Beginning Your Homeschool Journey in High School

**This post was written for a friend who lives in Indiana. Requirements and resources vary by state.**
Beginning Your Homeschool Journey in High School
Homeschooling is no easy task, and beginning your homeschool journey in high school is especially difficult. BUT it is not impossible. This post will take you through transcripts, curriculum, and SATs.

Getting Started

  • Find out how many credits you have and get a recent transcript. Find out how many you need to graduate.
  • Know your learning style.
  • Create a 4 year plan. This is crucial.
  • Research high school requirements in your state.

This is a basic idea of what you will be doing:

  • 3-4 credits mathematics (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus)
  • 4 credits language arts (literature, English, writing)
  • 3 credits social studies (World History, American History, Geography, Government)
  • 2 credits health and P.E. 
  • 2 credits foreign language
  • 3 or 4 credits science (physical science, biology, chemistry)

Look up “YOUR STATE high school requirements” for more accurate information.

Credits, Grades, and Credit Hours

In Indiana, you get 1 credit per semester. Therefore, Algebra would be 2 credits. In all the other states, (or most of them) you get 1/2 credit per semester. Therefore, Algebra would be 1 credit.
Determine how many credit hours will equal each semester and full course in your high school. For example, I am doing 80 hours in a half-year course and 120 hours in a full year course.

  • One semester course is half a year.
  • A one semester course is 1/2 credit. (one credit in Indiana)
  • Two semesters, a full year course, is 1 credit. (two credits in Indiana)
  • A one semester course is approximately 70-90 hours of study.
  • A full-year course equals about 120-180 hours.

Decide how many hours you want to use for a full credit and half credit at the beginning of your homeschool.


Transcripts are a major part of high school, and you need full transcripts to get into college. Firstly, and this is important, KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING YOU DO. Buy a planner. Your daily planner should look like this:
Algebra 2 – 90 minutes
Language – 60 minutes
Spelling – 30 minutes
Foreign Language – 50 minutes
Creating a transcript:
Creating course descriptions for transcripts:
Building a high school portfolio:

Building a Book List
Keep track of all books you read, both for leisure and for school. Reading a lot of classics looks GREAT on a resume, and most are free on iBooks, Kindle, etc.

Your book list should include: month/year read, title, author, and maybe number of pages and published date. (for lesser known books)
A list of good classics include:

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Chosen – Chaim Potok (my favorite novel ever!)
  • A Farewell to Arms
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Old Man and the Sea
  • Animal Farm
  • 1984
  • War and Peace
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Les Miserables
  • A Tale of Two Cities (and any other Charles Dickens)
  • Scarlet Letter
  • Pictures of Dorian Gray
  • Catch-22
  • Treasure Island
  • The Great Gatsby

Choosing Curriculum

Some use the “Charlotte Mason living book approach” with high school. I believe high school especially, should have some sort of textbook backbone, with supplements and changes as needed. Curriculum is one of the most important aspects of homeschooling high school. Here are some good options:
A note: A BEKA is a very rigorous Protestant curriculum. It is great college prep, but note their history is extremely biased to a point where it almost gets false. They treat all Protestants like they’re perfect and all non-Protestants (Catholics included) as tyrants and dictators. Their history books are half fact and half opinion. This really bugs me. Their spelling and science curriculums are great though! The math K-8 is also a recommendation for gifted students. One thing though; it is said every textbook has some type of spelling/grammatical/factual error. I have used this curriculum for 4 years and I have never found a error. A Beka truly is a great high-quality curriculum.


Most states require 3-4 years of math. I would HIGHLY recommend using some type of DVD with math. Otherwise, you will be sunk. I would not recommend Teaching Textbooks because I have heard it is very basic and will not get you through the SATs, ACTs, etc.
A Beka – This year will be my first without A Beka math. A Beka elementary math is challenging, but high school A Beka (they’re reprints of a 1910’s curriculum) and they are WAY too hard without explanation. A friend used A Beka throughout high school and her kids learned no math in college – A Beka taught them everything. A Beka is extremely advanced and no doubt anyone who does it will succeed greatly.
Math-U-See – MUS has Honors pages for more advanced work. My sister is using this curriculum this year, and Cassondra from Beyond the Cover blog used it through high school and loved it.
VideoText – advanced and on DVD.

Saxon – I am trying Saxon for the first time this year! I am using the DIVE CD’s. If you get this, I have heard positive things about edition 3, but very negative reviews on edition 4.

Language Arts

Indiana requires 8 credits in language arts including literature, writing, and speech.

A Beka
Stobaugh – Stobaugh’s American Literature, British Literature, and World Literature count for two credits each – one in writing and one in literature. These college-prep analytical programs are very intense, with daily warm-ups and concept builders, and weekly tests and essays. I am using American Literature this year.


