teaching tips blog


Feb 11, 2013

Tackling Tricky High School Issues Part 1

Faith Berens

Recently I presented a workshop for parents who have struggling teenagers. Tackling homeschooling through high school may seem like a daunting task already. There are often many additional questions that arise regarding “tricky” high school issues when one has a child with a learning disability or special challenges. Today, I thought I would share some of the frequently asked questions and answers regarding homeschooling struggling high school age students.

Q: How can I give my child high school credit for a course, such as math or history, if he is working or reading “below age/grade level”?

A: Struggling students, as well as functionally disabled students are given high school credit and graduate from public high schools all the time. Therefore, in special cases, one should apply similar criteria to home school students who have a documented learning disability. For example, if a 10th-grade student is capable of doing only 6th-grade-level math, and that is truly his or her capacity according to the other conditions noted below, then he or she may be awarded a high school credit in math for completing the 6th-grade material.


1. IF the student is in the 9th grade or above, and

2. IF the student has been diagnosed as having a learning difficulty which has a documented history, and

3. IF the student is performing at or near HIS OR HER capacity for learning in that subject, and

4. IF the student is showing that this year’s work is a progression from last year’s work, and

5. IF the student has completed all of the requirements of the course to the satisfaction of the parent, and

6. IF the work (or number of hours) have been documented to your satisfaction (120-180 hours)

THEN that student should be granted a high school credit for the course. Another example is a student who is reading below high school level. You can use adapted materials, such as high interest/low readability materials, assistive technology such as print recognition software or reading pens, as well as books on audio for the literature and still grant the student high school credit. In these special circumstances, we are not attempting to lower high school standards or requirements, we are simply trying to make appropriate accommodations (and make the content accessible) for the student with a learning disability or special need. The goal is to help them attain their full, God-given potential and to make sure they are working up to their highest level of capability.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for alternative high school course work and curricula?

A: Tailoring a course of study based on your child’s needs, functioning level, as well as areas of strength and weaknesses, is one of the beauties of homeschooling!  For instance, if your child will be unable to be successful with higher level math course work, such as trigonometry or calculus, you can substitute with basic math, perhaps an accounting class, a consumer math or a finance/money management class. If possible, have your child take Algebra 1 and 2, as well as geometry, but again you have to design the course of study based on your child’s needs and capabilities. For a great on-line source for finding curricula appropriate for struggling learners click here.  Finally, there are some wonderful publishers and vendors that carry alternative high school course work and curricula. A few we really like are: AVCS Books, High Noon Books, Attainment Company, and Remedia Publications.

To access a list of further curricula and resources for high school math and science, please visit our website. You CAN home school your struggling learner through high school!

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work.”