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Nan in Mass

For those of you with 8th graders considering homeschooling high school...

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You probably already know this, but I would have found this post helpful when I was planning, so I wanted to post this, just in case it helps someone.

 

Here are some things to remember when you are making the decision to homeschool high school:

 

You don't have to give grades. Yes, it might be easier for colleges to assess your child if you do, but there are ways around that. You can present a portfolio, instead of grades. Or you can assign courses a pass or fail. Or if you decide you do need grades, you can assign them any way you want; it is your school. You can make a rubric with clear expectations for each assignment and have your child fill it out himself. Or you can decide that whatever grade your child gets on the excersizes, that is his grade. You can decide to give a final, or have the child do a final assignment that demonstrates what should have been learned and grade just that and use that grade for the year. Or you can grade on effort alone. Someone had a nice rubric for this one - post and ask for it if you want to do this. Or you can, without giving any grades during the course, give a grade at the end based on how well you think the child mastered the material, something like this: A- understands all the material well and independently applies it to new situations; B - understands most of the material and can apply it independently to new situations some of the time; C - understands most of the material and applies it independently to familiar situations; D - understands most of the material but has trouble applying it; F - only partially understands the material and can't apply it. That could probably be worded better, but you get the idea. If you are using a pre-written curriculum, then you can alter the grading scheme if you choose. You could add in lots of extra credit problems, or drop the worst test grade, or give the tests untimed and open book. I am not grading, and I have had a number of people here tell me that there children got into college without them. Just be sure you have some other way for colleges to assess your child, like outside courses, community college classes, a portfolio, or standardized test scores. And be sure you include review, even if you aren't testing.

 

Don't forget about rubrics. These are great even if you aren't grading. Ask people to post writing ones and choose one to use. They make talking to a child about his work much easier because it makes it feel less like you are criticizing to the child. (I apologize for spelling mistakes.) You can even make these for whole courses in order to spell out the goals of the course beforehand. For literature, they could be something like: must read 8 literary works, must write a paper or do a project for 5 of them, must do a history background for each, must discuss each using TWEM questions, must read the genre section of TWEM for each if haven't done it yet this year, must put the book on a timeline, must summarize each chapter, must read independently (and just read) 3 more works. (This is approximately ours for a year of great books.)

 

You can design your own courses. You don't have to buy a curriculum for each subject. You can even combine subjects. Look at a few other syllabi for similar courses, or the NARS guidelines, or ask people about Carnegie hours, then make up your own syllabus (see my example above). You can use whatever materials you want. Check out National Geographic's site on projects for geography or get TWTM method for using a spine (like the logic stage history and science). I decided that I wanted every subject to have an academic componant, so if I want to count travel as a class, then I add in some reading and writing, but many people count things that made their child learn without adding in the academic componant, like an internship.

 

You don't have to do your courses all in one year. You can work on something sporadically over several years, and then smush it all together into one course. Or you can spend all day on a subject for two months (or something) until it is done and count that. You can organize the traditional transcript by subject instead of by year, or do a non-traditional transcript of some sort. A simple way to keep track of everything is to get a notebook, divide it into subjects leaving room for subjects that might crop up later, and then anytime you do something, record it under that subject. You can put it together into subjects at the end of high school, although you should be keeping track to make sure you are indeed covering the basic requirements, whatever you have decided those should be. You don't want to get to senior year and discover you don't have enough social studies for the required number of credits.

 

You don't have to teach everything yourself for it to count. In fact, it can be an advantage to outsource some things. As teenagers grow older, their world needs to get bigger. Bigger can be outside of school-type subjects, like a job or volenteer work or travel, or it can be inside school by outsourcing. Some people outsource the whole thing at the end by sending their child to community college the last year or two. Just be careful not to dump an unprepared child into deep water without teaching them to swim first. We're doing one or two classes, to begin with. Outsourcing can be a good way to cover those things that don't lend themselves well to homeschooling, like lab sciences or foreign languages, or things that you don't feel competent to teach, or things that cause hurt feelings when a parent teaches them, like writing. Many, many people outsource writing. There are online classes. Some people do these all the way through high school and don't even try to teach writing themselves.

 

Math. Public school kids get to watch a teacher demonstrate problems and talk about math for 45 minutes 5 times a week, and then they go home to do about an hour of homework. Make sure you compare that amount of time spent on math with the amount you spend on math. Math is one of those cumulative things that are hard to make up later.

