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Transitioning from public school to homeschool: MS to High School


Guest NomadicScholar
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Guest NomadicScholar

Hello there! First post in this forum.  I am in the very beginning stages of researching options and planning for going the homeschool route for my daughter in high school, which will begin in the 2014-2015 school year. We are leaning toward homeschooling for high school for several reasons, at least in part because is we are moving next summer and don't know where we are moving as of yet and therefore choosing an appropriate high school and getting her accepted and enrolled in time is unlikely.  The second reason is that in looking at the high schools around where we currently live, I don't think any has the appropriate combination of curriculum (advanced learning) and learning environment - either they are public HS with an IB program in a huge number of students or are private schools with solid curriculum, but not particularly advanced, and smaller (but still large) number of students. This is likely the case wherever we go.

 

I am familiar with the WTM book from homeschooling my daughter in 5th grade -- I used some of the ideas in the book at that time; however, when we moved (which we do about every 3 years -- no, not military -- academia), and am considering using WTM for HS curriculum planning as well.  

 

Some of the things I am most interested in are: how to provide opportunities for extracurriculars and advanced study to support her intellectual curiosity, which we haven't been particularly successful at so far; ways to accelerate pace and increase depth of coursework; and (the big one) how to home school a high-schooler while both parents work OTH.  I think it's possible, but I I'd like to get more of an idea of what it looks like.

 

I look forward to reading through the forums!

 

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Welcome. I suggest you read the sticky threads that contain a number of valuable links that may answer some of your questions.

 

I am homeschooling two high schoolers, one of them very, the other somewhat accelerated, while both parent work as faculty members at a univeristy; DH full time, I part time. In high school, students are able to work on their own for part of the day; we also sometimes bring the kids to campus where they work in our offices or in the computer lab. My kdis are used to independent work, and I have not found working to be an obstacle.

Homeschooling high school allowed me to customize the education for my accelerated kids without having to resort to extremely early graduation. For us, that simply meant beginning to use high school materials in middle school, and using mainly college level materials in high school. Especially in sciences, I have found college texts to be of vastly superior quality than high school texts.

Another good way to challenge a student is dual enrollment. My DD began taking classes at the university at age 13; first with instructor permission and without formal enrollment, since admissions did not know what to do with her; starting in 10th grade with formal enrollment. there si a long sticky thread about dual enrollment/AP courses that you may find helpful.

 

I'll be happy to answer more specific questions; right now it si so open endded that I do not really know where to start.

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Guest NomadicScholar

Thanks for your response!  No specific questions quite yet, as we are truly in the beginning stages.  I just wanted to introduce myself and see who might be doing something like we are thinking about -- and lo and behold, there you are!  Thank you for taking the time. I am sure that some questions are answered here already, at least in a general sense.  

 

For a first specific question: how did you know how much to accelerate?  While we have always know dd is smart, until we got her ACT scores back from her Duke TIP screening we did not realize just what potential she has.  Without any prep or practice tests, the results shocked me.  She is in a "pre-AP" curriculum at her middle school, but even with this she complains it is boring and too slow. She is on A-B honor roll without doing any work outside of the classroom (beyond science projects) as she finishes her homework during school.  I mean, for math it's obvious - there is a  clear sequence and mastery is fairly easy to assess. She is good at math and learns very quickly and is not yet beyond chronological grade level.  For math, we'll need to plan the program to progress a bit more quickly to get her to more advanced math that is on-par with her abilities/potential.   The humanities and language is a bit more difficult for me to envision....use more advanced books for literature?  All her tests indicate that she has been at college-level reading comprehension and vocab since the middle of her grammar school years  -- she basically went from reading Bob books to reading anything in two-three years.  She loves science and history, and I can't imagine making her slog through a HS program sequence I like I had!  Ugh.  Shudder.  Love the idea of using college texts for science; after all, she's been reading her dad's neuroscience books since she was little. Hadn't thought of that.  Perhaps using Lit Survey books from college freshman lit courses.