History is my all-time favorite subject!! BUT, a lot of textbooks, Christian included, are extremely biased and almost try to rewrite history by cherry picking the “bad” parts out. To prevent biased sources/textbook, I recommend using a textbook as a guide, not the full curriculum. No history curriculum is complete without movies, documentaries, and books.

Most states require government, geometry, world history, and American history.

  • Sonlight – I have heard many wonderful things about Sonlight, and I HIGHLY approve of their book lists. Since they have books from a variety of authors, this prevents the bias of one person. It is a Christian curriculum, but Sonlight isn’t afraid of truth. I LOVE their book lists! Sonlight incorporates language arts and history together. It is also multi-age, which means a tenth grader and eleventh grader can use it together.
  • Stobaugh – to go with Stobaugh’s language arts series, I am using Stobaugh American History this year.

For a list of history curriculums, see Cathy Duffy’s reviews. If you’re looking for book recommendations for 20th century and some 19th century, comment below! 🙂

I have also noticed books about lesser-known events in history through books/movies, (i.e. the escape from Sobibor, instead of the Holocaust) you happen to learn MORE. You not only know something most people don’t, most lesser-known stories revolve around something “bigger”. Living books also make history more memorable, because it is much easier to remember people or fictional characters than boring dates.

Spelling and Vocabulary

Any spelling/vocabulary curriculum will do.

  • A Beka – You will need a dictionary with pronunciation for this.
  • Marie’s Words – I’m doing Marie’s Words this year because it is SAT prep and it is all visual – and I am a visual learner.
  • Big IQ Kids – For a FREE SAT-prep list of spelling words, use this list! Just print off the desired list and study each list for twenty days.


  • Apologia – rigorous and great college-prep. Students have been known to pass CLEP and AP exams with Apologia.
  • A Beka
  • The 101 Series – less rigorous, and on DVD. I am using this for Biology 101.

    Foreign Language

    Learning a foreign language doesn’t have to be expensive. I don’t recommend Rosetta Stone. For why, read this and this review. For a list of the best/worse courses and tips on learning a language, read this great course.

    Get off your couch and do something. Ha! P.E. would be a one semester course. Basically, any type of physical exercise counts. Again, time yourself on everything. Not to the last second, but just enough to know you met your credit hour goal.Including but not limited too: bike riding, swimming, volleyball, gymnastics, football, baseball, trampoline, jump roping, etc.


    You will need a few electives. Journalism and a Business class with personal finance are two examples of electives I take outside of “school.” You can even make up your own curriculum. But, make sure it has adequate credit hours. See more information on this in the Following Passions section below. Make a list of your desired curriculum choices. Up top, write online store names like eBay, Amazon, Hearts at Home curriculum store, and the product’s website. List prices and compare. Amazon has saved us hundreds of dollars.

    AP: Advanced Placement and CLEP

    Many thanks to Angie from HOPE Homeschool Consulting for providing this information!AP
    1. For information on AP and other tests, visit this link.
    2. Home Education Council of America online course.
    3. Use an AP or College prep curriculum. Do some research if others have passed AP/CLEP exams with that curriculum and how well they did.
    4. Do some AP prep.
    5. Take the test at a local high school.
    6. List course as Honor on your high school transcript if you pass. Do not list it as AP since it is not taken with a certified teacher.

    Following Passion

    Follow your passions in high school. It may save you tons of money during college.
    This article from the Home Scholar talks about how investing money into delight-directed (passion) learning can really make your homeschool, and set your student apart from others during college. You don’t need a curriculum, you (the parent) doesn’t have to know what they’re doing, all you need is passion.
    Your passion could be specific (Russian history, WWII, animal science, guitar) or as the Home Scholar figures out, it could be chess.
    Delight Directed Learning in High School
    Putting Delight Directed Learning on a Transcript
    Pick a few colleges you are interested in and study their admission requirements. It’s best to be prepared and keep detailed records in high school. Visit colleges during high school. Get to know people. Look into scholarships.
    Normal Family, Big Scholarships
    For Additional Information
    I would highly recommend Angie from HOPE Homeschool Consulting. I met Angie in 4-H Media Club and she has helped me quite a bit 🙂
    Lee Binz, The Home Scholar, also has great information specifically on homeschooling high school. She has a number of mini-eBooks and has freebies all the time. Sign up for these here.
    For more information on homeschooling high school, check out my homeschooling high school Pinterest board.


    • Hey Summer! I ended up really liking both! I loved Biology 101 despite not really even liking Biology, and really enjoyed the Stobaugh history/literature. The only negative to the Stobaugh was I thought some of the activities could’ve been more in-depth, since I am super analytical 🙂

  1. Thank you! FINALLY, an all-in-one, concise article about homeschooling high school! AND an article that points out that the credits are different here in Indiana 😉 Great job!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here