The BEST Way to Prepare Your Child to Homeschool High School (while they are still in the elementary/middle years)

As you think about the possibility of homeschooling high school, what is one of the things that scares you the most?

For many moms, it is the idea of having to teach all those higher level subjects. I mean, adding and multiplying are one thing, but algebra? Or worse yet — chemistry??? Or CALCULUS?????????

The Best Way to Prepare Your Child to Homeschool High School

“I can’t do it,” you say. “Our kids are going to public/private school for high school, because I know I won’t be able to handle high school level material; and they need to know it to get into college.”

“Besides which,” you insist, “there are all the younger kids I still have to work with every day.”

“Not to mention,” you exclaim, “I won’t be able to afford the grocery bill if I have a teen in the house all day!!”

OK, well, I can’t necessarily help you with that last one, lol, but for the rest of it, there is a solution. And it’s something you can start now. In fact, it will be the very best way to prepare your child for homeschooling high school — while they are still in the elementary and middle school years — and it will alleviate these fears about handling the level of material needed for high school.

(And even if you still decide to send your kid to public school later, it’s probably also the best way to prepare them for that. Particularly with the way the public schools are nowadays. But that’s a topic for another day…)

What am I talking about? What is the magic cure that makes high school level course material doable for a homeschool family? Even one with (perhaps many) younger children?

I am talking about teaching your kids the skill of independent learning.

Teaching your children independent learning means getting them to the place where they can read (or watch) the lesson, answer the questions (or do the problems), check their work, study for the test, and take the test — ALL WITHOUT MOM. It means they can research for the paper and write it and turn it in for a grade. It means they can set up the chem lab activity, do it, record it, and create a lab report. And all mom needs to do is keep a general eye out for flammable mixtures. 🙂

Yes, your child, if trained to learn independently, can TEACH HIMSELF Chemistry. And world history. And French. And Trigonometry.

Isn’t that what we want in the end, anyway??? Isn’t one of the primary reasons we homeschool because we want our children to learn how to learn? To enjoy learning? To become lifelong learners?? Teaching them to learn independently accomplishes all of that.

AND it prepares them for college — in fact, it’s also the BEST way to do so. In college, the student is expected to take ownership of their own coursework. The professor is not going to look over their shoulder to make sure they schedule their time well or call them up to offer to tutor them when they get a C on the test. No, the student must be responsible for making sure their work is done on time and well and to seek help when they need it.

While homeschooling high school, the mom no longer needs to be the main source of learning. Instead, she becomes a resource for help. Most of the time that comes in the form of pointing the student to the place in the textbook that deals with the area of concern and saying, “There. Read/study that again.” Hopefully, they eventually learn that looking back in the textbook to review is not a thing to be avoided at all costs and is, in fact, a smart tactic.

Preparing your child to homeschool high school

Sometimes being a resource does mean sitting down and learning something alongside your child. But if they are in the habit of independent learning, that doesn’t happen very often.

Sometimes being a resource means you admit you have no clue how to help right now — but then you assist in finding what they need to get over the current hurdle. Maybe you go to the library with them to find other books. Maybe you arrange for a tutor. Maybe you decide this class will be taken online with a “real” teacher. Or all of the above, lol.

Independent learning is how homeschooling high school becomes a much more doable thing and less of a scary thing. I know this because all of my high school students (the fourth one graduates this year) have completed most of their coursework completely by themselves. My main role was as a coach, helping them schedule their time, grading tests and papers, encouraging them when they got frustrated, etc. I’m not saying it was ridiculously easy, and we all danced la-di-da through the high school years smiling and waving daisies — but it wasn’t as hard as most people are afraid it will be.

There are MANY benefits to independent learning besides just the high school thing. When you have a large family, for example, independent learning can help you SURVIVE (lol). So many kids to teach, so little time — not a problem when the olders are learning by themselves. I’ve listed several more of the positives here: This is What Happens when you use Independent Learning in your Homeschool.

What about Morning Time or other ways I want my family to be learning TOGETHER? The beauty is that independent learning does not have to be an all or nothing deal. You can be together as a family for as many subjects as you like (and/or to start your homeschool day), then send the high schooler off to work on their own for the rest.

How do I get started teaching my kid to learn independently? Training your children in the skill of independent learning can begin earlier than you think. In fact, it can start happening as soon as they can read. Yep! But don’t worry if you have an older child, and you haven’t started working on this skill yet. It’s never too late! I detail all the nut and bolts here: How to Teach the Most Valuable Skill Your Child Will Ever Need.

I am going to come totally clean and tell you that my aim is to slowly chip away at your fears about homeschooling high school. I want to knock each and every one of them out from under you so that you begin to look at homeschooling high school as not just a doable thing but a FUN AND EXCITING thing. Something you WANT to do and LOOK FORWARD to. Be warned! 🙂

The “high school level subjects are too hard for me to teach” fear? Not gonna fly anymore. Start training your kid to work independently now, and by high school, they will teach themselves all that stuff that you don’t want to mess with. Ba-bam.

What’s the next fear I can knock down for you? 🙂

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  • Mary Prather says:

    Wise advice! Yes, it’s not as hard as most people think it will be — and it’s a beautiful thing to watch your high schooler gain that independence. It’s our goal, right?

  • Parker says:

    Great stuff! Thank you for all the time you both spend encouraging others in this journey!

    • Ann Karako says:

      You’re welcome! It’s definitely my pleasure to be here with Pam! 🙂

  • Robbin says:

    Having independent learners in my homeschool has been priceless. When the older children no longer have to wait for me in order to make progress in their schooling, everyone is more productive.
    My oldest is a freshman homeschooling high school. You ask for the next fear do knock down. Around here that would be the fear of no friends and no peers for lively school discussions. Most of the homeschooling families in our area do not homeschool high school, so my daughter is feeling quite isolated as she continues on this homeschool journey without her childhood friends. The nearest opportunity for co-op or homeschool activity is an 1.5 hrs away in another state. What advice can you offer on this fear…or reality actually?

    • Ann Karako says:

      Yes, that is a thing, isn’t it? I live rurally myself, so I know what you’re talking about. I will put this on my list! Thanks! 🙂

  • Kate says:

    I totally agree. I love having high schoolers in the house! This year I have 2, and three younger kids. I put aside one day a week which I call ‘high-school day’. The younger kids have to work independently and I spend time with the older kids answering any of their questions, looking over their work and checking that they are on task. It’s my time to give them a little attention because last year I felt like they were so independent that they didn’t get ANY of my time. I think a balance is always good 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    I was homeschooled through high school. It was exactly like you say. I taught myself most of it. My mom is awesome at algebra. Which is great, because it didn’t come naturally to me. But, for the most part, I learned from my books.

    • Ann Karako says:

      How fun to have a comment from someone who has been there done that! Thanks, Jessica! 🙂

  • Tonia says:

    Great article, Ann. I will gladly let you chip away at my homeschooling high school fears (it does make me a little bit nervous). With my daughter in middle school, we’re working on independence now – it’s a slow transition. I’m still surprised at how short my homeschool day has become because she does so much on her own now. That give me more time to prepare for high school, I guess! 😉

    • Ann Karako says:

      It can take time, that’s for sure. But it’s well worth it — more time for Mom is one benefit, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks, Tonia! 🙂

  • Andrea Arellano says:

    Can I just say thank you a hundred times!! I pray God will continue to bless you immensely! You have no idea how much you have blessed and encouraged my heart about homeschooling high school! I’m going into next year and had no peace! Then, God did what he does, he provided your blog through edsnapshots. I’m so thankful!

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