Homeschooled Through High School:
3 Things I Have Learned While Preparing to Homeschool High School
Those of us who homeschool or who have been homeschooled through high school know that IT IS VERY Possible. But how? Many parents and students look towards high school with fear and trepidation instead of being joyous as to how far into the journey they have come. I realize that families homeschool for a multitude of reasons and that each family is unique, but questions still arise when the words high school are mentioned!
My daughter, my oldest child, will be entering the big unknown of being homeschooled for high school this coming year. I have to laugh as I type this because if you find people give you looks about just homeschooling, well…. they give you a whole lot more looks when they hear you plan to homeschool high school! Due to the fact that she will be entering the high school years this fall, I have been spending this year planning and researching. I would like to share with you a few of the things I have learned, or think I have learned, or hope I have learned…LOL…along the way.
1. The Unknown of High School Credits
What exactly are credits? Credits are how you demonstrate the amount of time one has spent on a specific course. You will often see a one credit course be compared to one full year of time spent on a course, or a half a year course be given 1/2 of a credit. Things like math, science, English, foreign language, or history are usually assigned one credit for each year. Other courses such as American History, Economics, Auto Repair, or Photography would typically be a half year of study and thus be the equivalent of 1/2 a credit.
There are two main schools of thought on completing enough to earn a high school credit. If are using a standard high school-level textbook you can consider a credit earned when you have completed the textbook. Keep in mind that covering the material in a textbook does not necessarily mean reading the book from cover to cover, answering every question, or doing every problem. You should however diligently cover the material presented.
Another way to determine credit is by logging the hours spent on coursework. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work. The upper end of this is typically appropriate for lab science courses, while around 150 hours would be the average for a year long course such as English or History, and electives would fall into the lower level around 120 hours. Generally when calculating credit for an academic course, a good measure is 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 36 weeks, would be the equivalent of a one credit course. In our state the regulations give a certain percentage that must be covered to be considered complete, as well as how many minutes (which translate to hours) they consider to be equal to earning one credit.
2. Electives Are Easier to Accumulate Than You Think
In our state you are required to cover 3 credits of electives over the 4 year period of high school. I was surprised to learn that many people will count extra years of math or science as electives. I know some people may use this as an option, but I strongly believe that electives should be outside the “typical” course of study. This thought is aligned with the definition of electives that I gave in my post about exploring possible electives,
“High school electives go beyond the core classes of English, math, science, and history. Electives supplement the educational years with classes that interest your child and prepare them for adult life.”
Now if she were to do something like accounting, which is math, I would consider this an elective because it is above, beyond and outside the usual course of math (algebra, trig, geometry, precalculus, etc).
Back in January I started exploring our options concerning electives. The list I compiled for options is surprisingly extensive and opens up a world of opportunities to follow your teens interests and call it an “elective”! My daughter and I took the list and narrowed down what we thought would be the most interesting and beneficial options for her. What we came up with was a combination of interest based electives as well as electives based on her thought that she would like to attend college in the medical field after completing high school. Between her interest in photography, the thought that she should do a foreign language even though it is not required in our state for homeschoolers, and adding a basic psychology course to prepare her for college, we easily will accrue more than 3 credits worth of electives.
3. Yes, You Too Can Complete Lab Sciences
I recently had a conversation with a woman whose first question to me after finding out that I homeschool my children was, “I have always wondered this, how do you cover lab science?”
I think lab science must be one of the most disconcerting tasks to tackle when thinking about homeschooling high school. I know it was at least in my top 3! There are a couple of things I have found that may help you to worry a little less about this big task.
The first thing that was a bit of a surprise to me was that not every science has to be a lab science. Even if your child is planning on heading off to college, most colleges do not require documented lab science. It obviously would depend on the college, and the course of study your student plans on following but it is good to note that not every science has to be a lab science. You can teach the science of anything. For example, you can choose one of the more general sciences like botany, astronomy, geology or ecology.
Now for teaching lab sciences at home, there are some great options. Apologia, Bob Jones and A Beka all offer solid programs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics that can be taught at home. What we opted for this coming year is called DIVE. DIVE stands for Digital Interactive Video Education.
What I like about DIVE is how much it offers and for a very low cost. You can choose the text you want to use with it, and you can choose to either watch the video labs to complete them, or purchase a kit to watch and work the labs along with the video. This is a brief description from their website: “This course can be used as an advanced or standard high school course. It includes a free Internet Textbook to complete reading assignments. If you prefer a traditional text we recommend either Bob Jones Physical World or Bob Jones Physical Science 4th edition. However, you can use any high school text. We have created a syllabus for each text that tells you exactly what to read each week.The course is set up on a 32 week schedule with an average of two video lectures, two worksheets, 20 definitions, and one lab to complete each week. Every 8 weeks there is a quarterly exam. The lecture and lab videos average 30 minutes each, but don’t forget to add time for pausing, rewinding, and note-taking.”
If teaching a lab science at home is still not something you can, or want to tackle then you can also spend the earlier years of high school on other sciences and then sign your child up to take a lab science at a local college, or use a program like Landry Academy offers. Landry Academy offers 2 day lab science intensives throughout the country where you can, “Complete 1 Year of Science labs in Two Intense (but fun) Days!”
There are many other things I have learned, and that I am continuing to learn along the way. The one theme that is overriding for me is that homeschooling high school is possible, and maybe not as hard or as scary as you might think. With some research and preparation you can lay out a plan with your teen that should suit their needs and carry them through high school and into whatever their life after high school has to offer them.
Heidi is a 36 year old, happily married wife to one self proclaimed computer geek. Through their 15 years of marriage they have added 3 children: Chloe (13), Jayden (10), and Ava (6), as well as 2 dogs: Muffin and Oscar, to the mix. When not totally engrossed in homeschooling, being a contributing member of the Hip Homeschool Moms team or taxi service for her children Heidi likes to read, blog at Starts At Eight, and chronicle their lives in photos, as well as working at new hand projects like gardening, knitting, and crochet. You can also catch her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook!