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plan for homeschooling high school

5 Simple Steps to Your Big Picture Plan for Homeschooling High School

  |   Curriculum, Planning, Teaching High School   |   No comment

Are you biting your nails as your kids are getting closer to homeschooling high school?

Or maybe you have an 8th or 9th grader already. Yikes!

It’s time to create a big-picture plan for homeschooling high school.

With a big-picture plan, you’ll be able to sleep better knowing where you’re headed. You’ll be filling in some electives and tweaking it as you go…

…but if you start with a plan NOW you’ll feel more prepared and confident about homeschooling high school. 

Alternatively, if you are homeschooling through high school, have one or more high school students, and DON’T have your plan made  yet, there are some things I know about you:

  • You know how important these high school years are.
  • You wish you were more confident about your student’s academic readiness for high school.
  • You’re anxious about how this child is going to get into college.
  • You pray that there will be scholarship money available from somewhere.
  • You’re so stressed that you have no idea where to start!


You need a big-picture plan for homeschooling high school.


And I’ll show you how to make one in 5 simple steps.

I’ve been right where you are now.

We homeschooled our two kids through high school. By God’s grace, both now have doctoral degrees. I’ve successfully been through this homeschool-to-college thing and have helped many others do the same.

But you only have two kids. It was easy for you, you say.

What if I told you I was diagnosed with breast cancer halfway through my oldest’s high school years,  when we were supposed to be visiting colleges, have all the record-keeping done for merit-based scholarships, be taking the SAT and ACT, and preparing to fill the gaps in courses and credits to get everything we needed by the end of senior year?

Yup, that’s what happened, but it worked out because God was merciful.

Did I wish I’d been a little more organized prior to that?  Yes.

Did we get to do everything we planned on the schedule we’d thought? No.

But that’s okay, life seldom works out just like we plan it.

But having a plan made ahead of time will help when life’s interruptions and the unexpected occurs. Because it will.

Here’s how to get on the right track for homeschooling high school.


Step 1:  Set up a spreadsheet or make a form you can use to create your big-picture plan for homeschooling high school.

Or you can get our free high school planning tool to show you how to research what high school courses your student needs.

With our planning tool, with examples, you can create a big-picture plan for high school courses in about an hour or two.

So you can relax knowing you have a plan in place. And then you can just follow your plan.

You’ll get the forms and examples you need by clicking here.  Just think — in two hours you can have a plan for four years of high school courses!

5 simple steps to your big picture plan for homeschooling high school

Step 2: Especially if your student is planning on college, take an online survey of colleges’ undergraduate requirements.

Choose a couple of public and private colleges in your state or places you’ve considered/are considering for your high schooler for college. Search under one of these:

  • undergraduate admissions
  • undergraduate requirements
  • recommended high school courses

Oh, and don’t forget to check with your homeschooling accountability group for their requirements/suggestions for students who are planning on going to college. That will give you some ideas, as well.

But the college search is the most important.


Step 3:  Based on your research, fill in the courses you know your student will need.

Something along the lines of:

  • four English/Language arts courses – usually a General Literature, American Literature, British Literature, World Literature.  The titles don’t have to be exactly the same. Though colleges do want to see courses that look familiar to them, not something too “creative.”
  • 3-4 math courses, with Alg. I, II and Geometry.  If your student might consider a science or math major, try to squeeze in 4 and take Pre-calculus next.
  • 2-3 sciences that have labs with them — usually, biology, chemistry and physics. Note that physical science is not considered a lab science.
  • 3 1 credit courses of the same foreign language. This could be a modern language, such as Spanish, French, or Mandarin, or it could be an ancient language, like Latin,  Greek, or Hebrew.
  • 3 credits in “social sciences” (I never have liked that vague term, btw.)  This usually needs to include 1 credit (year) of American History, 1/2 credit in American government and 1/2 credit in economics. You might also include World History for one of the social science credits.
  • 1 year of fine arts –this could be anything from singing in the choir or piano lessons to music appreciation.
  • 1 year of physical education — this could be a matter of recording playing hoops in the driveway or taking tae kwon do classes, or a combination of running, exercise DVDs, etc.  You just have to track the time your high school student spends on physical education. It needs to be about 145-150 hours for one credit.
  • academic electives — colleges like to see some academic electives such as a high school composition coursePublic Speaking, Research Paper, world geography, and/or extra math or science.

Incidentally, make sure to get the three main math courses in as early as you can, because your student will do better on college readiness exams.

Kids usually start taking the SAT in the summer before their junior year. Plan on having your high schoolers take the SAT two or three times total. 

You may need your student to take the SAT/ACT for the first time without the third math course, but make sure by the second time you take those tests he has had them all.  More about the SAT/ACT tests with tip #5

Scholarship hint:   it’s usually grade point average  as of the end of the junior year that determine merit-based scholarship eligibility.


Step 4:  Consider your child’s gifts and abilities when choosing elective credits.

  • Does your son play on a city soccer team? By all means, count that for physical education.  Does your daughter take piano or guitar lessons?  Count that for your fine arts credit.  And you can count music lessons, recitals, and performances for that credit. Both when your student is the performer, and when she attends a performance related to her course of study.
  • If your student likes to cook, how about a Nutrition course? You can simply find a few books to read about nutrition, have him write a few papers about the latest research, do a month or two of meal-planning, and cook a number of nutritious meals. It’s not too hard to put these high school courses together yourself. If you need additional help, consider our e-book: Designing a High School Course using Real Books.
  • If your student loves art, there are a number of directions you could go in putting together an art elective. Art history, a survey of a certain genre of art, watercolor or oil painting lessons, a study of impressionism, cubism or other art movements… the opportunities are endless!

And if  your student is NOT yet in high school, it’s not too early to gently prepare for the college readiness exams.


Step 5: Start early preparing for college readiness exams like the S.A.T. and A.C.T.

It’s a good idea in late middle school to begin working on vocabulary. Research shows reading a variety of books helps build vocabulary — so please consider using a literature-based homeschool curriculum for the bulk of your high school courses.

Have your students get in the habit of jotting down unfamiliar words and trying to figure out by the book context what the word might mean before looking it up.

When your student hits 9th grade, purchase an up to date study guide for the SAT and for the ACT.  Some students do better on one or the other. Some colleges prefer one over the other. So find out which test is preferred in the colleges you might consider.

Make sure to get the study guide that’s put out by the people who make the tests, as they are the only ones who can legally use real questions/problems that have been used on previous tests.

The most valuable part of these guides are the practice tests.  Have your student work through the book, cover to cover, and take the first practice test straight through, under simulated test conditions.  Then grade it and look back over the sections where review is necessary. Then take the next practice test… etc.

Again, plan on having your high schoolers take the college readiness test(s) of your choice at least twice.  Both of mine did this and made a lot of improvement the second time.  The possible scholarship money is so worth the effort!

If your student has a rough time on part or all of the test, consider getting some outside help. A college student, a parent you know who’s a wiz at math,  or a college prep test tutor could work with your student.

Again, it’s worth the time and money if your student gets scholarship money, so consider this an investment.


So, do you have a middle school or new high school student? Have you made a high school plan yet?

Don’t stress over homeschooling high school!

Get our free tool (with completed examples)   to show you how to make a big picture plan for homeschooling high school in about 2 hours.



You can do this,

dana -- get your high school planning tool



P. S. Grab our e-book with four and five year planning forms, examples and planning tips.


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