Course Requirements for Homeschooling High School

What Your Homeschooled High School Student Needs to Know

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One of the most significant benefits of homeschooling is the ability to customize your student’s education, tailoring it to fit his interests and aptitudes. However, when it comes to high school, many parents feel that they need some guidance on which subjects to teach and when to teach them.

Having graduated one homeschool student with two still in high school, I am a firm believer (after some trial and error) in maintaining an interest-led homeschool environment through the high school years as much as possible. After all, the benefits of a customized education don’t end in middle school.

However, depending on your state’s homeschool laws and your student’s post-graduation plans, other entities (such as perspective colleges or state graduation requirements) may play a role in determining your teen’s high school course options. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the courses you may wish to have your homeschooled high school student pursue.

What are the course requirements for 9th grade?

Most colleges will expect that, following a typical course of study for 9th grade, students will have received one credit each in English, math, science, and social studies (or history). 

English: English for a 9th-grade student will usually include grammar, vocabulary, literature (including literary analysis), and composition. Many 9th-grade English courses will cover myths, drama, novels, short stories, and poetry. They will also include public speaking and honing composition skills, including reference and report-writing.

Social studies: It is common to cover United States history in 9th grade. Families following a classical style of home education will likely cover ancient history as part of the four-year history cycle for high school. Other standard options include world history, U.S. government, and geography.

Math: Algebra I is the most commonly taught mathematics course for 9th-grade students. Some student may cover pre-algebra

Science: Common courses for 9th-grade science include physical science, general science, or biology. Most colleges will expect a student to have 2-3 lab sciences, making biology a good choice, though students often complete it in 10th grade, rather than 9th.

In keeping with customizing our teens' educations, my 9th grader is taking an astronomy course this year. Other alternatives may include marine biology, botany, animal science, Earth science, or zoology. 

What are the course requirements for 10th grade?

A typical course of study for 10th-grade students will include one credit each for the following:

English: A 10th grade English course will consist of the same general components as that of 9th grade (grammar, vocabulary, literature, and composition). It may also include a world, modern, or American literature course.

If your student chooses world literature, it can be fun to tie in social studies with a world geography and/or world history course. American literature would be an excellent tie-in to American history if your student didn’t cover it in 9th grade.

Social studies: World history is typical for 10th grade. Classical homeschooling families will likely cover the Middle Ages. Some students prefer topical studies such as World War I and II.

Math: Algebra II or geometry are common math classes for 10th grade. The order they are taught may depend on the curriculum you’re using. Some math texts go straight into Algebra II from Algebra I.

There is debate over the order the courses should be taught. Some say geometry should be taught in 10th grade so that students have exposure to it for college entrance exams in 11th grade. Some say that some Algebra II concepts rely on geometry. Finally, some proponents of the Algebra I/Geometry/Algebra II sequence say it helps prepare students for pre-calculus.

Science: Biology is commonly taught in 10th grade unless it was covered in 9th grade. Alternatives include the same as those listed for 9th grade.

What are the course requirements for 11th grade?

An 11th-grade typical course of study includes the following core classes:

English: Grammar, vocabulary, and composition continue to be reinforced and built upon in 11th grade. Additionally, 11th-grade students may also begin learning the mechanics of a research paper. (Sometimes this is covered in 12th grade). Literature options include American and British literature.

Social studies: History for 11th grade may include modern or European history. It might also include civics, U.S. Government, or economics (micro- or macro-). For classical homeschoolers, high school juniors will typically cover the Renaissance and Reformation.

Math: Algebra II or geometry are typically covered in 11th grade – whichever the student didn’t study in 10th. Other alternatives may include accounting, consumer math, or business math. These alternatives are typically not for college-bound students. Students may also be taking dual-enrollment courses.

Science: High school juniors generally take chemistry or physics in 11th grade since the necessary math pre-requisites have been met.

What are the course requirements for 12th grade?

Finally, the typical course of study for 12th grade includes:

English: Again, the basics are the same – covering age-appropriate grammar, mechanics, vocabulary, literature, and composition. Students in 12th grade will hone their skills writing research papers. Literature will likely be British Lit, including Shakespeare.

Social studies: Many high school seniors will have completed all the required courses for social studies. Additional courses may be taken as electives and could include psychology, sociology, or philosophy. Classical homeschoolers will likely finish their high school years with modern history.

Math: Senior math may include options such as pre-calculus, calculus, trigonometry, or statistics. Students may also be taking dual-enrollment courses.

Science: Many high school seniors will have completed all the required course for science. Some may choose to take courses such as physics, advanced biology, or advanced chemistry. Others may choose to take non-traditional courses such as marine biology.

Addition Courses of Study for 9th – 12th Grade

In addition to the core classes, your high school student will need to take some miscellaneous required courses (as determined by potential colleges, your state’s homeschool requirements, or your own graduation requirements), along with some electives.Other required classes may include:

  • Health
  • Physical education
  • Foreign language (typically two years of the same language)
  • Government and/or civics
  • Economics
  • Personal finance
  • Electives (6 or more credits are usually expected.)

Electives can be almost anything, which makes them an excellent option for continuing interest-led learning. My teens have completed courses such as art, photography, computer programming, drama, speech, writing, and home economics.

These course requirements are intended as a guideline only. Your chosen curriculum may follow a different course outline, your state’s requirements may vary, or your student’s post-graduation plans may dictate a different course of study.

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Bales, Kris. "Course Requirements for Homeschooling High School." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Bales, Kris. (2023, April 5). Course Requirements for Homeschooling High School. Retrieved from Bales, Kris. "Course Requirements for Homeschooling High School." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).