Homeschool High School: Follow That Child (an update)

I had no idea how much my last big high school post would resonate with readers.

So many parents of middle and high school homeschool students struggle - and they struggle in silence.

It's been a year and I'm still receiving emails from people who have gained peace of mind and a little courage from our story. I've heard countless stories of children who have been pushed through the "correct" course for them in middle and/or high school, only to discover a decline in their child's love for learning. 

When you witness your bright-eyed child lose their drive and delight it pulls at your heartstrings. It is a feeling of helplessness I can't quite describe.

But here is the SPECTACULAR news about homeschooling: We have CHOICES! 

We can talk with our high schoolers, LISTEN to our high schoolers, and ultimately follow them to design a high school education that works for them! We don't need to be motivated by fear or the need to follow the crowd.

If you are willing to put on those running shoes and keep up with your high schooler, homeschooling them can be a beautiful, refining process for everyone!

Homeschool High School: Follow Your Child

In short (and if you don't know our story,  read the post from June of last year), the Classical Conversations Challenge program wasn't a fit for my daughter. It wasn't a fit for me, as her teaching parent. 

We were so heavily invested in the "method", however, that I felt we didn't have a choice but to continue. I felt as if we would be failing if we QUIT so close to the finish line. After all, I had been reading all of the wonderful stories of children who had graduated from the Challenge program and were doing beautiful things. 

What I didn't read was:

  • stories of children who were bogged down, uninspired, and overwhelmed
  • stories of children who had lost their love of reading because of the extensive reading which Challenge requires (especially Challenge I and II)
  • stories about children who ceased to learn effectively from their parents
  • stories of children who NEEDED outside teachers

Many times I don't think a homeschooling parent wants to admit they might not be the best teacher for their child in the high school years. The relationship dynamics and difficulty of subject matter sometimes necessitate we do some serious outsourcing or dare I say it -- put them in a traditional school. 

(After all, we look at Instagram and read blogs and see homeschool parents guiding their children through high school and they make it look SO easy!)

Many times I don't think a homeschooling parent has the fortitude to stay in their own lane - the peer pressure is very real in some circumstances.

Many times I believe we operate out of a place of fear - fear of the outside world and its influences and fear of the unknown.

Many times I think we find something and stick with it - regardless of if it works or not - because it is what we KNOW. 


This is what I can say with 100% certainty after Anna's junior year:

Always listen to YOUR child. Keep tabs on the pulse of your family. If a change needs to be made, have the courage to make it.

I'm so glad we made the change - my relationship with my daughter is so much better because of it.

Homeschool High School - Follow that Child

Social/Emotional Goals for the Junior Year

Each child is so different. 

For my sweet Anna, she needed to prove to herself that she could do hard things - that she could write her own destiny and succeed. She's always been my strong-willed child and this serves her very well. 

In July of last year my mom passed away. My mom and Anna were very close - my mom was her biggest champion (in only that way a grandparent can be, know what I mean?). Getting over that loss was hard for Anna - and I KNEW I had to pick up where my mom left off and champion her every bit as much - and honor the way she wanted to learn and the environment she wanted to learn in.

Challenge was never a "fit" for her - I can't quite put my finger on it, but something never felt right. Because we honored her decision to leave Challenge and try something new it deepened her trust for us and it also gave her so much confidence in her abilities to adapt to CHANGE.

Her schedule this year was such that she had four academic classes in 4 different places. She had to listen to different sets of teachers and juggle syllabi and logistics. She's nervous about going away to college one day and wanted to prepare herself ahead of time. 

It is now June after her junior year and SHE DID IT! We are in such a different place than we were last year at this time and the growth has been exponential. 

She's driving herself everywhere.

She has a job.

She's looking at colleges - taking the ACT and SAT.

She handles her schoolwork 100% on her own. 

She has a sweet friend base and has been busy with friends all year long.

She spends free time journaling, drawing, practicing lettering, and playing music. Most of all, things just CLICK now - it showed me just how badly we needed to make a change.

Homeschool High School: Follow that Child


Academics in the Junior Homeschool Year

The academic integrity of the junior year was important to me.

My daughter and I sat down at the end of last school year and considered many factors.

Her biggest request was that she learn everything in a more traditional way.

She is a person that needs schedules, lists, and someone to be accountable to. 

Our goals were:

  • college preparatory coursework
  • taking at least one class at homeschool classical school in our area - to have a friend base and activities, etc...
  • AP coursework in the hopes of getting some credits for college
  • time for a job and volunteering



The next step in science was Chemistry. Anna was fortunate to take a wonderful Chemistry class at a local classical school. 

Using the Apologia Chemistry text she learned so much and had a GREAT year. 

