Sunday, June 21, 2015

Don't Panic! Homeschooling High School Blog Hop

This month's theme for the Home School High School Blog Hop is 

Planning for High School 
You are singing my song, baby! This is what I do professionally for a large academic company that services students all over the world. My students range from gifted Olympic hopefuls to profoundly learning or physically disabled from the U.S. and abroad. Give me a high-schooler and I can give you a plan and a Transcript (in my sleep!). 

We've had a homeshcooled high schooler in our home for the past 14 years (that's what happens when you have 5 kids with a 3-5 year spacing between each one!). I have a blog post that captures a whole slew of posts on planning for high school titled, ohsosubtly, Get With the Program. This post covers planning, pedagogy, managing your school-room and house, middle-school, high-school and Keeping it all Straight. Be sure to check it out and click on the links!
For the purposes of this post, let's start with pedagogy. Much of what we do educationally is guided by the Classical Method, specifically the Trivium, and as they move in to high school, the dialectic and rhetoric stages. We are looking for programs that teach logical thought and eventually take the kids to the point that they can creatively express their thoughts on a subject with beauty, truth and goodness. We have embraced a Classical Pedagogy for several years believing it to be effective, cost efficient, and totally in keeping with our Christian values and beliefs. We also take a very hands-on, experiential approach and include great books at every turn. Classical is our spine, with a liberal does of literature and project/ experiential based learning.
Based on this, how do we choose curriculum? We have a couple of curriculum suppliers that we know, trust and purchase from. This includes Memoria Press, Peace Hill Press, Roman Roads Media and Classical Conversations. In addition we do curriculum reviews and between the two, we are good. I stay away from other catalogs, because it distracts me from our program. We have enough exposure to new curriculum through reviews and friends that I'm in the loop with amazing new cool stuff that comes along. Additionally, I've found, limiting catalog consumpton on my part, keeps me from falling from the siren song of It's easier to stay the course if one is clear as to what the course is and is confident in it!

We follow a standard 4 x 4 transcript- 4 credits of Math, Science, English, History. Well, in theory we do. In reality my kids usually have 6-8 credits in History and English and 3-5 credits in Math and Science, with tons of extra-curriculars, way too much government/ campaigning and out of control Theater credits.
High School Credits- we go with the standard Carnegie unit- 120 hours of work = 1 credit, 60 hours = 1/2 credit, 30 hours = 1/4 credit. Some times that looks like a text book (complete a high school Apologia Science book with "On Your Own" questions and tests = 1 credit),hours on task (Shakespeare Camp), extra reading (completing all of the History of the World volumes by Susan Wise Bauer)  projects (drywalling, grouting, building bookshelves, brick-laying), camps (TeenPact), on-line classes (Bridgeway Acdaemy Science Labs), or co-ops and Tutoring Center.

We are not picky- we take credits where we find them, within the defined parameters of our pedagogy, 4 x 4 transcript goal and time. For an excellent resource on how to think outside the book regarding High School credits, I highly recommend Barb Shelton's HomeSchool Design Form+U+la. That is not to say that we count 1/3 of a textbook as a full credit, or a 15 hour Drama camp as 1/2 credit. I want my kids to know what academic hard work is, to be competitive against other kids who have done the actual full credits worth of work and the satisfaction of accomplishing a real thing.
Last year (Cub's 9th grade year), he did co-op classes (Poetry, Water-color, Middle East studies and a hands on Bio. lab) on-line labs and classes (Chem lab and Myths and Legends) , private tutoring (math), DVD's (The Greeks and First Form Latin), Classical Conversations (Essentials), Camps (Drama, Shakespeare, TeenPact, Speech), Textbooks (Science), Novels (too many to list), History for Fun (History of the Ancient World by SWB and the CC Timeline), Ballroom Dancing, hours outside and many, many hours spent honing his drawing skills. He also earned 11 credits, which was way too many and at one point we looked at each other and agreed that his schedule was out of control.

If it also looks like I am not actually teaching him that many classes, you are right. My role changes from primary teaching in the eled years to Mentor and Tour Guide in the high school years, resourcing my kids with opportunities, lessons and Tutors that go beyond what we can give our kids in terms of knowledge, time or energy.
We live in a low regulation state for Homeschoolers which means that there are high school graduation requirements but there is not a portfolio review to ensure they are done. Getting into college is not a worry for me in regards to my kids, or really most kids, unless they have some profound disability- it's paying for college without obscene debt that is the real challenge. Test scores are the real determinant of scholarship money, way beyond Transcipt- so Test Prep is part of our high school program. Khan Academy has free test prep and there are local and on-line Test Prep programs. I highly recommend having high schoolers do 2-3 practice tests before the actual test, so that they gain familiarity with the test before hand.  
Keeping Records- I make an outline of all four years of high school as the kids start High School - a "Start with the End in Mind" approach. Our map is divided into four years and includes summer camps and extra-curriculars. Transcripts are created at the end of High School using free on-line templates from, as well as creating my own using Word and inserting a graph. I prefer the by-the-year transcript instead of by-subject transcript, but that is a matter of preference. I do list Community Service, campaigning, camps, etc on a second page, high-lighting specific items, such as when the kids get a lead role in a full-length production of a Shakespeare play.

