How to Start Homeschooling High School
Let’s start by laying some groundwork:
1. A Teachable Spirit
As a parent, a teachable spirit is a huge thing to model for your high schooler. Likely, your student may struggle with some areas of study, and you may struggle with helping him for one reason or another. But what he’ll need you to do most is to model a teachable spirit.
What is a teachable spirit? It’s an openness to the Lord that allows for a change in direction, based on what He has in mind. For a high schooler, this also covers the direction from his parents.
The challenge here is that your high schooler is quickly becoming an adult and it takes prayer and listening to the Spirit to discern if your direction for him is the Lord’s direction for him. Our homeschool mom ego can really rear their ugly heads here. Let the Lord do the leading.
Modeling this demonstrates humility and shows your teen that there’s room to grow. And a growth mindset plays a huge role with learning.
2. Teaching and Modeling a Growth Mindset
What is a growth mindset? It’s seeing the opportunities available and having the wisdom to take action on those that grow you as a person. It’s a cousin to a teachable spirit.
A fixed mindset sees only the obvious and can be resistant to areas that challenge you both personally and spiritually.
People typically have a mix of a fixed and a growth mindset. After all, it can be easy to fool ourselves with how we “really are.” Generally, people are naturally bent toward one or the other.
If you find that you struggle with having a growth mindset, you need to give yourself permission to grow. It can be scary to travel a broken road or try new things. It can be a challenge to see things with new eyes. If you need permission for yourself, you can imagine that you need to be willing to extend a growth mindset to your student.
So, what do I mean by this? If your high schooler is struggling, keep calm. Evaluate what may be the challenges. There’s always a root cause to struggles or behaviors. Are they afraid of change? Are they ready for change, but your own feet are stuck in the mud of fear?
Jot down some possible solutions and implement them as best as you can. If you find that you can’t figure it out and your high schooler isn’t helping you, ask a spouse or trusted friend for insight. Then work on that aspect of your parent-child relationship.
3. Develop and Maintain a Close Relationship
If you already have this going for you, then you have a head start. If you don’t, it’s never too late to start. Show genuine interest in the things, people, and ideas that your son or daughter have an interest in.
When a children feel close to and have a healthy relationship with their parents, they thrive. Because they have a sense belonging, know they are important to their parents, and believe that they matter, they have confidence and trust in the relationship.
Consider this quote from theconversation.com:
Teachers focus on building meaningful relationships with students early in the year and then maintaining them. Students who feel that teachers care for them are more willing to engage in the learning activities.
True, this is what teachers in the school system are noticing. However, they’re teaching in overcrowded classes and can’t possibly make the time for each student. And because they aren’t the child’s parent, they can’t quite have the impact that parents can.
Parents who choose homeschooling high school have the blessing of spending meaningful time throughout the day with their children, and only their children. Not 30 other children as well.
Think about the content of your conversations. How are you affirming your teen? Do they have a voice in your home? Are they allowed their own opinions?
4. Academics Are Secondary
While academics are important and have their place, they don’t take the place of you. And as a Christian parent, you have the amazing opportunity to keep planting seeds of love, hope, encouragement, and growth in your high schooler. Not to mention the ability to consistently plant seeds of God’s Word into his mind.
Every moment counts. Yes, every word of encouragement and every moment of patience counts. So does every memory that you build together. Because as facts fade away from their memory over time, the bond you build has a strong chance of remaining.
I don’t know the actual statistics, but it’s something like for every negative word spoken, you need three positive words to counteract it. Think on that.
Your words, more than academics, will carry your student through life.
5. Tailor His Education
As homeschoolers, we have an amazing opportunity to tailor education to our student’s individuality.
That comes with some responsibility!
Firstly, get ready to keep record of grades, samples of his best work, and a transcript at the end of each year.
Secondly, if he’s college bound, check with colleges and universities to see what is required for entry, then be flexible within those requirements.
Additionally, you may consider finding some homeschool classes or a homeschool co-op where he can take classes you might not be confident in teaching. (Bonus: It’ll give him the opportunity to connect with other high schoolers and hopefully form some good friendships.)
Lastly, you may consider supplementing with videos or on-line courses. It’s amazing how many options are available. If you care to know what we have used throughout high school, I’ve shared that here.
6. Be at Peace with the Fact that You Can’t Predict the Future
Really, you have no way of knowing the outcome of your child’s education at home. But it’s the same thing if your high schooler were to stay in the school system. While in a sense, we can only “hope for the best,” we also have God’s promises to us,
….so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:11
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
As a Christian parent you have the Lord to lean on during the good times and during those hard providences of family life. I speak from experience when I say that homeschooling high school can be one of them. It is not for the faint of heart. There are days when I wasn’t sure we would make it. But now that I’m at the other end of the high school years, I can say with certainty that it is worth it.
As you allow the Holy Spirit to direct you, keep faith that God has you and your high schooler in His (good, capable, trustworthy, and loving) hands. And as you begin the task of homeschooling high school, you can know in your heart that he will guide you.