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Hello, we are considering pulling our freshman out of traditional school. It's been many years since we've homeschooled, but I remember this forum being a wealth of information with so many willing to help with their experiences, so I'm starting here. I'm looking for something that is rather independent. Ideally, he would have been classically educated this far, but it's just not the path we've taken for multiple reasons. We're very interested in that route, but since this is pretty sudden and we haven't planned for it, we also don't have much of a budget to work with yet. I'd be so thankful if you could point me in the right direction as I'm not even sure where to start looking. I'm sure things have changed a bit since we last had our kids at home.

Thank you!

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What do you mean by 'rather independent'? We have had a few discussions on the board recently about this exact issue, so it would be helpful for you to define what this phrase means to you so we are all on the same page. How do you imagine your kid's day playing out and what are your educational goals?

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Great questions. Thanks! When we homeschooled before, I taught every subject one on one (BJU and Veritas mostly). It was easier in the early elementary years so far as content goes, but it wasn't best for our family, especially for my sanity and for my relationship with this child.

He works well on his own but does need some type of accountability. I think having an accessible teacher would be best, to answer questions or explain things I can't at this stage of education. He's extremely intelligent and can be self motivated, but one thing that has been very positive in the classroom setting is having teachers that have deadlines and expectations. So far as how his day plays out, I don't mind if he has structured class times or if he completes work at his own pace. My husband and I both work from home, and we can fill any extra time with extracurricular things. He is extremely extraverted, so we are also considering a couple of outside classes at a homeschool fine arts school nearby. He's a very logical thinker, wants to be an engineer, and works hard with the right motivation. When uninterested, he tends to cut corners and procrastinate.

Currently, our main goal is to allow him to have more parental influence during a particularly impressionable time in his life. A love for learning is important to us, so I'd like for him to be enrolled in classes that are laid out in a way that is enticing and makes the information come alive...not just reading and test taking. In our experience, he's gotten this from a couple ofreally great teachers, and it's helped a lot. We also want to keep him on track for college and/or dual enrollment (which I know very little about). This is our oldest, so we are learning as we go. Again, this is a bit sudden, so I haven't thought through more goals than that quite yet. 

The reason I'm asking here is that the only programs I'm aware of are K12 type classes or something like Veritas online or self paced (which isn't affordable for us right now). I'm hoping to hear of more options to look into, and I greatly appreciate your help!

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Are you interested in following The Well-Trained Mind?  Do you have a copy?  She has a new edition out now, too.  You said you were interested in classical education before...  If you're worried about cost, following TWTM would be so inexpensive.  My friend used to say that they probably spent more on public school fees and supplies than our family did on our entire homeschool curriculum (we sat and compared costs one day for fun - lol).

Homeschooling high school does not have to be expensive.  You don't have to pay for a gazillion outsourced classes.  I just bought all of our stuff in November/December (we start a new school year in January) and I probably paid $700...and that was for 4 kids...and I splurged.  I bought a level of My Father's World and a MicroChem set that was really expensive.  I will have to buy a couple of things here and there over the course of the year, but really, that was most of it.  Just sayin' - You could do this for much cheaper if you needed to.

There's also Ambleside Online - we have good friends who use AO and she operates on a tiny budget and her kids are incredible with history/literature.

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4 minutes ago, scgirl816 said:

Great questions. Thanks! When we homeschooled before, I taught every subject one on one (BJU and Veritas mostly). It was easier in the early elementary years so far as content goes, but it wasn't best for our family, especially for my sanity and for my relationship with this child.

He works well on his own but does need some type of accountability. I think having an accessible teacher would be best, to answer questions or explain things I can't at this stage of education. He's extremely intelligent and can be self motivated, but one thing that has been very positive in the classroom setting is having teachers that have deadlines and expectations. So far as how his day plays out, I don't mind if he has structured class times or if he completes work at his own pace. My husband and I both work from home, and we can fill any extra time with extracurricular things. He is extremely extraverted, so we are also considering a couple of outside classes at a homeschool fine arts school nearby. He's a very logical thinker, wants to be an engineer, and works hard with the right motivation. When uninterested, he tends to cut corners and procrastinate.

Currently, our main goal is to allow him to have more parental influence during a particularly impressionable time in his life. A love for learning is important to us, so I'd like for him to be enrolled in classes that are laid out in a way that is enticing and makes the information come alive...not just reading and test taking. In our experience, he's gotten this from a couple ofreally great teachers, and it's helped a lot. We also want to keep him on track for college and/or dual enrollment (which I know very little about). This is our oldest, so we are learning as we go. Again, this is a bit sudden, so I haven't thought through more goals than that quite yet. 

