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High School Planning Angst - time, credits, depth, Oh My!


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Ok, I'm in the middle of planning for 9th grade next year, and I have to say that I feel like wailing in dismay.  I was reading the thread on the WTM BIology class, that students are spending 15-20 (at least 10+) hours a week on this one class.  This is after a thread where I was informed it was perfectly normal for a student to carry 7 credits.

 

This just does not compute for me, or for the kind of life experience my dd is hoping to have for the next 4 years.

 

What gives?  If a student does 6 or 7 credits, and spends 10+ hours a week on each, then they are spending 60-70 hours per week on schoolwork.  Really???

 

I'm thinking that 5-6 hours on 6-7 credits - so a range of 30-42 hours - sounds much more reasonable. Clearly, you can cover much less material this way, particularly if you want to go into reasonable depth.  

 

My dd also has significant extracurricular activities that she really enjoys, and she spends many hours per week on each. Giving those up so she can spend 15 hours a week on biology is just not even on the table.  Nor should it be, for her, IMO.  

 

OK: slightly frantic philosophical rant coming up, you been warned:  This isn't directed at anybody in particular, but is more of an existential wail.  What is the deal with high school?? Are we thinking that this is the last time in their lives kids will learn anything? Do we really expect children between the ages of 14-18 to master multiple fields of knowledge?  Most college classes begin at an Introductory level. Not everybody is interested in every topic to the same degree. Isn't it more reasonable to spend high school gaining exposure to a broad array of subjects - exposure, introduction to the main issues and topics of interest and an understanding of how practitioners in that field do their work - rather than expecting them to master the intricate details and esoteric facts of each field?  And focus on giving them the tools to learn - how to read deeply and for understanding, how to express themselves clearly in writing and be able to write in different forms and formats for different purposes, how to organize their thoughts and articulate them clearly, how to form an argument that is valid and recognize an argument that is bogus?  And, equally importantly, to figure out who they are, how they tick, what their place in the world is, and what lights their fire and makes them *want* to digger deeper and learn more? :rant:

 

If you've made it this far, thanks for listening. I'm just feeling so frustrated and discouraged by this whole process.  I want to make sure my dd has a good education and is prepared for college. But I also want her to enjoy her life, and have time to pursue the things that matter to her. I don't want to put her on a treadmill. I'm not sure where the middle ground lies.

 

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Excellent post!  I feel like it was so much easier to defend and promote this philosophy in the younger years, and then our (general "our") kids hit high school and all of a sudden we feel pressure to imitate parts of the "system" we have shunned for the previous 8 years. 

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Step away from those threads.  Find a high school path that makes sense to you and your students. We used many of the programs that are called "light" on these boards for DD in high school.  No single course took 10+ hours per week on a regular basis.

 

DD now has 42 college credit hours under her belt (including dual enrollment as a high school student and her first full-time semester as a college student).  She has a 4.0 grade point average, including courses like calculus I, engineering science (i.e., physics for engineering majors), computer science I, and English composition.

 

High school does not have to be intense and time consuming to set a student up for success.

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Our path was always lopsided. Yes he has a math passion and works very hard for it but at one point I really thought that's all he was going to have, a bunch of math credits. That and a couple of physics credits. I really couldn't see us handling very intensive year long courses AND having a happy child.

 

I can only speak for us and I will say that choosing community college has been very good in that respect. It's not the challenge or the social cohort that I like anymore. It's the semester system. He takes a max of 4 subjects a semester (ETA: at least one is an elective, and he has dropped courses before too) and can spend time on developing and discovering interests in them. He IS busy but not busy as in 60-70 hours. It's more like a very manageable 45/week and sometimes 50 but that upper limit is rare. He is building up towards about 60 hours this coming semester but that's because he wants a particular course very much and I am already trying to figure out how to ease up on the schedule and if possible drop a few things. We also make use of the short and intensive summer semesters to choose one course he can focus on.

 

It really depends on what your goals are. We are taking the happy-child-first approach. That can mean anything depending on who you and your child are. My child is happiest working on math and a couple other meaningful academics. He's not big on extra curriculars. He wants a lot of time to read for pleasure. I just met with a friend yesterday with older kids and she and I both blurted at the same time while talking that "things fall into place". Yes, they do. It will fall into place. You just have to hold on to that faith. Lots of worrying and anxiety spikes here too. But there are also some really cool moments when we find things that work and I can keep looking at a smiling, well rested, teen.

 

One more thing...once they find the meaningful spots, they DO rise to the challenge. It DOES happen. Hugs, Rose.

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Students who carry 7 credits regularly (or 28+ for high school) would most likely be in the category that HSLDA calls "rigorous college prep" for "highly selective colleges/universities." If you look at their 4-year plan, they outline several standard plans. Truthfully, I think only students whose interests are highly academic (they want to take all of those courses) or students who are looking for top scholarships or to go to elite schools typically follow that course. Most students are going to have a plan that looks more like what you describe--6 credits, about an hour per credit (days were usually 6 or 7 hours on "school," including electives.) One of my kids ended up with 24.5 credits, and the other will be about the same. My oldest did:

 

4 years English

3 years Math plus a semester of personal finance

4 years Social Studies (his choice)

3 years science

3 years foreign language

1.5 credits in PE (.5 per year) plus another .5 health and another .5 Driver's ed

and the rest were all electives--keyboarding, guitar, theater--various things he was interested in. 

 

Electives can end up under activities or can be "for credit" classes. Most years my oldest had 1 hour per day in each of the 5 "major" subjects, and then half credits each in PE and an elective. He didn't do FL his freshman year, and didn't do science his senior year, so he had extra electives those years.

 

My dd's transcript will be similar except she'll have another year in math and science, and one less year in social studies (reflecting her interests and bent). 

