Homeschool High School: Don't Lose the Wonder

Let's assume you and your child are confident in the decision to homeschool high school. That's a big step. 

Give yourself a pat on the back.  (and ignore everyone who keeps telling you they could NEVER homeschool high school!)

You are homeschooling high school so your child can pursue their passions and become their own unique self. You are homeschooling high school because you don't want all of the horrible social pressures traditional high school can bring. You are homeschooling high school to give your child something MORE - something BEAUTIFUL - something tailored to THEIR NEEDS.

Somewhere along the line, however, your child (and YOU) lose the wonder in homeschool. You're checking off boxes and meeting college entrance requirements.  Somewhere along the line you forgot  these four years are about EDUCATION, not SCHOOLING.  

Somewhere along the line you lost YOUR vision for high school and adopted someone else's. 

This happened in our homeschool, and I want to tell you how (and why) we're making a big change.

Homeschool High School: Don't Lose the Wonder

The Blissful Early Years of Homeschool (aka "The Wonder Years")

My oldest had a wonder-filled homeschool experience in the elementary grades.  

We have so many fond memories of our days using the Five in a Row curriculum - days where we would take nature walks, bake pies, read aloud, and spend hours and hours lost in an art project.

Then there were the years where The Story of the World was our guide . Wonderful read-alouds, notebooking, and hands-on projects were the staples of our days.

If there was a science topic my daughter was interested in we would research it and find a fun lapbook.

Homeschool High School: Don't Lose the Wonder

Those were GOOD days. My daughter learned so much and she LOVED learning. 

We were so far from what a typical "classroom" looked like, but it didn't matter because I knew there was an abundance of education happening in and out of our home. 

The stakes were low in elementary school and I knew we had several years to just soak it all in. 

And Then... Middle School

As we got into middle school, adolescence hit - motivation decreased and we needed more accountability and motivation.  

These were the years we visited a couple private schools and investigated ALL of our education options. I wondered if I could keep homeschooling through this stage of life. I wondered if my relationship with my daughter could survive it. 

Have you been there?

Ultimately, we chose the CC Challenge program  in the 7th and 8th grade years - it was an excellent fit for us.  (You can read all about our time in Challenge A and B if you'd like.) The "seriousness" of our homeschool was taken up a notch and I felt  we were getting the guidance and direction we needed for those years. 

Throughout these years my daughter was showing a natural bent towards music (she played the piano and sang in a large children's chorus). She loved volunteering at a local preschool. She was showing some interest in the special needs ministry at our church.  

I won't tell you these years were easy, because they weren't.  But, I know this time around (as my son approaches 7th grade this year) that these changes are NORMAL - I don't take things so personally, and I am well aware of the turmoil that occurs in children during these years. 

As we moved toward  high school we had a few doubts about continuing with the Challenge program, but because we had been pleased in Challenge A and B and also because it is just such a beautiful curriculum, we forged ahead and committed to the Challenge years for high school.

I had a nagging feeling that we should maybe step away from Challenge and return our interest led routes, but in all honesty I was fearful: fearful about how I was going to transcript high school, fearful about college admissions, and fearful about how we would compare to everyone else.

(I confronted this fear I had --- even writing a blog post about it -- and felt equipped to tackle the future.)

Homeschool High School: Why MY Plan Didn't Work

My daughter 9th grade year -- Challenge I -- was a year rich in American history, music theory, personal finance, and all of the beautiful things Challenge I had to offer.  Her tutor that year was truly a gift and invested a great deal in each student. It was a GOOD year, but I noticed that WONDER of learning was fading.

I assumed this was just part of being a teenager. 

I began to notice my daughter  spending A LOT of time doing her schoolwork. She didn't have time that year to volunteer at the preschool. Her piano practice suffered. While I knew she was learning a lot of valuable information, I had the nagging feeling we were losing what made Anna uniquely "Anna" in the process.

Once again, I assumed this was just what would happen - it was a natural part of growing up, a natural part of the high school years. 

As we made the decision for schooling in 10th grade we decided once again to enroll in Challenge (this time Challenge II) -- most of the children in her group were moving up and it seemed like the logical choice. This was our trajectory for high school.

Somewhere along the line I had stopped listening to what my daughter wanted and and started listening to what other wanted.png

It was settled.

Anna's 10th grade year in Challenge II was full of beautiful subject matter,  but extremely literature intensive. She had always been my child who loved to read, but the volume and intensity of the British Literature in Challenge II virtually killed her love of reading. 

