Managing Homeschool High School Students Without Losing Your Mind

When it comes up in conversation that I homeschool my high school age students, I sometimes get the incredulous looks. And then one of the most common questions is: “How do you manage your high school students and homeschool the others?” I have to admit that as my kids got older and the idea of homeschooling in high school became more real, this is a concern that I had myself. But, there are a few things that we’ve done that make this much easier. And it’s turned out to not be much of a problem to find time to fit in my high schoolers as well as my younger girls.

Homeschooling high school without losing your mind

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I have, basically, two sets of ages for homeschooling. I have my older two who are two grade levels apart (in most subjects), a three year gap, and then my younger two who are one grade level apart (in most subjects). As my older two entered high school age, ths gap has meant that they are separate doing high school work for most of the time, while I still work with the younger two together. By doing a few key things, we’ve been able to come up with a system that works well for us. And, although no routine is perfect because life happens, we can typically keep up a managable routine.

Train kids to work independently.

It’s easy to look back on my years of homeschooling and think of things I wish I’d done differently or to notice things I should have done. But one of the things I really think I’ve done right is training the kids to work independently. From the time they were really young, I’ve worked toward having them do more and more work independently. We’ve always had “together work” and “independent work” and as they’ve gotten older, the percentage of each has shifted. When they were really young, independent work might have looked like one copywork sheet with a sentence to copy. Now, my high schoolers are totally independent.

When I do lesson plans, I make quarterly plans for each child. My younger two still do more together work with me, and even their independent work is pretty much the same, so I can still do their lesson plan together. For my older two, I do two separate lesson plans. Kathryne-11th grade- uses My Father’s World for her Bible/literature/history. They provide a curriculum book with daily lesson plans. It is meant to be used by the student with occasional check-ins with the parent. For her subjects not covered by My Father’s World and for all of Charles’s-9th grade- subjects, I make the daily lesson plans. I take their curriculum, break it down to cover 36 total school weeks and then plan one quarter- 9 weeks- at a time. I give this plan to them, and they are expected to follow it independently.

Have a regular meeting time.

Although my high schoolers work independently, we do have regular check-in times. If they are having a problem with a particular subject or assignment, I know about it right away. I also get any graded assignments or tests as they complete them so that I can enter grades in my record keeping file. But when things are going smoothly, I might not hear from them for quite a while. But I need to know what’s going on with their schoolwork. So we have regular times that I meet with them and check up on what they’re doing.

At our meetings, I look over their daily lesson plans and see how they are progressing. I make sure that they are on track and not behind in any work. I make sure I’ve seen any work that needs to be graded and that I’ve graded it and recorded grades. I schedule these meeting times so that they fall when the younger girls are doing independent work or after the times we normally do school.

Use online courses.

There are some classes I just don’t feel competent to teach my high schoolers. And there are subjects that they have difficulty learning just reading a book. Math and foreign languages are two of these. Although Charles can handle learning math just by following a curriculum in a book, Kathryne really wants someone to explain it to her. And they are required to have two years of foreign language in our state- something they definitely can’t learn just by reading a book. To help with these subjects, we use online courses.

Right now Kathryne is using CTC for her math and Mango for her foreign language. Both are using Schoolhouse Teachers for some electives. We’ve also used Kahn Academy for online courses. And I’ve reviewed and liked Standard Deviants Accelerate for supplementary information in a variety of subjects (You can see my recent review here). Using online courses means that I don’t have to struggle to teach subjects that aren’t my strengths and it means that my high school students can work independently on these subjects.

Take advantage of co-op classes.

Another alternative to me teaching a class that is difficult for my high school students to learn on their own is for them to take co-op classes. We have a large homeschool population locally so there are some great co-op opportunities. We have co-ops that are more laid back that offer elective classes for high school. And we have some co-ops that are more structured that offer classes that are required on high school transcripts.

Kathryne is currently taking Marine Biology from a local co-op. This co-op has parents who are very knowledgable about various subjects offering classes in those subjects for high school credits. I really like the structure because, as parents, we do have various strengths in different subject areas. And it’s great for parents to come together and share those strengths to teach our high school kids in subjects areas where other parents may struggle. To look for a homeschool co-op in your area google “homeschool co-op in…” and you are likely to find several different listings. Or get together with a group of other homeschool parents you know, have parents name several subjects in which they have strengths, and set up your own co-op.

Managing homeschooled high school

Managing homeschooling high school students can seem like a daunting task, but it is very worth it to have the opportunity to homeschool your high school students. And with some of these ideas, it is possible to manage.

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