 

We did Apologia Biology at home. My kids spent an hour per day on it, got through the first 12 modules completely, and then read the last 4 (no tests). Occasionally experiment days were 1.5 hours--the only exception was dissections. I set aside a day in the summer just for that, and dd did all 4 in one day (much easier that way--one time to get out all of the equipment and be in that mode, and one clean-up time). There are options for biology...make it work for you.

 

Just like other various landmark times in our parenting, high school is another time in which people can have a lot of opinions about what's right. The reality is that some things are universally needed for college prep, and other things are optional according to your student's interests and bent. I encourage you to research what's needed (go to the academic requirements section of several perspective colleges to get a general feel, look on HSLDA, look on Lee Binz's site--this blog post links a free seminar of hers on grading, transcripts, and record-keeping that you might find helpful--make your 4-year plan based on your daughter's needs, goals, and interests. High school is a great time--you can have great discussions with your student, it's exciting to see how much they grow and mature, how their skills develop--and they blossom into a young adult before your eyes. Enjoy that time, prepare her for the future with a solid education, but don't feel forced into a box by anyone else's choices. You have freedom; enjoy this precious time with your daughter.

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Having gotten one child through high school successfully, and with two more almost finished, I can definitely say it does NOT have to be that way.  We aren't shooting for the stars here, just trying to get ready for college.  None of mine have Ivy league aspirations.  I approached high school as preparation for being able to go into depth in their chosen field later.  Aside from meeting the graduation requirements for our state, and what universities expect to see on transcripts, our focus has been on learning HOW to study and learn independently.  

My oldest spent around 5-6 hours a day on school during her high school years.  She was a daydreamer and didn't really have that big of a load.  It just took her longer to do the work.  She's doing fine in college.  She has a good job.  I think she is a homeschool success story. 

 

My younger two, who are much more academically inclined, only spend 3-4 hours a day on school work.  They read fast, and I'm not cramming them full of extra work.  One of them has already met the requirements to enter into the Honors College at her chosen university.  I'm not worried about whether our school was rigorous enough.  Classical education isn't a race to see who comes out the best.  It is quality over quantity, IMO.  

So, unless you have a child that is driven academically, then don't overload them.  

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Rose, I also want to add that one of my worries is not so much hours per week because of what he wants to learn but hours per week because of how SLOWLY he works. Sometimes he takes SO SO long to do something and sometimes he will speed through. But it's not just about the end result. He learns a lot from the process. I TRY (emphasis on TRY) not to feel limited by no of credits or hours or what the transcript is going to look like. Part of it is my rebellious nature too. Handling a heavy load and figuring out creative time management or that you can drop things when they get too much is ALL part of the learning. We take note of drop dates and refund deadlines EVERY semester because we know he will hit a limit. It's not like we pile on stuff and just push through. I suspect everyone does this at some point or other. We do this almost every semester.

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There are differences in volume and depth of courses among different high schools.  With homeschooling, you have the great pleasure of designing your dd's courses to suit her.

 

FWIW, my dd is taking Honors Bio this year at a private high school that sends a few kids to tippy-top colleges each year.  There is no way she spends 10 hrs per week on that class or any other one, for that matter.  Maybe she just got lucky in the design of that particular course, I don't know; knocking on wood but she had an A+ average before the final.  OTOH, rumor has it that World History at this school is time consuming - she takes a semester course this spring and then a full year next year with the option to take AP, all with the same text, and we will have to figure out how much extra work volume is involved in the AP to decide whether it's worthwhile.  She has heard other kids complain about a ton of reading and she is a slow reader, which means she would likely spend even more time than other students.  Other than slow reading, it seems to me that her study habits are extremely efficient, something that changed toward the very end of middle school.  She uses her planner well.

 

If I were homeschooling, I'd try to figure out what content I wanted to be mastered by the end of the course and then chart out how to get there in a reasonable fashion.  This is probably easier for courses involving a textbook, but even for those, there are presumably extras in the text that you might choose to use or skip.  You get to decide how many tests, papers and assignments are involved and you can delete the busywork that is common in classroom courses, all keeping in mind how your dd learns best and types of assignments that she needs more or less of in any given semester.

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Biology was hard for my teens.  It did take more time than any class they'd ever taken previous to that.  Actually we are really relaxed before high school so taking Biology in our homeschool co-op was a big adjustment for them (and a very good lesson too!) BUT, that said, it sounds to me like the WTM Biology teacher is going way, way overboard!  So don't take that class as the norm.    My kids worked through the A Beka Biology book by going to a weekly 2 hour class and then a weekly 1.5 hour lab (actually that wasn't every single week, but most weeks).  And they probably spent a hour a day 3 or 4 other days of the week.  And when studying for the exams, a couple more hours than that.  So they probably spent anywhere from 6 to 8 hours a week on Bio.  This was more than math (5 hours a week), Literature (5 hours), History (3 to 5 hours)  Latin (5 hours), etc.  Remember too Biology often comes with a lab which is .5 credits.

 

A typical course of study does involve more time in high school.  It is the nature of the beast, if you are doing it typically!  But my kids still had time to follow their passions.  My oldest volunteered to teach our our church, she took art lessons and Irish dance.  My oldest son spent hours working on his music, another son was very involved in church groups and running track.  My current high schoolers are involved in all sorts of things they are passionate and interested in.  I think you are wise to do the research now and realize what would best suit your family.  

 

 

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I am having the same panic about high school. DS just isn't in love with traditional learning topics. I see high school for him being more flexible than his elementary/middle school years just to keep him interested. No way he will do 60 hours/week. My DD wants to jump to high school next year and she is my academic kid who would do school all hours. It is so hard figuring out the right balance to get into college and still be a kid.

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What is the deal with high school?

Some of it is what homeschoolers do to themselves: "I don't want to close any doors for my kid" Well, if you go ahead and close a door or two, you don't need as many honors level classes. You can do "regular" courses in some areas and "honors/AP" in others. Or, maybe you don't need fours years of foreign language or something.

