Guiding My Child Through High School

Guiding My Through High School  Homeschool Survival

One of the most common questions posed to me as a homeschool mom is “How am I ever going to teach High School?” In the midst of teaching little ones how to read and basic math facts we already find ourselves panicking over the unknown in years to come. Why is it we look for trouble even before there is any? My response to these frantic moms is not a list of how-to’s but, “Relax. By the time you get there, you’ll be able to deal with it.”

When our oldest children began high school studies new babies were arriving and honestly, this mom’s days were full enough without worrying and fretting over whether or not we were doing everything just right. We took each day as it came and made choices and decisions as best as we could when a need arose. What we did make a conscious effort to do was to step back and look at the big picture, making choices that would make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Here are some of what we learned through that process:

Curriculum is your tool.

You do not have to be a slave to your curriculum. Let it work for you. Adapt it to fit your needs. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resource. It is perfectly okay to take a textbook and use it as a supplement or a tool in research rather than working through in the traditional read-answer-test method. Remember, the bottom line is to help your child gain knowledge, not to fill his brain with what some publisher thinks he needs to know.

Teach your child how to find the information they need to know.

Speaking of knowledge, don’t try to stuff every. single. fact. into their brains. You cannot possibly teach them everything they need to know. Spoon-feeding them isn’t going to prepare them for the day when you are no longer there next to them. But you can help them gain the tools they’ll need to learn for a lifetime. Do they have a working knowledge of their local library? Do they know how to skim through a book in order to seek the specific information they need? Can they use resources like a dictionary, thesaurus, spreadsheets, computers? Encourage them to ask questions and seek out others who might have the answers. Under a parent’s watchful eye, they can learn how to maneuver their way around the web, discerning what is reputable and worthy information.

Give them opportunity for work.

Balance brain work (academics) with fun work (hobbies) and hard work (physical labor). This is a formula for a healthy mind and body. God created each one of us as a beautiful and complex being. Spending too much time with our nose in a book and no time getting our bodies up and moving, or all our time playing at our hobbies so that our work is not finished, or building a strong body but not feeding the soul will leave a person unhappy and unfulfilled. This applies to our young people as well as to their parents. Balance, moderation, that’s what we need. There is a time for everything – a time for work, a time for play, a time for study.

Provide opportunity for service.

Focusing on studies can lead them to a self-centered mindset, thinking of the assignment at hand and the test to come and whether the grades will be good enough. High school students often feel pressure to perform so they can gain admittance to the college of their choice, or  up their scores on those standardized tests. While these things are helpful in accomplishing goals, it can lead to a ‘me’ mentality. If they are not in the practice of doing for others – remember the Golden Rule? – they can get rusty in their serving skills. Looking for opportunity to give to those around them and helping meet the needs of others builds a positive self-image, one that holds others’ needs above their own. Being a member of a large family gives our children plenty of opportunity to be helpful and serve others, but there are local food pantries needing volunteers and service projects through their church and elderly grandparents who can be served.

Give them room to grow.

Encourage them to pursue their interests, both academically and leisurely. You never know where it might lead them or what foundation it might be building. Knowledge gained by discovery and experience is more likely to stick with them than the bits they see on the black and white page or those fill-in-the-blank worksheets. Real life experience is a marvelous teacher. Tackling a project or finding solution to a particular problem teaches critical thinking skills. When the mind, the hand and the heart are all engaged, life-long learning will take place.

Let them make mistakes.

Oh, this is a hard one. If they make mistakes it shows I’ve failed at my job, right? Wrong! It shows they don’t know it all, but who does? It shows they have room to grow, don’t we all? It shows they are human. Yep, me too! Making mistakes gives them opportunity to try, try again. We call this persistence. Making mistakes gives us all a chance to practice forgiveness, grace, understanding and keeps us from thinking too highly of ourselves. Learning this early will take your child a long way when it comes to his academic studies and higher education.

Allow them to own their own faith.

We raise them up, teaching them right from wrong, showing them Jesus, reading the Bible with them, taking them to church services and Sunday school. And then what? One day they will step out on their own and be responsible and accountable to God on their own, without us telling them what they should believe and how they should behave. Engage them early in discussion about the meaning of scripture, wrestle together over questions about faith. Pray together for God’s guidance and discernment and wisdom. You’ve heard that old adage – “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink?”   We plant the seed, we teach and train, and we must let go and let God do His Work in their hearts. HE is the one to whom they belong. They will have to choose for themselves if they want to belong to Him.

I hope you are not left disappointed that you didn’t find a checklist of do’s and don’ts or a formula for getting accepted into the best colleges. I believe that would set us up for failure. Preparing our children’s hearts and minds to love the Lord, to have discernment, a healthy curiosity and a good work ethic will prepare them for wherever their path takes them.

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Proverbs 2:1-6

stop and smell the daisies

Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she blogs about life as she knows it, with children in various stages of cutting those apron strings.


  1. Jennifer Whitten says:

    I love this! There are so many ways this can be applied! To Highschool students homeschooled or otherwise! Also, to raising younger kids! You are so very right about preparing their hearts and minds being priority here! He tell us to seek first the Kingdom and heaven….and everything else will be added! Thank you for your words and advice!

    • Thank you Jennifer 🙂 No matter what age my children are, I have to step back and remind myself to look at the big picture. When they reach high school, I have found it to be even more important, but oh so easy to get bogged down in the academics and fear of not measuring up. I’m glad this post was encouraging to you!

  2. Rachael D says:

    This is a great encouraging article! I have five at home, four I am homeschooling…and one stepping into high school this September. We are currently scouring for help on high school tips & tricks. This is a new blog I was glad to find 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough (


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