Have you thought about homeschooling for high school? Many parents are intimidated by trying to do high school at home. Between homeschool class plans, the increased workload and the college or trade school application process it can be daunting. But homeschooling high school doesn’t have to be difficult.
If you know about a few key areas and prepare ahead, you can homeschool through high school. Even if your child wants to gain admission into a competitive university, the military or a trade school program. In fact, homeschooling can give your child the time necessary to do the extra activities. Volunteer work and extra-curriculars really shine on an application for education after high school.
Here’s what you need to know to pick homeschool class plans, whether your child will be going to college, trade school or the military.
Homeschool Class Plans
First, you need to figure out which courses your teen should take before you determine which order. Since my son who is thinking about engineering is starting 9th grade this year, I will use his homeschool class plans as an example.
Some states have required courses, regardless of how your child is schooled. But some do not. If your state doesn’t have any requirements for homeschool class plans to earn a high school diploma, there are a few ways to figure out what your teen should take.
I am in NC, and our state does not have any course requirements for homeschoolers to get a diploma. This is how I figured out his courses for high school.
First, look at what your state requires for public school graduation. I am not REQUIRED by law to follow this. However, it is a good place to start to get ideas of how high school could be structured.
If your child wants to enlist in the military, you will want to make sure that you absolutely meet all of the requirements for your state.
For North Carolina, it is something like:
- 4 credits in English
- 4 credits in Math
- 3 credits in Science
- 4 credits in History
- 1 credit in Physical Education and Health
- With electives to a total of 24 minimum credits for graduation
If your child wishes to enlist in the military, look at what classes would help them obtain the highest score possible on the ASVAB to obtain a placement in the area they wish to work in after fulfilling the public school requirements for your state. Do note that some placements can be guaranteed and some are not. In addition, also consider the physical requirements for entry. Do four years of physical education so they are in good shape for boot camp.
PLEASE NOTE: Avoid taking the GED if you wish to enlist in the military, as that will make you ineligible for a signing bonus. You want to go in with a high school diploma. In talking with multiple homeschooling moms whose teens enlisted within the last three years, this subject came up twice.
Community College Or Trade School
Next, look at what your local community college or local trade school requires. If your child would like to seek a technical certification, be sure you meet all of the requirements for those specific programs in addition to the general admission requirments to the school. In looking at our community college, I have noticed that there are different GPA and class requirements for multiple trades. Some of those programs are quite competitive.
Consider the local community college requirements even if your child is college-bound for a Bachelor’s degree. Dual enrollment has many advantages we will go over in a future post. Or you can take select courses at the local community college save money before they transfer to their final school. You will want to ensure that these classes will all transfer to their intended university.
Our local community college has no requirements beyond what is listed above.
What I noticed is that the PE and health credits aren’t named for the community colleges. If your child wants to go into ROTC at a college to become an officer, I absolutely would not skip the one credit in PE. I would add extra physical education classes to help them prepare for passing the physical exams.
Finally, if your child wants to attend a college or university instead of a trade school, look at those requirements. Include all state and private schools that your child might be interested in attending.
Look at both universities you think your child would have no trouble getting into and the universities that would be a reach.
Since I live in North Carolina and the UNCA is ten minutes from my house, here is what we add:
- 2 consecutive credits in a foreign language (preferably taken in the 11th and 12th-grade years)
- 4 credits of math including at least one credit beyond Algebra II
- One science credit in biology and one science credit in chemistry or physics, with at least one lab.
- 1 history credit in US History
While UNCA has a limited number of degrees they offer, the admissions process is the same to every public university in NC. So even if he decides to go to another public university in NC, he will meet their minimums.
Your child can become an officer in the military via attending a university and joining ROTC instead of enrolling in a military academy. If this is your goal, make sure you are meeting the requirements for both the school and for ROTC program. For that, you must keep physical fitness in mind.
I then look at requirements for his stretch schools. Stretch schools are schools which are very competitive academically or have more than academic requirements to gain admittance. Or schools that would be difficult for your family to afford without a hefty scholarship.
Here are the additional requirements to get into the Duke engineering program. Duke would be a huge financial stretch for us and would require top grades across the board:
- 1 science credit in Physics
- 3 credits in a consecutive foreign language
Again, they don’t require a full year each of PE or health. But they’re still good classes to take.
Doing what is required to get admitted to a stretch school makes you look good for scholarships to schools which are not a stretch. Either way, it’s a good idea to challenge them to meet these stretch goals.
If you want to attend a military academy, they are very competitive. Plan for a rigorous class schedule for college-prep level academics and strong PSAT/SAT/ACT scores. You will also want to participate in athletics and have extra-curricular activities that demonstrate leadership skills and qualities.
You will want to contact them to express interest as soon as possible. Get their specific requirements for homeschool class plans, get into their Summer programs, and begin pursuing a nomination. Ninth or tenth grade is not too soon to contact them.
Finally, look at any requirements your family has. For our family, we require geography for a well-rounded education. Personal finance is a must for every child’s homeschool class plans. If he’s going for STEM, he will want to do four years of science including chemistry. He will also need more than one lab class.
