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Tips for Teaching Homeschool High School Subjects

[Today’s post Tips for Teaching Homeschool High School Subjects is a guest contributor post from Michelle Habrych.]

Tips for Teaching Homeschool High School Subjects

Tips for Teaching Homeschool High School Subjects

Many homeschool moms fear teaching homeschool high school subjects, worried that their knowledge is not enough to get their students through. But let me tell you a secret: it does not matter what you know in advance; if you want to teach it, you will learn it along with your students. That’s how I started teaching high school subjects at my homeschool co-op.


The first subject I taught was government. I knew only what I was taught back in high school decades early. However, there was a need at our homeschool co-op group, so another mom (Rita) and I stepped up. Rita had a love for American history and taught about the Constitution in another class at our group, so she was the perfect partner for me. We taught it together once more before she moved on from the group and I ended up teaching the class two more times (so far!). I wrote a bit about what we used in this blog post The Top Tips for Teaching American Government.

American Literature and History

With some confidence gained by teaching government, I thought back to what I knew best from high school and compared that with what was most needed at our homeschool group. No one was teaching literature and I enjoyed English classes when I was in school. Rita and I decided to collaborate to teach complementary classes. She would teach American History and I would teach American Literature. We were going to use James P. Stobaugh’s American Literature book.

How to Add to a History Curriculum

Once we received the books, it became evident to each of us that we would need to add to what was in the books. It wasn’t quite what we planned or expected, but we would make it work. Rita was fabulous with computer slide presentations, so she made those with links to additional information on the subjects. The curriculum was more of a philosophy course than a true history curriculum, so she provided more details about events to aid in the students’ understanding. She took the outline for each chapter and collected Youtube videos, photos and clip art from the historical period to include in her presentations, and any other links which offered more information on the topics.

Using One-Question Essay Quizzes

My son was in that class. He already loved history but for others in the class, it was difficult to have opinions about the historical events if they were unfamiliar with the events prior to the lesson. Rita’s additional research attempted to help them have a fuller picture of the lesson. She taught the class with mostly one-question essay quizzes each week, typically taken from the teacher’s guide, as opposed to the “memorize this date-place quizzes” I remembered from high school which made me loathe history. Still, I was her grading assistant and saw that many of the students’ answers were lacking true understanding on the topic. When I taught the class two years later, I completely changed the testing format. I knew it would help my daughter who would be in the class, as well as the other students. (More on this in a future post.)

American Literature

I taught the American Literature course after American History on the schedule. Five students from the history class took it, along with one student who signed up only for literature. As I prepared for the lessons, I found that the text failed to teach many of the basic literary terms it was assumed the students would know. I found this great resource on Teachers Pay Teachers: Literary Term of the Week by Presto Plans. It was a great way to explain the terms in ways that the students understood. Each week I would review the text and see what words would need explaining, and then I would bring up those slides. I also added a few terms each week, so they would learn more than half of the terms over the course of our 32-week school year.

Connecting History to Literature

During class, we would talk about how the history events studied related to the literature we were reading that week. Sometimes it directly corresponded, while other times it was loosely related. However, since we were reading in the order of American history, this helped students to better see how events actually occurred or what may have led an author to write the way he or she did.

Study Guides for More Help

To more effectively teach the novels in the curriculum, I realized I needed more help than the teacher guide offered. I often used the study guides offered at Course Hero’s website. I only used free resources there. The infographics and explanations of symbols and themes were helpful to get to the heart of the matter and help students understand what was happening in novels, such as The Scarlet Letter. Apparently the site also has videos now to help! That’s new since I last taught this course. 

Other Tips for Teaching Homeschool High School Subjects

The same can be done for any high school subjects you want to teach for your students. You don’t have to know everything to teach it. Even if it’s not a strong subject for you, take what someone else has done and then add what you need to add to make sure the information is understood. Collaborate with a friend. This is not limited to only in a co-op situation. I know plenty of families who choose to get together for a subject or two when their children are younger. There’s no reason for this to stop in high school.

You totally can homeschool high school. It just may take some re-learning or adjustments to the curriculum, but the results are well worth the effort. 

For more on combining high school American history and literature, see my future post coming next Monday!

Do you have more tips for teaching homeschool high school subjects? Please share in a comment below!

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Michelle Habrych is a recent homeschool “empty nest” mom of two, having just graduated her last student after 16 years of homeschooling. She fell in love with history as a homeschool mom and will continue to teach at her homeschool co-op this fall. 

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