studies as we go, but not enough for a High School Credit so far.

Health and Physical Education - We did a PE class with our local homeschool group once a week, and my son played on a basketball team with the YMCA in the spring.  In the past we've done ATA (Karate for Kids), and my older 3 are black belts.  This year we are trying a different type of Tae Kwon Do class.  As for health, I feel like we work that in all the time while we live in our home and do school.  My kids are each responsible for one meal a week (give or take, depending on our schedule), in which they must plan the menu with nutrition in mind, make us a shopping list for what they need, and prepare and serve the dinner on their night.  We of course talk about hygiene and have done unit studies on various health and safety measures.  We've also done the God's Design for Sex series with each individual child, which I highly recommend.

Elective:  We started a Kid Coder computer course, which I hope we'll finish this year.  

If your state does not require you to keep track of hours spent on each subject, a good rule of thumb is that a High School Credit requires about 100 hours of study.  Generally if you complete a mainline High School subject curriculum, such as Algebra, Biology, or World History, it will take about 100 hours.

Some other resources:

Knowledge Quest - timelines, maps, history and geography supplements

Theory of Intelligent Design - I just got this published, if you are interested in teaching ID Theory

Apologia Worldview Curriculum - We are using this now for Bible, along with reading the Bible itself, and using it as part of our Social Studies

Classical Academic Press - I like some of their stuff on logic and debate and would use them if I wanted to teach Latin

Vocab Videos - We used this as part of our language arts in 9th grade as well.  EXCELLENT SAT vocab prep.  I will give the disclaimer that it is not written from a Christian point of view and has some language I didn't appreciate.  Characters used the name of the Lord in vain, etc.

IEW - Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I haven't used it but keep meaning to.  Everyone who uses it loves it.

One Year Adventure Novel - Another writing curriculum.  You can get a free sample to try.  This looks wonderful and I hope to use it next semester.

Dual-Credit Courses - Starting in 11th grade in many places, you can take classes in community college that count for high school and college credit.  Some are free and online.  We plan to do this and it is definitely worth looking into when you get to that point.  It is possible for students to graduate with an Associate's Degree at the same time as they receive their high school diploma.

CurrclickCBD, and Educents - Distributors where you can get discounts on a lot of things.

School Express - More for the younger kids, but can be interesting.  Sign up to get a free unit study every Sunday. - This is where I get the CAT national standardized test every year.  There are a number of options for testing with a group or on your own.  Check with your state for testing requirements.

Pinterest educational boards

Your public library.  If you happen to be military, the libraries on military bases offer some fantastic resources for homeschoolers.

The things above range from free to pricey.  Some of them, if you sign up for a newsletter on their site, will send freebies and coupons periodically.  I spend, on average, about $300 per year per child.  I kind of make my wishlist, then figure out what I really need, and look for deals and used items.

Always feel free to keep checking back to my blog here at Note-able Scraps and seeing what I have under the Homeschooling tab.  If you are beginning homeschooling or considering it, I'd love to talk with you!

For more resources, especially if you are beginning homeschool with younger students, see these Helpful Homeschooling Links.

Happy Homeschooling!  :-)


  1. I would also suggest's a dedicated website of completely free info, directories, downloads, etc - - all focused on families homeschooling in the high school years!

  2. Hi there! I'm creating a blogroll of blogs that blog (at least occasionally) about homeschooling high school. ( I came across yours today and would LOVE to add it. If you would consider this, could you email me? Thanks in advance! Blessings...