Homeschooling a Struggling 18 year old


My son Ammon and the giant cantaloupe he grew!


My son is 18 and he has struggled through school , especially through high school. He wants to get a diploma and graduate but it is not looking like he will be able to do that through the regular high school program. What would you suggest that I do to get started, and how would I go about helping him to achieve his goal to finish school?


It is admirable that your son wants to finish high school, and quite wonderful that he has a mother who is willing to help him! His motivation and your help will be a great factor in his success.

First of all, I would go to the high school counselor and get details on what it is going to take to get a diploma. If he needs to do the coursework to finish up classes, he will have an advantage being at home where he can devote himself to study, with you as mentor to help him along. Explore the option of testing out of the classes with an written exam (or oral exam) rather than doing the assigned work. This is a faster method because learning the core requirements is not as laborious as doing all the homework assigned in class. You can get books on each subject, such as World History or Math, that help you study the basic facts for the proficiency exams.  In fact, getting children’s picture books are a good way to give a basic understanding of a topic, such as cell structure, before delving in further.

Taking the GED test may be a good option.  The GED is an easy exam that grants a high school diploma.  Because the GED exam is often taken by unwed mothers, high school dropouts, etc., it may possibly cast an unfavorable light on your son to a future employer or college, so that is a consideration. But some colleges now require it, so the tide may be turning.  If your son would be happy with this route, it will certainly be easier than trying to finish up difficult high school coursework.

A high school diploma is not an education, however. It represents putting in time at the local high school and doing passing work but there is a lot of leeway in there!  I would hope that your son would be able to learn the things he is interested in. Talk to him and see what gets him interested and enthused. Then go to the library together and load up on books, magazine articles, videos, and whatever else you can find on his subject of interest. You’ll be amazed at how focused he is when the subject is of his choosing. When he feels the thrill of learning, that perhaps has been dormant for far too long, you will have started something wonderful!

imageI would urge you to do some reading aloud of classic children or young adult literature that would interest him (Call it Courage, Night Journeys, The Giver, Sign of the Beaver, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, and others). These can be found in any library and are not hard reading, but they are inspiring and the main character is a young man who strives to achieve. Read them aloud (no one is too old to be read a story) and enjoy them together. There is something very bonding and encouraging about reading good books. I believe it is essential to an excellent education and a fun way to re-ignite a love to learning.  A high school degree is a good short time goal, but a desire to keep learning is the ultimate goal!

Take a look at your local online high school program. Most public schools have them as an option to help those who need to catch up on classes.  If not, there are many sources online for free tutoring.  Khan Academy is a good one! Many colleges have free “open courseware’, which are basic classes taught online by a college professor (for the sake of learning, not credit)

Best success to you!


May I recommend:

Get Your General College Education During High School

How do I Choose Resources?

To Kill a Mockingbird

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