Homeschooling High School: A Day in the Life

Homeschooling high school — what does it look like? Well, let me show you! And while I do that, I’ll also add some commentary about what’s happening.

You know, like on the DVD when you can watch the movie with the actors talking over top, telling you about every scene? That’ll be me!

homeschooling high school Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

A Day in the Life of our Homeschool High School

As I write this, it is almost 9am — and it’s still quiet in the house. Because nobody is awake but me and the dog. One adult child has already gotten ready and left for work; one doesn’t start work until later, and the other is off today. “Sleep ’til you have to get up” is their M.O., lol. The lone remaining high schooler is also still silent and snoozing.

When the olders were high schoolers and there were still youngers around, even then the mornings kinda jived that way, anyway. I mean, yes, the youngers did get up, but we didn’t do anything much for school until everyone was vertical and cognizant.

(Did you know morning time can happen at any time of the day? Or that “morning” doesn’t have to mean EARLY morning? Allowing kids to sleep until they wake up naturally is one of the huge benefits of homeschooling. And for teens, it is practically a must. The alternative brings results that ain’t pretty, let me tell you.)

(Which incidentally is one of the big reasons why I personally don’t think school outside the home is a good idea for teens. Getting enough rest is one of the key foundations for both physical and mental health. Teens NEED more sleep because their bodies (and minds) are growing so exponentially fast. Just sayin’…)

As the high schooler gets up (she is actually often before her older siblings), she wanders into the kitchen to find some breakfast. Did I make breakfast for my family when they were all younger? Sometimes. More often not. Cereal is an amazing thing to promote individual responsibility, lol. But guess what? These days she fries her own egg and puts it on toast.

I do have another one that still does cereal most days. It’s a hill I’m not willing to die on, because when he leaves home he’ll make his own choices in this area, anyway.

A small break in the action as she wanders into my bedroom (I am composing this on my bed, still in my jammies) and flops down beside me to see what I’m doing. I show her the text thus far.

She giggles in the appropriate places and says “Aaagh, I’m the only high schooler! This feels so weird!” but after a loving smile into her eyes and a fond stroke on the head from me, she recovers quickly, saying “I’m hungry!” — and leaves to resume foraging.

It’s about the little moments

These moments happen all. the. time. when you homeschool high school. Transmitting love to our teens with no more effort than breathing, because it is a natural part of life. Providing a safe haven for their “feeling weird” moments. Which happen OFTEN, lol.

What will happen next? She’ll gradually get around to getting dressed and settling down to work on school work. All with no prompting from me. I’m really just around for show these days and to grade her work when needed. It was that way with most of the olders, too.

homeschooling high school Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

I’ll confess, sometimes I procrastinated about grading until weeks after an assignment was completed — but they trekked on without me. Independent learning is one of the key ways that homeschooling high school becomes more doable and less intimidating, after all.

When they need more help

OK, true confessions, at least one of my kids did need extra help in the “getting down to work” department. See my post entitled Teaching Diligence to My Teen is a Hill I am Willing to Die On for more about that, lol. But having him here in the house meant it was something we could work on daily, even hourly.

These days, having graduated in May, he is responsible to plan his day so that he will get himself ready for work and begin the 35-minute drive in plenty of time to arrive 10-15 minutes early at his full-time job at Chick-Fil-A. And he is doing great at it.

Did you know that college is not the only option for kids after high school? Even for those that do well in academics? My son needs more time to mature — and owning his own car and working a full-time job are both helping in the effort.

homeschooling high school Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

We don’t always need to cram responsibility down their throats during high school as if they must be perfection itself by the time they graduate. Adulthood will come in due time, but it can happen in many different ways. Another beauty of homeschooling high school is that we can better identify what our child needs after graduation and plan for that.

Teaching independence to homeschoolers

The high schooler hates math, so she often does it first. Also, I am usually more available for questions earlier in the day, and she knows that. She LOVES science, so that is done EVERY day.

The other subjects don’t always happen every day, but they usually all get done by week’s end. She has a weekly planning form that she fills out on Tuesday (the day after homeschool co-op) and checks off each day’s work as she goes.

