Homeschooling High School

I would like to preface this post by saying it’s unlikely that this is going to be edge-of-your-seat exciting. There just isn’t a real stimulating way to present this material. Previously, I talked about what homeschooling looks like for the two younger kids, but this week, I’m going to give an overview of what classes the older two are taking this year.

Both girls are in high school this year, although Lea was taking some high school courses last year as well. Chronologically, Amberly is a junior, and Lea is a freshman. Their coursework meets the requirements that most colleges and universities require of high school students, even though both Michigan and Illinois have very few homeschool requirements. I do keep transcripts, their work is graded, and I will issue their diplomas based upon their completion of these classes. Yes, this is legal, and it will count as a valid high school diploma. No, they will not be taking the GED test, because it’s not necessary, and can actually be detrimental. They will be taking the SATs, as the Midwest is currently transitioning to the new SAT vs the ACT, and I’ll talk more about their testing later.

Courses

Much like public school, the girls have core classes that they must take, as well as electives that they can choose. All of their curricula is chosen to help them learn in the way that works best for them, and support their interest and passions.

Math

Note: All math is taught to mastery, which means that they take as little or as much time as necessary to learn the material.

This year, Amberly is taking advanced algebra, and she’s drawing from multiple sources. She is primarily using All In One (AIO) high school for her class, which sets her pace and gives her the basic course outline to follow. When she finds a topic that causes her to struggle, she uses Khan Academy or YouTube videos to help clarify.

Math has always been Lea’s strongest subject. She completed pre-algebra and algebra in 8th grade, so she started geometry this Fall. I don’t anticipate it will take her much beyond the first semester to finish it, so she’ll move on to advanced algebra when she’s ready. She primarily uses Khan Academy, particularly the mastery challenges, because it allows her to move swiftly through material she already knows, and gives her more practice to master new materials.

Language Arts

This year, both girls are taking British Literature. I found an online course for literature using Dr. Who. I adapted it to fit their grade levels and added new materials to take them through the full calendar year. So far, it’s been a lot of fun! They read the assigned books, watch documentaries about the authors and literary analysis videos, write reader responses, and complete hands on projects. After completing the writing assignments, they watch the corresponding Dr. Who episodes.

Science

Amberly has chemistry this year. We’re pulling from several different resources and textbooks, and lab work is included. This summer, I plan to have her take a lab course through the community college to get her further lab experience.

Lea studies biology, and is using the AIO high school as her main course. She also has a lab component to her course. Thankfully, as the labs get more in depth, we are able to order supplies from Amazon.

History

This year, both girls are working on American history. We use documentaries, original documents, text books, and other writings to get a rounded view of history. They are currently reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States 1492 to the Present.

Foreign Language

Amberly is taking French 1 using Duolingo this year. Lea is taking Latin 1 using William Linney’s Getting Started with Latin and Linney’s Latin Class online.

Foundations and SAT Prep

Foundations is a course offered through AIO high school that teaches character development along with success strategies and study skills. The girls alternate Foundations with Khan Academy’s SAT math and reading prep each day. They will both take full-length practice SATs the end of November, and will continue studying until they take the actual tests.

Electives

Creative writing, cartooning, computer programming, sewing, and cooking are all examples of electives the girls have taken and are continuing with this year.

I know this hasn’t been a real breathtaking post, but I did promise to share how the older kids do school. Next time, I’ll write about what makes this month so differen. I’ll also write about an impressive project they have coming up. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

What the Heck Do We Do All Day?

 

Marching to Our Own Beat

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Homeschooling is such a generic term. Each family must choose their own methods of providing a safe, supportive, and challenging learning environment according to their own beliefs and values within the boundaries of state law. It’s unlikely that any two homeschool families educate in exactly the same way.

We take a multifarious approach to homeschooling. By this I mean, I can’t make up my mind which method is the best (Libra parenting–the struggle is real), so I’m willing to try just about everything to see what works best for each individual learner.
I’ve been homeschooling for the better part of eight years. During this time, we’ve tried lots of different curricula, and have really come to enjoy the eclectic approach. This post will cover the topics and resources used for the younger kiddos. I’ll cover the older kids in a later post.

