Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Homeschooling High School



I rarely comment about curriculum until October or so.  There is so much buzz on the blogs right now about new texts, new curriculum, and new programming that I have fallen victim to being caught in the current and swept along thinking that everything program we planned would happen and every text I bought would be used.  In our home, this is not the case.  Often programs are not as great as I thought they looked on paper, books were not used and we tend to fall back on our tried and tested resources that work best for our family.

We will be incorporating some new things into our homeschool this year but I am not sharing them yet.  Look for them around October.  One thing I do want to share is a book I just finished: Senior High: A Home-Designed Form + U + LA, by Barbara Edtl Shelton.  It is just what it claims to be, a formula for homeschooling high school.  

This book gave me piece of mind in a way that no other resource has.  As I sat with my coffee still warm in my favorite mug and my dog curled at my feet I felt as if God was speaking directly to me telling me that I can see this journey through to completion.  What began as a trial basis four years ago has grown into a way of life that we are not ready to abandon because the challenges of homeschooling a teenager seem insurmountable.

The challenges are not insurmountable.  In fact, I don’t need to make many changes at all to how we homeschool.  What I do need to do is become a much better record keeper.  Since the state of Connecticut does not require any mandatory reporting, I have been lax at keeping forms, tallying the number of days we devote to learning, and how many hours we spend on certain subjects.  I was always confused by this because if we watch a really great documentary on a Saturday is that a day of learning?  If the rest of the day was spent outdoors riding bikes, walking the dog, visiting with friends and family, do I not count the learning that took place?  I have always been thankful I do not have to prove 180 days of “schooling” took place, even though I believe our number would be greater.  

I have the opportunity to use 8th grade as a test run for the systems I put in place for Grace to homeschool 9th through 12th grade.  With the forms that are put forth in this text, I could take that Saturday and count the 2 hours that were spent learning towards a specific content area, like science or social studies.  Bike riding could be placed under PE and if the girls were helping to cook a meal, that time would fall under Home Economics.  I am working under the premise that 120 hours = one credit.  We can meet those hours whenever and wherever we choose.  

For fun, I have been keeping records of what we have done just these past few weeks.  So far this summer we have 30 hours of art journaling which would be filed under Fine Arts.  60 hours = 1/2 a credit.  Pretty Cool.  Add to that the time we spent at the Lang Lang performance and West Side Story and the hours add up quickly (I do not count travel time).  Each activity is recorded and dated.  This I do already, I just used a notebook rather than a specific form for each subject area.  

The benefit to this is rather than having a 11th grader who is frantically trying to put together a transcript for the 4 years of high school, I will have proof that the hours for each credit have been met, and in fact, she has met the requirements of each grade level.  We will use a college prep high school requirement standard as our spine.  I will use a content model for subjects such as math and science (when the course/book is done the credit is issued) and time model for the other areas (when 120 hours are reached, the credit is issued).

The girls will have transcripts may that differ from their schooled peers.  Their electives may include things like Bible Study and Meteorology Internship and Cake Decorating, but that is exactly why we are continuing on in this journey, to take advantage of the unique opportunities that come with learning outside of a school system.  

This book is a tremendous resource.  I have marked it up, emailed parts to Greg for his opinion, and shared it on Instagram.  I have read other books on homeschooling high school to educate myself if this is the best choice for our family and for my girls.  This book is the best I have read.  I know that in the upcoming weeks, as I finalize our plans for the fall, I will come back to the pages I have highlighted with post it tabs over and over again.  

I realize that high school is a big deal.  I am blessed to know families whose children graduated as homeschoolers and went on to attend colleges such as Amherst College and Smith College (and they never took a formal math class!).   I know others who have had sons join the military and others who have become entrepreneurs at a young age.  I know that with time and effort and consideration, my daughters can thrive out of school.  I hesitate to say “at home” because in this upcoming year our tentative schedule of activities will take us out of the home 3 out of 5 weekdays!

As I develop the forms and put together Grace’s 8th Grade Binder, I will share how to do this in upcoming posts.

**This is NOT an affiliate post.  I received no compensation or product for this posting.  


13 comments:

Theresa Novak said...

I am going to look for that book.

Honestly, I am not ready for this. I just want to keep doing things as I have always done them. I definitely do, however, see the purpose of keeping track of hours and things.

Jessica said...