Some if it is what colleges do to homeschoolers: Demanding extra documentation of work, for example. If I know my reading list has to be reviewed in detail by an adcom, then I'm more likely to assign lots of impressive looking reading when a shorter list would be fine at a regular high school. Similarly, if my kid has to take SAT subject tests or AP tests to "prove" herself, it's going to affect the materials I choose.

And, some if it is that times really have changed. For example, at my local high school (admittedly, a competitive, suburban one), 52% of the graduating class leaves that school with college credits. My kids' time in dual enrollment is just her keeping up with the neighborhood, not me pushing her harder than usual.

You do not need seven credits per year, but five academic solids (English, math, foreign language, science, history or social studies) per year is ideal. Those taking six or seven credits have room for art, music, woodworking, fun electives, etc. Not all kids will meet the 5 solids ideal, but if you are in "don't close doors" mode, that is the goal. And, yes, college apps also ask what you were doing in extracurriculars and community service on top of your academics.

Even if you don't need all of those to meet minimum admissions requirements: for private schools going beyond the minimums is essentially a requirement. Especially if you are not rich: the best financial aid packages go to the top 25% of admits. And, coming out of a recession where it was very hard for recent grads to get a job: Parents saw that only the top grads, top schools, and top majors were getting job placement, and they pushed the younger siblings harder to be competitive in a tough economy and that added to the level of competitiveness as well.

College decision making is HARD, but thinking about it early and often means that you will be making informed decisions and not be surprised by the consequences come senior year. Good luck.

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Ok, I'm in the middle of planning for 9th grade next year, and I have to say that I feel like wailing in dismay.  I was reading the thread on the WTM BIology class, that students are spending 15-20 (at least 10+) hours a week on this one class.  This is after a thread where I was informed it was perfectly normal for a student to carry 7 credits.

 

 

OK: slightly frantic philosophical rant coming up, you been warned:  This isn't directed at anybody in particular, but is more of an existential wail.  What is the deal with high school?? Are we thinking that this is the last time in their lives kids will learn anything? Do we really expect children between the ages of 14-18 to master multiple fields of knowledge?  Most college classes begin at an Introductory level. Not everybody is interested in every topic to the same degree.

Just FYI, in case you were reading my post on that thread, my dd taking WTM bio is in 7th grade and is obsessive about her grade in that class and devotes way more time than I want her to.  But I think that's related to her maturity, her agonizing over every lost point, etc.  We're working on that.  It'll likely be different for an older kid who can do a better job of balancing classes, and doing just "good enough" to get a good grade.  

 

Having said that, for my 9th grade student, I also feel like I've lost control of high school, and she's spending so much time on her core classes, she doesn't have time for her (and my) other goals for her.  I will say that we pay short shrift to history.  We still do history, but at a really low workload.  I'm hoping that when her AoPS class ends this January, that will free up some time to do some other things like competition math prep and electronics.  

 

Also, I feel sad that she elected not to audition for the winter show this year because she feels she's too busy.  And one big reason we homeschool is so she could have time for things like theater.  

 

Regarding your point about pushing detailed knowledge down to high school level.  My point of view is that I came into college with my less exposure to certain topics than my colleagues.  I hadn't taken AP chemistry and was thrashed in my introductory chemistry class.  I hadn't been playing with Radio Shack electronics kits my whole life like my male engineering colleagues, so didn't know a breadboard from...the other kind of breadboard.  I don't want my kids to have that experience, which drives me to make them as prepared as possible.  

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I think it depends on your student, your resources and goals. My 4th kid has 4 science credits as a Sophomore -including Bio and Adv Bio + labs but he is also JUST finishing Alg I. He is also doing a pretty rigorous classical program and easily puts in ~ an hour a day on subject areas (Latin, Gov) etc. Lit and Comp are a breeze for him so it's way under an hour a day. He also reads at least a novel a week for fun, goes dancing, will be in a play and TP. You can balance rigor with interests, but being intentional and planning make all the difference. I sit down with ds once a week and go over his schedule, and help him map out the work he needs to get done in a week. I also put limits on his school day. If he is working hard on something and still going after 7 p.m. I usually tell him he needs to be done and remind him that I am actual teacher,regardless of what all we outsource. 

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We opt not to do the A-G requirements. We'll go by the exam route if kids want to apply to UC. That will free up a lot of time.

 

My oldest wants to do the SAT subject tests for world history and US history just to get it out of the way. So we'll do it that way. My joker wants to test out of literature too so we'll see.

 

My youngest is keen on marine bio internships so we'll push some academics down to just get it done so he'll have some buffer when he is 13 and can take part.

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Yesterday I spent some time reading this long CC thread that discusses workload differences (try to pay special attention to the posts about kids who weren't as overworked as others and as always keep in mind that the venue includes a lot of kids shooting for top colleges):

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1823376-frustrated-re-amount-of-homework-quit-fabulous-classes-to-keep-kids-and-my-sanity.html

 

While I was reading it, I was thinking about the differences in the various schools in our area.  I just switched two of our kids from a middle school that was excessively heavy in certain areas and lighter on others to a school that has the opposite tilt or at least is more balanced IMO.

 

When it comes to AP courses, it seems that the individual teacher might make a difference as well, so I'd assume that outsourcing APs (or DE) would involve some shopping around.

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I'm always looking for balance in our days as well, but it is hard. Each of my kids works on school for about 7-8 hours a day. I try to keep weekends free from school, but that doesn't always happen. I am pretty much okay with that workload, but it took me awhile to feel all right about it and it's not something we jumped into overnight.

 

One of the things that makes high school so much more demanding for us is that my kids are taking classes online and locally and that takes away the flexibility to rearrange schedules and shift workloads around. To me, the classes they are taking are worthwhile enough that I'm willing to sacrifice the flexibility, but it has made for longer days.