I told myself this was probably normal and that she would love reading again one day (or would she?) .

I loved that Anna was learning Latin (we had invested in the Memoria Press online Henle Latin classes and she was doing well - having completed Latin I and Latin II) - but she didn't like Latin and was begging me to take sign language.

Another big thing  she WANTED was more of a regular classroom experience. In a very mature thought, she told me if she was accountable to a teacher she would be happier. She longed to have traditional grades and assignments. My normally shy, reserved child (who doesn't like new situations) was requesting to try something NEW.  

While she did learn a lot in her 10th grade year,  we strove to keep her involved in the things she loved. These loves, however, were always on the fringes of her "education". She was having to fit them in AFTER her regular school work.

As Anna and I sat and talked in the middle of the year, we started contemplating stepping away from Challenge so she could make those LOVES her education. She didn't feel a connection to her education. Somewhere along the line we had lost the wonder, and we BOTH agreed we wanted it back. 

Somewhere along the line I had stopped listening to what my daughter wanted and started listening to what others said. 

Please don't misunderstand - she learned MANY valuable things in her Challenge years. She is well read, articulate, and well versed in the fine arts. She has a good understanding of Latin and geography. She understands how everything is connected and how God is a part of everything. She can debate skillfully and carry on a beautiful conversation. 

There was a definite time and place for her Challenge education.  I know many wonderful young people that have schooled all the way through high school with Challenge. It just isn't the plan for us, so we can step away and make a new plan - and that's the beauty of homeschool.

God orchestrates everything for a reason, so I cannot look back and wonder why we made the choices we made.

All I could do was honor my daughter's request for her final high school years. 

The "Plan" for 11th Grade

Once the decision was made to NOT return to Challenge III for 11th grade, it seemed like a huge weight was lifted from all of us.

She still needed the required credits for graduation, but we could go about them in a more flexible way.

Anna and I sat down with the high school graduation requirements and also the Music Therapy entrance requirements at a college here in Georgia (Anna would REALLY like to pursue Music Therapy.)

She decided she needed to start learning to play guitar (in addition to piano) to prepare her for Music Therapy. We found a FABULOUS guitar teacher who has done such beautiful things with Anna. She was thrilled that I honored her request to learn guitar - and she has done so much in just a few months! (This is my reserved child that vowed she would never sing alone in front of people.)


She wants to volunteer at a local school for children with special needs.

In speaking to a few college admissions offices I knew that a mixture of AP and dual enrollment classes are a good idea. I started to gain confidence about us designing a junior year that would be rigorous, yet interest led and more full of wonder for Anna.

So, what does this schedule for the coming year look like?

  • AP European History  (taken through HSLDA Academy)
  • AP Language & Composition (taken through Memoria Press Online Academy)
  • Pre-Calculus & Trigonometry (taken through Mr. D Math) OR Dual Enrollment College Math
  • Chemistry (taken through a local Classical school)
  • Sign Language (taken through a local homeschool academy)
  • Guitar and piano
  • Volunteer work with a special needs club & music ministry and babysitting


Now that we are in the summer before 11th grade, I see a big change in my daughter. Her delight and love of learning have returned. She has her nose stuck in a book again. She's keeping a practice schedule for her piano and guitar, even though it's summer. 

I believe she has been freed up to be herself  once I removed MY PLAN from her education. 

My Advice (For What It's Worth) For Homeschooling High School

My advice to you is this:  

Listen to your child.

Listen to your heart.


Pray some more.

Make yourself aware of all of the education options, but please don't be swayed by accreditation. I'm finding being unaccredited actually helps a child stand out during the college admissions process. 

Sit down with your child and map out all of the credits they will need. Give them a hand in planning their high school years. Make sure it includes what they love to do. Ensure you are giving them opportunities to shine. 

Seek opportunities for other adults to build into your child. 

If your child is the type that needs accountability, make sure they have it. 

Homeschool High School: Don't Lose the Wonder

Remind yourself of WHY you started homeschooling in the first place. There is no need to compromise during the home stretch of your journey.  There is always a way to work things out if you and your child desire to homeschool.

ENJOY the process. Spend a lot of time with your child - because whether you think so or not, they really crave your attention. 

Most importantly, NEVER forget your child's heart.

As I look back on all of the stages of homeschool each one has its highs and lows. Now that we're approaching the end of high school I'm thankful I get to hang out with a really cool kid - a precious gift from God that has been entrusted to me for a short time.