 

And from another recent post:

I have periodic fits of panic when I think we're not doing enough. I found it helped to spell out why I was homeschooling. Definately not academic excellence, in my case. If you are after that, then I can't help you GRIN. But there are many other reasons to homeschool, like family closeness or passing on your values or culture or religion. In my case, I'm homeschooling my older one so he stays sweet, and I'm trying to give my younger one a chance to do academics at his own mix of levels, and be efficient about it so he has time to pursue his own interests, from which I can see he is learning a lot. In both those cases, I can do a very bad job of educating my children and still accomplish those goals, as long as I don't push them too hard. Constantly reminding myself of this helps keep the panic at bay. I guess this requires that you put something else before academic education, but if you can do that, then you can procede with more confidence.

 

Don't panic if your 8th grader isn't ready for college right now. Four years is a long time. Think back to what they were like when they were in 4th grade. They don't stop growing just because they are in high school.

 

I hope this helps someone.

-Nan

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Unfortunately for me, I think things like spell-check and stars and rep are *not* plusses - merely more things to put on my ever-ignored to-do list. :D

 

Thank you once again, Nan. Very helpful, indeed!

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Nan, Thanks for this and your post last week during my panic attack. I heard you! I won't expect the 9th grader to be doing college-level work either. :-)

Peace and Thanks,

Janice

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Nan, thank you for spending a chunk of your day to post yet another encouraging note! You truly do have the gift of encouragement! And you use it so well!

 

Cathy

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We have just made the decision to continue to homeschool our dd who is in 8th grade. To be honest, I'm scared. I will be attending a conference in March about homeschooling the high school years. I'm hoping this will help my jitters. Thanks to all the wonderful posts on this board (I've been lurking for about 2 years) I know this is the best decision for her. I also realize I won't be ruining her for life. Thank you Nan for taking the time to post such a positive message. I know where to come when I need that handholding.

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Rhonda, all you do is go up to the top of the page where it says rate this thread. Clear as mud??? I still haven't figured out the spell check LOL, but I suppose that is obvious

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Thank you, Nan!

 

Your advice here and in other threads have been very helpful & encouraging to me! Reading the NARHS handbook has also been great for making me realize that not only can I homeschool through highschool, my dd can too!

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Nan,

 

Thank you for your post. I graduated my first homeschooled child last year, but I still needed to hear the things you had to say. I want my girls to stay sweet too!!

 

Keep them coming!!!

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Thanks so much for this advice. We've been homeschooling for 7 years. Now that high school will be here next year, I have been stressing over subjects, hours -- everything. Your advice helped me take a nice calming breath!

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of portfolios, too. I find it easy enough to assign grades for subjects like algebra (because the program comes with tests, although I don't use the finals). I like cumulative projects that display mastery (such as a display board, for example, of the Civil War)...I haven't met anyone yet who remembers their scores on highschool chemistry tests!

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OK, now I can breathe.

Thank you for this. We had such a wonderful time home schooling this creative way for the elementary years, and my child learned so much- actually all three if us learned so much more than we ever expected!

I just thought that for high school we would have to buckle down to a more text bookish style, to make sure all the college prep bases were covered.

Your advice is like a fresh breeze.

Thanks you, Thank you, Thank you!

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TWEM is The Well Educated Mind, also by SWB. It contains directions for doing self-educating great books. It is easy to adapt for high school. NARS is North Atlantic Regional School, a cover school that has published some of their guidelines for what they will accept as a high school course. Their material (you don't need to sign up for the school to buy it) is helpful if you want to design your own courses.

Any other questions?

-Nan

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If I may tack on to Nan's post as the mom of a high schooler and of a 6th grader doing high school work....

 

**I give grades sporadically. Usually only for tests or if they ask me to. I do, however, do what Nan suggested, and give an ending grade based on what I think they've learned.

 

**Remember this one small gem that I learned quickly enough (thanks to my teacher DH), everything a child needs to learn, can usually be learned in high school! Honestly. Think about it--they learn about "Explorers" in elementary school, "Christopher Columbus" in Middle, and "the whole she-bang" in high school. It builds up as it goes, but all of the important stuff is in high school! And, not to mention, most of what's learned in High School is nothing but a repeat of previous grades, only this time they have to write more. So the important thing here is that "grade levels" are nonsense and useless in the grand scheme of things.

 

**Go with knowledge as opposed to "have to". That is, if your kid wants to spend a day learning about something you think nonsensical, like "roses"--let them!! This works for any age and don't worry about them falling behind.

