Homeschooling High School

Choosing a Curriculum for Homeschooling High School

If you read and reflected on my previous post about homeschooling high school you already have a good idea of how your child learns and what your time constraints are.  Now we can find a specific curriculum for homeschooling high school to ensure your child not only studies the right subjects to achieve their goals, but that the material is presented in a way that your child understands. 

Consider the following infographic to understand more about the different approaches to homeschooling.  For most homeschoolers abiding entirely by a single method becomes too limiting and eclectic homeschooling is the best choice. That being said some children really thrive with a single method for all their subjects so just do what works for you. 

Approaches to Homeschooling Infographic by Mary Stephens

Once you see where your child fits in terms of methods look at the list of curriculum below to see which resources align with your child’s needs. This list is very basic as not to overwhelm you.  I’ve focused primarily on tried and true programs that are more comprehensive covering a variety of subjects.  I’ve also added  some subject specific options for math and science at the end.  If you would like more personalized assistance my homeschool consulting service will help you look at each and every subject to determine what the best approach is. 

For your reference there are stars next to programs that are more parent friendly in terms of the involvement necessary.  If you have any questions let me know.   

What is the Best Curriculum for Homeschooling High School for Your Child?

Literature Based:

**Sonlight:  This is a literature based approach that is both gentle and yet, thorough.  I love Sonlight and have used some elements of it every single year that I have homeschooled.  The books are fabulous.  Out of the hundreds my children have read I can only think of two that I wasn’t totally wowed by.  For high schoolers the program is self-directed and easy to use.  It is not your typical traditional textbook approach, but it works really well.  As it was designed for missionaries it is also very global in its approach which as a travelschooler I love.  Although this is listed as a complete curriculum it can also be used for individual subjects—this is how I have always used it.  Honestly, I think overall Sonlight is my favorite curriculum for homeschooling high school.

WinterPromise:  This is similar to Sonlight, but with much more to do in terms of projects.  I have never used it at the high school level, but my middle school boys really enjoyed it.  It’s great if you have multiple ages all at the same time too.  ***

Build Your Library and Book SharkWhile I have never used either of these programs I know they are becoming very popularThey are very similar to Sonlight, but not quite as global in approach.  These programs are also completely secular. 

Traditional 

**Seton Home Study This is a totally traditional workbook approach to learning.  It’s not the most interesting in my opinion but some kids thrive with this type of learning. (I have one kid like that) You can do the whole thing online or just purchase separate components. 

**K-12:  This is very much like a traditional school in a homeschool friendly format.  It uses regular textbooks and classic readers.  Many states have a public charter school K-12 option too so if you live in one of those states it may be free. 

**Great Courses:  This is a staple in my homeschool.  These are (mostly) courses by college professors that have been recorded.  You can get a subscription and just use as many as you would like.  I use these in high school and just have the kids write one or two extensive research papers on topics of interest that came up in the course.  I have this marked as easy to use, but you could do a lot and create reading assignments and other projects if you wanted which would make it more labor intensive. 

**Open Tent Academy:  This is a great online school with lots of options for unique classes.  The teachers are laid back and flexible, but the content is great and my kids have learned a lot and enjoyed every class they have taken with Open Tent.  I have used them many times. 

**Excelsior Classes:  This is the most traditional of all the online live class options I have used. It’s extremely thorough and they have a wide variety of options.  Their website is a bit annoying to navigate though, but it’s worth the time to figure it out.    My older daughter loves their literature classes and is really annoyed that I am not going to sign her up for one this fall because we will be on the road and it will be a challenge to attend the live classes. 

Classical:

**Homeschool Connections:  This is a classical Catholic program and the classes are rigorous, but not overwhelming.  I haven’t used it, but they also have a duel enrollment program where you can earn college credit.  We belong to their subscription of online recorded courses and I rely on it heavily for my highschoolers. 

Memoria Press:  This is quintessential classical learning at a very high level.  If you choose to go this route your child will get a top notch education and really learn how to think.  I really enjoy using a lot of their titles in my homeschool.  They make teaching the classics easy for those who feel a bit overwhelmed teaching ancient tests.  Their logic programs are amazing too.   

