High School Homeschool Curriculum: Top Picks

Ah…high school. Why do I love homeschooling high school so much? Mostly because my teens don’t need my constant attention and instruction anymore! Ha!

While I’m not kidding about the independent learning thing above, there are other reasons I really enjoy the high school homeschool:

  • We have great discussions.
  • My children can (finally) logically defend issues that are near and dear to them.
  • They have the ability to understand and handle more detailed world happenings that my husband and I worked so hard to shelter them from in the early years.  As we focused on apologetics from the beginning, it’s been very cool to see them automatically look at world issues through “Biblical glasses.”
  • I love walking close beside them as they venture out into the “real world.”
  • Our relationships begin the slow change from parent to friend.
  • I can trust them with more responsibilities.
  • And just to reiterate, I’m very serious about how refreshing it is that learning becomes more independent.

Above all, it makes me melt to see the fruit of all the academic lessons, character training, life skills lessons, and Bible teaching come together to mold fantastic, capable young adults. Oh, and watching God reveal to my children His purposes for their lives is just utterly amazing!

While my husband and I certainly don’t want to let go, this homeschooling thing actually makes it easier, I think. Knowing we’ve poured ourselves into their growing-up years and walked alongside them to the end gives us such peace. God is good to offer that kind of peace.

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High School Homeschool Curriculum

Alright, moving on from the mushy, gushy – below is my list of top picks for high school homeschool curriculum. There are other materials we’ve used, and we’ve even made up some of our own. These, however, have been and will be constants during the high school years in our homeschool.

Knowing we lean heavily on a Charlotte Mason style, you may be surprised to find so many textbook-like resources on my list. As I’ve always said, just about any curriculum can be used in a Charlotte Mason manner. Any curriculum we’ve ever used, from PK through 12th grade, has been tweaked to fit our CM lifestyle. For the most part, though, most of the top picks below either utilize living literature (or are “living” in the text presented), and/or are “gentle” in nature, and/or are concise enough as to not waste our time.

Please be sure to research my high school homeschool favorites thoroughly to decide whether or not they should be your favorites, too.

English

Wordsmith Student Book (3rd Edition) - 7th-9th Grade Skills, Writing Textbook

 

Wordsmith is meant to be used with 7-9th graders. We tend to be very relaxed with writing instruction in our home until high school. This super-easy-to-use curriculum is our top choice for the freshman year. The book begins by teaching writing techniques and ends with writing assignments in all genres. Most importantly for us, it’s very student-friendly and doesn’t require a ton of effort on the part of the parent. Feel free to check out my review.

I’m also a HUGE fan of using picture books to teach writing – even in high school! Check out the Teaching Writing with Picture Books Homeschool Masterclass and Using Picture Books to Teach Writing Blog Series for more information.

Learning Language Arts Through Literature: American Literature (The Gold Book)Learning Language Arts Through Literature: British Literature (The Gold Book)

 

Learning Language Arts Through Literature: The Gold Books – American Literature and British Literature are excellent resources for knocking out two high school English credits. Both books include great lists of literature in varied genres AND all the thought-provoking activities to go along – vocabulary instruction, book analysis, writing assignments and more. The assignments are fully prepared for you and can easily be completed by your independent student without additional instruction.  (We don’t do each and every assignment because there are a lot.)

I’m also a big fan of the Beautiful Feet curriculum sets during high school. You’ll see them mentioned in more detail in the history section below, but they are also literature-based with plenty of opportunities for language arts credit.

History

Ancient Civilizations & the Bible: From Creation to Jesus ChristRomans, Reformers, Revolutionaries: A Biblical World History Curriculum Resurrection to Revolution AD 30-AD 1799World Empires, World Missions, World Wars

 

Diana Waring’s History Revealed curriculum is so cool because it easily meets the needs of any type of learner and individual student interests. Each of the books (Ancient Civilizations and the Bible, Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries, and World Empires, World Missions, World Wars) is meant to last one year and can earn a full history credit. The books are arranged in chapters that each take about a month to complete. During that month, your student will be reading text, living literature, researching topics, completing writing assignments, pulling together projects and more.