 

**Ditch lesson planning. I'm serious. I start off every year doing these wonderfully spectacular lesson plans for each subject, blah blahh. Ditch it. I always end up ditching my plan book mid year anyway because it's a pain the rear. Keep everything in 3-ringed binders and that's all the "lesson plan" one needs.

 

**Lastly, CHILL OUT. High school is not that hard, honest--I swear. :) If you don't want to outsource to another source for whatever reason, break out of your "shell" a bit and step out of the box a little further and try something different--something completely and totally different from your normal. You might be pleasantly surprised to find it working!! And if you must keep records of some kind (because some states haven't caught up the 21st century yet), DON'T worry about it. Honest. It really is as simple as:

 

Math-- LIAL's Pre-Algebra-Mastery

English--Whoever's American Literature for the 20th century- Mastery

Science--Apologia Chemistry with Lab- Mastery

 

That's all you honestly need. :) And, if you have any test scores (Like the Iowa or whatever you use), these are more valuable to a college than the stupid pain the butt transcripts we've got to write up. :)

 

Relax. It'll be alright and I promise your kid won't fall behind or you feel like you failed them.

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Math-- LIAL's Pre-Algebra-Mastery

English--Whoever's American Literature for the 20th century- Mastery

Science--Apologia Chemistry with Lab- Mastery

 

 

Can you clarify this part of your post?

 

Are you listing these as the things you do to get ready for high school, or the things you do in high school?

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[quote name=GothicGyrl;It builds up as it goes' date=' but all of the important stuff is in high school! And, not to mention, most of what's learned in High School is nothing but a repeat of previous grades, only this time they have to write more. So the important thing here is that "grade levels" are nonsense and useless in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

 

**Lastly, CHILL OUT. High school is not that hard, honest--I swear.

 

Relax. It'll be alright and I promise your kid won't fall behind or you feel like you failed them.

 

Hi Gothicgirl,

I agree with your statement about grade levels-they are for a public institution's ease and actually have nothing to do with learning.

However, in light of preparing for college,( and scholarships) isn't certain subjects at certain times a necessary hoop we need to jump through?

I 'd love to chill out and continue on the way she learns best!

Yikes!

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Hi Gothicgirl,

I agree with your statement about grade levels-they are for a public institution's ease and actually have nothing to do with learning.

However, in light of preparing for college,( and scholarships) isn't certain subjects at certain times a necessary hoop we need to jump through?

I 'd love to chill out and continue on the way she learns best!

Yikes!

 

We will all have our own opinions on this one. It is a good question and one that I will answer with a "it depends on the kid". Do you know for certain YOUR kid WANTS to go to college? See, my oldest does not. Tech School yes, but not college. My youngest, however, does.

 

But as for "certain subjects", I think as long as they get the standard 4 year high school rotation of things, they will get educated. If you want to add in a special subject (like you have a budding chef, so you have a special Culinary Arts class), that's fine, it really is.

 

The main point in what I said was "don't burn yourself and your kid, out, by trying to cram all these unneccessary things into their last 4 years with you". If your child learns best by following planned rabbit trails (I do this sometimes), then let her. Guide her, of course, but let her go down those rabbit trails. Along the way, she'll pick up her grammar, her writing, her math, her science, etc.

 

Ask her what she wants to learn, tell her "you need math, here's your choices" or "you need science, here's your choices".

 

Now, because my DH is a teacher, I do sort of follow the traditional High School outline. But I don't let him dictate to me when something gets taught where. Like he feels Chemistry and Phsyics are important, and of course he does--they are the subjects HE teaches. I don't feel they are that important, but Biology is. So next year, I am going to teach an Integrated Science course.

 

The same with math, he feels that we should go all the way up, which would put us at Algebra 2 next year. Nut-uh it won't. We are doing an Integrated Math program (if I can find one) and will probably follow it up with Consumer type math. Those are more important that Quadriatic Equations (imho).

 

Know your child. If your child wants to be a vet or a doctor or a nurse, focus on the maths and sciences (especially the --ologies).. if they want to be something completely different, focus on that instead. :)

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she's 13,

"all she wants to do is dance...":o

 

Only the top 2% of all auditioning dancers go immediately into a professional company right after high school, or at age 18.So, in all praticality, she'll go to college, which is why we are considering college prep requirements. (Ologies, Chemisty, 4 years of math .etc.)

Thanks for your thoughts!

