Homeschooling High School: What Matters Most May Surprise You

After graduating one homeschooler and beginning ninth grade this year with my second, I can honestly say that homeschooling high school is nothing like I thought it would be. While I worried about transcripts and algebra, what mattered most took me by surprise. It may surprise you as well.

Homeschooling High School: What Matters Most May Surprise You

My oldest has been on his own, living in a college dorm, a thousand miles away, for more than seven months. He is doing well. In fact, he has far exceeded any expectations I had for him at nineteen, college or not.

I am often asked, now that I have the benefit of hindsight, what mattered the most in our homeschool. My answer surprises many homeschooling parents, but here is it. What mattered most for his overall success was helping him develop confidence in his abilities in everyday life.

In short, what mattered most was confidence and life skills.

college for homeschoolers

Homeschooling High School: What Matters Most

Allow me to elaborate.


I am not sure what else to call this. Confidence in himself, as a learner and as a person in the world, has given my son an advantage I never anticipated. He has moved through the past seven months facing challenges head on, and not only surviving, but thriving.

{I share more about how we created an environment of learning that instilled this confidence in this post: Homeschooling Actually Works (why am I so surprised?)}

Part of what has helped with his level of confidence is his competency in general life skills.

Life Skills

I cannot stress how important an intentional focus on basic life skills has been in helping my son make the transition to adulthood.

His very first week at school, he was able to navigate when his freshman orientation team got lost without cell reception. He was the only one in a group of 10 who could use a map. He was also the only one who knew how to measure tire pressure when the van’s tires looked low and the team was nervous about a blow out.

While these individual tasks (map reading and tire pressure) are not essential ingredients in any education, they gave him a sense of preparedness and confidence that was reassuring his first week away from home.

life skills in homeschool
Please know, although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, I only share programs that actually work for family. It is my hope that they will work for yours as well!

Teaching Life Skills In Your Homeschool

When my son made the decision to pursue college his senior year in high school, I am ashamed to say, I panicked. I thought I had more time to help him with all the life stuff.

After the initial shock wore off, I decided to make a list of all the life skills I felt he needed before leaving home.

This initial list included:

  • Banking
  • Budgeting (A friend’s child spent all of the monthly money in his bank account his very first week in college on eating out with his friends. He was shocked that there was so much month left with no extra money. Lesson learned!)
  • Pharmacy needs during the school year
  • Resume writing and job interviews
  • Daily to-do list management
  • Managing a calendar over the course of the year
  • General daily time management of both academics and life

After making this list, it became clear that I needed some help. I wanted my son to feel confident in these things and I knew that he might not consider me an expert in all of them. As a result, one of the best courses he took as part of our high school homeschool was a College and Career Readiness class with Mr. D Math.

Mr. D Math’s College and Career Readiness Course

This program allowed him to learn online with someone he perceived as an subject matter expert. It gave life skills weight in his mind and eased my own.

Mr. D Math’s College and Career Readiness Course includes the following units of study:

  • Goal Setting
  • Time Management
  • Introduction To Financial Literacy
  • Check Writing, Credit Cards, and Bank Accounts
  • Introduction To The Stock Market
  • Advocating For Yourself
  • Determining Your Own Learning Style
  • Career Assessments
  • Researching A Company Or University
  • A College Campus Virtual Field Trip
  • A Career Virtual Field Trip
  • Resume Writing

My son completed this course one year ago. In the months since, he has lived on his own, advocated for special needs accommodations with his college, filled out a job application, survived his first job interview and completed his first I-9 for employment (along with about a thousand other new experiences).

This course helped him feel confident in his own abilities as he began “adulting” through life.

Here’s an example:

When he was completing the new hire paperwork for his part-time job at the campus library, he had all of his banking information with him and ready to complete his direct deposit request.

He also decided to automatically direct deposit 20% of his paychecks into his savings account with the rest in checking. I did not teach him any of this. Mr. D did!

The content of the course was invaluable. But more than that, it made him feel equipped for all the things living on your own brings.

Even if your child is not college bound, this course is far more about helping our children take on the world as prepared, confident adults. The balance between college and career readiness allows for broader discussions around managing one’s life, not just applying to college or building a resume.

{You can read more about the specifics of our experience with Mr. D Math’s College and Career Readiness Course here.}

Mr. D. also provides help and support for parents in The A+ Parents Podcast.

life skills

While my son struggles from time to time (of course he does!), at no point has he doubted his ability to accomplish what he needs to in order to live successfully independent.

Life skills and confidence have had more of an impact than any academic subject or course. They matter far more than we give them credit for in our homeschools.

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  1. Did your son do the self-paced or live class?

    1. He started with the life classes and then transitioned to self-paced. We tend to take things very slowly. 🙂

      1. Good to know. Thank you!

  2. I was just looking at this Mr. D class! Thanks for the recommendation. A friend and I have been talking a lot, recently, about the high school needs for our differently wired kids…they are far more heavily life skills items than academic.

    1. I never knew how much of a difference it was making until he was on his own. It’s been so encouraging.

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