Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

There are many anxieties that come with having a teenager, but your ability to successfully homeschool your student throughout high school should not be one of them. While continuing your student’s education at home during these crucial development years is by no means an easy task, the right amount of preparation and direction can simplify this vital job and keep the next four years from becoming an educational nightmare. 

In planning for high school, parents should keep in mind the end goal: the production of a well-rounded, mature adult who is academically, socially, and spiritually ready to tackle the real world. One of the many blessings about homeschooling your student is the freedom and flexibility that come with taking the lead role in his or her education. Homeschooling in high school is an amazing opportunity to daily steer teenagers toward Christ.

There is no one “right way” to homeschool. In fact, that is the beauty of homeschooling, and your student reaps the benefits of having an individualized, tailored education. The knowledge of basic high school essentials can turn any academic philosophy into a successful high school experience. As a graduate student who has firsthand knowledge of the homeschool high school years, I realize there are six critical elements to a victorious academic journey.

1. Social Development

Whether true or not, the image of the homeschool student as the socially awkward nerd lives on. Fortunately today, homeschooling is becoming more mainstream, and this popularity is quickly debunking the “socialization” myth. Homeschooling parents have always recognized the importance of involving their students in extracurricular activities to assist their social development. In today’s society, interpersonal skills are just as important as academic excellence, and even the most intelligent and well-read person will be constantly inhibited by a lack of social graces. Jesus Himself demonstrated the necessity of relating to others. He used His highly effective communication skills to minster to those around Him. 

Educating your teenager at home affords you the opportunity to establish a Christlike foundation, and allowing your student to be involved in social activities outside the home provides him or her the chance to apply and perfect the articulation of the Christian walk. Getting your teenager engaged in clubs, after-school activities, church groups, etc. are some of the ways to help them develop socially. 

2. Academic Curriculum

If social development is the heart of the high school experience, then the curriculum is undoubtedly the brain. Your curriculum is the underpinning of the next four years. It is important to first ensure that your program meets the requirements of your state for a high school diploma; it would be a shame to develop a beautifully tailored program that does not get recognized. When considering what courses to include, focus on your student’s interests, needs, and abilities, and challenge your teenager with the most rigorous classes he or she can handle. 

3. Study Habits 

It may seem obvious that study skills are an important part of schooling, but oftentimes the homeschool environment undermines this element. It may be tempting to allow your student to have more flexible deadlines when it comes to schoolwork and tests, but this can set him or her up for failure. It is rare for a person in the real world to have any significant say in the due date for projects, and your school schedule should reflect that.