The Surprising Truth About Homeschooling High School

You CAN homeschool high school

This post wasn’t in my plans for today.

You see, earlier this afternoon, I was actually mentally preparing to record a video presenting next year’s relaxed homeschool high school curriculum. It suddenly dawned on me that, at first glance, most people will likely think my teenagers won’t be “doing enough.” After all, isn’t high school the time to start cracking down on academics and getting “serious” about learning?

A few years ago, I would have said yes. But that was before I actually had a homeschool graduate.

Like most homeschool parents, the thought of educating my kids through high school was pretty intimidating. I had the resolve to do it, but I wasn’t sure how. By default, I decided to follow the traditional school model of education. (Looking back, I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.) 

My daughter, who was my high school guinea pig, was okay with this. Having been in public school longer than any of her younger siblings, she had grown comfortable with the brick and mortar method of learning. In fact, she preferred it.

Until she started working her senior year.

Because her employers knew she was homeschooled, they felt comfortable giving her more hours than most kids her age. My daughter enjoyed working, but over time she had less and less time for school work.

Working homeschooled teens

Being the sometimes neurotic mom I am, I started getting really anxious over it, and I would bombard her with questions and demands:

Did you finish your chapter review?

Is your history assignment going to be done on time?

This is too much. You’re going to have to tell them to cut your hours.

My daughter, being a bit more mellow than I am, would calmly placate me and reassure me that everything was fine. And you know what?

She was right.

A strange thing began to happen as the months went by – I began to realize she was learning more at work than she’d ever learn from one of her textbooks. Out in the workforce – aka, the “real world” – she was gaining valuable experience in dealing with others, time management, responsibility, and life.

When it came down to it, her homeschool assignments were just that: mere assignments. They weren’t worth much more than an “A” on a quiz and a pat on the back because they’d be long forgotten by the end of the year.

That was when I shifted my mentality on homeschooling high school.

I was no longer interested in teaching her geometry proofs I knew she’d never use. I stopped stressing over whether or not she knew how to properly balance chemical equations. I knew the world wasn’t going to come to an end if she forgot when Charlemagne lived and died. There were far more important things that concerned me. I wanted her to:

  • Possess a genuine love for learning
  • Know how to self-educate
  • Become independent
  • Never equate learning with “school”
  • Trust in her abilities
  • Trust in God to bring all these things to fruition

Does this mean I completely stopped expecting anything of her? No way. It just means that I was far better equipped to look at the big picture and grant her the opportunity to grow into her adulthood in a way that my rigid notions about high school formerly wouldn’t have allowed.

relax your homeschool high school

It enabled me to accept a more reasonable balance between “school stuff” and things that will actually matter in the grand scheme of things.

Because isn’t that what the high school years should be about? Supporting our soon-to-be adults during their transition into, well, adulthood?

And for those of you who are wondering, “What about preparing for college?”

To that I say, if you’ve given your kids the skills and confidence they need to find out what they need to know, they’ll do it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned most through this experience, it’s this:

Trust your kids. Trust yourself. Trust in the Lord.

Everything else will follow.

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.

28 thoughts on “The Surprising Truth About Homeschooling High School”

  1. Great post Shelly! You are always encouraging us to think outside the box. I get nervous sometimes. I guess it’s mommy “peer pressure.” I worry about what people will say if I don’t respond a certain way when asked if my highschoolers are really learning all there is to know. I know they can’t possibly learn everything! I don’t know everything there is to know, and I have a four year college degree! I also have my oldest (first homeschool graduate) finishing up his first year of college. He’s had a lot of ups and downs as far as academics, but the truth is…he is learning and growing. His grades are improving, and he’s determined to stick to his goals of completing his art/graphic design degree. He has been taught how to learn, not so much tons of facts to memorize. I thank God for that.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s so easy to fall into that comparison trap, but that’s all about appearances, isn’t it? As their moms, we know best how to meet their needs, and I can see you’re doing an amazing job. Keep it up. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank u so much. I am terrified about homeschooling my adopted 13 & 9 yr old through high school, but as a christian there is no other choice. I think your right. Alot of what we thought from government standards were so important, are not.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh so helpful! My oldest is starting high school this coming fall and looking at our state’s requirements for graduation I am feeling the pressure to turn to a traditional textbook driven high school experience but I am trying to resist as much as I can because I know he’d hate it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks for this! I was so confident in our more relaxed method of homeschool — and then a conversation with my mom and sister who are both school teachers started me worrying recently. Your view of education sounds so much like mine (what even is the point of learning proofs in geometry when you’re just going to forget it and never use it, lol). I’d much rather teach real life skills and *how* to learn things. I look forward to your post about what you do use for high school.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “Because isn’t that what the high school years should be about? Supporting our soon-to-be adults during their transition into, well, adulthood?”
    Well said!
    Sometimes the urge to conform, to fit into a prescribed box, is overwhelmingly strong. Do it this way, because this is the way it’s always been done. High school is one of those times, not just for teens, but for their parents.

    Homeschooling is about giving yourself permission to do what works for your child, to get them where they want to go. Thanks for reminding us nervous moms of high schoolers about that simple truth!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hi Shelly,

    I’ve enjoyed your youtube videos over the last few months and I’d like to email you to ask for your thoughts on something. Is that possible or do you only communicate with your subscribers through the comments section? Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love this thought in theory, but am really concerned about how to check off the boxes that PA requires for graduation: the 3 ( or 4?) Maths, sciences, etc. Do you buy the textbooks and then just let the student get as far as they can and then call it good? Agh! I am so worried about high school!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been blessed enough to find an evaluator who understands that all of the required subjects are fully covered simply by living a full life. As for the textbooks, yes, that’s what my daughter did. I just had my second homeschooler graduate this year, and he did things a little differently. He learned through documentaries, research, and field work (studying animals). There are so many ways for teens to learn that I think we do them a disservice by focusing so much on textbook learning. The same goes with teens learning to be adults. You can be sure that each of the required subjects is naturally being covered in their day to day ventures. This post by Unschool Rules helped me immensely with navigating the red tape of high school –


  8. I agree with this very much. I was kind of stressed thinking my Junior this year wasn’t “doing enough”. I had him take the ACT and guess what. He got a 28 on it, with out any real preparation! Highest score? The subject I was most concerned about. Go figure…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you for this confirmation! My teens are overwhelmed with the achedemic schedule at our co-op. It’s too much like school! 😜
    We are dropping it for next year and striking out on our own with a focus on jobs for 10th & 11th grades. We will squeeze in the core subjects still needed on the side. Perhaps aim for community college classes for 11th & 12th grades.
    I feel like I’m stepping out in faith…. Like Peter walking on water. It is scary, but I know I just need to keep my eyes focused on Christ & not look down at the scary waves!

    Liked by 2 people

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