By Dinah Whitton

  • I’ll be the first to admit that parenting teenagers is certainly not for the faint at heart. Sometimes it feels equivalent to having regular root canals and other days it’s a walk in the park. Needless to say, homeschooling through high school adds an interesting dynamic to raising kids in the 21st century. Fortunately, I’ve adapted a habit of gleaning wisdom and knowledge from home education veterans for support on this adventure.
  • Recently The Learning House hosted a “Help for Homeschooling High School” seminar in Cambridge, Ontario. Now that we’ve entered the wonderful world of high school, I was definitely eager to sign up. I’ve also heard a few parents talk about how informative this full-day seminar has been, so I was eager to find out for myself. By the size of the crowd it was abundantly clear that I wasn’t alone in the quest to learn more about the high school years at home. Although our oldest child is now in grade 9 and she’s already working through an online curriculum, I’m always open to learning more. There was an abundance of information and this seminar did not disappoint! Each attendee received a sample of a portfolio and a booklet with the presentation notes that included a CD with digital copies of forms and templates.
  • Before and after this seminar, I met a few home educators who also wanted to learn more about this topic. I highly recommend attending this seminar, but in the meantime, here are some highlights from the day that resonated with me.

Planning a Homeschool High School Program

  • Take the time to learn more about the secondary school system, including: learning how credits work, transcripts and tracking hours.
  • Check the Ministry of Education’s website to learn more about high school requirements and use it as a reference point.
  • There are numerous online schools, both accredited and non-accredited; but, remember that you don’t have control over the content.
  • Co-op (work placement) and volunteer hours can provide invaluable opportunities.

Record Keeping

  • Whether you’re using an online school, boxed curriculum (parent led) or eclectic method, you need to keep records during the high school years.
  • Whether your student receives an official diploma or not, postsecondary institutions may still ask for supporting evidence of courses completed/credits achieved.
  • Having information ready and available can make the admissions process easier.
  • Keep a detailed portfolio that lists various things the student did to achieve the course credit.
  • The transcript is meant to be a summary of your student’s academic career, so don’t feel obligated to keep every assignment, test and/or art work.
  • *Note: Check out the member site for great examples of transcripts and portfolios as well as user-friendly templates:

Choosing a Curriculum

  • Consider what kind of support you and your student will need? Are there some subjects you don’t feel confident teaching? Is there a specific way your student learns best? It’s always ok to ask for help!
  • Put more time into researching core subjects and don’t over think the elective courses.
  • Do your homework: read the course descriptions and outlines so there’s a clear understanding before making a commitment.
  • Decide what works best: a complete program from one publisher or an eclectic method that includes multiple sources (maintaining good record keeping is essential for an eclectic method since you will need to pull from multiple resources for post-secondary admissions).
  • For electives, find experts in their field and keep in mind that some courses can be taken at a local college, including dual credit options (earn a high school and college credit simultaneously).
  • *Note: The Canadian Centre for Home Education (CCHE) has a thorough list of home education methods and resources to help you choose what’s best for your family:

Planning for Postsecondary

  • Keep your students options open as much as possible.
  • Be proactive throughout the high school years and learn about postsecondary programs and admission requirements.
  • Even if your student doesn’t know what they want to do after high school, encourage them to dream big and research youth leadership programs that will support their emerging gifts and goals.
  • Attend provincial university and college fairs no later than grade 11; this may help give your student a visual of postsecondary life and make connections with admissions officers.
  • Some students may need to do a “victory lap” (additional year of high school) or a gap year before launching into postsecondary studies.
  • Be mindful of students who are gifted with their hands and would prefer trade school or even the military.

  • This seminar was not only informative, but it was truly encouraging. No matter how unpredictable the teenage years can be, home education still provides invaluable opportunities that will make a positive impact. It’s our job to facilitate their learning, but our students need the space to find their way. It’s a delicate balance that requires a lot of grace and room for growth (for both students and parents!). We might fail along the way, but it doesn’t make us or our students a failure. It may not always be a walk in the park, but it will always be worth it.


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