High School at Home – Getting Started

A great way to begin planning your program for high school is to have a conference with your teen.

  • Write Your Long Term Goals for High School
  • Confer With Your Student
  • Finalize High School Goals Together
  • Decide How to Accomplish Your Goals

Students who have input into their education are invested in its success and are better able to avoid discouragement when they know they have contributed to establishing that educational target.Planning and goal setting with their future in mind, should include them.

Their interests and needs have, hopefully, been driving your home education program since you began and are even more important now that they are a young adult considering what they want to do with their lives.

Try going into the discussion with your child with your goals for high school written down. This should help to get the conversation started. Have your child critique those goals with you to see how well the goals you have mesh with their ideas and goals too.

Now have your child add and/or correct the goals along with you, so that the needs of the state, the parent and the student are all being considered.

Once you have established what your homeschool high school years need to accomplish, (your goals) you need to decide how your student will meet them.

It is time to ask yourself some administrative and teaching questions:

  • How can I integrate the learning goals we have made into a high school program that meshes with my family’s educational philosophy, homeschool schedule, budget and my student’s learning style?
  • What will my grading scale be?
  • What courses must I include based on the goals we have established?

Don’t Panic

It’s not as hard as it sounds. Your high school program is going to look different depending on what your student’s goals are, and beginning with those goals helps you plan all of the above. Your child is probably going to fit into one of the following categories and their inclinations and talents are going very naturally help you narrow your focus:

  • College Bound & Academically Inclined
  • Tech Oriented Future
  • Arts Focused Future
  • Vocationally Oriented


Teenage friends spending time together

College Bound Students

Your college bound and academically inclined students will have a track that is pretty easy to figure out, especially if they already have an idea of what colleges they are interested in. So some basic places for you to start will include:

  • Set up AP Classes or AP independent study for areas that are their strengths. Co-ops & tutors can help with advanced academic areas such as Math.
  • Schedule PSAT testing and college entrance exams as appropriate. Schedule them for more than one to see which they lean toward (ACT or SAT). Get them practice materials and allow them to take their best test more than once. This student wants to get it right!
  • High School Plan should include academically challenging courses.
  • High School Plan should include any specifics they will need for the schools they may attend.

NC State University Bound

If you know your child wants to attend college, but is not sure where yet, then the NC University system requirements make a good guideline for planning your high school program. Their minimum requirements for high school can be found HERE, but they do include:

  • Four English Credits –  emphasizing grammar, composition, and literature
  • Two Credits in the same Foreign Language
  • Four Mathematics Credits – including one (or more) credit beyond Al. 2
  • Three Science Credits – (or more) but including at least one unit in a life or biological science, one unit in physical science, chemistry, or physics and
    at least one course with labs
  • Two Credits in Social Studies – including one unit in U.S. history
  • The SAT is the preferred college entry exam- see the link above for minimum GPA and test scores

Keep in mind that these are the minimum standards and they are just a guideline to help you get started. They only reflect minimums for entry to state college; private colleges and other states will have additional requirements, so as soon as your student has an idea of where they may be interested in attending, they should review that schools requirements to ensure they are meeting them.

Most high school home education programs will have more than the minimum credits above and will include other courses; electives, P.E. etc.

Another guideline you may want to look at is available HERE – it reflects a college prep public school track for North Carolina students.

Remember that you should consider the above information, but ultimately you get to choose the graduation requirements for your homeschool as well as the course content for your high school program and the materials you will use in your school.

Tech Oriented Students

The above educational guides will work for students who have an interest in attending a technical school as well.

In addition to the college bound suggestions above, remember that their high school transcript should reflect their technical interests and leaning with an emphasis on their area of interest in electives and extracurricular activities.

Technology oriented jobs can be learned in a number of ways so your high school program may look different depending on the needs of your child:

  • Entry to a community college or technical institute
  • Entry to private or state university
  • Apprenticeship for a hands-on education in their vocation

Arts Focused Students

Students that are already focused on an area in the fine arts such as art, dance, music, film or theater, will have lots of elective credits! They may already know where they want to apply and that makes it easier for you to plan their high school program.

