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Don’t Let High School Sneak Up on You!

It can happen!

Here you are, a happy homeschooling mom having fun teaching your little brood, and suddenly, your oldest child transforms into a “big kid”. And before you know it, high school requirements are staring you in the face.  What’s a mother to do?

Preparation is always the best plan. Before your oldest child becomes a 9th grader and credit matters, get all your ducks in a row.

The high school requirements aren’t really that complicated. They are simply an outline for giving a student a well-rounded education, preparing him for life and/or college.  I find the requirements helpful, and use them to create a great homeschool plan, with online courses or classes at a high school as options when desired. Although each high school (and college) varies in the exact details, the general educational requirements are pretty much the same:

High School Requirements (9-12th grade)

  • Math
  • English
  • Science
  • History
  • Fitness for Life, Health and P.E.
  • Computer literacy
  • Life/Career Skills
  • Fine Arts
  • Foreign Language

With this outline you and your student can build a wonderful plan to get the well-rounding knowledge and education while focusing on his interests. Don’t let high school overwhelm you! I’ll walk you through how to implement a high school schedule for each year on my next blog post. For now, let’s take a look at the required classes:


One course per year: Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Advanced Math.  Make sure your child gets through pre-algebra (at least) before he enters high school.


Four years of learning our language, including reading classics, learning to write well both in content, analysis, and mechanics such as punctuation, spelling, use of words.  Grammar, vocabulary are taught here too.


4 years worth of lab sciences create a great foundation of understanding the world around us.  They are generally taught in this order:

  • Physical Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Advanced Science

Marine Biology, Human Body, Advanced Chemistry or Advanced Physics is taught during the 12th grade if you do Physical Science before high school. Apologia Science books, which I highly recommend, teach Physical Science during 8th grade.


My favorite subject!  I think teaching history gives children a sense of who they are, where they fit in the earth’s history, and helps them see the lessons that our planet has gone through and the preciousness of freedom.

Here is what is generally required  during high school:  American History World History, Geography, American Government and Citizenship.

Fitness for Life, Health, Physical Education

These classes focus on keeping your body healthy and fit.  If you’ve raised your children with Christian values, you may find high school health to be assaulting (as we did) with its focus on sexually transmitted diseases, alternative lifestyles and drug abuse.  I choose to focus on the positive: eating right, and experiencing a variety of activities such as walking, hiking, canoeing, swimming, not just team sports and exercise workouts.  Plus, a very brief exposure to drugs and sexually transmitted disease in the proper way is helpful.  Usually high schools require 1 semester of Fitness for Life, 1 semester of Health and 3 semesters of Physical Education (sports, fitness activities, can include dance).

Computer Literacy

Most homeschoolers could teach this class!  In our world, knowing how to type on a computer keyboard, and how to operate basic software—Word processing, Excel and Power Point—are the requirements. It isn’t too hard to demonstrate proficiency.  My high schoolers chose a subject they were interested in to create a great Power Point presentation using photographs they had taken.  Your teen can put his budget (or study hours) on Excel and track it for a semester.

Life Skills

Here’s where the fun comes in! Sometimes called Career Electives or by other names, the general thrust of this category is to prepare the student with some kind of skill that they could make a living with.  This is a fabulous category because this is where your child’s talents and interests can really gain expression and expertise! Includes such classes as: Cooking, Nutrition, Sewing, Gardening (Horticulture), Agricultural Tech, Woodworking, Metalworking, Welding, Engine Repair, Small Business, etc.

Fine Arts

All things cultural and beautiful: Music, Dance, Theater, Choir, Orchestra, Band, Art, Photography, Sculpting . . . many homeschoolers excel in the Fine Arts.

Foreign Language

Two years of the same language is recommended for college-bound students. Aside from that, knowing another language is a fabulous skill!


There you have it!  Semester classes count for 1/2 credit and full year classes count for 1 credit. A student must take 6 credits per year for 4 years giving them the required 24 credits to graduate with a high school diploma. (Schools vary a bit here with “elective” credit, no stress). Whether you want the diploma or not, the general knowledge is priceless . . . if you choose the right books, perspective, courses, and mentors.

How-to” plans next time!

Please leave a comment here.  Thanks!!!

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