 

With all this I wonder why we keep her in her current school at all, but it really is for a sense of completion, her friends, the science fair, and the lack of any options. 

 

Yes, still quite open-ended, I realized, but as I indicated - still in the very beginning stages.

 

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I left school mid 8th grade because of social troubles and it being too easy. I'm going into 10th grade now.

 

I don't think your working will be a problem if she's smart and will work without supervision. I do the majority of my schoolwork by myself while my parents are at work, and I just ask them later if I have any questions/anything that needs to be graded/etc.

 

Challenging curriculum wise, there are lots of options. I'm doing a lot of AP courses this year, and I don't really have anything picked out this year besides Latin, but last year we used a lot of college books. In Junior and Senior I plan on doing dual enrollment at a local university.

 

Math was a subject that I always did well in while at public school but you were only allowed to move forward a very slight amount, so I should be on algebra 2 now. I'm actually on geometry because of the whole getting pulled out halfway through 8th grade and not having anything planned thing, but this year I'm going to do both geometry and algebra 2 so I can be closer to where I want to be.

 

For English, I plan on doing British lit next year. To make English more challenging we usually do the normally required books and a then a lot more higher level books because I can read quite fast, and when I write papers or discuss them with my family or however we choose to analyze them, they hold me to a much higher standard.

 

Idk if that makes sense but oh well. I hope I helped some place!

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For a first specific question: how did you know how much to accelerate?

We pulled her out of public middle school in 6th grade and then simply did the next thing.

When she finished the entire AoPS Intro to Algebra text in 7th grade, we moved to the AoPS geometry text. When she had no trouble in her algebra/trig based college physics class in 8th grade we decided that we might as well relabel it 9th grade and count for high school (she'll graduate one year early; we are not aiming for a dramatic acceleration in terms of early graduation, but rather prefer to have her work on material that is challenging for her and just take thenormal time for high school.

 

She is in a "pre-AP" curriculum at her middle school, but even with this she complains it is boring and too slow. She is on A-B honor roll without doing any work outside of the classroom (beyond science projects) as she finishes her homework during school.  I mean, for math it's obvious - there is a  clear sequence and mastery is fairly easy to assess. She is good at math and learns very quickly and is not yet beyond chronological grade level.  For math, we'll need to plan the program to progress a bit more quickly to get her to more advanced math that is on-par with her abilities/potential.

Have a look at Art of Problem Solving, a fabulous curriculum for gifted math students!

http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/Store/index.php?

 

The humanities and language is a bit more difficult for me to envision....use more advanced books for literature?

I have used the literature recommendations of The Well Trained Mind as a guide, simply starting one year ahead. Those great books are rather challenging, and the english/history recommendations quite appropriate for a strong reader.

 

 

She loves science and history, and I can't imagine making her slog through a HS program sequence I like I had!  Ugh.  Shudder.  Love the idea of using college texts for science; after all, she's been reading her dad's neuroscience books since she was little. Hadn't thought of that.  Perhaps using Lit Survey books from college freshman lit courses.

If you look through this forum, you will find many threads where materials have been discussed.

We have used Campbell Concepts&Connections for bio, Chang general chemistry for chem, Knight College Physics for algebra based physics.

Another great respource are the lectures from The Teaching Company.

http://www.thegreatcourses.com/greatcourses.aspx?ai=

Many of use use them, especially for history and literature. (Don't be shocked by the prices; everything goes on sale frequently, don't buy if it is not at least 70% off.)

 

 

I just remembered you asked about extracurriculars in your first pos.

My DD sings in the university choir and rides horses. Other homeschooled high schoolers I know are active in community theatre, dance, homeschool orchestra, sports teams, chess club, robotics. In many areas there are specific activities for homeschoolers, often during regular school hours.

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I am familiar with the WTM book from homeschooling my daughter in 5th grade -- I used some of the ideas in the book at that time

 

Welcome back! ;) Since you have homeschooled for a year in the past, that will help speed up your family's transition back into independent learning. :)

 

 

I am in the very beginning stages of researching options and planning for going the homeschool route for my daughter in high school, which will begin in the 2014-2015 school year...

