Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
Ages of my children: 14, 10 (and college sophomore, 18)
Educational Philosophy Influences: Literature-based, Eclectic, College-Bound
In August our daughter will begin high school at home. This is our second time homeschooling a high schooler; our older son just finished his freshman year of college. As we enter high school again, we naturally consider what we’ll do the same and what we’ll do differently.
Our son’s input was tremendously helpful. At the end of the year, I asked him what boiled down to: how did we do? I’ve been relieved at his answers. He didn’t have a list of “Things I Missed Because I Was Homeschooled.” He basically had two items on his “wish list.”
- That we had talked more about literary elements like symbolism, imagery, etc. and that we’d analyzed more poetry. (You might have guessed that he is an English major.)
- That he had taken a language through dual enrollment at the community college rather than using Rosetta Stone at home.
One major difference is that we will have more time with our daughter. Our son wanted to finish high school in three years, so we packed a lot into those years. She’ll take four years, allowing for a more leisurely pace.
For our kids, high school consists of a combination of home, co-op, and community college. Why this mixture?
Well, we are homeschoolers, after all. Some things are done more efficiently at home.
Within our support group of 240 families, we have a fantastic enrichment class program, referred to here as “co-op.” My kids love the social aspect, and we have excellent teachers. Classes meet once each week for about 28 weeks. Each 1-2 hour class generally consists of explanation, discussion and review, with assignments given to be done at home throughout the week.
Dual enrollment at a community college is a great step toward preparing for the university. We advocate this not so much because of accumulating college credits but for getting accustomed to what is expected at the college level. Our daughter will take a couple of classes during her junior year and then the majority of classes there for her senior year.
Here is what’s coming up for our newest high schooler for her freshman year:
Math (1 credit): She’ll continue using Teaching Textbooks. Our son did his high-school math through our co-op using a variety of curricula: including Saxon and Jacobs. He wishes he’d done math daily at home under our guidance rather than relying on the once-a-week format of co-op.
PE (1/4 credit): Our physical education regime consists of activities such as hiking, biking, and running. This year we hope to add in snow skiing.
Community Service: She’ll continue to be active in community service through American Heritage Girls, church, and co-op. I keep a detailed record of her service, as this will be an important component for her college applications.
Health (1 credit): My friend who is teaching this has decades of experience as a nurse and is a healthy living advocate. She will be developing her own materials. (Mondays)
ACT Prep (1/2 elective credit): I will be co-teaching this with another mom. I’ll focus more on the grammar and reading components, while she tackles the math. Together we’ll cover test-taking strategies. (Mondays)
Art History (1 credit): Fabulous teacher at co-op. (Mondays)
Performing Arts (1/2 elective credit): She’ll continue taking international dance and drama through a performing arts school. (Tuesdays)
English 1 (1 credit): I will be teaching British Literature for 9th and 10th graders. I make up my own curriculum for English classes. Some of my favorite sources include my own college grammar book, a community college composition guide, Glencoe Literature guides, and Shmoop. This year we’ll read poetry, short stories, and novels, concentrating on literary analysis. We will concentrate on improving writing skills, including learning to write a major research paper. (Fridays)
History (1 credit): Hand-in-hand with British literature will be European history. My friend and I are coordinating the courses so that they complement each other. She’ll be using this World History book, which can be purchased for just $5 on amazon.com. (Fridays)
Science (1 credit): We just aren’t sure yet. Physical Science will be taught at our Monday co-op; the teacher will be using Apologia. My husband, who is a biology professor, has serious reservations about the Apologia high-school level texts. Our son took three somewhat painful years of science through our co-op using Apologia and did a second biology through dual enrollment. We have not yet decided which route to take with our daughter this year.
Bible (1/2 or 1 elective credit): She might take Old Testament Survey through our co-op, or we may end up doing Bible through a combination of her regular girls’ Bible study, youth group, and at-home studies.
The minimum requirement for graduation in our state is 22 credit hours. At the end of her freshman year, she’ll be well on her way, with between 7 and 8 credits. While I have the rest of her high school years sketched out now, we’ll make any necessary adjustments at the end of her freshman year.
What are your thoughts on homeschooling a high schooler? Are you excited or nervous about the possibility?