Yes, teens should be working on planning out their own time and schoolwork. Even if they aren’t always successful at it. Remember, it is a learned skill like anything else and it can be a process. For schoolwork, you can plan the overall scope and sequence but gradually let them figure out how to make it happen in the day-to-day.

Pam’s Independent Student Planners are perfect for this. (And be sure to listen to the audio, because I’m on there! 🙂 ) My post about diligence (linked to above) is applicable here, too, lol. Oh, and this one: 10 Effective Strategies for Motivating Homeschooled Teens).

She also has an ongoing babysitting job right now. A one-year-old comes to our home during the day or evening for about 15-20 hours per week. I get my baby fix 🙂 and my teen earns a little cash.

homeschooling high school Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

And she learns more about time management, as well as about keeping a toddler happy, lol. She would not have been able to take on this job if she were going elsewhere to school.

She likes the money, but I like what she is learning through the experience. Homeschooling high school is not all about the academics, y’all. We don’t “ruin” our kids lives by keeping them home — we give them the opportunity to have other experiences. Not inferior ones, just different. Remember that.

Homeschooling is about relationships — all the relationships

Some days I have to leave for work. Now, granted, when there were five kids at home and the eldest had to watch everyone else and keep them on task while I was gone, that was not such a great thing. I regret that for then. But now, it is not an issue. The teen carries on.

Will there sometimes be difficulty while I am at work? OF COURSE. Especially in the area of relationships with siblings — especially one sibling in particular, ahem. But you know what? They are old enough now to be working through most of these things themselves.

Not all; I still get a phone call at work now and again — but most. They were telling me just the other day that they had successfully dealt with an issue and were bummin’ because no one was around to see it. LOL. (Remember that bit where I said it’s not all about the academics? Yes, that.)

Sometimes she is still working on school work in the evening. Is that any different than homework that is brought home from public/private school? I don’t think so. There is flexibility in homeschooling that is precious during these years.

Because sometimes the reason she is still doing school in the evening is that she had a softball lesson in the morning or maybe a dentist appointment. (Doctors and music teachers and other “appointment people” love us because we don’t have to be crammed into their afternoon with all the other kids.)

Or maybe it is because there was a book that was too good to put down, lol.

homeschooling high school Pam Barnhill Homeschool Solutions

But more often in the evening, she is free to read that book, watch a movie, practice her batting, throw the ball with her dad, or do something crafty. Because usually there is no “homework.”

Which means she can get to bed at a reasonable hour, frequently around 10pm. (See paragraph above about teens and rest.) She comes to find me to say goodnight and takes her dog into her room and is out like a light.

Her older siblings vary on when they get to bed and/or turn their lights out. But again, if they are being faithful to fulfill their responsibilities, why quibble?

They are their own people

We raise them to make choices that work for them — at least, we should be. We should be helping them identify how they work best, not how we think they SHOULD work or how WE work best. Ya know?

And there you have it. It’s a work in progress, as all our lives are. But it’s a typical day for us. And that’s what homeschooling high school can be like for you, too.

Even if you have younger kids still, the teen can be pretty much self-determining. Even the teen that struggles with this stuff will have more autonomy than the younger siblings, freeing you up more to focus on other areas of life.

And to enjoy the process.

To build the relationship that will soon enough become more distanced as they go away to college or begin adulthood in some other way. To provide the safe place where they KNOW they are loved and valued for EXACTLY who they are. To work through the tricky stuff — even to fight sometimes about it — because that’s what people committed to one another do. This is a reality, am I right?

Even when it’s difficult, it’s a wonderful way to live the family life. Give it a try for yourself. 🙂

HUGS!!

Read more about homeschooling high school and get advice from a mom who has “been there, done that.”

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  • Michelle B. says:

    Thank you for this beautifully written piece. It embraces and celebrates the unique time in a homeschooling journey when our kiddos hit high school. I couldn’t agree more that home education is about helping our kids to figure out who they are, how they work best, and that eventually it’s all up to them. Well done, mom!

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