You sound like an unschooler- I love unschooling.

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Actually, I am a bit of everything. There are days when I count videos games and NatGeo as school and there are days when we "book it" all through the day. Then there are days when Busch Gardens becomes our classroom, so I am really a mix of all types.

 

That's how my kids learn best. I couldn't be a total unschooler. It just wouldn't work for my kids, but this mix does work well. :)

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Me too:)

I see there is a range of homeschooling styles on this board.

I thought WTM was for those who are strictly classical.

(I have a friend who is using WTM, and although she is very much the opposite of me, our commitment to giving our children the best home education we can is our common ground.

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I thought WTM was for those who are strictly classical.

 

I don't know of a single person on this board who follows WTM exactly as it was written. And it is possible to still give a "classical" education and be eclectic in doing it. :)

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Nan,

Thank you for this post!

 

We are committed to a college prep education, but even a college prep education does not have to look the same for each child. School here is tailored to the skills and interests of each child.

 

What are we working on here? Fulfilling the vision of a curriculum writer? Measuring up on a message board? Impressing the in-laws? Nah, we are crafting human beings who will be our next crop of doctors, plumbers, presidents, citizens, parents.......

 

Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts out there Nan!!

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There is a long thread on the curriculum board about this. Even SWB chimed in.

 

I know! I saw that thread too. SWB's contribution was absolutely wonderful!!

 

Great, great conversations for this time of year when many people are in a retrospective mood as they begin preparing their wish lists, and subsequent shopping lists, for a new academic year

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I know! I saw that thread too. SWB's contribution was absolutely wonderful!!

 

 

Ok what's the title of the post. Is it really the curriculum board? I can't find it. I don't usually go to that board and looked at 5 pages and did not find it.

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Great comments, Nan!

 

I add this: Don't forget that teens have mental/intellectual growth spurts just like younger children do. A teen who at 13 or 14 may not seem to have a lot of potential for a 4 year college may be awarded a scholarship for a 4 year college when she's 18!

 

Have some goals in mind when beginning the high school years but be prepared to revise those goals based on the student's progress through the years.

 

Don't worry that your child's future will be thoroughly ruined if she doesn't school with lots of books and writing for 8 hours every day from 9th-12th grades. If she's exploring her interests, learning to be helpful around the house, learning to serve other people at home and in the community, and generally engaging with life when not hitting the books, she'll be fine.

 

Whodda thunk that a teen who spent many an hour fiddling in the bathroom and with no classical violin training until 2 months before her major auditions could get accepted into a professional university music program with violin as principal instrument?

 

(Well, said teen actually did become self-motivated to hit the books about 2 years before she finished high school & she did have significant other musical training, but still, when she was 14, I wasn't really sure she was "college material.")

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We have just made the decision to continue to homeschool our dd who is in 8th grade. To be honest, I'm scared. I will be attending a conference in March about homeschooling the high school years. I'm hoping this will help my jitters. Thanks to all the wonderful posts on this board (I've been lurking for about 2 years) I know this is the best decision for her. I also realize I won't be ruining her for life. Thank you Nan for taking the time to post such a positive message. I know where to come when I need that handholding.

 

This has been one of the best boards for helping me to get through the high school years with my children!

 

I have often heard that when we start homeschooling high school, we really just start by taking the next step. What is the next step in math? in science? and so on. We need to see the big picture so we know what we're taking on and whether we're going to commit to 4 years of high school as a package. However, we really only need the detail for "the next step," which is what we've been doing all along.

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N/M

 

So sorry, my little one played with the computer keys while I had this thread up. Sorry to all of those who are following this!

 

A great thread to "accidentally" get bumped. It was posted in 2008, I think ds was in 4th grade then. Now I'm planning 10th grade, still great words and I needed to read them again.

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I have a rising DS 9 and DD 8th and was checking out this board. I am familiar with the 2am adrenaline rush, the fears of tackling high school. Reading these posts reassured me that I was not alone. I remind myself that I went to high school, so I have experience to draw from concerning what subjects to cover, how to cover 'em, and how to find out about post-secondary opportunities. Even more useful is the knowledge of the fetid social swamp of most high schools! Definitely a thing to avoid and minimize. I liked Jen's comment about keeping her son sweet -- that rang true for me. My kids are going to be better off if I keep on modelling our family values to them. This is ultimately more important in the context of their whole lives than any one decision I make about this or that course. I'll do my best, working from my experience.

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