**Mother of Divine Grace:  This is a classical Catholic distance learning approach to education based on the incredible book Designing Your Own Catholic Curriculum.  It is academically rigorous and very classical. 

The Well Trained Mind:  While this is not exactly a curriculum for homeschooling high school, this is the book that inspired me to homeschool in the first place.  I have used many of the original book’s ideas in my homeschool.  It is highly recommended reading whether or not you implement the curriculum described in the book.  I have never used a purely classical curriculum, but none the less this book truly informed me in my homeschooling journey. 

Unschooling

Unschooling is more a way of life than a particular curriculum.  It’s really brilliant if you are able to pull it off, but it really is a lifestyle choice.  If you are considering this path I highly recommend the book Dumbing Us Down by John Gatto.  In many ways it is the treatise of the modern unschooling movement. 

Also it really helps if you connect with other like minded homeschoolers so that they can give you ideas and guidance.  Unschooling high school can be incredibly rewarding and offer kids great opportunities to volunteer, intern, travel etc.  Getting yourself connected with the right resources and support will go a long way to guiding you down this path. 

Unit Studies

**Moving Beyond the Page:  I have used these a great deal with my younger daughter and I love them because they are really easy to use and there is a lot of variety.  They are on the advanced level so kids who are using them for the first time should start on the younger side of the age range until they get used to the way they are organized.  Unfortunately they are only starting to develop their program for older kids so there are limited options, but hopefully they will come out with more soon.  The 12-14 year old options also work well for high school freshmen.  

Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett These are complete 2-4 week unit studies that cover multiple ages (not all of them are good for all ages though so be sure to check) What is nice about these is that there is a lot of informational text in the curriculum so you can just open them up and get started. 

Math Programs:

**Teaching Textbooks: This is the core math program that I have come to use for all my kids.  It’s self directed, academically thorough and easy to use.  I did find that for pre calculus and calculus my kids benefited more from a live online class though so I have not used it for those levels. 

Saxon: Saxon is old school traditional math.  My oldest son used this for a year and while it is thorough he found it boring.  Other kids swear by it.  If you are looking for a no nonsense approach to math with lots of exercises and practice this would work for you. 

Life of Fred (supplemental math only):   My linguistically gifted daughter really enjoyed this math program.  I used it as a supplement starting in elementary school and working on up through the grades, but I know a lot of people use it as a full program.  It’s very odd and I would definitely have kids start at the beginning even if they are already in high school.  They will whip through the elementary books and it will help get into the whole story based approach. 

Science Programs:

**Apologia:  This is the most thorough of all homeschool science programs I have used short of online live classes.  They have an excellent lab component and the company is very helpful if you have trouble with a concept.  We have, at one point or another, used almost every science textbook from k-12 that they make.   The publisher is fundamentalist Christian so be aware that their texts (particularly at the younger levels) are written from that perspective. (As a Catholic there was a lot with which I disagreed, but it was easy just to use it as a point of discussion with my kids.)

Story of Science (supplemental science only):  This is not a lab science, but is a great spine text for a “History of Science” type class to engage literary learners in scientific thought.  There is a study guide for middle schoolers that you can purchase separately, but for high school I had my son read the text and do an in depth research paper on some aspect of the book each semester.  It also would pair very well with a science based internship and/or homeschool science fair project. 

As I mentioned in the beginning this is just a brief selection of curricula for homeschooling high school I think the list appeals to many different learning types.  I use a mish mash of all of these picking and choosing each year what will work best for my kids.  You could easily do the same or choose one of the complete programs.  Look at the list of subjects you made when you read my last post and decide how to best accommodate your child’s needs.  If you need assistance I offer homeschool consulting.  I can help you select what is best for your child and put it all into an easy to use flexible routine that works for your lifestyle. 

Next Reads:

About Mary

Mary Stephens is a long time homeschooling mother of four: two still at home, one in seminary and one graduated from college. Mary holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Passionate about both travel and education she offers homeschooling tips and tricks as well as free travelschooling units on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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