The reason I'm asking here is that the only programs I'm aware of are K12 type classes or something like Veritas online or self paced (which isn't affordable for us right now). I'm hoping to hear of more options to look into, and I greatly appreciate your help!

 

What you're describing is going to be very expensive unless you're looking into a public charter school.  

Also, almost ALL homeschool high school curriculum is written to the student - seriously.  I can't even think of one that isn't.

If you were attracted to classical education before, I wouldn't give up on that idea.  You will have to do some research... 

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27 minutes ago, Evanthe said:

 

What you're describing is going to be very expensive unless you're looking into a public charter school.  

Also, almost ALL homeschool high school curriculum is written to the student - seriously.  I can't even think of one that isn't.

If you were attracted to classical education before, I wouldn't give up on that idea.  You will have to do some research... 

He's currently in a public charter school. It's ideal as far as non-private schools go, but we are facing some things that are causing us to reconsider whether it is best for him. I'm not sure what you mean by this line - Also, almost ALL homeschool high school curriculum is written to the student - seriously.  I can't even think of one that isn't.

Can you expound please? Thanks!

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35 minutes ago, Evanthe said:

Are you interested in following The Well-Trained Mind?  Do you have a copy?  She has a new edition out now, too.  You said you were interested in classical education before...  If you're worried about cost, following TWTM would be so inexpensive.  My friend used to say that they probably spent more on public school fees and supplies than our family did on our entire homeschool curriculum (we sat and compared costs one day for fun - lol).

Homeschooling high school does not have to be expensive.  You don't have to pay for a gazillion outsourced classes.  I just bought all of our stuff in November/December (we start a new school year in January) and I probably paid $700...and that was for 4 kids...and I splurged.  I bought a level of My Father's World and a MicroChem set that was really expensive.  I will have to buy a couple of things here and there over the course of the year, but really, that was most of it.  Just sayin' - You could do this for much cheaper if you needed to.

There's also Ambleside Online - we have good friends who use AO and she operates on a tiny budget and her kids are incredible with history/literature.

No, I don't think we have a copy of this. Could you give me an idea of how it works in a nutshell? What would be required of him and me? 

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25 minutes ago, scgirl816 said:

He's currently in a public charter school. It's ideal as far as non-private schools go, but we are facing some things that are causing us to reconsider whether it is best for him. I'm not sure what you mean by this line - Also, almost ALL homeschool high school curriculum is written to the student - seriously.  I can't even think of one that isn't.

Can you expound please? Thanks!

Does your state offer nonclassroom-based public charter schools, aka 'homeschool charters'?  That would give him outside accountability and teacher support.  Honestly, after you gave more details about your situation my first thought was doing K12 through a charter.  It would be free, structured, and offer outside accountability.  Also, because they're accredited public schools, he'd be able to transfer smoothly back into a regular public school/brick and mortar charter if you think that might be on the table in the future.  Other inexpensive structured options are Acellus Power Homeschool and Time 4 Learning.  If nothing else, they would get him through the rest of the school year and you can rethink your approach for 10th grade.

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One of my boys has a basketball game this morning, but I'll come back later and post more about the Well-Trained Mind if you're still interested in classical education.  It's one of the best homeschool books ever written.  It's basically a how-to-homeschool book.  Your library probably has it - it's on Amazon....

Here, she has a bunch of articles:  https://welltrainedmind.com

She has podcasts that are very informative.  This one is all about classical education and how to do it at home:  https://welltrainedmind.com/p/the-joy-of-classical-education-introduction-to-classical-education-at-home/

 

Edited to add:  It seems like you're looking for a public school charter where your kid is basically doing public school at home.  That wouldn't be homeschooling.  There are a few people on this forum who do that -they would know more about that than I would.  Most of us on here are homeschoolers - we teach our kids ourselves at home using curriculum we buy or put together.  We're legally considered private schools where we live.  We don't have anything to do with the school district or a program.  We're independent.    

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4 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I cannot speak to the public online options. However, if you want outside accountability which I am reading to mean him answering to someone other than yourself for classwork and grading, you are generally going tobe paying for outsourced online classes, which are going to cost on average probably $600-800 per class a school year. Not including books. Some classes cost even more. There are free and/or cheaper recorded classes you can try, but then at the end of the day he will be accountable to you for both assignments on those, making sure he does them and then you doing the grading. You can't really have it both ways to outsource to a live instructor cheaply. 