 

... in part because is we are moving next summer and... choosing an appropriate high school and getting her accepted and enrolled in time is unlikely...

 

... The second reason is that... high schools around where we currently live... don't [have] the appropriate combination of curriculum (advanced learning) and learning environment

 

High school is a natural point for either jumping into or out of homeschooling. Two things to know:

 

1. Homeschooling high school requires additional time in the role of administrator/counselor.

At this stage, you must keep records, create transcripts, possibly put together a portfolio, navigate various types of tests (AP, or IB, SAT / ACT, SAT Subject (also called SAT II), possible CLEP or other college credit tests, etc.), as well as researching options for special programs and extracurriculars. And then in the last 2 years of high school there is researching/visiting colleges, learning about financial aid and filling out FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid Profile forms, applying for scholarships, etc.

 

2. Sometimes, homeschooling high school is an "all or nothing" decision.

Many schools do not accept homeschool credits -- they often do not accept credits from high schools in other states or even districts. So your student is automatically admitted as a freshman, even if they have taken all the classes and are about to enter their senior year. At best, these schools offer your student the option of taking the final exam for every class they wish to try and receive credit for -- so your student may be taking Algebra and Biology finals when they last saw that material 2-3 years  ago, in order to try and 

 

So if you decide partway through high school that homeschooling is not working or is no longer an option for your family, just be prepared that local high school may not be an automatic alternative. You may need to consider private school, online classes or earning a diploma through a distance learning program, or dual enrollment at the local community college or university.

 

I'd suggest you start your research with one or two of these overviews of homeschooling high school:

- College Prep Homeschooling: Your Complete Guide... by David & Chandra Byers

- The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens by Debra Bell

- Homeschooling The Teen Years: Your Complete Guide... by Cafi Cohen

- Homeschoolers' College Admissions Handbook... Cafi Cohen

- Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission by Jeanne Gowen Dennis

 

Also, sign up for the free monthly email newsletter from College Board; it has very helpful info on various dates and deadlines (esp. for tests), but it also provides tidbits of help on a variety of high school and college prep topics.

 

And then these past threads are good starting points for overall homeschooling high school research:

High School "Time Table" (what to do and when for the 4 years of high school)

My son is starting high school (resources, tips, and gentle steps on getting started)

High school curriculum -- where do I start (how to decide what credits to do, and then how to select curriculum)

Homeschooling high school... where to begin? (links to threads on specific topics: getting started, curriculum, credits, transcripts, etc.)

Where to start? Which resources, etc.?

 

 

Some of the things I am most interested in are:

... how to provide opportunities for extracurriculars and advanced study to support her intellectual curiosity

... ways to accelerate pace and increase depth of coursework

 

Homeschool students are often eligible to participate in public high school extracurriculars (band, sports) and after school clubs (robotics, electronics, chess, engineering, etc.). Also, look for community youth activities of interest (youth orchestra, youth theater, Mock Trial, Model UN, Youth and Government, Junior State of America, local or national Forensics / Speech & Debate team, etc.), and all-ages community activities (history recreation group, involvement in a political campaign, volunteer work, etc.). And don't forget the high school cadet/junior military groups, such as Civil Air Patrol, Sea Cadets, or Junior ROTC. Here is a past thread with loads of ideas and links: What extracurricular activities for the high school years?

 

For academic extracurriculars, there is the possibility of summer science camps or internships with the local university, or national science camps such as National Youth Science Camp (and see this mega-list from Career Cornerstone Center); also involvement in regional or national competitions such as FIRST Robotics or the National Science Bowl.

 

For advanced study, your student can:

- use Teaching Company materials

- take a Coursera class

- use Open Source course materials from prestigious universities

- take an advanced online high school class

- study under a private tutor

- set up a volunteer internship in an area of special interest

- use AP (Advanced Placement) or IB materials

- take dual enrollment courses at the local community college or university

- take distance courses through a university

 

 

how to home school a high-schooler while both parents work OTH.  I think it's possible, but I I'd like to get more of an idea of what it looks like.