Theresa, I felt like we could keep doing basically what we are doing, just increase the difficulty and responsibilities, like we would anyway. Other than math, I plan on being a relaxed, eclectic homeschooler. I will have a binder that will travel with me always, it will be handwritten (the transcript will be typed) and I will record everything. I am working now at getting the forms ready and I will share them as a pdf so if you like them you can just take them. I am using exactly what the book uses, but I wanted blank pages rather than copying and whiting out certain areas.

Is Allie in 8th or 9th? If you get this book, read it and call me and we can walk through this together. I have a good friend whose son is also in middle school and we plan on meeting regularly to keep each other on track in terms of recording and seeking out opportunities for our children. Perhaps if others are interested we can create a forum.

PrairieJenn said...

I like the sound of this! I may need to read this book:) I have no plans to make any major changes other than to actually start keeping track if what we are doing (both time wise and "subject" wise). Glad you shared this!

Diane said...

I love this book, read it twice a couple of years ago. This is exactly how I have Grace's 9th grade binder set up, especially for history, science, Bible, and extras. Only I was counting a credit as 150 hours and 1/2 credit as 75, but I like yours better.
Blessings
Diane

Jessica said...

The best thing about this book was the peace of mind it gave me. It is written from a Christian philosophy and it was empowering. If we fill out days with quality experiences, challenge our children, let them explore their interests and cultivate their talents (and record it!) we can provide them with an exceptional education. It is not traditional. But the decision to withdraw them from school was not conventional and why go back now? I am listening to Grace's heart on this and she is adamant that she does not want to attend high school so it is my job to figure all this out. I am still a bit weary on the subject of math and I realize that she will have to take classes at community college or I will have to hire a math tutor at some point. For 8th grade we are fine with pre-algebra but for 9th and on I will outsource!

Jessica said...

I am in the process of setting up the binder now. I have the tabs and I have added a few sections based on the book you recommended (I forget the title.....) for things like Volunteer Hours, Internships and such. I am also keeping a section as a "scrapbook" where I store things like playbills, certificates, recital programs, etc.

While I love the look of pretty forms, I think I am going to just use plain'old hole punched lined paper to work all this out and if it works for us, create an official form for 9th grade. I am really using 8th grade as a test run to see how many hours we typically spend on each subject and how our style of learning will translate into a transcript. I envision this binder as a permanent appendage because if I don't record things in real time, they are lost in my brain forever.....

Stephanie said...

Record-keeping, even though it's sometimes inconsistent, and Carnegie hours are what has carried me so far. I just finished my older daughter's final transcript. Due to complex health issues and other factors, her learning has been somewhat sporadic, and we are *very* relaxed/homeschoolish, but it came together. You will do beautifully!

Katie said...

Hi there! I'm creating a blogroll of blogs that blog (at least occasionally) about homeschooling high school. (http://letshomeschoolhighschool.com/homeschool-high-school-blogs/) I came across yours today and would LOVE to add it. If you would consider this, could you email me? katie@letshomeschoolhighschool.com. Thanks in advance! Blessings...

Joan Concilio Otto said...

That rocks! We started our transcript this past year even though we didn't "need" it yet for the same reason, wanting to be able to feel confident and not rushed later. Good plan :)

Jessica said...

Thanks Stephanie for your words of support. I love hearing that other families have been successful and that we can give our children what they need, when they need it and not worry about being forced into a curriculum that may or may not meet their needs.

Jessica said...

Are you going to blog about it? I would love to see how you take your style of learning and translate it into something "school" friendly. Right now I am labeling our subjects (Language Arts, Math, Music, History, etc) and creating lists of things I want the girls to do, with plenty of room to add in the things that they want to do. I also have a list to keep track of what we do and the date so if we are in New York and pop into MOMA, that can go under Fine Arts, or if we attend a free concert on the green, that will go under Music. I have never bothered with recording or time keeping before, since I have never had to, but I am very curious to see how many hours we actually spend, especially since we try to do cool, fun, educational things on the weekend and in the summer. Since it is too hot for me to go outside I spent hours working on this yesterday and got excited over some of the things we have in the planning stages for the fall.

Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

Thank you for this post. I have a ways to go before we hit high school but I am so thankful for moms like you that share their experiences. It's so much easier to walk a path that has been walked on before. I will definitely be looking out for this book. :)

Jessica said...

I agree and there is not that much out there for high school. I will be sharing more posts over the next month about how I am going to put all this together.

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