TWTM @Evanthe recommended would be a good start. It might be an adjustment for him it sounds like, but it's doable- you don't have to do it all at once either, you can wade in- especially if you went into the summer. But I personally think you need to take the time to read it and see how it could work for you, look at what his goals are as far as college and how you think you could implement these things to get him where he needs to be. If you don't have time to read it, then saying this gently, maybe pulling him from the school he is at isn't the best solution right now. Perhaps a different PS would be a better fit? 

 

I appreciate your candor. That's precisely why I came here...I need a sounding board and help knowing what's out there. Ideally, we'd prefer to homeschool (proper) classically, but that just may not be in the cards for us right now budget-wise. Because of my son's personality, I do feel as though right now he needs more accountability than just us, which is part of the reason we're considering pulling him...to spend time working on building his character. But you may be right...it may just not be the best solution. I feel like all of you have given me great options and suggestions and a lot to chew on, and I am thankful for that.

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19 minutes ago, scgirl816 said:

I appreciate your candor. That's precisely why I came here...I need a sounding board and help knowing what's out there. Ideally, we'd prefer to homeschool (proper) classically, but that just may not be in the cards for us right now budget-wise. Because of my son's personality, I do feel as though right now he needs more accountability than just us, which is part of the reason we're considering pulling him...to spend time working on building his character. But you may be right...it may just not be the best solution. I feel like all of you have given me great options and suggestions and a lot to chew on, and I am thankful for that.

 

Can you tell us why you think homeschooling classically would be expensive?  What are you picturing exactly?  (And I'm being serious, not sarcastic)

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Also, almost every single new homeschooler out there mentions they want outside accountability for their kid, which is why they are looking for a "virtual school" or something like an online charter school.  OK, there is like an adjustment period when you first start homeschooling, but they become accountable to you, as a parent.  And it takes awhile for everyone to get used to that.  But, they do!  Does that make any sense?

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Yes, absolutely that makes sense. And I agree with you and desire for our kids to be accountable to us first and foremost as their parents. Right now, it's helping us to have more accountability in his life than just us. We are very involved parents, but we're hitting some things with him where having some other accountability in his life for school is helpful, which is why it's not an easy decision whether we should pull him from his current school where he has a good relationship with his teachers. Basically, other authority in his life to back up and align with mom and dad. 

As for the expense, I guess in my mind I think purchasing all the classes would be expensive? The last I looked at classical homeschooling (when we were truly homeschooling, not online public school as was mentioned above), it was either expensive for the classes or required much more time and putting things together than I am able to do at this time. Granted, I only had elementary kids when we were homeschooling, so that's another reason I feel like I'm starting from scratch...both because it's been several years and because I've never looked into any homeschooling for highschool. 

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I completely understand where you’re coming from. I spent years trying to cultivate a love of learning in my oldest, but as she got older she  did better if she had someone other than just me and DH holding her accountable. Until recently, we had a public charter school overseeing her homeschooling. She didn’t take any classes with them, but she met with them once/week and they reviewed what she had been working on. It was wonderful for us—we set all the goals, the teacher was flexible and supportive, but I could always say to my DD, “yes, I know you don’t feel like doing AOPS this week, but we told the teacher that we’d keep moving ahead...”

Maybe there’s something like that in your state that could help?

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How on board is your son?  Teenagers are hard, and if hes not totally on board, hes going to balk and it could hurt your relationship.   

Next, think about the long game.  Where I live schools can determine if they accept your credits or not!  That means if you pull him next semester and it doesn't work, they can choose to not accept your homeschooled credits.   Make sure you check into this before you make any decisions.   You should also look into Dual Enrollment options near you.  My 11th grader switched to all college classes this year.  It works for her personality and goals.  Whatever his long term goals are- college, Engineering schools, ect. Make a list and see how homeschooling will affect that.  Be sure you and he know what is expected for admissions (this is a good idea no matter if you decide to homeschool or not), and put together a plan to meet those requirements.   

In elementary I like making my own programs, but for high school I like textbooks for most subjects.  Its easier to assign, but I can teach my own way if I want to.  I find cheap textbooks used on Amazon.  

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I can tell you what we used for 9th grade and for classically homeschooling, and it starts with the Well Trained Mind as our outline. WTM does have online classes, but we have never used anything like that. We have been in co-ops with other families to create our own outside accountability. Currently this year we are doing one class with others via a once a month get together on a topic (this year is government,) and a once a month field trip. I am able to design projects to assign in that once a month get together and to use it for a time for group activities and presentations on work they did at home. Each parent can assign their own reading and texts at home as much or as little as they want. That gives us a little accountability and a group atmosphere with a few other families for very cheap. We have always done those kinds of loose co-ops for the most part. 

