By the time homeschoolers get to high school, parents don’t have to teach (or oversee) everything any more. In high school, sourcing products and outside experiences is the name of the game.
Parents often ask where to find curriculum for their teens. They’re usually frustrated after searching for some universal high school curriculum that really doesn’t exist.
I love meeting with parents of teens and speaking to groups about homeschooling the high school years. When I do, I explain there is no standard high school curriculum, and that high school is different for every student. I let parents know there are lots of ways for teens to learn in high school, and I offer suggestions for where to begin looking for curriculum options, too.
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Are you that parent? Have you been having trouble finding curriculum and products for your high schooler?
Let me give you some ideas.
But, before you scroll down, remember this: the sky’s the limit in terms of what can be included, excluded or combined in a home curriculum for high school.
Now, here’s a list of places to help you source high school courses, curriculum and experiences:
Curriculum Products: You’re less likely to find all-in-one curriculum products for high school, but what you will find are tons of great products to teach individual subjects, such as Algebra, Architecture or Ancient History. Browse what your favorite homeschool author, homeschool publisher, online curriculum vendor, book retailer, or homeschool blogger has to offer. Glean ideas for which ones you can choose for your teen. Better yet, have your teenager choose for himself. By combining many of those products together, you’ll have enough curriculum for an entire year of high school.
Community and Junior Colleges: Often called “dual enrollment”, most American students now have access to programs for early college at community and junior colleges. Check your state’s requirements first, then visit a local campus to learn about placement tests and other requirements for homeschoolers. Depending on the area, your high schooler may be able to attend part-time — even full-time – for free or a fraction of the tuition cost. Best yet, your student earns college credit for courses taken there, too.
Your Local High School: Although you have opted-out of public high school, there’s nothing wrong with dropping back in for a class or two. Many areas allow homeschoolers to attend high school part-time while still holding on to homeschool status. Ask how things are done in your district, and then browse the high school’s course descriptions to find classes your high schooler can use.
Adult & Community Education Programs: Most cities offer continuing education through adult and community programs. Since these classes are offered year-round, it’s easy to combine several classes for high school credit. Community courses are great for picking up new skills, learning alongside other people in classroom settings, and experimenting with topics for a few weeks before launching into year-long studies.
Technical Schools: Just like colleges, trade and tech schools are great places to pick up classes during high school, too. Visit a local campus to find out about opportunities for homeschooled teens.
Online High Schools: There are at least 2 kinds of online high schools, some designed for school kids who want to study from home, and others for those who want to hold on to homeschool status. Check with each school to learn about homeschool options before enrolling. Learn more about online high school and correspondence programs here.
Online College Courses: Today’s learners have access to an amazing line-up of lectures that have been archived from courses taught at Columbia, MIT, Harvard, Yale and other top colleges and universities. Teens can take advantage of these lectures to learn just about anything. When using these courses, parents can choose to award credit based on the lectures alone, or by adding a writing or other physical component to help document learning. No matter how it’s done, it’s like learning from top university professors, only without the cost of tuition! Learn where to find some of these courses here.
Free Online Classes: Lots of companies, businesses and individuals offer training courses online. Teens can learn many high school-worthy things online, such as web design, coding, world languages, business skills, home making, SAT study skills and more. Free definitely does not mean worthless, by the way, because many quality courses are offered free, requiring nothing more than signing up.
Free Online Videos: Khan Academy (though excellent) isn’t the only name in free video online learning any more. Lots of people offer free online learning content via Youtube or other video streaming service. These lessons can be used to supplement existing courses, or for stand-alone high school credit, too. Find a favorite, and then list videos in order to create a set of lesson plans. Assign labs or written work in between — curriculum solved!
High School Co-ops: Parents searching for ways for teens to make friends, learn alongside other teens, or receive simulated classroom learning, may want to look into into (or form) co-ops. Co-ops are perfect for learning things that are hard to teach at home, learning in groups, and sharing expensive equipment. I love co-ops and strongly recommend them at least once during the high school years. Never heard of a homeschool co-op? Read more about co-ops here.
Textbooks: Though many homeschoolers shy away from standard textbooks, I am actually a fan of high school texts when used in certain ways. One way is to use textbooks as a framework for what to study about a subject (a detailed table of contents can be your best friend). Another way is to use textbooks combined with other resources (texts don’t have to stand alone). Finally, because texts are designed to provide a full year of high school work, they can help to gauge just how much is considered worthy of a transcript credit. There are other ways to use textbooks, but I caution against blindly following standards found in textbooks, because in my opinion, meeting national standards is not the same as real learning. Read how to use stand-alone textbooks here.
Internships/Mentoring: Some of the best learning comes from doing, and that’s where this idea comes in. By working with individuals in your community (or communicating with mentors online) teens can learn first-hand the things others only read about in books. Finding internships and mentors isn’t always easy, but great places to look include church groups, community groups, a local Chamber of Commerce, area professsional organizations, and the workplaces of people you know.
By now, you have seen that high schooling can be made of many different experiences, each tailored to the specific needs and goals for that student. Combine many of these options to design a customized high school curriculum, then sit back and observe the rewards of personalizing an education for your teen!
For more high school articles, be sure to follow the high school tag at the bottom of this post.