Each art school and conservatory will have their own requirements, but making sure that your creative student who has to spend a great deal of time on their talent, has a transcript with some rigorous courses and great SAT scores will make them eligible for many scholarships and will ensure that they are pursued by their chosen school!

Vocationally Oriented Students

These students range from those who want to be a CPA to those students who never sit still. They want to work on cars or help you improve your wardrobe and they will make the world an easier place to live by becoming nurses, mechanics, workers within a trade,  or even our hairdressers.

If they know they want to enter the work world right away, their high school program may include some vocational courses and should include apprenticeship and/or shadowing so they can be sure the job they think they will love is what they want to do.

Short Term High School Goals

Now that you have considered your family’s long term goals over the next four years of high school being sure to include:

  • Student’s Interests and Talents
  • Learning Styles
  • High School and/or College Requirements
  • How You Will Grade & Give Credits

It is time to consider the short term goals that will get you where you want to be each year.

Apply the decisions you have made and the input from your child into a short term plan for each year of High School:

  • Sequence – which course will you teach first in each subject?
  • Scope – what topics or time periods will each course cover?
  • Course Descriptions – write up a short course description. Start by doing this for just one year, or if you like beginning with the big picture, plan the subject sequence for each of the four years and then break it down into the details.
  • Materials and Curriculum – what books, texts, and projects you will use. This gets added to the course descriptions too.
  • Outside Sources – will you need to outsource subjects? Deciding this ahead of time helps you find just the right combination co-ops, tutors and independent study for your kids.
  • Community Service Projects – help them get involved as soon as possible and then leave them to work. Community service opportunities provide amazing educational opportunities and teach responsibility while building confidence and independence in your student.
  • Integrated Studies – how can we integrate the subjects as much as possible to enhance the real life learning experiences I want for my student?

ex: essay practice can be easily integrated into history, government or literature, and community service projects can often be integrated into their course descriptions as well.

Planting trees for an Arbor Day celebration = environmental science project or life science project.

Volunteering for a political campaign = part of a political science elective or a U.S. government core class.

Remember that students learn more and retain that information better when subjects are integrated, as they are in every day adult life. Now you are ready to seek out the resources you need to provide the best high school at home that you can for your teen.

All of the Above

Some of “all the above” will apply to every situation. Homeschooling for high school is an amazing experience.

We can personalize our children’s high school experience and prepare them to soar in whatever vocation or educational institution they choose.

Our relationship with our children changes as they become young adults, and high school is a great time to begin that transition when you home school.

We hope that we have taught them well and we know that although we have had a part in forming their character, as they become adults, they are responsible to make good decisions on their own.

High school at home is also an opportunity to let them learn how to be a leader in the community. Remember to include community service projects on their transcripts and resumes. Not just because it looks good,( it does of course) but because they will have a chance to make a difference and hopefully want to continue to influence and serve their community as adults.

Help them find community activities and causes that they feel strongly about and that allow them to use their strengths, interests & talents for others.

There are many groups who could use their abilities.  They get to make a difference and these types of activities outside of your home give other adults an opportunity to be a good influence and encouragement on your teen. Hearing their abilities and gifts complimented by adults other than a parent can give your teen confidence and help them with decision-making.

Those adults can also help when college and scholarship application time comes around and your students need adult recommendations and references.

Remember to include when planning:

  • Service Hours with a Community Group
  • Adult Mentors
  • Time for Lessons or Projects
  • Time for Each Core Subject
  • Electives
  • Extracurricular Activities with Other Teens
  • Free Time for pleasure reading, hobbies etc.

I hope that you have found the above information helpful. It is not meant to be exhaustive, just to get you started.

There are other sections under the Homeschool-ology High School page that you may find helpful if you have questions after reading this introduction to homeschooling high school.

See the other pages on High School for details about Credits, GPA, Transcripts and Course Descriptions.

I have graduated two high schoolers from our homeschool and both have attended college. They both received more than one Merit scholarship and both were well prepared for college level academics. I am currently down to homeschooling just one high schooler this year!

You are  welcome to message me or leave me a comment here if you have a specific question. I have probably had a question about that too 🙂