We will also require one elective credit as a college and career readiness course. That gives him the exposure, time and opportunity to explore possible careers.
How many credits do you need? Technical and vocational-bound students should aim for 24-28 credits. College-bound students should aim for 28 credits (or more if they do dual enrollment). That is 6-7 one-credit classes per year. A one-semester class is a half-credit, and a full year (2-semester) class is one credit. If you do dual enrollment of any type, you will likely have more credits than needed. A one-semester dual enrollment course is equal to one credit for high school (plus it weights your GPA).
This is what we come up with for his four years, tailored to his probable career path:
- 4 credits in English
- 4 credits of math including at least one credit beyond Algebra II (such as trigonometry or pre-calculus)
- 4 credits in Science including one credit biology, one chemistry, one physics with more than one lab credit
- 4 credits in History, including one credit in US History
- 1 credit in the arts (music, art, drama, debate)
- 2-3 credits in a consecutive foreign language
- 1 credit in physical education and health
- 1 credit in personal finance
- 1 credit in College and Career Readiness
- Elective credits to total 28 credits or more
Homeschool Class Plans Break Down
Then look at any pre-requisites for science and math. For example, you don’t want to take Algebra II before Algebra I. Most Chemistry courses require that you’ve previously taken Biology and Algebra I. Physics usually requires that you’ve already had Chemistry and Algebra I. You have to start early enough on those classes to make sure you can do physics by their Senior year. So you sequence things to make sure all pre-requisites are met.
I take this list and we come up with a final list that I will use to guide my son’s four years of high school:
So for my son, 9th grade will be English I, Algebra I, Honors Biology, American History, Psychology, and Music I. He will begin focusing on passing the CLEP exams for Biology, American History, and Psychology as soon as the courses are over.
10th grade will be English II, Geometry, Honors or General Chemistry, Geography, PE and Health, Personal Finance and Foreign Language.
11th grade will be Algebra II, Physics and Foreign language at home. He will dual-enroll English, World History and more to get at least 30 college credits this year including Summer.
12th grade will be dual-enrolled in all subjects at the local community college. He will have 60 total credit hours to get his AA when he graduates high school. This will include one credit English, one History, one to two foreign language credits, one math and one science credit as a minimum.
Our daughter’s path looks much different, as she is not interested in a career in STEM. She is currently a Junior and is doing dual-enrollment beginning this year. She is gifted in language and in the arts. She wishes to go into the hospitality and tourism industry as a bilingual or trilingual speaker. So her path looks like this:
- 4 credits in English including two dual enrollment credits
- 4 credits of Math including one dual enrollment credit
- 4 credits in Science including one lab credit and one dual enrollment credit
- 3 credits in History, including one credit in US History and a dual enrollment credit in World History
- 3 credits in the arts (music, art, drama) including at least one at the college level
- 8 credits in a consecutive foreign language (Five years in Spanish and 3 years in ASL. This is accomplished by three years of high school Spanish followed by two semesters of dual enrollment Spanish. She also took one year of ASL and will take two semesters of ASL dual enrollment her Senior year.)
- 6 dual-enrolled classes in hospitality management taken her junior and senior years.
AA before BA
She will also take all of her core general education requirements for an AA before graduating high school. Plus all of the hospitality and tourism courses the local community college offers to dual-enrolled high schoolers.
This will give her the flexibility to go into any hospitality or business program for a BA that she wishes. One of the universities in the Public NC university network offers a Bachelor’s in Hospitality and Tourism. This is what we are aiming for.
She will also obtain the hospitality industry certifications she needs from the community college before she graduates high school. This can let her work in her field at more than minimum wage. The idea is to work part-time and come out with a BA or even an MBA debt-free.
If I had it to do over again, I would have only done three credits in science for her. It is her hardest subject. She took Anatomy and Physiology her Sophmore year. We could have skipped that and done Physical Science instead to free up her Senior year for dual credit classes.
If your child wants to consider a STEM or STEAM career, please don’t skip high school chemistry. It seems to be the class that most homeschool moms want to avoid.
Visions of exploding the house while trying to do a lab at home isn’t really what you should think. Chemistry is more like liquid math. Visible, tangible, but normally not dangerous if you follow instructions.
Moms sometimes think if they have environmental science, physics, and biology, their kid is good. But more colleges now see a lack of chemistry on a STEM transcript and require the student to take it in college because they didn’t have it in high school.
Passing high school chemistry is far easier than passing college chemistry. Do your child a favor. Include chemistry if they’re going to go onto STEM or STEAM, even if it is math, technology or engineering. Many schools are tending to prefer chemistry over environmental science for anyone going into a hard science or technical discipline.
If you’re really scared of blowing up the house, take chemistry at a co-op or make it a non-lab class. But do make sure any child who wants to go to a competitive college or for a STEM career takes it while still in high school.
How did you pick your homeschooled student’s classes? Join in on the conversation in the comments below.
I hope this guide helped you in picking homeschool high school classes for your teen. If you want more help, check out our Pinterest boards for homeschooling high school.