Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015

I was very nervous when my oldest daughter approached high school. I wasn't sure what subjects we should cover, or how to make a transcript. I asked questions online, searched the internet for homeschool transcript templates, and looked at our state's graduation requirements for an idea of what subjects were considered requirements in our state. Then I made a plan, using our core curriculum as a guideline. We relied on a 4 year history cycle and literature-based history learning at that time.

Two years later our second daughter was entering high school and decided that she wanted her high school education to be textbook-based and line up as closely as possible with what her friends were studying in public school. So I made a new plan, with new curriculum and new subject titles on our transcript.

Another two years went by and our third daughter entered high school. She wanted the freedom to study sciences and languages not offered in our local public school. Against her sisters' advice, she chose to study Astronomy and Latin and Ancient History. We made a new plan that allowed her to cover the state requirements as well as follow her own interests.

And now my fourth child is entering high school. He'll probably follow the path of my second daughter, with textbooks and a desire to mimic the public high school's plan. But we are replacing our history textbooks with ones that are simpler to plan, and have fewer components to use. Sweet and simple is the goal, because I want him to be independent and not get bogged down in planning, excess busywork, or trying to figure out how to put it all together.

Two Types of Planning

In our homeschool we have two types of planning. We have our overall "high school plan" which we actually put into a transcript template at the beginning of their freshman year. We are planning with the end in mind - graduation requirements and possible college entry. Some subjects fill in automatically, easily falling into place on the year plan. Then there are the elective slots where we might write in some options, though everything is subject to change as high school progresses. Every school year, we reassess the proposed transcript plan - finalize the upcoming year and tweak the plan for future years. Our goal is 6 credits per year, for a total of at least 24 credits.

Our basic "high school planning" looks something like this:

9th grade
English 1
Algebra 1
Biology (or astronomy if you're DD2)
Health and Nutrition
Elective (possibly PE)

10th grade
English 2
Chemistry (or biology if you didn't take it yet)
World History
Elective (foreign language?)
Elective (computer science?)

11th grade
English 3
Algebra 2
Psychology - Other Science - Elective??
US History
Personal Finance/Other 1/2 credit elective
Elective (foreign language again?)

12th Grade
English 4

We also have our weekly planning.

With our oldest daughter, I was filling in a weekly worksheet of assignments for her (and every younger student), which was time-consuming. My second daughter switched to textbooks and took this task upon herself in high school. She figured out the pace she'd need to keep to complete her textbooks in 36 weeks. She filled in her weekly charts and kept herself (mostly) on track. (They say doing math through the summer is good for you anyway, right?) Our third daughter has also learned to plan her own weeks. We look at her curriculum together at the start of the year and make an overall plan, and she fills in her weekly charts. She's done an even better job of staying on track, with only a few math lessons to finish in the month after school ended.

Part of the reason I switched to new, simpler textbooks for my upcoming son is so that the weekly planning won't be overwhelming. I wanted to have textbooks that had 32 - 36 chapters, which would make it simple to plan one chapter per week. I wanted them to have just a couple components, so he wasn't overwhelmed by 5 different books for one subject. In other words, I wanted books that were more homeschool-friendly. I think it will take more time to teach him to do his own weekly planning, and I am going to have to keep a close eye on his progress, but it really is easier on everyone if the high school student is in charge of that (with oversight).

This year I bought both my high school students this student planner to use for their weekly planning. I'm hoping it will work better for them than the blank charts I was printing out every week. And rather than getting lost (my son) or stuck into a folder at the end of each week (my daughter) it will all be bound together as a record of their year.

You can do it, too!
High school planning can FEEL overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Start with your basic skeleton. What does your state require? How many classes and credits do you want to tackle each year? Fill in the basic subjects. The rest of your slots are electives. You can look at state requirements and usually find a catalog of courses from a local high school online to get an idea of electives you can offer.

However, this is also where homeschooling allows you to follow your child's interest. If he plays guitar, you can have 4 years of music electives. If she is in gymnastics or dance, you have four years of PE. If your child is into computers, then find a programming course for him or her. If your child is interested in photography, a photography elective is perfect.

You don't have to have it all figured out their freshman year. Just keep an eye on the goal (graduation requirements) and adapt as you go. There will be elective slots that get filled in later. There may be changes. Maybe they  move Chemistry to their junior year and do an extra elective their sophomore year. Get your basic skeleton plan in place, knowing it's subject to change, and then focus on the upcoming year.

You can do it! High school isn't that scary. Get some good resources to encourage you, and talk to someone in your area who is already homeschooling through high school. I'm sure they'll be glad to help you figure it out!

See what these other bloggers have to say:

Meg from Adventures with Jude on Planning Your Homeschool High School

Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Planning to Homeschool through the High School Years

Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks: You mean I have to PLAN our Homeschool High School?!?
Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares Here's the Plan

Lisa at Golden Grasses says Don't Panic! Homeshcooling High School Blog Hop

Debbie at Debbie's Homeschool Corner Planning Out a High School Program

Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares her The Top Tip for Planning Homeschool High School

Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Planning and Preparing for Success

Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on Planning the High School Years

Erica over at Be The One shares Planning and Record Keeping for High School

Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on Planning For Homeschooling Highschool

Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Making A Plan

Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on Planning for High School

Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Making High School Plans

Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Planning for the High School Years

Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Making Plans for Homeschooling Through High School

Laura from Day by Day in Our World shares Planning High School Classes for the Homeschool Parent

Take a deep breath and just jump into your skeleton 4-year plan. You can do it!

April E.

This post has been entered into The July issue of The Carnival of Homeschooling, at Home Spun Juggling.