 

And, really, I often remind myself that if they were at the local high school, they would be leaving early in the morning and returning at 4:30 p.m. and then they'd still have homework to do. That being said, I don't think any of their classes take them anywhere near 10 hours a week. I would say they each take closer to 5, but they are each taking a full load. My dd also practices piano and works on stuff for speech and debate club during regular school hours. I shifted gears with Latin this year, moving my dd from a class that was supposd to take 10 hours per week, to one that takes considerably less. Not sure if that was the right decision, but I did it with her workload in mind.

 

And I agree with what what said upthread about how competitive things have gotten with college admissions AND how expensive they have become. I have one child that I hope will be eligible for significant scholarships, and if she wants to go away to college, she will need them. Otherwise, she'll either be commuting to the local university or taking on massive debt.

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I am going to have to completely re-invent what high school looks like for my kid who will be in 9th grade next year. She honestly can't spend more than a few hours a day on school work. I'm going to limit her courses to the basics and prioritize math and English and do those well. I may have to put the rest in the get 'er done category but it is what it is. 

 

ETA: Having graduated one, the one thing that mattered was SAT scores. That's what got her the scholarships. I pushed her pretty hard and a lot of it was overkill. In the end, I had to accommodate for health issues, but it made no difference. She's a junior in college and doing well.

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I had the same pit in the stomach reaction to that biology thread, Rose.

 

I have a average 9th grade student and an advanced for his age "we'll call it 9th grade because that is the level of work but you have the option to take 5-6 years to complete the high school experience" student.  They are taking four credits this year, plus a credit of P.E. for basketball.  We decided to push history to the summer to do in a block study because they were falling behind.  My younger ds has floundered in self-taught AoPS Intro to Algebra so his plan has changed.  They will have a total of 6 credits this year after they complete history.  The adjustment to high school level work and, in particular, to the amount of work required for Landry Academy Spanish, was something that caused the adjustment in the mom-controlled subject of history.  

 

My boys have a fair amount of free time.  My older son works very, very slowly, and my younger son is, well, young.  So I don't have a "typical 9th grade" student.  Our plan is CC as soon as they are able for 1-2 courses a semester.  This is typical for homeschoolers in our area.  We have a large and good CC system.

 

I think my boys are doing fine.  They are not stressed out except for on rare occasions.  They have time for friends, hobbies, and their competive sport.  I think they will have a fine preparation for the CC and will be able to move on to a four year college from there.  

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High school planning is moved up to the front burner for us, too. Ds13 is a very young 13 yr old. We decided to call him 7th grader so that he will have time to go through just US history in 8th grade and then go on to high school. I do not have a real plan yet. But I do feel the clock ticking and the pressure that we need to get serious about credits, course descriptions, and online classes and real classes.

texasmama, how is Landry Academy Spanish 1 going? What text do they use? Do you recommend it? I am considering Spanish for ds13 next year.

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High school planning is moved up to the front burner for us, too. Ds13 is a very young 13 yr old. We decided to call him 7th grader so that he will have time to go through just US history in 8th grade and then go on to high school. I do not have a real plan yet. But I do feel the clock ticking and the pressure that we need to get serious about credits, course descriptions, and online classes and real classes.

texasmama, how is Landry Academy Spanish 1 going? What text do they use? Do you recommend it? I am considering Spanish for ds13 next year.

It is a great class, and I highly recommend it. My boys have Martha Phillips as an instructor. They are learning so much. The text and workbook are avancemos! Published by mcdougal littell.
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I like the comment about the SATs being the thing that led to scholarships. I know I've read a comment before on these boards where someone said they felt much of their student's hard work had not really been necessary because everything really came down to the SAT score (not sure if that was you, Tiramisu?). That comment has really given me pause and makes me feel like it's okay if we don't do tons of AP classes and that we might be better to be very selective about the ones we do take.

 

I had also listened to some mp3s from Aiming Higher Consultants this summer. They have some really good ones for high school. She talks about balancing out academics and extracurriculars and she said something to the effect of instead of thinking of doing something to be able to put it on your children's transcript, think of what skills they need to develop and what their interests are and work that way. With that approach, you will probably wind up with kids have learned what they need to learn as well as having strong transcripts. But, too often, we work backwards with what we want to see on the transcript. That really rang true for me and has caused me to make adjustments.

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If you've made it this far, thanks for listening. I'm just feeling so frustrated and discouraged by this whole process.  I want to make sure my dd has a good education and is prepared for college. But I also want her to enjoy her life, and have time to pursue the things that matter to her. I don't want to put her on a treadmill. I'm not sure where the middle ground lies.

 

 

Excellent post!  I feel like it was so much easier to defend and promote this philosophy in the younger years, and then our (general "our") kids hit high school and all of a sudden we feel pressure to imitate parts of the "system" we have shunned for the previous 8 years. 

 

 

Having said that, for my 9th grade student, I also feel like I've lost control of high school, and she's spending so much time on her core classes, she doesn't have time for her (and my) other goals for her.  I will say that we pay short shrift to history.  We still do history, but at a really low workload.   

 

I could have written all of these (as well as many other posts on this thread). My dd was in 9th last year, and I found it frankly depressing how much different her 9th grade looked from what my ideal would have been. She worked SO hard, and SO long, and I didn't feel she had balance in her life at all. I was very conscious of wanting it to be different this year, and she does have a much more balanced load this year. There are still subjects that aren't getting as much attention as I would like because of the classes that consume so much time. In some ways, I find a lot of the problem to come from classes we outsource. Most of those have heavy workloads, and they're not flexible, plus they're independent of each other, so it's not like a heavy load in one class means a lighter load in another that week. Of course, that's the way it is in college also, but 9th grade isn't college. For my other kids, I will be very selective in what I outsource, particularly for their 9th grade year. The flip side is that the class that she spent the most time on last year did teach her so many valuable skills, both in the subject itself, and just in time management, and juggling so many assignments. It took her far too much time (10-20 hours depending on the week) but I'm not sure I would choose to give that up.

