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mamakelly

High school curriculum, where do I start??

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So DH and I have decided that I am definitely homeschooling our now 8th grader next year. I had never planned to homeschool high school, and we sent our now 11th grader to school in 9th, but we've decided to keep Blake home for high school. He will probably stay with our homeschool charter school, which will make transcripts and such easier for me. But I have no idea where to start with high school curriculum. We have very very very loosely followed TWTM book, done a few years of sonlight, a few things of Bob Jones etc... over the past 9 years. So I'm not curriculum loyal. We use what works for that year. He is really just an average kid, not brilliant and doing gemoetry in 8th grade or anything LOL. I have no idea where to start for 9th grade. Help!?

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Welcome to high school planning! Come on in -- the water's fine! ;)

 

No need to panic. Honestly, much of the planning/doing of 9th grade will be like what you have already done in the past: each year, you just take the next step up. :) With high school there will be the next step up in difficulty and volume, just as there is with each previous grade, but there will also be a few other things you'll want to take into consideration, to help you decide on specific curriculum. My suggestion before planning specific curriculum would be to sketch out a flexible general high school plan.

 

 

Make a high school plan:

 

1. Determine YOUR overall goals

Your plan would start with jotting down what your top 3 or so goals are for accomplishing in high school, as your window for accomplishing goals is narrowing to just 4 years now. What is important to you and DH to see developed in DS as far as character? academics? experiences? life skills? exposure to extracurriculars? other? Knowing your top goals helps you determine which classes to have your student take, and often, can help you determine *how* to accomplish those classes. Think: what helps me accomplish my goals?

 

 

2. Determine outside "required" classes

Once you have your "short list" of most important goals to accomplish, then you will probably want to start thinking about what kinds of classes you will either be required to complete or want to complete. To find out if you have requirements, check out your state or local area regulations re: homeschool high school graduation.

 

It looks like you are in Southern California, which does not place requirements on homeschoolers. However, it is a good idea to at least look at both your state's graduation requirements, as well as your state's university admission requirements and consider "following along" with similar coursework for several reasons:

 

- if your student plans to attend college after high school graduation, he/she needs to have taken specific credits in order to be eligible to enter college

- in case circumstances are such that your student goes back to a public/private high school part way through high school

- in case you move to a different state that DOES require certain coursework, your student is not behind

 

Many homeschoolers "blend" the 2 lists to come up with a list of classes they want their student to cover. For example, here is a very typical list of required classes for freshmen applying for college admissions:

 

4 credits = English (Literature & Writing, with a little grammar and vocab. thrown in)

4 credits = Math (Alg. 1, Geom., Alg. 2, a higher math requiring Alg. 2 as pre-requisite)

3 credits = Science (with labs -- pick which topic best fits the student's abilities/interests/needs)

3 credits = Social Studies (1 US History; 1 World Hist./Geog.; 0.5 Gov't/Civics; 0.5 Econ.)

1 credit = Arts (music/art/drama performance or appreciation; or, digital arts, photography, filmmaking etc.)

2 credits = Foreign Language (both of same language; check if Latin or American Sign Lang. are accepted by the university the student wishes to attend -- not all colleges/universities accept those 2 languages)

 

 

3. Determine "mom requirements" & student interests

Are there any classes or extracurriculars you want to make as "mom requirements"? (health, PE, typing, home ec, auto maintenance, Bible/religious studies, volunteering/community service, etc.) Are there any special interests your student will want to pursue? (sports, hobby, etc.) Add those to your list of coursework as electives.

 

Sit down with your DS and discuss if he has any ideas at this point of what he might want to do for a future career (engineering, medicine, filmmaking, teaching, etc.). Or if he has a specific interest he'd like to pursue during high school (example: band, theater, scouting, robotics club, riding horses, electronics, mock trial or model U.N. program, sports, etc.). Then you may discover you'll want to either add more courses in the field of interest -- or, be careful to not overload with too many courses so DS can be involved in extracurricular programs that fulfill his interests. Then discuss with DS what classes the 2 of you want to accomplish in 9th grade.

 

 

4. Determine # of classes to do for 9th grade

Now look at your list of credits to accomplish in high school; it usually averages out to 5-7 credits per year of high school.

 

Your 9th grade schedule may look something like this:

- 1 credit = English (Literature program; Writing program; possible Grammar or Vocab program, if needed/desired)

- 1 credit = Math: Algebra 1

- 1 credit = Social Studies: World History

- 1 credit = Science: Biology (or other choice)

- 1 credit = Elective

- 0.5 credit = PE

- 0.5 credit = possible other class??? -- or, go with 5.5 credits to make the transition to high school easier, or to leave time for sports or other extracurriculars, or to focus on building up a weak area, or...

 

 

Pick Curriculum

Now that you have a general idea of what your overall goals are, and what types of classes to cover in high school, you can start to think about HOW to accomplish those classes -- in other words, your original question of "what curriculum to use".

