How to Homeschool Simply (The Teen Years)

Ages 14-18

I’ve now reached the final week in this series- homeschooling during the teen years. In case you missed the previous posts, over the past few weeks I’ve written about how to simply homeschool:

Today I’ll be finishing up with how to accomplish a relaxed homeschooling atmosphere while homeschooling teenagers. 

You might not often hear the words “relaxed” and “teens” in the same sentence with everything from hormones to anxiety about the future, but it is possible to homeschool in a more simple manner than most people may imagine.

A great many parents make the decision to send their kids to a brick-and-mortar school for high school, mainly because they assume they will not have the time nor resources in order to homeschool high school properly. Not only is this not the case, but I am a firm believer that of all times to homeschool, the high school years are the most crucial time to do it.

homeschooling high school

The picture that a majority of people form in their heads about what homeschooling high school is like usually entails stacks of textbooks, hours and hours of instruction, frustration and tutors, and, sometimes, defeat.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The vast majority of the methods I suggested for homeschooling the middle years and even the early years still hold true with older children, such as:

  • Unit studies
  • Maintaining a learning-rich environment in the home
  • Reading, reading and more reading
  • Assigning age-appropriate chores
  • Visual media
  • Taking full advantage of the library
  • Field trips
  • Experimenting
  • Notebooking
  • Project-based learning

Since the teen years are the time to begin preparing for possible college attendance, trade work, or entrepreneurship, it is vital to have a more focused homeschool during this time, but it needn’t be rigid, overwhelming, and boring. Although the use of several of the suggestions I made above would be plenty of education for this age group, I have some additional ideas that I’ve either used in my own homeschool or have simply heard of and found to be inspiring to share with you today.

relaxed homeschooling high school

How to Homeschool Your Teenager Simply


– Use a textbook table of contents as a guide.

Just because conventional schools use textbooks as their primary teaching method doesn’t mean you have to. They’re often dry, redundant, and just plain boring. That does not mean, however, that they shouldn’t be be used as a resource. I’ve known several homeschooling families who have used the table of contents to give them a basic structure for what to pursue, and used that to develop hands-on activities and unit studies. This is a great idea for parents who know what subjects their kids want to study but aren’t sure what to include.


– Living books

Historical fiction, biographies, and trade books are not only much more interesting than textbooks, but they introduce material in a way that makes it easier to connect with the topic. Instead of simply presenting dull facts and timelines, they add life to the stories by presenting realistic characters who are easy to identify with. Combined with notebooking, living books can provide an excellent education in almost any subject area.


– Mentorships and/or job shadowing

This is the perfect time to begin looking for a trusted adult who will take your child under their wing and teach them skills you may not possess yourself but that your child shows an interest in. The teen years are also a great time to introduce a real-life job situation by job shadowing or seeking internship at a local company.


– Allow them to seek employment opportunities

There’s no greater training for the real world than by being out in it. What better way to do that than by getting a job in your community? They can hone their people skills, learn how to handle all sorts of people, and get a taste of what it’s like as an adult.


– Let them explore.

My teenage son loves to be in the outdoors so much that we actually made “field work” a large part of his science course this year. Now that they are older and more responsible, give your teens lots of time to explore their interests. Many people don’t find what they’re passionate about through school, but through learning what they like to do outside of school. Keep that in mind as you plan your homeschool routine.


In a nutshell:

Homeschooling the teen years doesn’t have to be long, tedious, complicated, or burdensome. Remember that the real world offers more lessons for kids this age than most curriculums ever will. While it certainly is important to make sure your teen is prepared for the future, doing it simply will better ensure that not only has your child learned, but that they have learned to love learning.

Here’s an example of what a typical day of a teen years simple homeschool might look like:

Structured time:

  • Silent reading (30-60 minutes) (may include living book learning on top of other literature)
  • Notebooking (20-30 minutes)
  • Bookwork (30-75 minutes)
  • Unit study activities or other hands-on activities (30-60 minutes)


Unstructured time:

  • Part-time employment
  • Pursuing interests
  • Going to the library
  • Watching interesting and educational movies and documentaries
  • Spending time in the community and/or with friends


As always, keep in mind that this is only an example of what a typical day in a relaxed homeschool might look like. All kids are different. All families are different. The point of simple homeschooling is to find something that works for your family, and yet helps to maintain a peaceful and unhurried lifestyle. In that kind of atmosphere, your teen is bound to not only love learning, but to thrive.




Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

54 thoughts on “How to Homeschool Simply (The Teen Years)”

  1. This is great advice, Shelly! I wholeheartedly agree that the teen years are when kids need their parents most and homeschooling through these years is so beneficial and rewarding. Plus, I really think that public schools push too much onto teens with the long structured school days, textbook and lecture approach, plus hours of tedious homework which drains many teens physically and emotionally. That was my experience in middle and high school and I see it more so today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it has definitely gotten worse today. Although I also had to do standardized tests, they took about three days out of the year, and we did no test prep. Interestingly, scores were higher then than they are now. It’s such a shame how educational bureaucrats can take a beautiful thing like learning and turn it into a heinous chore for students.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love your blog and vlog! I have always homeschooled and I have 8 teens currently at home (and a 21 yo who is out of the house)…I love to get refreshed by your advice, since every kiddo is different, I find myself constantly looking for advice on what to do for one kid or another. Thank you!


  2. Love these ideas. Was kicking around the idea of internships for my 15 yr old, but she wants to focus on her dual enrolled classes and intern after she finishes her 1st degree and is doing a year for her 2nd BS. I relented since she is doing well. However, I am thinking of some summer ‘job shadowing’ for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such great advice that I am pinning for the future. I already know my oldest wants nothing to do with traditional high school so we’ll continue to homeschool but I didn’t want piles of textbooks and lots of essay paper assignments. I’m still not sure what I learned by writing so many essay papers… except perhaps how to write an essay paper for college.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great finish to the series! With my first teen halfway through her 10th grade year I would wholeheartedly agree. Simple and as much as possible allowing them to use their interests to drive their learning.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely agree with you that homeschooling the highschool years is the most crucial time. I’ve never thought there was an obvious jump into highschool. It just flowed on from what they were doing before, and the changes happened without any big fanfare. When my older ones saw what school kids have to go through it made them very thankful they weren’t there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this post at Literacy Musing Mondays. Homeschooling teens is challenging. My oldest is a senior and chose to start an online school as a junior. He’s done well and will be going to college with scholarships, but I really don’t want to go the online school route for my other 2 kids. I’m still trying to figure out what homeschooling high school should look like as my second son is a freshman. Finding balance can be difficult!! Curious how you grade and do transcripts? 🙂

    Thanks for linking up with Literacy Musing Mondays!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t give grades, and I plan on doing narrative transcripts, which give detailed summaries of what was accomplished in each subject, rather than assigning letter grades. Since my daughter just plans on attending the community college that my oldest son goes to, I don’t think this will be a problem. If I were ever in a position that I needed to assign letter grades, I would grade them based on their thoroughness, dedication, and demonstration of understanding, as I don’t give them tests.


  7. Love this! I agree that it’s important to give teens as many real life experiences as possible. My boys have learned a ton from being in basketball. And as soon as the season is over, my 16-year-old is looking forward to getting a part time job. I know he will mature greatly from that experience as well. And what a great time to learn about the best ways to use money. Such an exciting time of life!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We have a long way to go before the teen years but I really love this approach – so often teens learn their enthusiasm for learning when it’s all just book learning, chugging away just to learn to exams. 😦

    Thanks so much for sharing over at Friday Frivolity too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Shelly, I love your voice out there. I totally agree with your view. Textbooks have an impressive amount of knowledge in them, but it is information that just doesn’t stick. I have biology this year with my -5 year old. I don’t want a college level course. I really don’t do well with science at all. Do you have a suggestion? There is no way I could build the course.

    Liked by 1 person

            1. Living books are basically any quality book that are not textbooks, like trade books, quality literature, classics, historical fiction, biographies, etc. For example, rather than use a biology textbook, I’ll use the table of contents as a base, but I’ll go to the library to get books on seeds, plants, cells, etc. Rather than use a history textbook, we’ll use either non-fiction books, biographies, or historical fiction. Those are all living books.

              Liked by 1 person

  10. Thoroughly enjoyable post, and timely for me. High school is on the horizon, and though I believe continuing to homeschool is the right decision, it’s not without trepidation. I enjoyed your straight forward advice and found it comforting. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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