 

This is a good thread. I wish I'd read similar when planning my oldest's 9th grade year.

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I have often been baffled by the "10 + hours per week." I see it noted often: Lukeion Latin, AP courses, WTM Biology pop immediately into mind. At most, my 9th grader could manage ONE class like that.

 

My kids have taken several Lukeion classes and have also done AP classes (both an online course and several that I designed).  I think our Lukeion experience has been really useful.  But it has also been a significant workload.  So when I suggest or mention Lukeion, I want to make sure that I also mention the weekly homework and quiz deadlines and the need for daily work in the subject if you want to do well with them.  They are not the only way of learning language, history or literature.  But I would feel bad if someone invested their time, money and energy in a program, not knowing what they were getting into.

 

I have homeschool friends whose kids have had different paths.  They didn't do AP or many online classes.  They graduated highschool, were accepted to colleges, earned scholarships and have graduated college into interesting and rewarding lives.

 

Some of what my kids do, we do because that is where there interests have taken us.  In other cases, I did want to be able to demonstrate a rigorous course-load, because some of their colleges are highly competitive.  I also count time reading and researching when I estimate how many hours my kids take.  

 

In no way do I think that this is the end of their education - far from it.  I meet them where there interests and abilities and weaknesses and needs all intersect.  And sometimes that intersection inscribes a space that takes quite a few hours to fill.  

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FWIW, in high school I found it was often helpful to create a pretty specific schedule for classes.  In part because then my kids knew what they needed to do.  In part because it set a limit on what I was piling on.  There is always another book, another interesting historical tidbit, another science exploration or another computer problem to work through.  I need to be able to say, this is sufficient.

 

I have also taken to creating a color coded weekly schedule with sports and outside commitments blocked out, then academics added in.  This also helps me to not pile on endlessly.

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I have also taken to creating a color coded weekly schedule with sports and outside commitments blocked out, then academics added in.  This also helps me to not pile on endlessly.

 

Yes, I do this too. Every single semester. I even do it when he has the between-comm. college semesters winter break of about 21-25 days to make sure we don't accidentally pile something on and to remind me it is supposed to be a break, not an opportunity to squeeze in an EdX class.

 

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Yesterday I spent some time reading this long CC thread that discusses workload differences (try to pay special attention to the posts about kids who weren't as overworked as others and as always keep in mind that the venue includes a lot of kids shooting for top colleges):

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1823376-frustrated-re-amount-of-homework-quit-fabulous-classes-to-keep-kids-and-my-sanity.html

Very interesting reading! Thanks for sharing!

 

I'm not sure there are any easy answers for high school at all...

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Yesterday I spent some time reading this long CC thread that discusses workload differences (try to pay special attention to the posts about kids who weren't as overworked as others and as always keep in mind that the venue includes a lot of kids shooting for top colleges):

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1823376-frustrated-re-amount-of-homework-quit-fabulous-classes-to-keep-kids-and-my-sanity.html

 

While I was reading it, I was thinking about the differences in the various schools in our area.  I just switched two of our kids from a middle school that was excessively heavy in certain areas and lighter on others to a school that has the opposite tilt or at least is more balanced IMO.

 

When it comes to AP courses, it seems that the individual teacher might make a difference as well, so I'd assume that outsourcing APs (or DE) would involve some shopping around.

 

 

Very interesting reading! Thanks for sharing!

 

I'm not sure there are any easy answers for high school at all...

 

I could only go as far as page 4. Had to stop reading and go hug my kid. I do like CC for some of the info shared there that's so hard to find elsewhere but sometimes, it makes me sick to my stomach (sorry, don't mean to dramatize, I am just oversensitive to some things).

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The admissions game is just insane. I think I will be very frank with my kids about how much work would be required for a given path. If they chose the top tier college track, I see no choice but to put insane hours into school work. I am not helping, I know, but I feel like you do.  :sad:

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I like the comment about the SATs being the thing that led to scholarships. I know I've read a comment before on these boards where someone said they felt much of their student's hard work had not really been necessary because everything really came down to the SAT score (not sure if that was you, Tiramisu?). That comment has really given me pause and makes me feel like it's okay if we don't do tons of AP classes and that we might be better to be very selective about the ones we do take.

 

I had also listened to some mp3s from Aiming Higher Consultants this summer. They have some really good ones for high school. She talks about balancing out academics and extracurriculars and she said something to the effect of instead of thinking of doing something to be able to put it on your children's transcript, think of what skills they need to develop and what their interests are and work that way. With that approach, you will probably wind up with kids have learned what they need to learn as well as having strong transcripts. But, too often, we work backwards with what we want to see on the transcript. That really rang true for me and has caused me to make adjustments.

 It may have been me because I've said it before. :)

 

My oldest chose a major that required very specific sequence of classes all the way through with no room for electives, and AP or CC would not have been that much help. I'm not sure what path my next kid will take, but she's rather academic. She'll probably end up with an AP science but only because she loves it. She's already rejected the idea of AP Latin. I can't see my third doing an AP, but I think the CC route will probably be best for her. 

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OK: slightly frantic philosophical rant coming up, you been warned:  This isn't directed at anybody in particular, but is more of an existential wail.  What is the deal with high school?? Are we thinking that this is the last time in their lives kids will learn anything? Do we really expect children between the ages of 14-18 to master multiple fields of knowledge?  Most college classes begin at an Introductory level. Not everybody is interested in every topic to the same degree. Isn't it more reasonable to spend high school gaining exposure to a broad array of subjects - exposure, introduction to the main issues and topics of interest and an understanding of how practitioners in that field do their work - rather than expecting them to master the intricate details and esoteric facts of each field?  And focus on giving them the tools to learn - how to read deeply and for understanding, how to express themselves clearly in writing and be able to write in different forms and formats for different purposes, how to organize their thoughts and articulate them clearly, how to form an argument that is valid and recognize an argument that is bogus?  And, equally importantly, to figure out who they are, how they tick, what their place in the world is, and what lights their fire and makes them *want* to digger deeper and learn more?