But me telling what we have done might not help you, because like others, we homeschool. I am the primary teacher, especially in 9th grade. But having some curriculum with lessons broken down by week or day can help a kid with deadlines and accountability. I like a mix of free reading/project based/interest driven classes mixed with a few, get this done in this amount of time classes to keep us on track.

I do semi outsource math to Mr. D's online. We use the most inexpensive option, the videos, not live classes. It is self paced, but also sends them emails about where they should be to be on track to finish on time and it keeps the grades for me. So I am pretty much out of math altogether. It is not super expensive. 

Then I use the library for some things. If I choose an economics book that is 15 chapters, I can assign her to read one chapter a week and outline from it and assign a set number of projects to go with it like a research paper, a presentation,  or a girl scout badge to be completed during the semester too. It is accountability to me, yes, but there are clear expectations.  I check out these types of texts from the library for free or buy very used and inexpensively. 

Almost all literature is checked out from the library, usingthe Well Trained Mind for the readings lists and how to study them. 

In 9th most of mine were still doing some grammar and writing instruction that I did have textbooks on, but I am sure there are options from the library or online that are cheap.

And I spent money on Latin curriculum because I was learning with my child, so I needed very clear instructions and to have it all laid out for us. So that is what I spent the most money on. It was a priority for me. 

Science texts can be expensive, but the Well Trained Mind gives good instructions and ideas. I always bought used and often found some really good deals. Then we did lots of hands on. We were lucky enough to have a science teacher mom at a co-op that did all of the labs and teaching time because she wanted a class for her kids to do science in with others. We really appreciated that. Was not expense at all as far as books go. I did invest in a microscope years ago to have on hand and other odds and ends in equipment each year when necessary. 

For a classical education at home, start with The Well Trained MInd. Fill in the outside classes you have available and the ones you can afford. The WTM will help you create the accountability and plan what you need for the rest. 

One more thing, I have bought a membership to a site called SchoolHouseTeachers dot com for a couple of years. They have every subject for every grade available. But they are all lesson plans written by different people, some homeschool parents and some actual publishers. Some are better than others. And some are fantastic. Some are ok, using free sources online and they put together the lesson plans for me and require more printing and back and forth between sources than is ideal, but the extra work of not having to plan on my own can be good. Some I feel are not totally complete and I supplement. But I do pull a lot from the site.  My 12th grader is really liking their Understanding Modern History this year. My 10th grader is really loving their History of Fashion unit study. We are making use of their Spanish I and Biology too, but they are a little weak, and I add to them what I feel is missing. But each has daily lesson plans that they can check off as they go, and I can check their checklists and work. So something like that can be helpful when creating your schedule. 

 

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I think the main issue that makes it hard to recommend things is that independent/accountable to someone else tends to be expensive. Cheaper options are going to take more work on a parent’s part. It’s not clear to me if the main hurdle for you is expense or time (or reluctance on your son’s part to have Mom as a teacher) and so it’s hard to know what to recommend.

 



 

 

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Something I learned from the old days of homeschooling (pre-internet) was the importance of mentors for teens.  I've spent a lot of time and effort connecting my teens to outside mentors in a variety of settings.  I always strive for excellence, but it isn't always "classical."  

I believe mentors help with character by modeling passion and excellence in the subject.  I think this approach also addresses the need for social time though it tends not to be with age-peers (a plus in my book.)  These are "electives" and follow the unschooling idea of interest-led, but it was my job to find folks who were/are really good at their work for my kids to learn from.  One retired English teacher has also done "real" English with my two youngers.

So in practice this means that the mentors don't necessarily "teach" subjects as a tutor would, but my teens either assist them or spend time doing what the mentor does best.  In the case of my oldest, he connected with a water-quality monitoring group and spent a year doing water analysis at their lab - science, community service, and accountability rolled into one situation.  He did biology at home with me but had an incredible experience at this lab.  My older daughter asked to work with the person who does costuming at our local high school, and sewed many costumes over the years.  For my younger son, he spent time doing watercoloring outside with a retired artist down the road.  None of these situations required me to pay them, though the first received volunteer work from my son, and for the latter my son and sometimes my husband would help him move heavy stuff, stack his wood, etc.  I've been the one to make the first call to connect, and I find that people are pretty enthusiastic to do this, because they love their subject and want to help a young person love it too.

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