Homeschool High School Mistakes – Failing to Plan High School Courses

When you are homeschooling high school, you need to aim for college. There are two reasons for this. Either your kids will go to college and need the college preparation, or they WON’T go to college, and their homeschool becomes perhaps the only formal education they receive. College preparation is truly LIFE preparation, especially since you don’t know what the future holds. You want to homeschool like the Boy Scouts, and always be prepared!

You are probably wondering, though, about the big HOW. How can a humble homeschool be like a high power “college prep” high school? That’s the focus of this article. One of the biggest mistake parents make in homeschool high school is not planning high school courses. I’m going to tell you how you can avoid this trap.

Check your state’s requirements

First, during eighth and ninth grade, find out the homeschool requirements in your state. Requirements vary widely and can change yearly, so it’s impossible to know without checking it out for yourself. Check with your state homeschool organizations to find out the requirements. A simple Google search for the name of your state plus “homeschool organization” is all you need to do. Find the requirements, then develop a plan to meet them. There are some states that don’t require specific courses from homeschoolers. In that case, make sure you meet the legal requirements of your state law, but focus your course selection on college requirements – again, it allows for maximum flexibility in the future.

Meet college admission requirements

What exactly are college admission requirements? There is no “right” answer to that, because every college has their own requirements! There are some generalizations about college preparation, though, so let me share those. In general, the recommended courses to take in high school include 4 years of English, 3 or 4 years of math, 3 to 4 years of social studies, 3 years of science including one lab science, 2 to 3 years of a single foreign language, 2 years of PE, 1 year of fine arts, and enough electives to make 24 or more high school credits. Review the common college requirements for classes to see what courses are expected. In every area of high school college prep course work, make sure that you are teaching your students right at their level.

Exceed requirements for fun!

One of the benefits of homeschooling is its efficiency – it allows plenty of time for fun! Many of the things teenagers do for fun can actually be used as high school courses! They fun things your child likes can be wonderful educational electives and additional foundational courses that beef up their transcript. (I have some great ideas on how to make a winning homeschool transcript that I’ll share in a later article.)

The “basics” cover a multitude of weaknesses

Focus on reading, writing, and math! If you cover the basics, you can’t stray far from a great college preparation. Many students who go to college need remedial help with the basics. If your student has a solid foundation in the basics, then you’re successful! The ability to read, write and do math will allow your student to catch up quickly if and when they are decide to pursue higher education.

Review your plan yearly and adjust as needed

A quick yearly review can keep you on track with high school. Each year you can make decisions for what is right at the time, but the yearly review will give you the larger overview of high school. The yearly review will remind you that THIS is the year you need to start a foreign language, that this is your last chance for a lab science, or give you the final impetus to complete an art course. Review your plan yearly while you enjoy a lifestyle of learning.


Colleges will know that you have done a great job planning high school courses when your student takes the college admission exams. In order to succeed, then, you need to know a little about those tests. What are they, when do you take them, and why? That will be the focus of my next article.

Homeschooling Laws – Tips For Understanding Your State’s Homeschool Laws

Relax! No matter what your friends and family members may have said, home education is legal in the United States. Each state has different homeschooling laws. Some states have very few homeschooling requirements, and others have extensive regulations that must be followed.

Here are some definitions that will help you understand the homeschool laws in your state:

  • Attendance – the minimum number of days or hours that a student must be taught.
  • Compulsory Attendance Age – the ages at which a child must receive formal education.
  • Notice – information that must be sent to the state providing notice of your decision to homeschool.
  • Qualifications – requirements that must be met by a teaching parent, tutor or other instructor.
  • Records – information that must be kept or reported to the state.
  • Subjects – areas of knowledge in which a student must receive instruction.
  • Testing – examinations to determine a child’s level of academic performance.

According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, homeschoolers perform just as well in states with very few legal restrictions as they do in states with many legal requirements. Government oversight of homeschoolers has no effect on academic outcomes.

If your child was previously in public school, you may need to submit a letter of withdrawal from to your local principal or superintendent.

State homeschooling organizations and local homeschool support groups are great resources for helping you understand and comply with your state’s homeschooling laws. To find out the homeschool laws for your state, visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.