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Strong programs for HS?

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A friend of mine has 5 children, ages 9 to 1 currently. She was previously a public school teacher, along with her husband, and they really want to make sure they are giving their kids a strong program. They currently use SL but as she is looking towards HS she is rethinking what she wants to use. Her school age kids are bright.


I suggested MFW but what are the programs you all know that are strong? And, would you consider MFW a good enough prep for college bound students?


Thanks a bunch!



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re: college and MFW

From posts I've seen, it looks like lots of people have used SL or MFW all the way through high school and their students went on to college without any problems. Those are fine choices.



re: strong programs

Sounds like she is looking for "academically rigorous" programs. Often, it is more about *how* you teach than the program itself which adds rigor to the schooling. I'd suggest your friend first read through the Well Trained Mind for a fabulous foundation in creating a strong academic setting in the home. (I linked to Amazon, which has a "look inside" option, so your friend can see the table of contents are read some sample pages.)


Also, while it is great to look ahead, if her oldest is only 9yo, high school is still 4-5 years away. A LOT can change between now and then (in their circumstances, goals or needs) -- even whole new and better high school homeschooling programs may be published by that time! Also, many families find that outsourcing is very helpful to get the most rigor for certain classes in high school -- so at that time, your friend will most likely be wanting to also research online and distance learning options, local tutors, and the possibility of dual enrollment. Again -- that's WAY in the future, and I wouldn't even START thinking about that for another 3-4 years... Better to spend the time right now establishing a solid foundation on which she will be able to build a rigorous high school education later. :)


Also, when starting homeschooling, an all-in-one program such as Sonlight is a great help; but the farther into the process, the more your friend may find that to get the most rigor, she may need to go "a la carte", and put together her own list of programs, with different vendors/publishers for the different school subjects in the middle school and high school years. Just something to keep in mind! Some specific suggestions for more rigorous middle school/high school programs:




- K-12 = includes all subjects; it is public school materials done at home. Not as rigorous as Tapestry of Grace or Omnibus, BUT, *all* school subjects are included in one place, and it will certainly not be a problem getting into college.



History & Literature (like Sonlight or MFW, but more rigorous than either):


- Tapestry of Grace -- Includes history, literature, and composition; could be used starting now, and with multiple levels of children, as each of the four years includes: gr. K-3 (lower grammar); gr. 3-6 (upper grammar); dialectic (gr. 6-9); rhetoric (gr. 9-12) -- rhetoric level is QUITE rigorous!


- Omnibus, from Veritas Press -- Also has rigorous, classical materials for K-6. Six levels of Omnibus, each includes: History, Literature and Theology. Omnibus I can be used starting grade 7, though many wait until grade 9, as it is "stout". Very traditional classical style education.


These are both excellent choices you can stick with from Kinder through 12th grade that will provide a very strong education.




- Writing with Skill -- middle school; makes for a strong foundation for high school writing

- Lively Art of Writing

- Elegant Essay (designed to follow basic IEW materials, but can stand alone)

- Institute for Excellence in Writing -- not necessarily rigorous, but for many students a good match to teach solid writing skills.



- Rod and Staff

- Warriner's / Elements of Language

- Stewart English

- Analytical Grammar



- Chalkdust (DVD lessons and book) -- Pre-Algebra thru Calculus

- Dolciani textbooks -- Algebra textbooks by Mary Dolciani

- Lial's Basic College Math -- Algebra and Algebra 2 textbooks by Margaret Lial

- Art of Problem Solving (focus on word problems and advanced math thinking -- a great supplement to add rigor)

- Singapore New Elementary Math -- Asian based math; NEM 1 can be started as early as 7th grade with a strong student, or later, in 9th grade. Real-world math/science problem solving (has a different sequence of than American higher math programs:

NEM 1 = intro to algebra & geometry

NEM 2 = intermediate algebra & geometry

NEM 3 = advanced algebra & geometry

NEM 4 = intro to advance math



For the sciences, you'll need to do some searches, or post specifically on the high school board, for rigorous suggestions. For each science topic (biology; chemistry; and physics), very *different* suggestions for rigorous programs are recommended -- no ONE author or publisher seems to do more than ONE of the science topics "best" or strongest...


Your friend will also most likely want to think about programs for Logic, Latin, and Foreign Language for a rigorous high school education. BEST of luck to your friend in her homeschooling journey! One step at a time! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I'm glad Lori recognizes that MFW has the right stuff. I think so too or I wouldn't keep using it. Not everything MFW offers is "college level", but I think it is college prep high school. I've been pleased with content and level of essays, literature discussion, texts and all of that. Reading amount is good and doable without killing love of reading in my oldest. We've been pleased with using their suggestions for math and science. If her ACT scores are any indication, we've done well with college readiness and prep for her. But alas, she's only 11th grade and I don't know how she will do in college. done mfw since 2nd grade and is naturally academic kind of person. MFW didn't ruin that and it probably helped it.


One of my dearest friends has a son who only homeschooled from 2nd semester of 10th grade until graduation, and only used all MFW recommendations for those years. His son is now in final year of undergraduate in engineering and already has job offers in his career field and has accepted one pending graduation in spring. He did extremely well in college years maintaining a near 4.0 in university. maybe even 4.0, but I think he had an A minus in there somewhere. He thinks the writing and all of MFW really helped him be ready for working hard in college. Professors commented that his writing was meeting their expectations. MFW's suggestions for math and science helped him as a STEM major. He even followed MFW's recommendation for a little bit of early college credit with CLEP with US History to 1877.


so.. yes.. tell your friend to take a look at MFW for high school. here is their path in those years



and they even help along with the way with little things for college planning for parents/students for the things that aren't necessarily about textbooks and courses....




PS. I thought I'd edit this in... a lady who use to post here a lot.. Julie... has a son who is 11th grade.. used mfw since 3rd grade when he began to homeschool. is taking several dual enrollment college courses this year and doing fine in those. and she wasn't necessarily the most rigorous style of classical educator out there. Her son, 11th grade dual enrollment. just saying that to encourage your friend that they can do this high school homeschool thing.

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I think I'll copy and paste part of your answer to my friend. I think that will give her confidence.

They are currently using IEW for the oldest and she has made it obvious how important writing is to them. Her husband was a HS English teacher.


The current state of teaching to tests as a majority of the curriculum led them to both leave the teaching field.

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In that case, maybe this information would help them see more of the English over the 4 years scope/sequence. This is my experience with it. I’ve used MFW forever and I already had the last year materials to look it over. Maybe it will help them to know if it what they want to work with.


AHL: ancient literature. Compared to other years in high school, fewer number of novels, but covered more in depth. also, they read the entire Old Testament....

Writing. Focus on learning and practicing argumentative essay. Students are taught the essay structure in week 1. I think the instructions are detailed. Depending on student of course, some students might need to do a little bit more instruction in summer prior. Over year 5 major argumentative essays are written. Several smaller “history†essays are written and do not have to be in argumentative style. Other writing assignments include history journaling, some poetry. A Lit/Comp supplement guide is part of the program to help with lit analysis at rhetoric level, and to help parents/students have rubrics and checklists to improve essays. Grammar is reviewed in the context of improving writing.


WHL: world literature, Brit Lit included. Compare to other years in high school, more novels covered, but depth is different from full analysis in AHL. Writing, a wide variety of writing topics are covered using Writer’s Inc. Again, depending on student/parent, you might need to find an extra writer’s guide to help with assignments. Research paper is written.


US1: MFW uses a modified version of Stobaugh American Literature. Stobaugh was an English professor at several universities out there. Plenty of reading. Lit Supplement tries to use full text instead of just “high school selectionsâ€. Full novel analysis is done with Progeny Press guide. Various writing assignments will be in response to literature. Some of the literature response is also done out loud with parent. MFW encourages students to also complete CLEP Composition study guide for more writing instruction, and possibly taking the CLEP test. That book is separate from the program and done independently.


US2: a very different year in English. First semester is to read about 9 novels related to history study. Students write a summary based on Stobaugh’s “novel review†format. Students do another research paper. 2nd semester, is a semester for speech/communication. And still room to read on their own if they want which will be nice because my umbrella school insists that we do more Brit Lit in 12th grade just because it is “supposed†to be done in 12th? Really? I homeschool. Anyway..



If there aren’t books in the package for a literature loving student, MFW suggests using the Stobaugh SAT prep book to use the appendix list for more novels to read and at least get to know.


Anyway… time to get oldest over to ACT test for her next try on it. Trying to raise the score a point or two. We’ll see.

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I copy pasted all your info. I think she will appreciate that. Honestly, being new to homeschooling I fell prey to peer pressure and heard that MFW was not a great program in the younger years and passed it up for the last 2 years. Recently, after realizing my sons learning style and that I needed to stop using my creativity with building curriculum :) I felt led to MFW. I feel relieved and no longer search for the "right" curriculum.



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Yes, I agree with Lori D.'s post completely. I've been a community college professor longer than I've been a homeschooling parent, and as long as you use a rigorous program (and there are many out there) with high expectations and solid work habits, you'll do fine. I've had students who ended up as the top graduate with 100% aid to a 4-year college who used mostly Rod and Staff, public school cast-offs, thrift store finds, and the library. And I've had students who used some of the choices listed who didn't belong in college at that point because they hadn't "really" used the curriculum and developed the discipline and attitudes critical to college success.


I've always kept a list of my K-12 plans and implementation, and indeed high school doesn't look like I expected it would. We do some outsourcing, and I expected early on that I would be doing all of the teaching. We were involved in a local all-in-one program that hasn't met the standards I want, and so my youngest is the last one involved there and next year it will be all mix-and-mix for middle school and high school. So flexibility is important.

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And, if SonLight is working for them, they can continue with it. The family I know who uses it exclusively all the way through has 3 dd's (first 3 of 14 children) on full scholarships to a large college with a really good reputation. The girls started college at ages 13 and 14. One is a junior now with a 4.0 average. I have to agree with the poster who said that it is how you use the program. That and these kids just got some smart genes; those never hurt.

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Yes, I agree with Lori D.'s post completely. I've been a community college professor longer than I've been a homeschooling parent, and as long as you use a rigorous program (and there are many out there) with high expectations and solid work habits, you'll do fine. I've had students who ended up as the top graduate with 100% aid to a 4-year college who used mostly Rod and Staff, public school cast-offs, thrift store finds, and the library. And I've had students who used some of the choices listed who didn't belong in college at that point because they hadn't "really" used the curriculum and developed the discipline and attitudes critical to college success.



That's a really great point. The discipline and attitudes. I did ok in HS but it was so boring and expectations were low. I didn't apply myself, but when I got to college the expectations were high and most of those around me wanted to succeed so I rose to the occasion and did MUCH better in college than HS.


Thanks for that perspective!

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