 

No personal experience with this one, but try posting a thread for ideas. To get you started, here are several past threads on this same topic:

- If you work part time and homeschool (what tips can you give me?)

- Working part time while you homeschool

- Work outside the home AND homeschool?

- Those of you who work full time and homeschool

- If you homeschool and work

- If you homeschool and work from home

- Need to go back to work.. how can I still homeschool

 
 
Welcome to the WTM board, and BEST of luck in your research and as you decide how to proceed! Warmest regards, Lori D.
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AMDG

 

Probably not something you just want to try out since it's a considerable commitment but this is our approach -- please keep in mind that this has been our plan and we've followed it all along but we're just now getting to high school.  We've always followed Angelicum Academy's suggestions (math excepted) w/o enrolling and now that we've gotten to high school, she'll be enrolled in their Liberal Studies Program at Angelicum Academy.  It's a Great Books/Socratic for some college credit. 

 

My girl also takes Latin and Classical Greek.  She has taken Latin for years and years and is finally at the stage of reading real texts.  She has used college level materials but never gotten credit for it and wouldn't have b/c the were before hs.  For GK, the instructor has been lobbying for college credit and got some this summer.  I'm not sure that will be fully worked out before my daughter (or yours) can benefit but it is super challenging.

 

So, for a rigorous and challenging course of study, I do recommend the above.  Socratic seminar, Latin, and Greek are online.

 

Science:  Well . . . we follow Angelicum's recommendation which is a combination of Apologia (creation) and a reading of some logic and reason oriented readings on evolution.  I happened to notice that they're not in the book store right now so maybe that means that they're updating the readings.  We started a year early to leave room for advanced science later.  

 

I won't say I'm crazy about this science in terms of rigor but it is fun.  We've enjoyed doing it together.

 

Math: I've done nothing but mess this up so I won't bother to advise you.  I think I have a mathy kid and being not mathy myself, I have only made poor choices in trying to make good ones.  We're farming out the myhomeschoolmathclass.com. this year and hope it can rectify our math issues.  Again, we started her in hs math a year early to leave room for more advanced math later.

 

I love to teach writing and do that myself using  my own ideas.

 

We do theology and scripture study differently each year.

 

My daughter is very good at working on her own for most subjects. I don't have to help much or prod for any of her online classes.   For assignments and reading in Science, all I have to do is assign them and my girl does them.  I also lecture and we do labs together.  Writing is a struggle for now.

 

HOWEVER, what my daughter DOES NOT LIKE ONE LITTLE BIT is being left home alone.  It's lonely, boring, too quiet, too easy to do anything but school, blah, blah, blah.  She hates it.  

 

So, we do it this way.   I try to keep my clients in the afternoon b/c she does most of her best work in the morning.  I drop her at a library, coffee shop, or Dad's work when I do work.  Friends' houses, though, do.not.work.out.  Friends are for playing and visiting and crafting and all kinds of fun and silliness but NOT school work.  So, no.  not that.

 

Just one wee caution: you really have to keep an eye open when "honors" and similar are offered.  As far as I can tell, in most cases this just means busy work.  Our schooling is so challenging and, yes, I would say rigorous, that we have z.e.r.o tolerance for busy work.

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Guest NomadicScholar

This is an amazing start for information.  Just from these responses, I am already feeling confident that this is something that can be done, and done well.  The resources provided so far all look very interesting.  I have heard of some of them (AoPS), but never heard of others (Angelicum Academy).  

 

Regentrude, my daughter also rides horses - hunter/jumper right now, but also belongs to Pony Club, which is more eventing.  She hasn't tried western riding.  Horses and riding will, of course, continue.  AoPS I have heard of -- although I am not sure where she would start.  I do want to begin a new math curriculum this year, tho, as without my realizing it, in 7th grade my child was placed the class that led to "Advanced" 8-Grade Pre-Alg/Common Core" rather than the course that would put her in Alg I for 8th grade.  This is fine, I'll just have her do Alg. 1/Geom. in a shorter time period to move up and allow for more advanced math later. I don't have much faith in the school really teaching math concepts anyhow. Given the challenge of AoPS, perhaps we could start with Pre-Alg and see how she fares before jumping into Alg.  I have also heard good things about Jacobs for math.  