Extra-Curriculars- So glad you asked. We are involved in some really fun extra-curriculars including Drama Camp every spring. The High School Drama Camp now does a huge musical production every other year. Last year it was Joseph and the Technicolor Dream-Coat, which was amazing!  We also participate every January in the Festival of One Act Plays which takes place at a local university theater. Each summer, our kids live at a friends house, the same talented lady who directs the entire thing, for a week immersed in a Shakespeare Play, with a 2-hour performance given at a local park on the 6th day. Believe me, they know and love/hate the play by the end of camp! Feeche has also been involved in Poetry Outloud, which is a national recitation competition.
TeenPact has been in our lives since we brought it to South Dakota several years ago and our kids go through the State and Alumni Class, the 1-Day Speech Class and Back to D.C.
Cub wants to do Survival this year in the fall as well, depending on how much money he makes this summer. We've also been involved in tons of campaigns in the past, somewhat as a result of our involvement with TeenPact. Our older kids have been invited to work on State and National campaigns around the country and have been gifted free plane tickets, loads of caffeine and life- long friends in return for their service and energy.

There is Homeschool Ballroom Dancing, classes and DQ afterward every other week all year long and our kids love it. Each spring the parents invite kids to attend a Homeschool Dinner/ Dance that is semi-formal and includes crazy food and more dancing!

In the summer months, we all meet at a park for the kids to play volleyball. Some of the athletic, volleyball oriented Moms teach skills and drill the younger kids while the older ones jump right into games.
Friends of ours hosted a monthly "TeenNight" for 12 year olds and up in our area for years and their youngest just graduated. We've taken up the banner for this summer and are having a monthly get-together featuring fun, food and bon-fire, which includes air-hockey, smoke-bombs, and hide-and-seek over several acres, including old sheds, groves and fields. Everyone brings a snack to share and parents stay and visit, too.

Our kids also regularly work-out. Feeche was involved in the Timothy Group, which had a rigorous and demanding timed work-out schedule. Now the kids jog, trek, work-out on their own or go to our local small gym with me.  Cub wants to add Fencing and Tae-Kwon-Do this year but it is going to be dependent on times and ability to get there.

Cub also spends time doing things that interest him like project based art work, time shooting (guns and bows) and researching areas of interest. In our world, house projects figure heavily, as we've moved beyond re-building from a house fire to re-modeling a house that survived a house fire. The kids have learned amazing life skills including but not limited to drywalling, brick-laying, house-painitng and grouting. Shop class credit, Cha-ching!
Our teens have all held jobs- including working at Dr. Dh's office, haying, local farm work, working at coffee and tea houses, construction and orchard work. We live in the country, so local farm and orchard work is what's around, but it often pays more than minimum because it is demanding and dirty, and our kids work when they are at work, instead of checking Facebook.

College Credit during High School- the DE laws in our state just changed, so kids can start DE classes at age 16. Cub turns 16 this January, so DE courses, especially as he can do them on-line at home, may be something we try to fit in. He is taking another full-up course load, in addition to extra-curriculars and work, so we'll have to see how it can fit in. He may take some less demanding gen-ed courses, like Speech. Also, CLEPping is on our scope (our State schools take up to 10 CLEP courses- that's a year's worth of college for pennies on the dollar) and things like Western Civilizations I and II, along with Comp 101 will probably be done via CLEP as my kids live and breathe that stuff.
Holy Mackeral, as I write all of this down, it sounds like a lot and it is. Add in two working parents, a college kid in the house, a rising 7th grader, church, friends, teaching co-op and CC classes, speaking,  other obligations and we are full-up. Homeshcooling High School is a lot of fun, though, especially if you have teen-agers that have work/study skills and goals.

Our 15 year old rocks and is a fun combo of kid (he asked me to go see Jurassic World with him -of course I went!) and man (upper body strength, y'all), not to mention skills (brick walk laying-woot!). And he has the academic back-ground to engage delightfully on theology, doctrinal issues, history and politics. Love being home with my teen-agers!

I do lead a 3 hour High School Homeschool Mini-Workshop in homes and for larger venues such as conventions covering credits, transcripts, testing and so much more! as well private consulting on creating High School Maps and Transcripts for a reasonable fee. Feel free to leave a comment or pm me if you are interested in knowing more!

Take time to stop by the other Blogs in the Hop and read their amazing words of wisdom on Homeschooling Through High School! 
Meg from Adventures with Jude on Planning Your Homeschool High School
Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years
April from ElCloud Homeschool shares Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School
Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks: You mean I have to PLAN our Homeschool High School?!?
Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares Here's the Plan
Lisa at Golden Grasses says Don't Panic! Homeshcooling High School Blog Hop
Debbie at Debbie's Homeschool Corner Planning Out a High School Program
Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School
Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Planning and Preparing for Success
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on Planning the High School Years
Erica over at Be The One shares Planning and Record Keeping for High School
Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on Planning For Homeschooling Highschool
Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Making A Plan
Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on Planning for High School
Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Making High School Plans
Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Planning for the High School Years
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School
Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a great post! Your kids have a life full of great experiences - thanks for sharing.