Homeschool with Confidence: Custom Design Your High School Curriculum

Reader Contribution by Sheryl Campbell
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Successfully graduate from high school at home, photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Does teaching a high schooler intimidate you? How about explaining algebra or trigonometry? Does teaching essay writing frighten you? You’ve successfully home schooled your child through the elementary and middle school years, but is it really possible to continue? Can you effectively prepare them for college or a career?

Yes! Not only are you capable, but continuing to home educate at this point can give your child a head start on both college and a career path. Your child has unique interests and abilities. You’ve seen in the previous years what some of these are. Continue talking with them about what they’d like to pursue. Then begin designing their high school curriculum to help them achieve those goals.


High School Curriculum, photo courtesy of Pixabay

Write out the following:

  1. What high school courses are required by your state home school laws?
  2. What unique interests and talents does your child have?
  3. List the required, and any additional, courses that would help your child pursue those interests
  4. What strengths do you, your spouse, or extended family bring to bear on these topics?
  5. Which courses might you need to seek outside help with?

To learn which courses may be required for high school students, click on your state at In Virginia, where we home schooled, there were no specific course requirements since the state employs testing for home school students instead. This left us free to focus a number of courses on our son’s interests. If this is true for you, you can still look up your state’s department of education to see what courses they require of students in the public school system.  That will give you a starting point of possible courses to consider.


Design curriculum around your child’s passions, photo by Sheryl Campbell

Our son was musical and already ran a commercial horticultural operation when he started high school so we designed some math, science and business courses around those interests. We gave him credit for his piano, voice, and cello lessons and performances. What lights up your child’s passions? Computer enthusiasts can go beyond basics to take online software certificate courses for which you give them credit. Any young person hoping to run their own business will benefit from taking Consumer Math and doing an internship with someone already running their own business. Is your child a hands-on tinkerer? Have them intern a few hours a week at a local repair shop and assign them to write out (or just tell you) what they’ve learned each week.

Where you, or someone else in your nearby family don’t have the knowledge to teach a particular course, consider hiring a private teacher, tutor, or mentor to work with your child in that area. Or team up with another home schooling family and trade some teaching with them in areas where you each excel.


 Make starting a business, or two, part of high school, photo by Sheryl Campbell

Get a Jump Start on a Career

Home schooling, even for high school, takes up so much less of the day then going to a large group educational setting. Use those extra hours to help your child gain experience running some type of small business. In fact, you can design a for-credit high school course out of this:

  • Help your child come up with ideas for a small business they can run now
  • Have your child research how to start a business in your state
  • Take them to meet with your county business licensing office to learn more
  • If your state has a one-stop small business group, have your child set up a meeting with them
  • Your child should identify several like businesses in the area and contact them for an informational interview with each owner/manager
  • Help them to write a simple business plan
  • Recommend that they ask a like business to let them do a short, unpaid internship to learn more
  • Have them start, market, and run their business (give them a small nest egg to get going if they don’t have money of their own yet)
  • Count this as a full credit course for high school if they spend a year doing all of the above

Start and Finish College Early

If your child takes tests well, consider having them take the College Board CLEP tests after some of their core credits are completed.  We gave our son high school credits for the courses he took at home, but gave him weighted GPA scores (changing a 4.0 course to a 5.0 course) if he then took and successfully completed these college-level examinations. Passing these tests means that you have mastered the course material at a college level. Because he later entered a college that allowed credits for the CLEPs, our son was able to complete his first year of college this way by the time he graduated high school. We know many others who have done the same.


Use College Level Exams for dual credit, photo from CLEP website

Register your child as a dual-credit student with your local community college. This is particularly helpful in subjects you aren’t comfortable teaching. Your child receives college credit for these courses, and you give them high school credits as well. A three-hour single semester college course is equivalent to a one year high school course. Many home schoolers take dual credit courses in their junior and senior years of high school. I finished my last year of high school this way 45 years ago. It’s even easier today.

You Can Do It!

You can definitely home school through high school (and even into college) with confidence! By tailoring the course work to your child you can help them to gain invaluable experience in fields that truly interest them while still providing them a high quality core education. They’ll have the time and opportunity to work with adults in real life business settings learning invaluable lessons. They might be able to graduate from college early giving them a head start on their careers. Or they might start a successful business that supports them as an adult. Our grown son still runs his commercial iris business and now also runs a thriving music studio. Help your children to dream big! Give them the time and experiences to make those dreams come true.

Sheryl Campbell is an heirloom gardener, shepherd, and edible flower educator who owns Bouquet Banquet in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Read Sheryl’s previous blogging with Mother Earth GardenerandGrit and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWSposts here.

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