 

MomofOne - Angelicum Academy looks like a good option as we are Catholic, and I particularly like the idea that you can take a cafeteria approach to the curriculum. Over the next 9 months or so I want to look at all the options and methodically piece together what I think will work best for her for each area.  The literature, religion, and history/geography courses in particular look promising (and Jacobs for math to consider).  I may jump on religion immediately as I was wondering what to do for HSing CCD. I was not impressed with the program provided through our church. I am 100% with you on the no busy work - that is one of the things that I dislike about schools in general - the incredible waste of time.  Sometimes I have wondered exactly what they taught her vs. what she could have taught herself if left to her own with appropriate resources, which are so abundant these days.

 

Lori D. - you saved me quite a lot of time with that single message.  I had no idea she could do extracurricular things through the school district. The direct links to some of the programs are very helpful. I know dd has missed out on a lot because of moving. It always takes awhile to find groups/programs and then she has to leave after such a short time. These ideas give me a way to help her find opportunities that she can jump into quickly after we move.  As for the "all-or-nothing" for homeschooling, I am comfortable with that given what we know about our daughter and how public HS is just not going to meet her needs or my expectations. 

 

Riley, your note was very helpful!  It makes a difference hearing from a student themselves.  I mean, we parents can have all the best intentions in the world, but sometimes our execution falls a little flat.  What I get from you is that you are comfortably self-directed.  My daughter is also independent and has always been very good at self-teaching.  You give me confidence that she will do fine and will benefit from having more input into her own education. Thanks.

 

I am glad I got the ball rolling now, although it seems a bit early perhaps.  I know myself, and I need this long time to plan and prepare in order for this to be successful.  I have a tendency to get a bit overly enthusiastic about all the options -- for me curriculum and office supply stores are like shoe shopping for some.  It's bad.  I need to make sure I don't over-indulge (so-to-speak) and make a mess of this. :).

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 I had no idea she could do extracurricular things through the school district.

 

Well, this DOES vary from district to district. Some do not allow homeschoolers to participate in any classes, band/orchestra or sports. Some do allow limited participation in just after-school clubs, or with sports. And some districts are very inclusive, even allowing your student to take a single class without having to commit further to the school. You will have to check that out once you've moved.

 

However any of those outside organizations -- community theater/orchestra, YMCA programs, Junior State of America, military cadet programs, etc. are not controlled by the school districts and you should have no problem in joining, as long as you're willing to provide transportation for your student and pay the fees.

 

Also, a lot of sports can be done outside of the high schools -- club sports like soccer or tennis; joining a particular pool's swim team; participation in a studio's dance, gymnastics, martial arts or fencing lessons and competitions; or solo lessons and participation in things like golf, weight training, etc.

 

BEST of luck in your planning! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I'm in a different situation (not nearly as much acceleration) but I did some things to challenge my youngest that haven't been mentioned here, so I thougth I'd reply, just in case it is helpful.

 

My main goals were to give my youngest time to do his own projects, give him plenty of non-STEM because he was headed for engineering school, to make those non-STEM classes as interesting and individualized as possible because this was not his forté, being an engineering-type person, and to give him adult learning skills so he could continue to educate himself, especially in the liberal arts subjects.  Fortunately, those goals all worked together extremely well.  As he got older, he needed more non-family mentors and teachers.  We used the community college for this, since it was convenient, but that had its disadvantages.  There are many other ways to outsource these days, like the Art of Problem Solving math classes.

 

I made history and French more challenging by combining them.  For high school history he used a history/geography program from France meant for 6th - 9th graders.

