Don’t Be Intimidated by Homeschooling for High School (Part 1)

First off, remember that homeschool high school is nothing like public high school, and it doesn’t need to take nearly as long each day. There are no passing periods, no assemblies, no waiting for buses. So there’s no need to stick to the same time schedule that they do. Many people have asked me how long our high school day was. I usually required my teens to work on their studies in the morning, and as far into the afternoon as it took them to finish. I encouraged them to get an early start so that they’d have time to pursue their own interests the rest of the day. (Later on, their various part-time jobs, which we strongly encouraged, also came into play.)

Next, keep in mind that the curriculum you choose will determine how long it takes to study each subject. A very demanding math curriculum will require more time than a basic arithmetic review. Which one you choose will be based on your teen’s future aspirations and goals. If he wants to be a chemistry major in college, you’ll need a solid math curriculum. If he wants to go into the dramatic arts, you’re better off finding a basic math course and spending the time saved on the study of classic plays. And if he wants to be a car mechanic, use that same basic math course so he can spend the time he saves apprenticing with a self-employed car mechanic in your town.

Never forget that the goal of homeschooling a teen is to customize upper level studies to your teen’s needs. Those needs may not be as obvious at age 14 as they will be at 17 or 18; to make matters more complicated, teens change dramatically during those years and so do their needs. But you’ll recognize general areas of interest that really won’t change much. For instance, my son went from wanting to be a computer engineer at 15 to a business major at 18, then felt called into the ministry at 20. As it worked out, he’s now in his late 20s and is a manager for a Christian publishing company with plans to eventually enter seminary as a second career pastor. But during his teen years the common threads we could see were a desire to study beyond the high school level and a love of management and business principles. So we (he and I) designed his high school studies with an eye toward college prep and an emphasis on management.

A friend of mine who homeschooled several teen sons aimed the studies of the first three toward vocational prep because they were clearly “gear heads” who loved doing anything mechanical. But her fourth son was more studious, so she designed his studies to be college preparatory.

Each child is different; one big advantage of homeschooling is that you have the time and opportunity to plan a course of study with your teen (note that I said with) to capitalize on his or her interests and plans. That’s why you need to take all information that you get from books or friends with a grain of salt, tailoring the things you learn to your specific child.

(Excerpted from Stages of Homeschooling: Letting Go (Book 3), now just $2.99. Learn more HERE.)

Hot Off the Press: Letting Go

The third book in the “Stages of Homeschooling” series, Letting Go, is now available for $4.99 at

Like the previous books in the series, this book is a combination of new material and a variety of articles I wrote while homeschooling my four children. Stages of Homeschooling: Letting Go (Book 3) focuses on:

  • “Making the Choice to Homeschool Older Children and Teens” (Motivations for homeschooling through high school)
  • “Which Subjects Should Homeschooled Teens Study?” (Includes those your local high school probably doesn’t offer, but should)
  • “The College Decision” (Not which college to attend, but whether your teen should even go to college)
  • “Preparing Our Teens for the World of Work” (The 21st century world of work, not the 20th)
  • “Tips for Homeschooling Parents” (Hints and hope for parents of homeschooled teens)
  • “Books and Resources” (A few of the best)
  • “Personal Memories of Homeschooling Teens” (Glimpses into the life of a longtime homeschooling family)

Learn more about the entire “Stages of Homeschooling” series HERE.

Keys to a Successful Homeschool Convention Experience (Part 4)

After Your Homeschool Convention

Hopefully, you enjoyed your time at the homeschool convention. Now that you’re back home, there’s so much to think about: what the speakers said, what you saw in the vendor hall, what you bought and how you want to use it with your children.

Before too much time passes, go through the big stack of papers you brought back. Weed out the sales flyers you don’t need, and file those you may want to refer to in the future. Add the catalogs to your collection; you’ll want to refer to them in the future when your child finishes a book or program and you need ideas for what to do next.

Think about the speakers whose sessions you attended. What will you do differently in your homeschool because of what you learned from them? Were there some who were especially helpful? You’ll want to remember their names for future conventions.

What about the convention itself? Was it well-organized? Was it worth the money you spent to attend it? If you were not happy with the convention, you can always attend a different one in your state, or in a nearby state, next time. Whether you were pleased or displeased with the convention, let the convention organizers know. They need input from attendees so they know how to proceed in organizing future conventions. Often, they will include a survey form in the convention program for just this purpose.

Hopefully, by attending the convention, you came away with renewed enthusiasm for homeschooling. How can you keep that feeling alive long after the convention is over? Listen to the recorded sessions when you’re in the car. Read books and magazines about homeschooling. Find a support group (if you haven’t already done so), attend the meetings and volunteer to run at least one group activity per year. Being with like-minded people is the surest way to keep up your energy and enthusiasm for homeschooling.