So, that's our story.  So many of you have written asking about this. I hope it's answered your questions.


Talk to me about your homeschool high school journey. How is it going?


Homeschool High School: Don't Lose the Wonder

10 Best Books for Homeschool Moms

There are books every homeschool mom needs to have in her library.

When I finally decided to abandon the ideal of public school, a friend loaned me a bag of books to borrow during our beach vacation. 

They were her stash of best homeschooling books for moms. I devoured them on the car ride there, while we were on the beach, and on the car ride home. 

I learned SO MUCH from those books. They gave me inspiration, motivation, ideas, encouragement, and just the TOOLS I needed to begin my journey.

I have since invested in many of those same books (plus my friend wound up giving me some of them!) and happily loan them out to my friends. I also re-read these books frequently. I have also added to the books as I hear of new recommendations.

My children are constantly changing, and I constantly need encouragement and ideas.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details. 

10 Best Books for Homeschool Moms

Best Books for Homeschool Moms

1.  For The Children's Sake:  Foundations of Education for Home and School

This was the VERY FIRST homeschool book I read, and I still read it each summer. It is full of so much gentle wisdom, inspiration, and advice. 

2.  A Charlotte Mason Companion:  Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning

This was the SECOND book I read. It was so helpful to me in forming my homeschool philosophy, which ultimately became an Classical/Charlotte Mason/Interest Led mix! 

3.  The Well Trained Mind:  A Guide to Classical Education at Home

This is the primer on Classical Education. It contains curriculum suggestions, a thorough explanation of the stages of learning, and so much more. I have been reading this book A LOT lately!

4. The Core:  Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education

The Core is another great primer on Classical Education. I read this book last year and it convinced me we needed to join Classical Conversations (which we start in August). Leigh Bortins offers WONDERFUL suggestions if you are interested in educating your child Classically. 

5.  Educating The Whole Hearted Child

Sally and Clay Clarkson have put together a must have resource for homeschool families. This book is full of encouragement, curriculum suggestions, book suggestions, schedules, chore charts - you name it, they have included it in this homeschool bible of sorts. 

6.  The Handbook of Nature Study

Normally this book stays in the back of my van, because I love to use it as a reference when we are out and about. If you're like me, you didn't know a lot about nature study when you started homeschooling, and I feel it is such an INTEGRAL part of appreciating God's world. 

*Guess what?  My friend Barb has an entire blog, The Handbook of Nature Study, devoted to this book. It's a fabulous resource.

7.  Pocketful of Pinecones:  Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning

This book, actually in story format, inspired me to slow down and enjoy my children. It showed me that we needed to spend time being TOGETHER, not me scheduling "activities" for them to do. It's a sweet read that refreshes tired souls. 

8.  The Homeschool Experiment

I laughed OUT LOUD while reading this book. It's written by a young homeschool mom who shares her escapades, triumphs, failures, and dreams in story format. I read it in two nights - it was THAT good. 

9.  Soundbites from Heaven:  What God Wants Us To Hear When We Talk to Our Kids

This is a great devotional - and it made me think a lot about how I speak to my children, and what that says about myself and my walk with God. It was a bit painful to read, but I believe it grew me in an area where I needed (and still DO need) work.

10.  Weapons of Mass Instruction:  A Schoolteacher's Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

If there are ever days where I feel tempted to flag down the big yellow bus, I sit and read this book. John Gatto tells the tale (in no uncertain terms) of the effects of compulsory schooling on our culture. While I believe everyone makes their educational choices for different reasons and homeschooling doesn't work for everyone, I FIRMLY believe our current system of compulsory schooling fails our children. 

You CAN Homeschool: Encouragement for the the Journey

Another book I think you MUST have (wink) is my free eBook!  I wrote this book to encourage and equip homeschooling parents.  

Download the book for free -- I hope it blesses you! 




Do YOU have a favorite homeschool book that has helped you greatly on your journey? I'd love to know what it is!

10 Best Books for Homeschool Moms

A Planner for Classical Conversations

I've struggled over the years to find a planner that would suit our needs for Classical Conversations - AND homeschool and life in general (you know - meal plans, grocery lists, books I wanted to read - all that good stuff).

Having children in both Foundations and Challenge made it hard for me to keep all of MY planning in one place, and I always wound up purchasing/making customized planners for my own children. 

