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Homeschool High School

Homeschool high school is the next scary hurdle to jump when you homeschool.

When we get to homeschool high school, our children have matured and we know that they are ready for more difficult work and when we home school the burden of this can be keenly felt.

The Division of Grades

In Australia we tend to make a distinction between primary school and high school (Year 7 to 12). Some independent schools are moving towards another division adding middle school. This is generally from Year 5 to Year 8.

It is helpful to note that in the USA, high school does not begin until our equivalent year 9. In their system a Year 9 student is called a freshman, Year 10 is a sophomore, Year 11 is a Junior and Year 12 is a Senior. Year 7 and 8 students may be referred to as being in junior high or middle school. So when you buy US high school curriculum you are buying curriculum that is from Year 9 or above.

Is Homeschool High School Harder?

To some extent I think high school is easier than primary school years. My two youngest children managed most their own time and studies during the high school years. I just helped plan and helped with particular things that they needed

However, it was different with my first two. At around the age they turned 14 (Year 9) I was pretty stressed out that they weren’t focused enough and were too dependent on me. They also thought I was the motivator for their work. Both went to school at that age for a period of time.

One loved school and stayed a few years (he is now a doctor). The other came home after a year (she is also a university graduate who works for a charity) but both had a new attitude – I am in control of my own education.

When my third and fourth children turned 14 they had the internal motivation that the others didn’t seem to have at that age. They didn’t want to go to school. I’m not entirely sure why things were different for the younger ones but I suspect part of the equation had something to do with me understanding the big picture and just plodding along and increasing the workload steadily rather than making big jumps and expecting them to suddenly work independently.

Changing The Workload & Method In High School

I have found as my children approached homeschool high school that I needed to add more structure to my children’s day. Some of my Charlotte Mason methods have been replaced with more textbooky methods because I have found that these have the built in teachers that help me and reduce some of my workload. I have tried to hold on to as much of my Charlotte Mason ideology as possible but I still think high schoolers actually like the rigorous work that their intellect can now handle and I do believe that they like having the structure and goals that a text can have.  I do not crowd out their time and still leave lots of space for reading classics and living books.

Homeschool High School Year 7 and 8

In Year 7 our children began working on their academics five days per week (in the primary years we managed a four days academic week). This was because we had more material we needed to cover, and our children could handle the increased workload. Lessons still finished before 3pm everyday (2pm most days)  and they never had homework.

These were consolidating years

I read an article from Lee Bintz from The Homeschool Scholar and she talked about the fact that Year 7 and Year 8 are really just consolidating years and getting them up to speed and ready to handle the harder high school work. She said these early homeschool high school years are catch up years for many students. However, some students are mature enough to progress to the harder work earlier, others are not. I found this analogy helpful as I was able to just focus on skill development rather than ploughing through material. I wait for them to mature and just keep working on consolidating. I use this short list of skills to help me judge if my children are ready for the harder work of Year 9 & 10.

  • Can they write up science experiments?
  • Can they write an essay ?
  • Can they study a novel?
  • Can they think about issues critically?

If they aren’t ready for things on the above mentioned list, then I coach them

Developing Their Reading Ability

I wait for their reading ability to really be ready before we get to the harder literature. I remember reading on Ambleside Online that that a particular book should be read in Year 8. My daughter absolutely balked at it then. In Year 10 she happily read the book without me having to encourage her.

Getting Good Habits Started In Primary School

Charlotte Mason talks about habits and I think that the habits that you set up in primary school can carry you over to high school. My biggest helper for getting the good habits going was using my modified workbox approach with the kids for their work. They were in such good habits using that system that they worked on their own with minimal encouragement.

Now with the Charlotte Mason method there is a lot of reading and I put that into their workboxes to read and instruct them on how much to read. I must confess I didn’t expect them to narrate back to me everything they read. I just got them to tell things about their book when I was with them. I found notebooks the best way of recording narrations in high school. Since we only had two or three narration notebooking subjects going per term it was very manageable.

Homeschool High School Subject Ideas

My philosophy with my kids (and I’m not necessarily saying it’s the right one – it’s just mine) is that if the work is so hard for them that they can’t do a lot of it alone then I’m better off to drop back and choose something that they can master and work from and get them to do it well. Of course, each child is different and I try to cater for them. Homeschooling still requires your children to be taught but you become more of a coach in these years.

Math can be independent if they are OK with it however this can be a drag if you hate math yourself.  I used Math Online of the high school years but switched to Life of Fred now and then for a change.

Science was independent if you use a literary style curriculum. I used the Apologia Exploring Creation series with them even up to Year 8. They read and did notebooking pages. They can work on this fairly independently if you leave the books till they can read confidently. For my semi sciency kids Apologia worked well. In my opinion, if they can absorb the information provided in those texts, they are probably a lot better off than if I was pushing them through something that they aren’t really understanding. (As I matter of fact, I asked the author, Jennie Fulbright, this same question and she agreed). I like Jennie Fulbright’s style.

Homeschool High School Year 9 & 10

Homeschooling high school in Years 9 & 10 was really more of the same. I just refined their workload. The books became harder. The focus in writing became more detailed when talking about grammar, punctuation and how to craft their writing. We worked on more challenging subjects.

I did use the Australian Curriculum as a guide to what we studied.

But we did make a shift in our attitude as we looked towards the future. We looked at their gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses and what they hopped to do after homeschooling. This helped us make decisions. Two of my children dropped Math sometime in Year 10. They did not want a career in science or education. It’s has worked out fine and they excel in their chosen field.

Finishing Homeschooling – Year 11 & 12

I was not in a race to get homeschool children finished by 17 years old. I had the attitude if it takes me a year (or two) longer then so be it. My goal was for them to be lifelong learners. However, I found, once my children had decided what they wanted to do, they became motivated to achieve their goal quick smart and this speed up the graduating process anyway. I didn’t really have to worry much in the end but when you do things differently from the crowd, a few panic attacks are normal – right!

As it happened all four of my children finished up homeschooling around 16 when they switched to university studies via open university. I found they needed some coaching with online learning for their first subjects and I still read their assignments and offered some advice but they all did well and thrived.

Was I ready for them to finish? After they had moved on to university, I had unfinished curriculum and regrets about subjects I didn’t get around to teaching. At first my children didn’t seem to be very ‘life-long-learnerish’  anymore. But as time moved on and they found their own likes and dislikes again. They dived into learning about things that interested them and became their own people. And when they look back at their home education they feel blessed!

My Homeschool Curriculum

If you are looking for a curriculum that has already worked out all the planning for you then My Homeschool Graded Courses might be for you!

In short, it follows follows state and territory syllabus requirements while using a literature rich approach inspired by Charlotte Mason.

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