It’s a very adaptable curriculum and there are more ideas in each chapter than you “can shake a stick at.” In reality, you could easily complete more than expected in each chapter and take two years to complete a book, earning 2 history credits. Or, you could use the seemingly endless activity suggestions for other subjects (especially writing) and assign enough history and writing lessons to assign a credit for history AND English in one year. You really have to see this curriculum to believe it. You might get a slightly better picture of all it has to offer in my review.

(History Revealed is advertised for 5th-12th. We used the Ancient Civilizations and the Bible curriculum with an 8th and 5th grader. The 8th grader kept up well, but could have learned so much more if I had waited. The 5th grader went along for the ride, but did not come close to getting the full benefits of the curriculum.)

Hakim

 

A History of US Series from Joy Hakim is another U. S. history resource that has fit well into our living literature approach to schooling. While the books are liberal at times (especially book 10 on modern times), we have found them to be fabulously interesting overall. Some curriculum supply companies include these books for much younger ages, but I’ve found the information to be soaked in better by older students. Not to mention, at the high school level you can have great discussions about the misconceptions – conversations you need to have. (I actually hesitated to recommend this series because mom and dad really need to be aware that some of the liberal teaching must be refuted during family discussions and by reading other supporting resources – shared below.)

High school students can tackle several volumes per year. To round out the reading, I assign papers here and there and we have lots of family discussions. Of course, anytime we can tie in a good field trip or an excellent documentary, historical movie, or historical fiction, we do. Oh, and I make sure each section is followed by a test!

Some of the books and DVDs we use to supplement this series and debunk the liberal viewpoints include:  American Heritage Series DVDs, How Should We Then Live? DVDs, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, Our Constitution Rocks, Constitutional Literacy DVDs, and For You They Signed. We read and watch these together as a family most often and, in doing so, have great discussions about current-day misconceptions and worldviews. You might wonder what topics I’m specifically talking about as liberal…information about our Founding Fathers being deists, information about the Crusades being irrational, and viewpoints that Muslims aren’t inherently against Christians, among others.

We love high school history with Beautiful Feet!

As different children come along, you sometimes find additional favorites that cover the same things as previous favorites. That’s the case with the Modern U.S. and World History from Beautiful Feet. It’s completely prepared for you!

This curriculum comes with everything you need to teach high school history using living literature. It provides meaningful assignments that help students think critically about the topics presented in the books, as well as some text and links that tie the books to actual history. In the end, your child will earn a credit in history and literature! Feel free to check out my review.

Math

Saxon Algebra 1: Homeschool Kit Third EditionSaxon Algebra 2: Homeschool Kit Third Edition

 

I like Saxon Math. My children…well, let’s just say they tolerate Saxon Math. It’s a great college-prep curriculum that teaches thoroughly and incrementally. When a student completes a Saxon book successfully, you don’t need to doubt they’ve received a solid math education. Since higher-level math can get a little dicey around here, Saxon Teacher CDs have been lifesavers for us!

Another cool thing about Saxon Math – according to the Saxon company, if you use their 3rd editions of Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Advanced Math, there is enough geometry embedded within the three to count as four math credits! Three books, four credits – what high school kid wouldn’t appreciate that??

Saxon Math is notorious for assigning lots of practice problems. We assign odds or evens.  f those are done well, we move on. If those aren’t done well, we review the lesson the following day and use the other set of problems for practice.

Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding, 3rd Edition

 

If you have a child who just wants to get through algebra 1, algebra 2, and geometry, then Jacob’s Geometry is a great place to jump off the Saxon wagon. This is a straightforward, challenging-but-not-overwhelming geometry curriculum that we have loved. You can find real-life, humor, and “the big picture” in the lessons. Okay, maybe those things don’t make it painless – maybe not even enjoyable – but highly tolerable. As with Saxon, there are many, many opportunities to practice in each lesson.  We never complete all the problems.

With kids who are ready to jump off the Saxon wagon before it ever gets moving, Teaching Textbooks is a wonderful option. Both of my boys have used at least some levels of Teaching Textbooks for upper level math and have been very successful.

Science

Exploring Creation with BiologyExploring Creation With Chemistry by Jay L. Wile Published by Apologia Educational Ministries 2nd (second) edition (2003) HardcoverExploring Creation With Physics

 

Apologia Science is full of good stuff. It’s incredibly thorough, offers great labs that are mostly easy to complete at home (or find a demonstration video online), and challenging. My children might tell you the books are very challenging (especially chemistry and physics), but that’s what I expect from a solid college-prep science curriculum. Even better, they are God-honoring. I never have to worry that I’ll have to dispel incorrect teaching.