As is generally the case with CC moms, when there is a need they are among the first to fill that need. 

I've discovered the BEST planner for CC - for students and parents - and it is has been developed by a talented, creative CC mom, who just KNOWS what we need in a planner. 

I'm excited to share the 18 month Classical Homeschool Planner from Hot Pink Lime with you!

*I was given a copy of the digital and physical planner for my review. This is a compensated post, but I never recommend anything we don't use and love in our own homeschool. Period.

About the Classical Homeschool Planner

The planner can either be purchased as a downloadable product, or a physical, spiral-bound planner which will be mailed to you. When you purchase the spiral bound planner you will also receive the downloadable planner.  

The advantage to purchasing the physical planner would be that you would have a beautiful, spiral-bound planner for yourself, as well as the option to customize and print planners for your students from your downloadable planner. 

This is the Sunflowers design - there are lots of other super fun designs to choose from.

A Printed Planner Includes:

– Month-on-two-page format with calendars for June 2017 – December 2018.

– Holidays for 2017 & 2018

– Undated Attendance Logs for the entire year that can be used for up to 6 children

– Lesson Plans: 24 weeks specifically designed to coordinate with CC, plus 16 Weeks of Generic Lesson Plans

– 24 Weeks of Community Day Sheets – perfect for taking weekly notes or Tutor Planning

– Weekly Class Notes Pages – ideal for taking notes during Essentials or at a weekly co-op

– Memory Work Review Rotation Schedule – prefilled in each lesson plan to simplify memory work review

– Reading Log for Multiple Students

– Resources include a Skip Counting Chart and Multiplication Table – both go through the 15s!

– Just for Mom: Book Log, Goal Planning, Bucket List, Moments to Remember & more

– Field Trip Planning Pages and Field Trip Scheduler

– Web Resources list to keep track of useful websites for your homeschool

– To Do list pages, (6 pages, double columns with check boxes)

– Lined Note pages (14 pages)

– Christmas & Special Occasion Gift Planners

– Planning pages for 2017-18

– Mileage Log

– Master Meal Planner and special Holiday Meal Planner sheets

– Coloring Pages

– Exercise Tracker

– Expense Tracker

– Mileage Log

– New School Year Checklist

– Curriculum Shopping List

Extra items only included in the Digital Download:

– Week on One Page – for those who need more calendar room.  This is an undated page with fillable fields for the dates.  Print as many as you need!

– Health Tracker – to log food, water, exercise and sleep all in one place

– Individual Student Plan

– Weekly Student Checklist  

(Thought I'd snap a shot of what the planner looks like as a downloadable file on my computer)

– Unit Study Planner

– Three complete digital planners, ready for printing:

– All Color Version

– Mixed Version – covers + calendar pages in color, with the Planning and Homeschool pages in black & white for economical printing.

– No Background Black & White Version – plain pages with no background for the most economical printing, or where you need “un-themed” pages, such as student planners or checklists.

What I Like About the Classical Homeschool Planner

Honestly, I've been pleasantly surprised by this planner. I'm NOT much of a planner person, but I can get on board with using this planner, and here's why:

  • Everything is is ONE PLACE:  All of my planning pages are right there, and my kids' planners can be customized and printed right from the downloadable file. Everything for meal planning, books I've read, and just notes in general are is included, too. Just put the planner in your bag and you're set!
  • Good for ALL LEVELS of Classical Conversations: There is something for everyone here - from Foundations to Challenge
  • Plenty of space to write:  And, if you need more pages for more room, just print them! 
  • SUPER CUTE!  Ok, I admit it. This really appeals to me. All of the designs just make me happy and I could see being quite encouraged to really use the planner because it looks cute. There are many fun planning accessories to purchase, too (if you're a planner junkie!).
  • Designed by a CC Mom:  This is a big deal. Eileen, the woman behind Hot Pink Lime, is a CC mom and gets it. She's in the trenches with us and knows what we need.

Other Details About the Classical Homeschool Planner


Free Download & Giveaway

Hot Pink Lime has designed a coloring sheet with my favorite Bible verse as a special free download for my readers.  I hope you enjoy this...

Download the Exodus 14:14 Coloring Page

Hot Pink Lime is also giving away TWO DIGITAL PLANNERS:  

ONE of the Classical Homeschool Planner (designed for CC families) and ONE of the Traditional Homeschool Planner (designed for any homeschool family).

Please follow the instructions in the widget below to enter: