How to Make Your Own Course in High School Engish


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This week, my daughter has been busy getting ready for college, which will be starting soon, later this month.  Wednesday, she was asked by her leadership club, to participate in a video, on campus.....   

She had fun with this, and enjoyed being back on campus for this event. 

Communication skills, written and spoken, are important for her, as she is working  on her leadership skills.  But good communication skills, are important for all of our teens.

 Having skills in writing and critical thinking are essential, whether they are going to college, directly into a vocation, or to a community college or trade school.

And, as you know, many businesses, including the trades, are now using email as their basis for communication. That means that writing skills are more important, now, than ever.

Today, I'd like to share six important components to high school english: 

1.  First thing - Write a Lot

So I encouraged my teen to write..a lot!  I gave her to choice to write in whatever way that she felt motivated to do....such as:  Write about a newspaper article, write some dialog to a short story, write how to's - such as a recipe, or how to find a good deal on cell phones, etc.  

If your teen is interested in writing fiction, I would encourage that. Writing fiction is a great way for kids to learn the components of literature - setting, point of view, characters, plot, etc.  That is the basis for literary analysis, discussed below!

It is also helpful to introduce your teen to different types of essays, such as narratives, expository essays, persuasive essays, etc. Time for Learning has a great resource for that here.  But the topic was always teen-led, in our house.

2.  Read alot, Living Literature

Whether you use a prepared curriculum, like IEW , Oak Meadow,  SOS, or put together your own course, literature and composition are vital to high school english studies.

Doing it yourself, with your own homemade course, can work well, too, by choosing good literature and assigning essays to go with it. Time for Learning has a helpful resource for do-it-yourselfers - It is a listing of writing standards for 11th and 12th grades.  

3. Literary Analysis

Why do literary analysis?  ...I do it because it is a great way to teach critical thinking skills, needed for whatever your teen will be doing.

But what exactly is it?  

"Literary Analysis is the practice of looking closely at small parts to see how they affect the whole. Literary analysis focuses on how plot/structure, character, setting, and many other techniques are used by the author to create meaning....." from Arrowhead High School.  Click on this title for more info on literary analysis.

Oak Meadow helped us with literary analysis by asking lots of questions to ponder.....about plot, setting, character development, etc. Ambleside Online also has a great sample list of narration questions as well.  

Here's another great resource on this, from IEW - Windows to the World - An Introduction to Literary Analysis.

We had great discussions together!   Join your teens in pondering the why's and how come's of the story, the plotline, how the setting impacted the plot, etc.  Oak Meadow offers a Teacher's Handbook, which includes discussions of both comprehension questions and critical thinking questions, which helped me a lot, in our discussions.  

4.  Do Research Reports

Writing research reports is probably something your kids have learned to do through the years.  Knowing how to research and write up one's findings can be important in many future career opportunities.

5. Practice the Steps of Writing

Time for Learning has a simple outline of these steps here, which include:

1.  Prewriting/Making an Outline 
2.  Drafting 
3.  Revising 
4.  Editing 
5.  Publishing 

Taking it step by step, as above, helps to make essay writing or report writing less daunting. Having the goal of making an outline, or sketching out a draft was doable, as opposed to trying to do the whole thing at one time! 

My daughter disliked making an outline, but learning to outline has really paid off or her, and helped her to create meaningful essays that were well constructed and made sense!

6.  Take a Break

Taking a break not only helps with writer's block, it can also give your teen something new to write about!

One day, we stopped by a farmer's market, and got a bunch of apples.  That got me busy cooking, and making applesauce.  Nothing like homemade applesauce.  We had it with latkes, potato pancakes, for dinner.    

...Recipe writing is a very good skill, too!  Learning to write the procedures needed in a recipe, is good practice for later writing the steps to a plumbing problem, or how to proceed when repairing an air conditioner.

What are your favorite ways to get your teens writing?  Please feel free to share in the comments.  I love reading them!  

I shared this post on Finishing Strong this week, and was featured, thanks for Eva, who blogs at Eva Garga, all about homeschooling and science.

Have you seen my new e-book on college yet?

Here's my book that I mentioned above  -  Homeschooling High School with College in Mind..

Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Heidi, from Starts at Eight says:

"If you are planning on homeschooling high school then Betsy's book is the one that you want to have on the shelf" here to read the rest of her review."
Available on Amazon

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Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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Subscribers will get the first chapter free! 

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  1. Great blog :) Good tips and fantastic images!


  2. Thanks Claire C, from! So nice to get your comments! Have a great Labor Day with your family,

  3. Your blog is a treasure! Thank you!

  4. Thank you so much, Kim M, and have a wonderful day,

  5. Thank you so much, Kim M, and have a wonderful day,


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