We’ve used Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics during the high school years. One of my children completed Physical Science in middle school (which is where it “officially” is supposed to fit.)

Rocks and DirtBotanyCellsElementsCarbonMapping Body with Art

 

For children who don’t necessarily fit into the traditional high school textbook mold, you’ll appreciate the not-so-traditional biology and chemistry credits we pulled together. You might also like to see how you could create your very own science class without as much effort as you think. Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop curriculum has become a favorite for middle school and early high school around here!

As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I’ll have to admit that turning science over to a textbook after our many, many years of nature-based lessons, casual experimentation and unit studies was/is hard. Very hard. Here’s how I cope: We still try to include weekly nature walks/nature study into our schedule. This “nature day” takes the place of the textbook. Yes, that means we don’t make it all the way through the textbook at the end of the year. That’s okay. I’ve found the last few chapters of each book to be almost “too deep” for my high schoolers anyway. Continuing nature study is far more important to us than finishing any science book!

Also, most of the time, we use narration for “check-ups” of comprehension rather than writing answers to the various question points in the book. When possible, I also try to tie in a field trip, living biography, or great documentary to round out the textbook feel.

Government

American Government

 

American Government in Christian Perspective from A Beka is one traditional textbook curriculum my children and I have loved from start to finish. It’s thorough, God-honoring, and concise. Even better, it’s easily completed in one semester.

Bible

Christianity, Cults & Religions: A Side By Side Comparison Chart of 20 Cults, Religions, and World ViewsDenominations Comparison

 

In high school, we make time to learn all we can about the various religions around the world and the differences between Christian denominations. It’s of great importance to my husband and me that my kids know how to defend their Christianity in a world that will try to confuse them at every turn. These two pamphlets from Rose Publishing get us started in our research and study.

The Christianity, Cults & Religions and Denominations Comparison pamphlets don’t tell you everything you need to know. However, they are a non-intimidating method that piques interest and understanding before we dive deeper into research and the Word. Whether you want to dive deeper or not, these pamphlets (especially the one on world religions/cults) are fabulous quick-reference guides!

Electives

Economics

 

Economics for Everybody has taught me as much as it has taught my children. This is an incredible video-based survey of economic principles that I wish was required for every high schooler across the country. The focus is on a Christian worldview of economics with solid training about the importance of a free-market economy.

It’s easy to complete in one semester, but there are plenty of extras to stretch it out to a year if you like. The study guide provides plenty of wonderful discussion opportunities and thoughtful writing experiences. Learn more in my review.

Psychology: A Christian Perspective - High School Edition

 

The world of psychology is fascinating to me. I even seriously considered going into this field in college. Sadly, the few courses I did take on the subject in college presented a very worldly view of the field. Most college students will be required to take at least one course in psychology (or something similar.) They will likely find the same experiences as me. And even if psychology isn’t required, other courses will be may have very worldly perspectives.

I strive to prepare my children to have Biblical lenses focused on the material, no matter the course title. One way to do that is through a course like Psychology: A Christian Perspective. Not only does this course teach the subject from a Biblical perspective, but it also debunks many of the worldly arguments. In almost apologetics fashion, it teaches what the world believes about psychology and how the Bible stacks up in comparison. Pretty cool, huh? Feel free to read my entire review.

Another elective choice similar in “apologetics” style is Philosophy Adventure. Oh my, I could tell you stories about the worldly philosophical instruction I received in college. All I can say…strive to build a good set of “Biblical glasses.”

Be Ready for High School

These masterclasses can help you be ready for an incredible four years of homeschooling high school!

More Top Picks

We’ve come to the end of my Top Homeschool Curriculum Picks series (unless we decide to homeschool college!)  You can catch up with the other posts using the links below.  Have FUN with your children and make wonderful memories!

Veteran homeschooler Cindy West shares her favorite K-12 curriculum choices.

Early Elementary Top Picks (K-2)

Upper Elementary Top Picks (3-5)

Middle School Top Picks  (6-8)

16 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve already got Diana Waring’s Ancient Civilizations and the Bible and the psychology course you mentioned is one of the three that’s on my list to check out. Off to read both reviews now!