An Overview

First off, like many homeschool families, I don’t put a lot of stock in pre-determined grade levels. Kids develop at their own pace, and each have different strengths and weaknesses. We may be using second or third grade level curriculum for some subjects, and Kindergarten or first grade for others. That said, Joey is six and is in first grade. Evie is a precocious four, and works on whatever she’s interested in at the moment. She usually follows along with what Joey is doing.

Joey is an active boy, and meets most of the checklist criteria for ADHD, though we’ve never had him formally tested. We work on school throughout the day and night, depending on his attention span. The subjects we cover are: language arts, math, science, social studies, foreign language, character development, and other interest-led topics as they come up.

Language Arts

We are a family of readers, and have always worked to provide a literature-rich environment. We own more books than many small town libraries, and there’s always reading material available. Thrift stores and yard sales are a great place to find affordable children’s books, and many communities, including ours, have neighborhood little libraries. We have read-aloud time several times a day.

In addition to physical books, we have access to tons of digital books. One of the best children’s apps I’ve seen is Epic! books. It’s amazing, and has an ever-expanding library of books, educational videos, and audio books for kids from baby to teen. It’s very reasonable at $4.99 a month, and we use it multiple times a day.

Other reading resources we use are BOB books, Hooked on Phonics digital edition, Time 4 Learning, Mrs. Karle’s Learn to Read free, Easy Peasy, and sight words. I believe strong readers can learn anything, so we spend a lot of time reading.

Math

My favorite math curriculum is Life of Fred. It teaches math concepts in story-format. It helps kids to understand why math is done, and introduces logic-based thinking. For more drill-style practice, we use Time 4 Learning and Khan Academy. The kids use manipulatives, puzzles, blocks, and tangrams to build their spatial and problem solving skills.

Science

For science, we do a lot of interest-led learning depending on whatever they’re into. We’ve researched dinosaurs, volcanoes, marine creatures, and insects in depth over the last year. We work loosely within the scientific method, and have done notebook entries with experiments and nature study.

Social Studies

We cover a variety of topics in social studies. My aim is to help him see history as a fascinating study, rather than a compendium of names and dates. We have been watching Liberty’s Kids on YouTube lately, and are learning about the Revolutionary War and the creation of the United States. We’re reading biographies, original documents, and fictional accounts. An awesome side note is that this study fits perfectly with my latest obsession-Hamilton the musical-so we’ve been listening to that a lot as well.

We recently incorporated world history into our week, and are reading The Story of the World, book one, which begins with the transition from nomadic peoples to early agricultural settlements. It’s written in an informative storybook format, which appeals to the kids. We often use chapters as part of a bedtime story routine.

Geography comes in the form of additions to history lessons, and from the various trips we’ve taken. Again, I’m more interested in applicable lessons than rote memorization.

Foreign Language

I believe it’s incredibly important for kids to be exposed to many different languages early on. They may not necessarily learn those languages extensively, but it helps form those language pathways in their brains.
Joey and Evie are learning Latin this year, and we plan to continue throughout their school years. Because so many languages, including English, are built from Latin roots, they will be able to take the information and apply it wherever they like as they get older. We’re starting with Song School Latin, by Classical Academic Press. The songs and chants seem to help the information stick in their brains easily.
Joey is also learning the Greek Alphabet using the book Greek Alphabet Code Cracker, from the same publisher.

Character Development

This is probably our most compelling reason for homeschooling. We read stories and do activities to promote character development. This year, we’ve embraced the Random Acts of Kindness movement and try to incorporate this into our lives. We’re working on manners and trying to raise our kids to be compassionate, confident, thoughtful individuals.

Whew…so there’s a snapshot of what we’re covering this year. This is neither all-inclusive nor strictly followed every day. I’m not a rigid schedule kind of person, and some days flow a little better than others. We school year-round, so there isn’t that drive to get everything done in a six hour day. Any questions or comments, feel free to post below!