Next year, when that convention brochure turns up in your mailbox, you’ll find a new group of speakers and sessions that you’ll want to hear. By then, with another year’s worth of homeschooling under your belt, you’ll have an even better idea of how to make your homeschool convention experience a good one.

(Excerpted from The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling. Order direct from Cardamom Publishers and get a free 111-page eBook with your purchase. )

Entire series: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Keys to a Successful Homeschool Convention Experience (Part 3)

Special Tips for the Vendor Hall

The vendor hall is probably the most overwhelming part of a homeschool convention. There are so many great books and resources to look at, and unless you’ve come with an unlimited budget, so many decisions to make. Get ready to tackle the vendor hall with these tips:

  • Leave yourself plenty of time to peruse the vendor hall.
  • Check the convention program for vendor coupons that you might be able to use.
  • Pray before you buy anything! God will give you guidance, as well as peace about what to buy.
  • Sign up for free newsletters and mailing lists.
  • Keep an eye out for free samples of curriculum, and pick up every free catalog you can find. If you end up not needing some of them, pass them on to homeschooling friends who weren’t able to attend the convention.
  • Some of the largest curriculum suppliers (like A Beka and Bob Jones) offer free shipping if you place your order at the convention. But it’s crowded and hard to look at their wide variety of curriculum in the vendor hall. Ask if they offer meetings at local motels in your area; they usually offer free shipping at those meetings, and it’s a much more relaxing and uncrowded environment in which to make your purchasing decisions. In the meantime, be sure to take their catalogs home so you can study them.
  • Step outside for a breath of fresh air every hour or so. A break from the commotion of the vendor hall helps clear your head.
  • Go out to your car and regroup at least once during the day. Enjoy the silence while having a cold drink and a snack. Call home to check on everyone. Think about your goals for the rest of the convention. Occasional trips to the car also let you pack away your purchases instead of carrying them around for hours.
  • Buy something fun for your children: new construction paper, clay or maybe a special book for each child.
  • “Dance with the one that brung ya.” If you spend 15 minutes quizzing a vendor about a certain curriculum or resource, then cross the aisle to buy that very product from another vendor because it’s a few dollars cheaper there (or decide you’ll buy it later from an online discounter), you have cheated the vendor who spent time talking with you. Be careful not to use vendors in this way. Remember that many of them are homeschooling families trying to earn a living while serving their fellow homeschoolers.
  • When exhaustion sets in and you can’t think anymore, it’s time to go home. But before you go, remember to buy tapes or CDs of the sessions you missed (or the sessions you enjoyed so much that you’re going to want to hear them again).

(Excerpted from The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling. Order direct from Cardamom Publishers and get a free 111-page eBook with your purchase.)


Entire series: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Keys to a Successful Homeschool Convention Experience (Part 2)

Attending Your Homeschool Convention

The big day is here! After finding a parking spot (not always easy at the bigger conventions), you enter the convention’s main area to find parents everywhere. Try to find a quiet spot off to the side where you can go through the registration information.

  • Study your brochure to see which sessions you want to attend, and then check the building map to locate each of those sessions.
  • Check to see if recordings are offered of sessions you can’t attend due to schedule conflicts. You can buy them before you go home.
  • If you want to attend a session that includes a panel of speakers, make sure there is a moderator. Otherwise, panel discussions have a tendency to be more vague than helpful.
  • Are there any vendor workshops for products you might be considering? If so, make a note of when they’re held.
  • Make a quick sweep of the vendor hall, quickly checking out the booths to see who and what’s there, before you buy anything. (Warning: this takes self-control!) While you’re at it, pick up free catalogs to add to (or begin) your homeschool catalog collection.
  • Remember to turn off your phone as soon as you enter a session.
  • No one is going to check to see if you took notes, so don’t feel you must. But don’t think you’re going to remember every important thing you hear, because your brain is going to be overwhelmed with good advice today!
  • Sometimes speakers offer handouts to help you understand the information they’re sharing. Be sure to hang on to these; you may want to refer to them later on.
  • If you’re not sure you’ll stay for an entire session, sit at the back so you can leave without distracting the speaker. The same thing goes if you’ve brought your baby; a screaming baby in the front row is embarrassing for you and distracting for everyone else.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the speaker at the end of the session, or during the session whenever questions are invited. Speakers want to know if they can provide further information; people who are too shy to ask a question can learn from the speaker’s response to yours.
  • Be sure to thank the speaker at the end of each session. Whether or not they’re being paid for their work, they put in a lot of time and effort to share it with you.
  • Finally, don’t forget to network while you’re at the convention. This is your “work,” so you’ll want to learn from the others in your field. Make conversation with those sitting around you while waiting for a session to start. Ask questions when you need to, and be willing to stop and answer questions from those who need help. The very best part of homeschool conventions is all the wonderful people you’ll meet!

(Excerpted from The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling. Order direct from Cardamom Publishers and get a 111-page eBook free with your purchase.)

Entire series: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4