  2. Just ordered the LLATL for American Lit. Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for sharing at Finishing Strong!

  3. I really think you’ll love it! 🙂

  4. Wow. Nearly identical to my choices for my 9th graders! I am reassured….. (0:

  5. Thank you for the curriculum ideas! We also did Apologia Biology and loved it!

  6. Found you from Carol Top’s website – thanks for your tips! I am using Saxon & Apologia – and I’ve been using a wonderful curriculum for k-8th that I’ve loved (MFW). I’m not sure I’m sticking with it through high school – not because I haven’t loved it – but I am still looking at what will work for him in history, language arts, etc. without the “full box”.

  7. Thanks for visiting, Ashley! I hope you have as much fun planning for high school a I do!

  8. Jeanette Blair says:

    Although this information was helpful…I am feeling lost and overwhelmed. First time homeschooling and first high schooler! Would all of the basic classes/books you listed need to be completed her freshman year? Do these include lessons?

  9. Jeanette, the list you’ve found on this post is just some of the very favorite curriculum I’ve used during the entire span of high school. I would suggest taking a look at the state high school requirements where you live and building your freshman year with that as a framework. For instance, most freshman in KY tend to take English 1, algebra 1, biology, some sort of history, a foreign language, and an elective.

  10. Miriam Payes says:

    What are your auggestion for an 11th grader that is taking all honors and AP classes thia year, but we want to homeschool her and her other three siblings? She is done with regular math as she was a year ahead in math on middle school. She takes honora science as well all her high school years. Extremely bright daughter that wants to get into a top college like University of Michigan. How about SATs how do i prepare her for those? Please help. A mom that wants to stop all the liberal teachings that are indoctrinating our young kids in the schools.

  11. Miriam, I would really need to have a discussion with you to give appropriate advice. However, I can encourage you here to think about what AP and honors classes she is enrolled in currently and try to find curriculum to use at home along the same topics. There are CLEP courses you could consider, dual enrollment classes at community colleges, and “regular” homeschool curriculum that is already written at high levels (Apologia science is an example.) I would also contact the University of Michigan to ask what THEY want to see from her for 11th and 12th grades and take that into serious consideration. You can easily find SAT prep courses online, too. You can do this!

  12. Miriam Payes says:

    Hi Cindy,

    Thank you for responding! We have decided to go for it. A bit overwhelmed, as I am new to all of this. I would love to speak to you directly to see what you would suggest for my 11th grader. I have her schedule of all the classes she will be taking if she were to go to public school. Just need some guidance on where to start. Thank you for the encouragement, much appreciated. Not sure what is the best way to contact you directly? If you have the time to help this newbie.

  13. Miriam, I used to offer consults via Skype, but my time is just too short these days to fit them into my schedule anymore. I’m sorry! Feel free to ask another question here about where to start and I’ll attempt to give you a decent answer. 🙂

  14. Miriam Payes says:

    Hi Cindy,

    She is taking two AP courses, Chemistry and World History, what would you suggest for material or would be the equivalent of those courses for home school? Also, Honors Trig and Pr-Calculus for math and Honors Spanish, she can take honors English but wants to at least have one class that isn’t honors. What are your suggestions on those? She is taking an accounting class as a college course in which I am back and forth about her taking that course as she does not want to major in business. Thank you for responding on her, means a bunch to me!

  15. Miriam, my best suggestion is for you to search “AP homeschool high school” on Google. There are just so many potential options for you that you will want to find what works best for your daughter. For instance, regular Apologia science textbooks are already advanced and can prepare a student well for AP exams. HSLDA and other entities offer online AP courses that you might consider (https://academy.hslda.org/homeschoolers). This article may be useful to help you plan your own AP courses (https://medium.com/@lisa_davis_21488/what-every-savvy-homeschooler-needs-to-know-about-taking-ap-classes-and-exams-4483dc2638a6). Good luck!

  16. Miriam Payes says:

    Thank you Cindy. I’ve purchased your books for gifted homeschoolers and lessons to jump into this journey. I’ve been doing research about AP classes here in Michigan. If you have any other suggestions on the other classes I’ve mentioned on curriculum for my eldest daughter. Please do make suggestions. I need any and all the help for her. Thanks again!

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