Sunday, October 25, 2015

Making it Happen; Homeschooling Your High School Super Hero

We are on our 4th run through High School. We are decidedly classical in our approach. We have read and loved many books, gone on hundreds of field trips, written papers and poetry, planted gardens, done art, camps and programs and memorized hundreds of pieces of information, poetry, scripture verses and fun facts to know and tell. Eled has been a blast. 

But it's time to get down to business and get serious with High School. 
We have "done" high school a variety of ways- delight directed, with enrichment and academic co-ops. and with Classical Conversations. We are back to CC for our last two and plan to camp there until they've both graduated. 

CC provides the framework of what we are doing classically and provides a cohesive community that is committed to Christian community. We have an absolutely terrific community with great Directors and a growing commitment to classical ed in our area. It's only going to get better as we go and grow. 

What is Cub studying this year as a Challenge 1 student? Algebra I and Geometry, Physical Science + lab,* Latin, Shakespeare, American Government (using source documents) and Economics, Lit and Comp (LTW), Formal Debate. Add in TeenPact's Survival and State Class (alumni) +Speech class, ballroom dancing, Drama Camp, Shakespeare Camp, One Act Play and Youth Group and you have a busy and balanced curriculum. Oh, and however many books and hang out with peeps time as he can cram in. And working on the acreage and odd jobs. Busy.

(*you might notice that he is taking science "out of order"- so far Cub has had Biology + lab, 1/2 Adv. Bio, Chem Lab). Physical Science + lab is part of CC's Challenge 1 and Cub's Tutor is a former Engineering major. She gets science- loves it- and for some reason, we skipped Physical Science (I think it was one of the books lost in the fire). No biggie. It's another lab class, taught by an enthusiastic Lead Learner. Plus, repetition is a great way to master material making this a win-win all the way around).

Paying for CC seems like it's an easy fix- I've simply delegated to others courses that might be intimidating to me. On some level  that's true because I'd rather have a former engineering type teaching science and math to my kids than me. I have found is that the first Law of the Teacher does apply. If the teacher doesn't know what they're doing, the student probably won't either. I always encourage people to interview their Challenge Tutors. Do they have to know everything? No, but they need to have the time and drive to learn what they'll be teaching - at least enough to dialog and discuss intelligently, and challenge the kids to interact, learn and discuss beyond what they currently know. And so do the parents. CC parents are still homeschooling and the parent is still the kids front line resource. Cub and I sit down together regularly throughout the week to plan, discuss and talk about what he's doing. I go through Math and Latin with him. CC doesn't mean I am no longer homeschooling; it means that someone is walking alongside of us on the journey. 

Practically speaking, at least for me, that often translates into Tutoring a CC class myself. Despite my own good intentions, my life, like yours, is crazily  busy (hence the lack of blog posts lately), and if I don't carve out the time to keep up with where the kids are in Latin, it's not going to happen. If I'm tutoring, however, I WILL make time to learn, if only in order to teach well. CC is really about redeeming the education of two generations, and CC provides amazing resources and learning opportunities for every Challenge Director. I am learning Latin- finally, after years of wanting to. I'm learning alongside my kids and we are having a blast sitting next to each other  wrestling with declensions and parts of speech. 

For some classes during our high school years (upper level math) we've hired a Tutor. It just made sense. For some classes (Chem lab) we've had our kids take on-line classes with science teachers who just get stoichiometry. It totally made sense. For some things (Shakespeare Camp) we've paid and driven to get our kids there. Having a Master teacher is a no-brainer if they are reasonably priced, show up and provide something you don't, regardless of how much you study and try to get up to speed in an area of study. 

How do we assign credits? We generally follow a 4 x 4 schedule using Carnegie Units. If we get half way through a subject, I'll assign 1/2 credit (for instance, last year Cub completed 1/2 of Adv. Biology, along with .5 credit of Bio lab and .5 credit of Chem lab. I gave him .5 credit of Adv. Bio, which he can complete later or not at all, depending on our schedule. (for more on credits and how to create classes I highly recommend Barb Shelton's Homeschool Design Form+U+la).

We have spent more time and money on trying to find a Math curriculum for each kid more than anything else. Between 4 kids going through high school so far we have used Saxon, Videotext,  Prentice Hall, the Keys to Series, Life of Fred, AOPS and Math U See, along with on-line programs and Tutors. After trying a few different programs, we are camped on MUS with Cub. It's working, he gets it, he loves the videos, he is cruising along. Win. He is about a 1/2 year behind in Math, but he's quickly making up time and will be back up to speed by next fall. 

We have also used on-line resources, DVD's and Great Courses to supplement or to add interest to courses that our kids don't love, are struggling in, or can't get enough of including history, math, chemistry and physics. 

Homeschooling High School is a blast- there are so many excellent resources and materials available now that High School is really about finding or creating a grid that makes sense for your family and plugging in what works within that framework. For us, during an incredibly busy season, Classical Conversations is the grid that is allowing us to keep it all going!

Have fun and enjoy the journey!

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