Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Frosting on the Cake- High School Electives, Jobs and College Prepping

This months topic for the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop has to do with Extra-curriculars, working while in high school and prepping for post high-school. Like I posted last month, we mostly follow a traditional 4 x 4 transcript. Electives, jobs, college prepping, life skills- these are like frosting on the cake. They take good, solid, plain traditional and jazz it up into something grand and festive.
Since we’ve lived in the Territories we have taken advantage of the extra-curricular opportunities available. Some of these didn’t exist when we moved here- we brought them here, supported those who did, looked for opportunities in the area.
We base electives on

  • Interests
  • Traditional school requirements
  • Our values
  • What's available in the area. 

These activities have included but not been limited to:

TeenPact and alumni events - learn state and national government,how to make a difference in the world despite ones age and get ahold of what it means to be a Christian citizen in todays world; campaigning- local, state and the national level
ballroom dancing- protocol at its finest. A local dance company hosts homeschooling ballroom dance lessons and open dancing every other week.
Volley ball - in the summer- lessons and scrimmage
Drama Camp- 1 week every spring with a huge musical every  other year
One Act Plays - every January at the local university theater
Shakespeare Camp - every summer the kids memorize and perform a full Shakespeare play
Yearly formalhigh-school Dinner-Dance- planned and served by area Homeschooling Parents
Teen-Nights -good, clean fun - bonfires, food, friends!
broom-ball - brooms, a ball and an outdoor ice-rink .
Choir - co-op
art classes-  through co-op, and professional artist friends
Creative writing
Speech/ debate - through co-op, TeenPact and CC
and more!
Our high-schoolers have often had jobs that have included part time work at tea and coffee houses, office work, farm and ranch work and most recently working at an orchard.
Our acreage and house-rebuild project (from a house fire-read the Tear Down to Build Up posts for more) have provided ample opportunity to learn life skills. Our kids know, in great detail, how to drywall, tape, mud, sand and finish, paint, simple carpentry skills, grout, re-finish floors, build brick paths and much more. We have also re-claimed much of our land by clearing, hauling, fence removal, and have gardened, landscaped and hardscaped extensively. The kids have helped me build simple furniture. We have experimented with animals and edible landscaping and they have enough familiarity with animals to have personal lists of pros and cons. All of the kids know how to comparison shop, cook and meal plan. They all know how to glean and acquire goods and clothing for next to nothing and still look well dressed and respectable.

How did we teach all of this? By living and working alongside of each other. Most of the above was not curriculum but necessity driven. When Dr. Dh and I have not known how to do something (i.e. tile the bathrooms) we have found mentors and books and studied and learned. When we have had grapes that were ripe,we have canned juice. Our life-style has necessitated seeking out information and implementing it. 
Life skills for our teens also include knowing how to introduce people to each other, carry on a civil and interesting conversation, ignore social media for the sake of real time interaction, make others feel welcome and at home and engage in moral, honest relationships. We have technology but use it as a tool rather than being enslaved to it. Shaking hands and making eye contact with new acquaintances is a lost art and one we hope our kids embrace, even as they leave our home. 
Driver’s Ed and keyboarding go without saying. I would love for someone to learn small engine repair and fix everything around here, but so far that hasn’t happened. 

My current and most recently graduated high-schooler share the passions of history, geography and writing. They have both spent zillions of hours reading and studying history and geography- maps are  handy at our  house- and writing on their own as well as discussing and studying story, character development and genres. They read Susan Wise Bauer's History of series for fun, listen to Old Western Culture Greeks and Romans on car trips  and spend many hours discussing the fine points and nuances of history.
 Poetry is de-rigeur- both memorizing it, reading it and writing it. We use and love Grammar of Poetry.  and Poetry Outloud has been a great recitation competition that is easy to bring to your local homeschooling community. 
What comes after high school? We have found college is getting more expensive, less academically challenging and of questionable value- both morally and vocationally- when complete. We are also in that odd middle income range that affords mostly nothing in terms of government aid, but can’t justify $25K per year per child on college. Where does that leave us? With college hacking, vocational and entrepreneurial endeavors.

For our younger two we’ll be doing test prep earlier and on-line through Bridgeway Academy and taking the ACT as many times as needed for a specified minimum score. In addition, our high-schoolers will be taking DE and CLEP test through the summer as part of their high school program; General Ed courses, such as speech, or areas of particular interest such as Western Civ.
What academic electives do we do? This past year, our freshman took the Grammar of Poetry, Middle East studies, Intro to Water Color, Bio lab in our co-op and then Chem Lab and Myths and Legends on-line. This year he’ll do music studies, A and P lab  at a local hopsital, Physical Science lab, reading The History of Science and The History of the Renaissance World as well as continue watching Old Western Cultures Greeks and Romans by Roman Roads Media, and Logic by Nance.
We’ll also include personal finance, some classes at the Outdoor Camps (free and in the past have included snow skiing, archery, canoeing, orienteering, and nature walks). Because their Dad is a Science Nerd they will be plenty steeped in biblical archeology, astronomy and weather.

This year our kids will delve into Latin in earnest, as well as take as much RS German as they want, and Spanish in co-op with a native speaker. 
P.E? We work out at a gym and they jog with their Dad. We do the occasional rock-wall climbing and canoeing field trip. My kids are outside a LOT- rain, snow and in sub-zero weather, as well as on hot, windy prairie days. They are all walk-abouters and spend hours on the ridge, at the river and generally being out and about. An elective? Not really, but they are all naturalists at heart, observing animal behavior, weather patterns and plants. We do have field guides about and we look up and note animal, habitat and weather. 

Apologetics is de rigour around here and something we study throughout our core subjects, using fantastic books and DVD’s by authors such as Bonhoffer, C.S. Lewis, Kreeft, Tolkein, Johnson, Colson and others. Church History is part of our plan as well, which we study more through history, timeline, historical fiction and movies than as an actual class in and of itself.

Cub loves shooting- air soft pistols, guns and bows. He is more marksman than hunter and we feed the habit by supplying him with arrows, tips, bullets and safe targets. I love that he does because my Mom and Grandma were award winning sharp-shooters. This also manifests itself in occasional air soft war games on our property.  The legend lives on, right?

As I wrote this post it seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, most of what I researched about extra-curriculars seemed like stuff that we just "did" as a matter of course through living our lives. I offer what we do and have done as mere suggestions - perhaps they will spark an idea for you. I'd love to hear what you do.   

Read More on Electives in the High School Years from an amazing group of experienced Homeschoolers! 

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