Homeschooling High School…the Lifeschooling Way

group of teenagers

Homeschooling High School…the Lifeschooling or Unschooling Way

Homeschooling high school is the stuff of nightmares for many homeschool moms (and dads), and by far, one of the most common questions I hear is, “How do you do a relaxed version of homeschooling, like lifeschooling or unschooling, through high school?” (Please note that I sometimes use the term “unschooling” for the sake of familiarity–and, let’s be honest, helping my articles to be found by Google–despite the fact that even though it’s similar to lifeschooling, I have some issues with the term “unschooling”).

It seems daunting enough to homeschool high school, but add to that the desire for freedom and more of an unschooling approach, and you can feel like you don’t really know where to start!

Well, I want to relieve your fears with one sentence: Did you know that in most states in the US, there are no high school graduation requirements for homeschoolers? It’s true! You–the parent, teacher, and principal–get to determine exactly what those requirements are going to be. Yay, freedom!! While you may want to familiarize yourself with your state’s public school requirements, understand that as a homeschool parent you are not bound to these.

And that is fantastic news, especially if you are more of a free spirit in your homeschooling, like I am! 😃 Lifeschooling is perfectly acceptable, even through the high school years. You can allow your children to continue to pursue their individual gifts and learn about the things that interest them.

So, how do you determine what you will require for your homeschooling high school courses? Well, here’s what we have done:

Homeschooling High School Step 1: Pray for direction about college.

First, when homeschooling high school, you need to have a good idea whether or not your child will go to college or will pursue a career immediately out of high school. This could be a trade, an entrepreneurial venture, or a job that does not necessarily require a college degree. When your child gets to middle school age, it’s time to start thinking about what the future may look like. Ask him for his opinion and ask him to pray, too!

When our oldest son, Konur, was heading into high school, I asked him to start praying about what he felt God wanted for him. He loved computer programming and felt God may have been leading him that direction, so in praying, he didn’t feel college was something he needed.

For I.T., experience and certifications are much more important than a college degree, so he continued to learn as much as possible and work on his own coding projects, intending to get some basic certs before applying to jobs. As it happened, even the certs ended up being unnecessary. God eventually led him to enroll in Praxis, which led to his first job offer before he even completed the program, which then led to an even higher paying job after just a few months.

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Homeschooling High School Step 2: Determine the topics and areas of study he wants to explore.

If your child plans to go to college, you first need to pick a few colleges he is leaning towards and see what they require. Often, the requirements are similar, but it’s helpful to get a good picture of the goals you need to set. It’s also a smart idea to talk to the admissions counselor to see how flexible the requirements are and how welcoming they are to unschoolers or lifeschoolers.

Once you have a better overall picture, you can figure out a rough plan for projects, mentorships, and studies your child will need to focus on in order to meet those requirements. You may want to combine these lifeschooling experiences with more traditional academics if you don’t feel comfortable with the idea of pursuing lifeschooling or unschooling 100%.

If your child does not plan to go to college, he has even more freedom to pursue his gifts. (Although some would convincingly argue that even if your child “skips” high school, he can still get into college. Read College Without High School: A Teenager’s Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College if you really want some encouragement that it can be done!).

If he has not yet taken time to really figure this part out, my Find the Expert in You workbook will really help him determine his areas of interest and expertise. Of course, nothing beats real life experiences for this purpose, and the 5 Steps to Opting Out of College course, which I put together with Mitchell Earl, CEO of Praxis, will show him how to start gaining experiences and figure out what he likes, what is just “meh,” and what makes him go screaming into the night. Better to figure all this out now!

Above all, remember you are the boss! And you can get creative with how you document all these areas of study and exploration…which leads me to the next section…

Homeschooling High School Step 3: Keep good records.

This is the crucial part and the part I hate, if I’m being honest! (Actually, I hate the planning part, too. LOL.) I am NOT a record-keeper by nature, and details overwhelm me. But there are ways you can keep records without it becoming overwhelming. And in order to create a good transcript (which I’m told is necessary…yuck), you need to keep up with documenting the learning experiences.

For me, that’s my Lifeschooling Vision Planner. Every day, we have a list of things to do, plus a blank page with many subject areas (as well as an “other” catch-all section) where we can fill out what, exactly, we end up working on. It requires that I keep an eye on the clock and note when we start something and when we finish, but it hasn’t been too difficult once I got into the habit.

At the end of each year, we can then take all these sheets and sort them into various courses, depending on what we actually did. I know I’m being about as detailed as a blind person painting a portrait, but check out the blog posts listed below to get a better idea of how this can be done easily.

Homeschooling High School Step 4: Do lots of research as you refine your approach.

Remember, we are always learning as lifeschoolers! Do more research, then just start somewhere and tweak and refine your methods until they work for you and your family. Don’t make any decisions based on fear, but trust the Lord to lead you through this process. Believe me, if this easily-overwhelmed (like, sometimes a menu overwhelms me) scatterbrain (as in, I go to put my lunch in the toaster and find I already heated something else an hour ago) could homeschool through high school, anyone can!

Here are some of the best books, articles, and blog posts I’ve come across when researching this topic for myself.

How to Create an Impressive Homeschool Transcript – Lots of good info here! Includes a free transcript template and information for interest-led homeschooling and unschooling transcripts.
Delight Directed Learning: Guide Your Homeschooler Toward Passionate Learning (The HomeScholar’s Coffee Break Book series)The “Sticky Note” method for creating transcripts alone makes this book an incredible deal!
Unschooling High School: Tips for Assigning Credits for Your Non-Traditional Learner or Unschooler – A great step-by-step process for assigning credits.
A Perfect Method for Keeping Unschooling Records – Evernote is an intriguing idea for keeping digital records of your teen’s outside-the-box education!
The ultimate guide to creating an unschooling high school transcript – Lots of details on how to create an unschooling transcript.
Homeschool Transcripts Explained—Spoiler Alert… They’re Easy & Free! (With Free Homeschool Transcript Templates) – All the nitty-gritty information you need to know about transcripts!
How To Document Unschooling or Record Home Learning – Short and sweet with some simple ideas for documenting your kids learning journeys.



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