Challenges of Homeschooling High School: Language Arts

This is a part of the series I am doing on overcoming challenges in homeschooling high school.  
The purpose behind these posts is to assure people that even if they do not feel confident in homeschooling some subjects in the formative high school years, there are still options other than enrolling them in a brick and mortar school.  Of course, you can always enroll your kids part time in the local public school or you could enroll in a charter school to get extra help.  And if you can afford it, you can enroll your homeschooler in an online program.  We, cannot afford it however, so I have had to come up with other options!  And here are some of the things I have discovered.

 My background is in language arts.  I have a degree in English with an emphasis in education.  My intention was to become a middle or high school English teacher, but I decided to homeschool instead!  So for me the language arts is not something I am too afraid of.

Don't get me wrong, I have questioned myself and tried many different things over the years.  But so far all my kids have always tested into college level writing before they graduated high school.

In the early years leading up to late middle school and high school, kids really just need to read good books.  They don't all have to be classics, they should really just read great books that will incite their imaginations.  There are fabulous places to find excellent booklists.  The Mother of Divine Grace, Mater Amabilis, RC History websites have fabulous lists of books for all ages.  Here in the Bonny Glen, Heart of My Home, Shower of Roses are some blogs with great reading lists, too.

When they get to high school have them read great literature that goes along with the time period they are studying for history.  You can always supplement for something else if the curriculum you are using chooses a book that your teen hates.  Also allow them to pick a piece of literature or even whatever Shakespeare play they want once in awhile.  Once they have read the book, write a paper.  It is that simple.

Wait, you are asking, what do I have them write about??

Well, if you are using a curriculum they will give you some ideas but if you are making up your own or are supplementing, I am going to give you my very favorite resource.  And best of all, it is FREE.  Y'all know I love free.

Spark Notes has almost every book you could ever imagine.  Like those yellow and black cliff notes we used to get, Spark Notes gives a synopsis of the literature piece and will give you essay questions prompts, and sample quizzes.  This is a great resource for parents, as it is hard for us to read everything that comes across our kid's desks.  This is a place where you can get the gist of the book and also give you ideas for their essays and what those essays should include.

Spark Notes can also be a great resource for your student too.  I have always made it clear to my kids that they can use Spark Notes to help them, but they are required to do the reading in the actual novel. Spark Notes is simply there to help them understand more fully what is being presented to them.  It is not cheating, so long as they actually read the text.  And as a homeschool parent, you should be able to check on this easily.  They should also jot down quotes from their text to use in their papers.

Another important resource to prepare them for college writing is Purdue's Online Writing Lab, also known as OWL.  This will help you and your student know how to format their papers.  Your student will need to know how to put quotes in their papers, how to head their papers, and how to write bibliographies.

Ok, so, I may be loosing you at this point.  It seems like a lot, but honestly the most important thing for language arts is to just read and write.  Give your student plenty of time to write good papers.  Give them a week to write their rough draft, give yourself a few days, if not a week, to grade it, and then a week for them to edit their paper.  When they turn in the final draft it should be nearly perfect.  They will have your notes and any notes from anyone else they have had edit their paper.

Something that I have been dying to try is Brave Writer.  This program spans all the ages and Julie Bogart is simply amazing!  I am playing with the idea of using her program next year.

Also, don't forget to look into your communities resources.  They will often have creative writing classes and book clubs which will also encourage your child to read and write!

Do you have any other resources you would like to share?  Please leave them in the comments!

I have received no compensations for the recommendations made in this post.  
They are solely my opinions.


  1. Amy~ I haven't commented on this series, but I am loving it and bookmarking it for future use. My first born will be in high school this fall, so this series is very timely for me. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.

    1. So glad Aimee! The high school years can be a lot of fun! Have no fear! :)


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