Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Homeschooling High School - Planning and Preparing for Success

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Planning and Preparing for Success (Homeschooling High School blog hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

No doubt about it, the thought of homeschooling through high school can strike fear into the hearts of the staunchest believers in home education. The good news is - it doesn't have to! I'm not all that great at planning ahead myself, but I've found that a little advance planning can do a lot to put things into perspective when facing high school. 

How far ahead do you need to plan?
That depends on a lot of factors, but generally speaking, the Grade 8 year is a good time to start thinking ahead, even if it's just a year at a time. Some students do earn high school credit during their Grade 8 year, but that's an individual choice. 

Start with a four-year plan for high school. These are available in many homeschool planners, and in lots of places online. Try the HSLDA website or for free forms and more information on planning. These forms give you a general road map for the high school years, so you can see how to divvy up the workload and meet all the requirements for graduation that apply in your state or for your umbrella group. Start penciling in what you already know, along with general course titles for things you're not sure of. Things change, so use pencil!
Planning and Preparing for Success (Homeschooling High School blog hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

I start by assuming an English composition course each of the four years, a History or Social Studies course in the first three years, and a Math course in three out of the four years. Plug in the Sciences and Electives as you figure them out. You will probably revise and rewrite this plan several times before graduation day, but by getting started on it and updating it as needed, you can avoid a lot of surprises. You know, surprises like realizing halfway through the senior year that your student still needs a full credit course in Fine Arts to meet the graduation requirements.

What courses are required for graduation?
This varies by state, or by country, so I suggest asking your local group or checking HSLDA's website to find out for sure. In my umbrella group, our requirements are as follows:

Bible - 2 credits
English - 4 credits 
Social Studies - 3 credits
Math - 3 credits
Science - 2 credits
Phys.Ed. - 1 credit
Technology - 1 credit
Fine Arts - 1 credit
Health - 1/2 credit
Electives - 5-1/2 credits
23 credits total

The English credit must include both literature and writing in some way. One of the Social Studies credits must be US History, and one of the Math credits must be Algebra I, and I personally require my students to complete a Consumer Math credit before graduating too. And finally, one of the Science credits must be Biology. 
Planning and Preparing for Success (Homeschooling High School blog hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

How many credits is this worth?

This is the million dollar question when you are designing your own coursework! The authors and publishers of many homeschool curricula make it easy by stating clearly somewhere in the textbook or teacher's guide that their course is intended to be worth two high school credits, or whatever. With non-traditional curriculum such as unit studies, or when doing delight-directed homeschooling, this can bring up some challenges. Even with non-traditional curriculum, if the author did intend it to be used by high school students, there is almost always information somewhere as to how the credit can be assessed. At the very least, a high school level text should say whether it's one or two semesters. Generally, the one semester course is a half crdit, and two semesters are one full credit. For coursework that is measured in hours (such as Phys.Ed. or Music), counting credit hours is acceptable. 

What kind of records do I need to keep?

Ah yes, record-keeping. Sometimes it is a genuine delight for me to keep school records; and at other times,  it's the bane of my homeschool existence. Finding a log book, journal, spreadsheet software, or cloud-based program that works for you will make all of this so much easier.

You'll need to keep some kind of log book or teacher's journal. Something that helps jog your memories (yours and/or your kids') about what you did each day. Give your student the responsibility of tracking their own time spent. For instance, your music student needs to log her hours practicing. The log book is more for you than for anyone else to see, so just make it work for you. If your student isn't already in the habit of keeping track of their own schoolwork and logging their own time spent on study, they should start. Make it their responsibility to keep track of how long they spend on piano practice (for their music credit) or exercising (for their Phys.Ed. credit) and how they are doing on their assignments.
Planning and Preparing for Success (Homeschooling High School blog hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Because you'll need to provide a transcript, you will need to keep some kind of record your student's time and grades, and the easiest way to do it is to produce a report cards each semester. I keep my students' grades and all their records using Homeschool Tracker.  It makes it simple to keep averages and grades and even attendance - not to mention a list of the resources we use for easy reference. At the end of the semester, I use the Tracker to produce the report card and I transfer the grades to the form we use for reporting grades to our umbrella group. If you happen to be in an umbrella group or oversight that asks you to submit grades, they probably will provide a high school transcript for your student when they need it, as mine does. However, with the Homeschool Tracker I can produce my own transcript if needed.

Do I need to change my homeschool method during high school?

The quick answer is No! Whatever has worked in your homeschool during primary and middle grades will probably continue to work during the high school years. If you rely on Unit Studies or Delight-directed methods, you may need to adjust how you keep records and grades, so that your student's transcript will accurately reflect the subject matter they've covered and how many credits they've earned. 

When choosing curriculum, get input from your student. Look for curriculum that covers their required courses in a style that suits your student. In most places, Biology is a required credit during high school, but what kind of Biology course you choose will depend on your child's learning style, their interest (or lack thereof!) in the subject, and what their future plans include. None of my boys have been interested in Biology, and none of them have chosen a college or career path that would require them to study it further, so we went with something fairly basic. A student that enjoys sciences and plans to go into a medical field of study should do a more in-depth course that includes plenty of lab work. 

Allow your student's interests and career plans to guide in choosing electives. Homeschooling makes it easy to specialize studies so students can focus on what they want to learn and in many cases they can start earning college credits during high school in those areas.

Some related posts here on the Homeschool Coffee Break

Visit all the participating bloggers to find more information on planning for high school!

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

April from ElCloud Homeschool shares Homeschooling High School: Planning For High School

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

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

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

This post is also linked to the 5 Days of Homeschool 101 - Planning link-up.

5 Days of Homeschool 101

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