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.)