For difficult subjects like this the Challenge model was hard for us. We found it much easier to learn a subject like Chemistry from an expert and in a structured manner rather than self-teaching from a text with limited support from a Challenge tutor. Anna also had the opportunity to get someone on one tutoring for the math parts of Chemistry, which can be quite difficult. 

Some kids can self teach quite easily, but others need more direction and assistance.


AP Language & Composition

I can only describe this class as a 100% God thing. 

Anna enjoys writing and we both agreed she needed lots of feedback on her writing as she approached college. 

As we sought to earn college credit and also have a rigorous, Christian course, the AP Language and Composition offering from HSLDA Academy came onto the radar. This class was the perfect fit for Anna!

One thing I have learned about my daughter is that she thrives when there is a personal relationship with a caring adult. Her AP Language and Composition teacher was demanding and firm, yet caring and full of constructive criticism. Anna spent the year learning the finer points of writing and how to write in different styles. 

What we learned this year is that Anna can WRITE.  She sat for the AP exam a couple of weeks ago and felt very confident. If we hadn't put her in a traditional class with instruction and constant feedback from an expert, I don't think she would have had quite as much confidence in her abilities, and it certainly proved to her that she can tackle a difficult subject and do well.


AP European History

This course was TOUGH. We had both heard horror stories of the difficulty of the class and the AP exam, and I think the stories were accurate. 

We've always had a great experience with Memoria Press Academy, (Anna took Latin I and Latin II through Memoria in 9th and 10th grade) so signed up for this online course. The subject is EXTENSIVE - and they had to run through the material so quickly to cover everything that I think Anna lost interest early on. (She's also not a big history buff.)  

I think no matter she would have taken this course it would have been tough and not so interesting.

(She did enjoy her two big term papers for this class. She received excellent feedback and it reinforced to her that she is a GOOD writer. I was thankful  she heard this from two AP teachers this year!)

In all honesty, I think I could have designed a history class for her with living books that would have been much more engaging, but she wanted to take a full load of high school classes from other "teachers" (not mom!) - to prove to herself she could do it. 

Lesson learned on this one: you can make it through difficult things and you will survive what many call the most difficult AP exam of them all!  God uses it all for good, doesn't He?

(Plus, she now has a notebook full of pretty notes - she brings her creativity into everything she does!)

Homeschool High School: Follow that Child




Anna went on the same path for math that she has been on for all of high school - Mr. D Math. 

Mr. D has been the perfect fit for Anna - she isn't a "math" kid, but Mr. D has made it approachable and dare I say sometimes even enjoyable for her. 

She attended the live sessions with Mr. D (which she claims are a must!) and it all went well this year. 




This is being done this summer through Monarch - a simple self-paced health curriculum that checks off this requirement for graduation.

Music/Piano & Guitar lessons

Anna kept up with her piano and guitar lessons this year. 

As I let her have more freedom she decided to spend much more time with her guitar - she played in our church several times and for our monthly special needs music program. She also helped her guitar teacher with a Ukulele Club for younger homeschool students. 

Homeschool High School - Follow that Child


Moving on to Senior Year

We're taking a little while to catch our breath this summer and then will finalize plans for her senior year. 

Where did the time go? I'm not quite sure I can make sense of it yet. 

It really does seem like she was just playing school with her American Girl dolls and begging me to read just another chapter in a book to her. 


Thanks for joining me on this journey of homeschooling a high schooler. It's been quite a wild ride, but one I wouldn't trade for anything!


Are you homeschooling a high schooler?  Can you relate to anything I shared above?


You might also like:

Stop Telling Me Why You Can't Homeschool (High School)

How to Reach Your Teen Homeschooler's Heart

5 Lessons From My Mother

So many "firsts".

When you lose someone you love, you are told the year of "firsts" will be hard. There is so much truth in that. 

This is the first Mother's Day without my mom.  

The loss is more palpable today than it was the day she died.

In the spirit of my gracious and kind mother, however, it does not feel right to dwell on the loss.  Instead, I remember the gifts she gave me, and the wisdom and love she imparted to me. Perhaps that could be one of the lessons from my mother - to search for the beauty and love of God in all things?


5 Lessons From My Mother

The "Back Story"

God's ways are mysterious and beautiful; people often refer to them as "coincidence".

I don't believe in coincidence, but I do believe in a God who loves us and designs ALL of life's circumstances for our ultimate good.

Last winter I traveled to spend several days with my dad. I helped him clean out a few more of my mom's things - and in those was a book tucked behind many other books. This book turned out to be a precious God wink. I even will go far as to say my mom led me to that book.

I spent a lot of time in between helping my dad and going through her things just soaking up Gift From The Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

As I read I began to draw a multitude of parallels between the gifts from the sea and the gifts my mother had given me. I spent much of that week sitting by the pool with tears streaming down my face.