 

First: what are you currently using for English, Math, History, etc.? Do you like it? Does DS like it? Does it go up into high school levels? If so, then go with what you know is already working and is comfortable!

 

Is something not working? Or doesn't go into high school? Or you need a change for some reason? Then thinking through some questions to get more specific about what you want from a program can help. From there, you can post more specific questions on this Board, and look at reviews of various programs to help decide if it will be a fit for your family or not.

 

 

Questions to Help Pick Curriculum:

 

- Do you have a particular leaning towards a particular educational philosophy?

(example: real-book-based = Sonlight; classical = WTM; relaxed = eclectic mix of programs; etc.)

- Think about what you've used in the past; what worked well, and what did NOT work well about each? Which seems to have the most "pros" and least "cons" for your family?

- Does your DS have a particularly strong learning style? (takes in information best through visual, hearing, or touch/hands-on)

- Is there an area your DS is advanced in?

- Is there an area your DS is weak in that you want to build up?

- Does your DS have a particular interest in an area to suggest using more rigorous material, or more material to go "deep"? (example: loves science, or tech, or history, or literature, or the arts, or...)

- Are there programs you know would be either especially wonderful -- or horrible -- for DS?

- Are there programs that would be wonderful -- or horrible -- for YOU to oversee?

- Is there a specific program either you or DS would esp. LIKE to use and have been looking forward to using?

- Do YOU have a strong area you'd love to "do-it-yourself" for that class?

- Do YOU have a weak area (or a subject you dislike!) that would be better for you to outsource in some way? (program with video lessons; have DH or older sibling oversee it; hire a tutor; attend local homeschool co-op class; attend a high school for that class; distance/online class; dual enrollment with university or community college...)

- Think about what the rest of your family's day looks like; how will various programs fit in with your schedule?

 

 

Eventually (maybe for 10th or 11th grade), you may want to consider possibly having DS do an AP (Advanced Placement class. If so, then you will go with specific curriculum geared for that AP class and test. (But for an average student doing 9th grade, especially if he doesn't have a strong idea of what he wants to do yet, I would NOT worry about trying to get an AP class into 9th grade -- use 9th grade to get comfortable with doing high school, and do some research on AP at that time to decide if is useful for your DS or not.)

 

 

Hope that helps! NOT to overwhelm you, BUT... when you are ready and want to do some more reading to ease into high school planning, here are a few past threads that may be of help:

 

Homeschooling High School... Where to Begin? (links to a wide variety of past threads on specific, helpful "getting started" high school topics)

High School Time Table (what needs to happen and when in high school)

 

 

Keep asking questions; do some reading on homeschooling high school (check out resources linked in that first thread linked above); and ENJOY your homeschool high school adventures! BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

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Welcome to high school planning! Come on in -- the water's fine! ;)

 

No need to panic. Honestly, much of the planning/doing of 9th grade will be like what you have already done in the past: each year, you just take the next step up. :) With high school there will be the next step up in difficulty and volume, just as there is with each previous grade, but there will also be a few other things you'll want to take into consideration, to help you decide on specific curriculum. My suggestion before planning specific curriculum would be to sketch out a flexible general high school plan.

 

 

Make a high school plan:

 

 

Keep asking questions; do some reading on homeschooling high school (check out resources linked in that first thread linked above); and ENJOY your homeschool high school adventures! BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

 

Lori...just had to say what a PERFECT starting point for folks! I have an 8th grader and have already pretty much done what you have outlined, but never could have laid it out so clearly. Great job, I know many will find this so helpful!

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Start where you are. You say you have been loosely doing the WTM plan, so I'd expect that you are going to continue doing that.

 

Look where you want to go. What colleges is it likely that your daughter will apply to? Go visit their admissions websites and see what the minimum they want to see is. If you can find a listing of what admit students actually had, then that is even better.

 

Read here. To fill in the areas you haven't been thinking about, read here. That way when you come to ask questions, you can ask more specific ones which will usually get you better advice.

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I'm planning for my 4th 9th grader. Lori D gives good advice! There is some play there in how many credits are necessary, depending on what your state requires and what college you are aiming for. You may not need to get 4 credits for math, 3 may do. You may not need 4 years of science, 3 may do there as well. Some schools like to see at least 3 years of a language, not just two. If you think your student is going to wind up at a community college via dual enrollment, then that's a different path and doesn't follow these general guidelines, but allows the student to sort of segue seamlessly into college. There are other options out there like that as well, for instance College Plus allows you to short circuit the high school/college divide. On line places like Angelicum Academy (and I am sure there are others) allow you to earn college credit in high school. These are alternative methods that have pros and cons. Just wanted you to be aware of what's out there. my second son who wanted to attend a music school didn't need 4 years of math or science and was able to take the CLEP tests and test out of lots of intro level courses, so when he got to his college he already had a semester's worth of credits. That is a great way to shave off having to pay for a full 4 years!

 

Also, about comm. coll. A one semester class there is usually considered the equivalent of a year of a high school class.

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