 

 

I completely agree with this rant. This is what I want my kids to learn in high school. For this reason (and a few others), I foresee our high school focusing on doing the basics well (English, science, history, math) and only doing very few electives (Bible, computer stuff), unschooling some things because my son loves to read, and just letting them have lots of time for pursuing their interests, working with Dad, etc. There's no such thing as DE here, we're not doing AP classes. We might not even do any online classes at all. And I think it will all work out fine.

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Rose, are you feeling better? :grouphug:

 

 

I am! This thread has really helped - it's helped to see that I'm not the only one thinking like this, and it helps to hear all the success stories of people who have followed a different path.  I think we have a solid, good plan for next year, but I have to continuously resist the urge to add things in.  Or to feel inadequate because we aren't cramming in more and more.  I guess part of my problem was that I was thinking we should really outsource something in 9th, for the experience of working for someone other than mom, but when I started to look at outsourced classes and how that might fit into our schedule, it just didn't make sense.  I think I'm back to just planning our own route through 9th grade, and relying on DE at the CC in future years for outsourcing.  It's cheaper and I think it will fit our needs better.  And given that I do want my dds to have the UC schools as an option, but I don't want to go the a-g route, figuring out the exam option will be a good thing.

 

I've really appreciated all the shared experiences and questions here, do keep them coming! I've appreciated each and every post. I'm sure I'm not the only one grappling with these thoughts.

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OK: slightly frantic philosophical rant coming up, you been warned:  This isn't directed at anybody in particular, but is more of an existential wail.  What is the deal with high school?? Are we thinking that this is the last time in their lives kids will learn anything? Do we really expect children between the ages of 14-18 to master multiple fields of knowledge?  Most college classes begin at an Introductory level. Not everybody is interested in every topic to the same degree. Isn't it more reasonable to spend high school gaining exposure to a broad array of subjects - exposure, introduction to the main issues and topics of interest and an understanding of how practitioners in that field do their work - rather than expecting them to master the intricate details and esoteric facts of each field?  And focus on giving them the tools to learn - how to read deeply and for understanding, how to express themselves clearly in writing and be able to write in different forms and formats for different purposes, how to organize their thoughts and articulate them clearly, how to form an argument that is valid and recognize an argument that is bogus?  And, equally importantly, to figure out who they are, how they tick, what their place in the world is, and what lights their fire and makes them *want* to digger deeper and learn more? :rant:

 

If you've made it this far, thanks for listening. I'm just feeling so frustrated and discouraged by this whole process.  I want to make sure my dd has a good education and is prepared for college. But I also want her to enjoy her life, and have time to pursue the things that matter to her. I don't want to put her on a treadmill. I'm not sure where the middle ground lies.

 

First of all.  Save the bolded for the day in a few years when you are facing the Common App and have to write either the supplement about your homeschool philosophy or the guidance counselor letter.  

 

Second of all.  That's the spirit!! It is YOUR homeschool. YOUR kids. Do what feels right for YOUR family. There are many, many excellent colleges out there that will welcome your daughters. That will offer nice merit scholarships. Colleges where they will continue to learn and thrive.  Rose -- you are not a slacker homeschool mom.  Hours spent on a subject do NOT directly correspond to the amount and depth of learning.  Some people need those specific kinds of guidelines, some free-wheeling and creative types scoff at rules and do our own thing. Kids from both environments get admitted to college and do very well.

 

Now for my soap box!

 

Many outside-the-box homeschool kids from this board have gone on to wild success in college. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to deal with transcripts and credit hours.  I didn't even put together a transcript til the summer when my youngest was ready to start applying to colleges.  I didn't worry about assigning credit hours because I trusted my own gut on what was a credit worthy class. There is no transcript police.  Either your child is prepared for college or not. Outside courses and test scores will back up your mommy transcript, your daughter's admissions essays will demonstrate that she is thoughtful and articulate and interesting,  and your course descriptions and everything else you write will illustrate the unique and interesting course of study you've lovingly crafted over the years.

 

The admissions game does NOT require hours and hours of coursework unless your student is set upon an IVY or MIT or Cal Tech or similar school.  Schools may have set admissions requirements, of course, but they are looking for interesting, motivated, and unique students. By homeschooling you have that opportunity, that luxury to allow your student to be unique, to study something in depth or to devote hours of time to develop a talent or to pursue an interest.  How refreshing it must be to the admissions committee after hundreds of carbon copy applications from students with tons of APs and school clubs to come across the application from the quirky homeschooler who designed and sewed period costumes for a historical reenactment troupe at a museum or who spent hours at the horse barn every single week earning money in order to continue lessons or got hired at a museum after being a volunteer intern.

 

And the admissions game is a total game of chance, no matter what you do.  Kids with the most formulaic "rigorous" high school program, with the highest SAT and ACT scores, and APs by the dozen, still do not get admitted to many colleges. So homeschool the way you want. Enjoy the high school years! I found it was just as wonderful as the early years of homeschooling. And focus on the young adult you ultimately want to have come home on the holidays!! 

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I guess part of my problem was that I was thinking we should really outsource something in 9th, for the experience of working for someone other than mom, but when I started to look at outsourced classes and how that might fit into our schedule, it just didn't make sense.

:grouphug:

Outsourced class need not be academics. My oldest first outsource class was violin at 3 because we butt heads when I teach him music :lol: We outsource because of kids want B&M classrooms and classmates. Your child may not need nor want any outsource classes.

 

My kids also like summer intensive because it is so hot they rather be in summer class. So if you tend to stay indoors in summer, that might be a good time. If that is when you enjoy the outdoors, then enjoy the summer.

