Overview: Finding a homeschool high school English curriculum is not as hard as it sounds. Pick what you want your teen to focus on, and do the rest another time.
Everything is so much easier to do in the elementary years, isn’t it?
Math? Addition and subtraction. Multiplication facts. Fractions. Nothing too difficult.
History? Let’s read some books together or go on a field trip.
English? We’re gonna cover reading, and spelling, and grammar, and writing. All of them. All the time. And it may be that each has its own curriculum! We may spend half the day on this stuff, and that’s totally ok! Cuz English is important!
But when your kid gets to high school, some of this becomes more difficult to figure out. Nothing is as simple as it used to be.
Take English. Your teen doesn’t have time to spend half the day on it anymore, because there are plenty of other subjects to fit in. But what do you NEED to include? Do you still have to make sure that your kid does it ALL EVERY YEAR? What should a homeschool high school English curriculum consist of?
A gal in my Facebook group asked a question the other day. She wanted to know if the 1-credit curriculum she had picked out for grammar AND the 1-credit curriculum she had picked out for writing AND the 1-credit curriculum she had picked out for literature would altogether count for 1 English credit. (This is actually a very common question, in case you’re feeling like you could be her. :-) )
What was interesting to me were the answers. Before I was able to respond to the question, as many as 8-10 moms had already weighed in for her. And most of them said YES; that all those homeschool high school English curriculum choices were actually only worth ONE English credit put together. They expected her teen to work for 3 hours each day for one measly credit!
Now, if these gals want their own kiddos to work that hard, then that’s totally their call; and far be it from me to tell them to do something other than what they feel is best. But I want to make something clear right here and now: it does NOT have to be this way, y’all.
Yes, Annie is here again to ease your mind and tell you the less stressful way to do something. In this case, let’s take the overwork out of doing English in high school, okay? :-)
Making Homeschool High School English Curriculum More Doable
First, it is important to note that YES, there are many subtopics under the larger topic of English (also known as Language Arts). Spelling, reading, writing, grammar, literature, speech, and even listening all fall under this umbrella.
Foreign language, such as Spanish and French, however, does not. Just to be clear, when we talk about Language Arts, we are really talking about the language of English and none other.
What this means is that a curriculum covering ANY of these subtopics can be considered an English/Language Arts course.
It’s similar to history. History can be American History, or World History, or Ancient History, or European, or the Middle Ages, or Modern, or French, or many many many other things. Does that mean we need to study them all every year? Of course not! Why do we think an English course must touch on every single subtopic in order to be called English?
Well, it doesn’t. Not every Language Arts course (even in high school!) needs to include all of the aspects of verbal communication in order to be considered worthy of Language Arts credit. Even just one of them is fine, y’all. Like speech, or grammar, or writing, or vocab…
In other words, just because it CAN be Language Arts, doesn’t mean it HAS to be.
You can focus on what your kid needs or on what you think is important. You don’t have to jump from one thing to the next with no real deep understanding of any one of them. You can spend all four years on writing, if you think it’s best, and your state homeschool law doesn’t require anything different.
My kids spent all of 9th and 10th grade on grammar study. Yep, they were still doing nouns and prepositions and predicate adjectives and diagramming and all that other stuff, even in high school. But ya know what? They all got high scores on the language portion of the ACT and SAT. Just sayin’. :-)
For 11th and 12th grade, we did writing and literature. Sometimes both were covered within the same curriculum, but other times my kids would do a writing course for one semester and then a literature course for the next. There was no need to cram in any more than that, since most colleges ask for only four credits of Language Arts.
That works out to one credit per year, which is approximately one hour of work per day over a 180-day school year. (Or, if the curriculum specifies the amount of credit that it is worth, then that’s what it’s worth, regardless of how long your kid takes to complete it.) (Also check your state homeschool law; it may define the number of hours needed for a credit differently.)
So, in answer to the Facebook gal’s question, I gave a resounding NO. All of the courses she had chosen added up to THREE credits, not just one.
I advised her to drop one or two of the courses and concentrate on just what she really thought was important for HER kid for THIS year. The rest could wait until later. No one needs to do THREE credits of English in one year; trust me on that one!
It truly is completely permissible to concentrate on just grammar for an English credit in high school, as long as the curriculum you choose says it’s worth a credit, and/or your teen is spending the appropriate amount of time on it.
OR, it is completely permissible to focus on just writing for a credit. Or literature. Or speech.
Is Language Arts important? You bet. But there is absolutely no need for your kid to kill themselves (or for you to want to kill them, LOL) trying to fit in EVERY aspect of Language Arts EVERY year during high school. (Read that sentence twice so it sinks in!)
They don’t even do this in college, y’all. They focus on British Literature for one course and Poetry for another. Why do we need to be any different?
Homeschool High School English Curriculum Recommendations
Some homeschool high school English curriculum choices do come with more than one Language Arts subtopic bundled into the same curriculum. This can be helpful but is not necessary.
For instance, WriteShop 1 & 2 for high school (referral link) focus mostly on writing, but there is also a grammar component. This is nice because grammar and writing are so closely related, so it’s helpful for your kid to be learning/reviewing grammar in order to write better papers.
Rod & Staff is primarily a grammar curriculum, but they also have chapters about writing and even speech. This keeps the grammar from getting too boring or onerous, I think.
Something like IEW’s High School Essay Intensive (referral link), though, is strictly about writing. My daughter will be using it this year, because we want to get ready for those college application essays!
Related Reading: Homeschool High School Writing—Tips and Curriculum Reviews
For more English curriculum reviews, see all of mine here (scroll down to the Language Arts section): Annie’s Curriculum Review Page.
My personal feeling is that if the curriculum says it’s worth one credit, then that’s plenty for any kid to do that year. Or maybe it’s worth a half credit; so then you let your kid work on that for a semester and find another half-credit course for the next semester.
Just relax! You’ve got four years, and in that time your teen can cover a lot of ground, one piece at at time. They DON’T have to do it all at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Breathe! :-)
Now you can rest assured that finding a homeschool high school English curriculum is easier than you may have thought. Ask your teen what THEY want to do. Surprisingly enough, they will often give an honest answer about what they know they need more work on. If not, you decide. You have that freedom!