There can be so much beauty in the hard.

I could give you many more than 5 lessons, but these are what stick out most prominently to me now.


Have Patience in All Things

Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

My mom had the patience of a saint. When I was a child she spoke to me about patience so often, and I remember her reinforcing that to me as an adult.

That patience was especially important when I became a mother - especially the mother of a toddler who tested my limits! My mother always had a very calm way of reassuring me that patience would win out.

When a hysterical, screaming little girl wasn't getting her way I remember my mom saying to me, "Stick to your guns. Put her in her room and don't let her come out until she has calmed down. She might cry so hard she will make herself sick, but she has to learn to have patience."

Not only did my three-year-old begin to learn patience, her mama got to practice patience as well.


A Woman CANNOT Do Everything

My mother raised her girls to be independent, capable, and strong. She saw each of us through college, motherhood, and careers, yet she also made it quite clear to me that I could not have it ALL.

I was under no illusion that I could be the kind of mother my children deserved AND serve my own need for a career as well.

When I decided to go back to work after the birth of my first child she told me bluntly how she disagreed, and then she supported my decision (because this is what she always did - no matter my choices she would tell me her opinion and then support me).

This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace; it destroys the soul... I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and rhythm.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

My mother created a home for us that was peaceful and calm, with plenty of time to be quiet and appreciate things of beauty.

We ate dinners together often. We fed our creative selves. I don't ever recall life being frenzied or scattered.

As far as the working and raising children issue, I see now that giving up my job was the best decision I ever made. Eventually, as my children grew and life changed, I was able to pursue my "career" and do more than I ever imagined possible.

This goes back to PATIENCE.


Being a Homemaker is a Noble and Worthy Calling

My mother made child rearing an art. It was her calling and her joy.  She was first and foremost a wife and mother.

5 Lessons From My Mother


I always knew FAMILY was her life's mission.

I'm not so sure many young women get that gift in this day and age.

We do not see the results of our giving as concretely as man does in his work. In the job of home-keeping there is no raise from the boss, and seldom praise from others to show us we have hit the mark. Except for the child, woman’s creation is so often invisible, especially today.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

My mother always complimented me on the work I was doing with my family. She sent me cards on Mother's Day. 

I knew that mothering and homemaking MATTERED. 

I pray that my own daughter knows that if God calls her to that life, it is THE noblest profession of all.


With Age Comes Wisdom

My mother never fretted about aging. She accepted each pound, wrinkle, and setback with grace.

She invested in older women in our church and stressed to me the importance of them in our lives. 

My mom taught me that there is something beautiful that comes with each stage of life, and not to be fooled by a society that seems to only value youthfulness and beauty.

We Americans, with our terrific emphasis on youth, action, and material success, certainly tend to belittle the afternoon of life and even to pretend it never comes... In our breathless attempts we often miss the flowering that waits for afternoon.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Each stage of our lives holds something extraordinary, but if we are too busy wishing for the previous season we will likely miss the beauty in front of us.

My mom embraced the beauty in every stage of her life. I pray I am doing the same.


You Are Stronger Than You Know

After my second child was born I had a horrible struggle with postpartum depression. This depression was so foreign to me, but in the years to come it would rear its head several more times.

The first couple of times my mom came to the rescue... staying with our family, helping care for my children, literally forcing me out of bed in the morning. 

She would always leave, however, before I wanted her to. She gave me the tools to get better and promised me I could succeed on my own - and always with God's help. Through these times I learned I had a strength I didn't know I possessed.

I learned I could handle tough things - very tough things.

When my mom's death came I didn't crumble. I would like to think I made it through those dark days with grace and faith - and often times a smile. 

The Gift From The Sea is one of treasured possessions now. (In fact, it sparked a bit of an obsession about Anne Morrow Lindbergh - a fascinating figure if you get a chance to learn more about her.)

Knowing that my mom read the same words and lived by so many of them gives me such comfort.

I do not take lightly the gift of a wonderful mother. I know not everyone has had this experience, and I count myself blessed to have been loved by my mother.


Additional Reading:

Gift from the Sea: 50th-Anniversary EditionWisdom from Gift from the Sea (Mini Book)Gift From The Sea, An Answer to the Conflicts in Our LivesThe Aviator's Wife: A NovelAnne Morrow Lindbergh: Her LifeAnne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady of the AirAgainst Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals, 1947-1986North to the Orient (Harvest Book)Hour Of Gold, Hour Of Lead: Diaries and Letters Of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1929-1932No More Words: A Journal of My Mother, Anne Morrow LindberghLocked Rooms Open Doors:: Diaries And Letters Of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1933-1935 (A Harvest Book)Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Between the Sea And the Stars (Lerner Biographies)War Within and Without: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1939-1944


5 Lessons from My Mother