 

When hubby and I looked at the exam option for the UC, the exams are what we would have ask our kids to take anyway. My kids get carsick (puking) going to UCB and UCSC :P

 

"If you don't meet UC's minimum requirements, you may be considered for admission to UC if you earn high scores on the ACT with Writing or SAT Reasoning Test and two SAT Subject Tests."

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I think I'm back to just planning our own route through 9th grade, and relying on DE at the CC in future years for outsourcing.  It's cheaper and I think it will fit our needs better.  And given that I do want my dds to have the UC schools as an option, but I don't want to go the a-g route, figuring out the exam option will be a good thing.

 

I've really appreciated all the shared experiences and questions here, do keep them coming! I've appreciated each and every post. I'm sure I'm not the only one grappling with these thoughts.

 

YES! YES! It really is cheaper and it definitely fits DS because although it gives the "college" sort of experience it is also not as memory-driven or homework-driven as AP classes (at least from what I have heard about AP classes, no personal experience with actual AP classes). To some, the CC is looked at as lower caliber than AP and public/private school honors programs but to me, I really don't worry about that. There are some things he just needs to get out of the way so that he can follow his dreams. I know my kid and I know he will continue to want to challenge himself. Anything that seems "light" from the CC only means he has more time for himself and we have more time to be silly and just be. Different kids, different needs.

 

We are doing a mix of a-g and exam. I don't really know how that will play out but we have to do it our way. The CC classes he takes do fit the a-g requirements and the friend I was speaking to yesterday assured me that the CC English he will take senior year and his SAT scores will validate all the other home-brewed English we've done so I am not even going to bother about prep for SAT Literature. The SAT will also validate math but remember to pay attention to geometry options for UC. If serious about UC, download and read the Quick Reference for Counselors.

 

Good luck Rose and glad to hear you are okay.

 

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In my experience, high school does not have to look much different than the younger homeschooling years. There are more boxes to check off, for sure, but you have complete control over how you go about checking off those boxes.

 

My oldest had a highly selective school on his radar. At the beginning of his high school years, I had him read a book that gave advice on what a student needed to do in order to gain acceptance to a lottery school. My son decided that he wasn't going to jump through all of those hoops recommended in that book and was just going to continue with what he had been doing - which was very interest driven.

 

He still took some classes that he didn't want to take - mainly foreign language. He took Latin I and II in middle school and said he was done after Latin III at the end of 9th grade. I wanted him to continue at least one more year because I was worried about how it would look on his application. He wanted more time to focus on the areas that were important to him which is what he did.

 

He spent one day each week conducting research and ended up being published in some highly regarded journals. He had time in his schedule to continue with his volunteering another afternoon a week that he had been doing since elementary school. With the exception of his online AoPS classes, he had his evenings completely to himself, just like he had since we started homeschooling.

 

I dropped a lot of online classes at the beginning of his high school years because I felt that they were way too time consuming. Instead, he used MIT OCW and home brewed classes where he was able to set his own schedule.

 

He also didn't have a slew of APs. He only had 6 APs under his belt at the time of application, and all but one of them was in an area of interest. (I did insist that he take AP Language, a class he wouldn't have taken otherwise.)

 

I have friends who have kids in traditional school who have upwards at 13 or more APs and are functioning on 4 hours of sleep during their high school years. There are many who seem to think that sleep deprivation and lack of down-time is the trade-off for a rigorous education. I don't think that is healthy and I didn't want my kids' high school years to look like that.

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I've wondered about the students who are taking multiple AP classes too. My oldest, graduating this year and already accepting to many colleges, had no AP classes. We did serious math and science (mostly because I wanted to make sure she was prepared for as many options as possible). But she is/was involved in lots of outside activities - 4H for a couple of years, Anchor club to replace that, band, a Youth Advisory Council for a children's museum being designed and finished, volunteering for the historical museum. She loves to read and draw and just do stuff. I didn't want to take all her time and just concentrate on school. Not to mention you need some down time to just chat with friends. 

 

But not all classes require so many hours. History didn't for us. (Fast reader/fast writer). She took many dual credit classes that required less time than the ones I had her do at home. She took one dual credit class at a 4 year university that took more time and any class I had for her at home - but that was mostly due to an incompetent professor that was finally replaced 11 weeks into the semester. But she learned a lot of non-academic things in that class -how to complain, who the provost was and what his job is, studying with a group of fellow students, etc. 

 

I mapped out the basics that the colleges required for freshman admission. I plotted those over the four years. I printed out a list of electives. I had one elective that I required. The rest I allowed her to pick each year. I spread those out. We also used summers - concentrating on a specific elective or two. Somehow those didn't feel like school since she had an interest!

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We were considering stanford ohs. The speaker for the parent faq session was saying 5 subjects at a workload of 10hrs each subject including lesson time.

10 hrs per subject in general makes sense though because 4hrs of online class time and 6hrs of reading, homework and revision for test.

 

My youngest is a slow reader. Block scheduling of content intensive subjects work better for him. Biology, History and Literature on different semesters (fall, spring, summer) is less taxing than doing those year round for him. My oldest reads at least three times faster so content intensive subjects are less of an issue in terms of time management.

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Rose, thanks for starting this thread! I feel many of the same things.

 

I've got a DD who is academically inclined but not necessarily academically motivated. I do not see her spending ten hours a week per class and not being miserable. I think she will like geometry and biology, but I don't know that she will want to spend two hours a day on either of them regularly. And then I look at the things she really likes, like Latin and Spanish. She wants to continue both of those, but she's been doing them each just twice a week for twenty minutes or so, and she's learned them quickly. I still can't see a full hour a day of each every day. I don't know. She wants to continue to learn to play guitar and study music on her own, and she's got to bump up her at home practice of martial arts, since she's halfway to black belt and wants to get there in two years. (Her goal, not mine. We do want her to get to black belt, ideally, but we aren't wedded to it, nor to a particular time frame. She's eligible at fifteen and wants to be ready then.). I want to leave time for those extracurricular pursuits, plus whatever other passions she finds, and then there's the matter of all these little brothers. They might only have a few more years with her, and I don't want any of them to miss out, nor her.