 

Before he began community college classes, while he was home (he traveled quite a lot), I structured his time.  He worked steadily on school work from 7-2 each day with Latin and math excersizes each evening and more reading and paper-writing on the weekends.  I wrote up a schedule for each year to make sure that everything we planned to do fit and I was available to go over lessons but we didn't necessarily spend the school hours following that schedule and this is the important bit - I didn't structure the schedule into standard 50 minute subject time slots.  There was a spot where we read Latin for 15 minutes or a half hour each day.  We did a few years of that and the end result was half a year's credit of Assorted Latin Readings on his transcript.  Ditto with sight-singing.  This allowed us to work on whatever was important for his education without worrying about turning it into a full-blown course.

 

We worked on academic skills - extracting information from a book and really figuring it out, summarizing, skimming for information, research, technical writing, etc.  I felt rather like I had created a monster lol.  Once he figured out how powerful those tools are, he began applying them to whatever he was curious about.  The result was a series of independent projects.  When I noticed that he was spending an awful lot of time focused on one thing, I would ask him if he wanted to turn it into an independent project.  Sometimes he said it wasn't worth it.  If he said yes, then we talked about what he was doing, decided on the scope of the project, and decided on some sort of output - a paper or presentation of some sort.  Sometimes he said no because he didn't want to have to produce any output.  These projects varied wildly.  Some lasted throughout his teen years.  Some lasted a few months.  If they had no academic component, we classified them as an interest or sport rather than something for school that would appear on his final transcript.

 

In math, he just did the next thing, eventually switching over to the community college.

 

For literature, he used The Well-Educated Mind for a mix of great books and less great books.  The method of studying a book outlined in TWEM works well for any book.  Or movie, for that matter.  Eventually, my son internalized it.  That was my goal.  Can he write a really good literary analysis paper?  No.  But he thinks about books in terms of more than just the plot, he can discuss them (and voluntarily does), he can read more difficult stuff, and he has the background to appreciate many of the classics, especially the Greek and Roman ones.  You might want to look at TWEM because it is written for adults, you can choose your own books or use the classics suggested in TWTM, and you can work at your own level.

 

Writing, drawing, and speaking were things we worked on pretty steadily using a variety of materials and outside classes.  My goal was to get these to the point where he could take college composition, speech, and drawing.  He says the thing that helped most was the summer writing course he took at UNIL.  He had to write several essays per day for that.  In order to learn to write well, you need to write lots, but it is difficult to write lots until you can write fairly well.  Once you break through that barrier, things improve fairly quickly.  Your child may already have broken through but this was something we worked hard on in hgih school.

 

Don't hesitate to outsource foreign language.  Look for immersion opportunities.  Think about junior year abroad programs.  Many people recommended Rotary to us.  AFS is also popular in my area.

 

Thnk about building something - a boat, an airplane, a robot.

 

Think about travel.

 

Think about gaming clubs - chess, go, or those ones with a million little models and shelves of books of rules, which are an experiment with altering systems.

 

Science fairs and robotics clubs are good for STEM-oriented students.

 

For science, we left 9th and 10th grade loose, concentrating on learning to use equipment, design exeriments, and reading popular science books, and then threw our youngest only semi-prepared into community college bio, chem, and calc-based physics.  This worked really well because the first two years he learned to BE a scientist and then the second two years he learned to STUDY science.  Look for lewellen's posts on how she did large science projects with her children for science.  I would avoid high school science textbooks if you have a scienc-y student.  They simplify.  Your student will notice the gaps in the processes described and as a result, not understand the process.  Or misunderstand and have to relearn it properly later.  You might be better off with a higher level text book.  If your student doesn't understand something because it is too complex or goes into more depth than they want, then at least they will KNOW that is happening.

 

Anyway, just some more ideas...

 

Nan

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Guest NomadicScholar

Nan, you provided me with so many great ideas.  Thank you!  

 

All this made me realize that it is time to get dd started on things that perhaps she would have been working through if she had started in a classical curriculum.

 

With that in mind, what would be your focus for any bridge skills/courses for dd's 8th grade year in preparation for classical education starting in 9th?  Latin, logic, and rhetoric come to mind and developing skills in outlining and summarizing.  Your thoughts?

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