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We are starting our 10th year of homeschooling this fall. In some ways it seems like just yesterday that I was sitting down with my first grader and trying this ‘homeschool thing’ for a year or two. Many things have changed over the years; we have added two more children to the family, changes our style and curriculum, and the children have gotten older (obviously) and more independent.
When people talk about their concerns about homeschooling, high school is a topic that comes up frequently. Even those families that have a strong desire to homeschool all the way through, often worry about how to homeschool high school.
Having only successfully completed one year of homeschooling high school (with 15 more to go altogether), I do not claim to have all of the answers. However, I thought I would share what homeschooling high school looks like in our home.
Something Stay the Same
Somethings look the same in our homeschool for high school as they did in earlier years. We still try to start our day as a family with Bible, hymn study, and read aloud. I do not include most of this on my sons records, but I think the time together is still valuable.
As in years past, we use a variety of curriculum and materials for our courses. For everyone’s sanity we switched over to online math for pre-algebra and beyond. (We have used several different programs but the two my son liked best are Thinkwell Math and Unlock Math).
We are using a variety of courses from SchoolhouseTeachers.com for him this year, just as we have the past several years. I love that I can use their literature courses to give him a good foundation in literature while allowing us to continue to use discussions as a big part of the literature process.
We are also still enjoying the opportunity to set our own schedule and have flexibility in when we ‘do school’.
Some Things Look Different
I mentioned above that we have flexibility in our schedule, but I do find that we need a bit more time in our school day to get the high school level work completed. For us that is about 20-25 hours each week. My younger students can get most of their work done in about 3 hours a day.
Instead of doing all of our courses throughout the year we are doing a hybrid block schedule. Some courses we do all year long. These include courses like music performance where he is counting hours towards completing and also literature to allow him a bit more time for reading the novels. Other courses, such as history, science, and math he is completing in a semester. This allows him to spend more time on each course each day.
Another big change is that every course is graded. Prior to high school most of our work was done and worked on until it was completed well and I felt like the material had been mastered.Some of the grades are assigned by the curriculum (his online math), some I grade with a rubric, and others such as his online course from Journey Homeschool Academy include grades done by them as well as components that are graded by myself.
I track all of his final grades in Fast Transcripts so that they are ready for sending in to colleges or scholarship applications.
For us high school basically has a bit more structure than earlier years. I track the number of weeks he works on his courses, keep track of grades, and require him to be a bit more independent.
Counting the Extras
One big key that we have found to balancing it all, is turning his hobbies and extra-curricular activities into a part of school. This frees up some time and keeps us from being too busy (though we still feel plenty busy these days).
For my son this means that he is taking Music Performance as one of his electives and that involves his Practice Monkeys lessons, worship band practice, and some additional course work that I am assigning him.
He is also taking Animal Science this year which will include his 4-H presentation, raising animals for the livestock show, and additional course work.
Additionally, I will be using the paper he writes for North Carolina Junior Historians as one of the papers he needs for English. This way he is still getting the writing done, but he gets to count it towards school and an extra-curricular.
By incorporating those hobbies into his electives, it helps to lessen the amount of time he has to spend on schoolwork while still ensuring that he gets a good overall education and is well prepared for college or the work force.
Overall, for us high school involves spending four to five hours a day on school work and then devoting additional time to projects and hobbies that all work together to create a well rounded education. We needed a bit more structure than we had in younger years, but still have much more flexibility than a traditional school environment.
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