 

And then I realize that if she does want to go to college, she needs some scholarships, and then I freak out about academics all over again!

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Rose, I can't thank you enough for this thread. As you know, I also have an eighth grade DD and am struggling with many of the same questions you are tussling with. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this thread. I haven't been able to voice these questions yet, and am still working much of this out in my head.

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I don't know, guys, every way I slice it the 9th grade year looks totally overwhelming.  Just purely in terms of the schedule.

 

Things that are important to us:  

  • Sleep.  So, not starting too early
  • Getting outside/fieldwork. So, scheduling science as long blocks that makes time for fieldwork & labs, and having part of PE involve hiking, horseback riding, etc.
  • Horseback riding - so at least two afternoons with an early stopping time for that
  • no "homework" other than reading - fit the work into a reasonable daily schedule. Don't schedule too many hours in a week.  What is really reasonable??
  • no weekend schoolwork other than reading - we need down time
  • Theater. Participating in main stage productions with evening rehearsals and weekend performances. That doesn't leave a lot of extra down time in the day
  • CC class in the spring - I don't see how this is doable at all
  • Creative Writing time.  I don't see that fitting into the current schedule at all. She is going to be really burnt by the end of the day.  I don't know what to do about this.

 

Here is the schedule I have tentatively come up with:

 

9-10  Math, 5 hours/week

10-11 Spanish, 4 hours/week

11-12:Rhetoric studies, 2 hours, compositions, 3-4 hours

Lunch

Afternoons:

Monday - 1 hour history, 2-3 hours science

Tuesday - 1 hour lit, 2-3 hours sceince

Wednesday - 2 hours history, 1 hour IHF/PE

Thursday -  2 hours lit, 2 hours PE

Friday - 2 hours history or lit - finish readings, work on compositions; 2 hours IHF/PE

 

That gives:

Math 5 hours

Spanish 4 hours

English 5 hours

History 4 hours

Literature 4 hours

Science 5 hours

IHF/PE 4 hours

 

That is 7 subjects. For a 38 week school year, 5x38=190, 4x38=152.  So they all seem like full credits.  It feels like too much to me, but I don't know what to cut/drop.

 

How does this look?  It isn't including evening Theater rehearsals, but it is including horseback riding (some, not all of the time) in PE.

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Just popping in to point out that, at least in school, English and Literature are one subject, not two.  You have doubled-up, which is fine of course if that's how you want to do it, but that's where I see the extra time.

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Just popping in to point out that, at least in school, English and Literature are one subject, not two.  You have doubled-up, which is fine of course if that's how you want to do it, but that's where I see the extra time.

 

Yeah, but I don't see how you can study Great Books - read a reasonable number of works, discuss, and write about them, and study Rhetoric & composition, all in 5 hours a week.  I also don't see how to cover the literature works we want to - and not a crazy ambitious list, either - and also study history (combo of Great courses and reading/writing assignments) in just 5 hours a week.  I don't see how to cover a reasonable amount of material without giving a full 5 hours to writing & rhetoric, 5 hours to lit reading, and 5 hours to history.  This is kind of what started all the angst for me, I was trying to figure out how the English/History/Great Books credit works.  And without cutting a significant amount of what we'd like to cover, I don't see how to do it any other way.

 

I would love to be enlightened!

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First off all, remember back to your high school experience.  You were doing lots of work on the weekends and in the evenings too.  Even if you were involved in outside activities.  Also, i agree that you have way, way too much for English/literature.  Take turns instead of doing it simultaneously. You are in high school so you can think in terms of semesters.  Do Rhetoric one semester and lit another.  My kids just finished one semester of speech and communication.  Next semester they are on to music theory for one of them and religious studies for the other.  To add to that full credit for English this year we are in a teen book club where we read classic lit and discuss and analyze it.  But that reading is done before bed and the club meeting only happens twice a month.

 

My kids all do work on Sunday evenings to prep for M-F.  And they work on the evenings they have available too (one works part time and other is involved in theater).  

 

It all works out!

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I would love to have insight from all you BTDT-ers, as well as current planners, on the Rhetoric&Composition/Lit/History thing.  If you don't mind taking a look at this thread, where I typed it all out in post #24-25:

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/578905-the-english-creditgreat-booksintegrating-history-lit/?do=findComment&comment=6747140

 

respond here or there, I will be reading them both! And thank you.

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I'm also planning grade 9 (we will start in January) but I'm not sure my situation will be helpfull to your problems.

We will start with a 32 hour school week (incl. Homework) and try to expand it to our standard of 40h week (incl. Homework) extra curriculairs are not included in this time nor are hobby's.

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I found that when I tried to schedule so Ds had no evening or weekend work, I ended up micromanaging and driving both of us crazy. What if math takes longer than an hour ( or a math test)? Or anything, really. What is she has a slow start and doesn't get much done ir an argument or any of s million things things. This is also true for the subjects you've block scheduled. What if she is sick or a once in a lifetime field trip comes up. I have found it much better to tell ds to assume he will have evening and weekend work while aiming not to iykwim. It has made for a much more relaxed tenth grade. He is managing to fit passions in , too.

 

 

Since you have no free electives I think double English could work if she is onboard with it.

Also, it may take a year to get into a grove and see what works. If your dd has a strong work ethic and good executive functioning skills, it may come together quickly.

Oh, and for my ds I had to let go of rigorous in all subjects in order to make room for his passions. This year spanish is more low key and I've embraced that. He is also not in the most rigorous math available--even though he is good at math. These are his least favorite subjects and dropping back has allowed him to spend more hours on the subjects he really loves and still have some time for activities and passions.

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