Do you have a middle schooler or 9th grader? If you are planning on homeschooling through high school, there are some things I know about you:
- You know how important these high school years are.
- You wish you were more confident about your student’s academic foundation for high school.
- You’re anxious about how this beloved child going to get into college.
- You pray that there will be scholarship money available from somewhere.
- You’re stressed that you don’t have any big picture plan for homeschooling high school and you have no idea where to start.
If you don’t have one, you need a big picture plan for homeschooling high school. And I’ll show you how to make one in 5 simple steps.
How do I know these things? Because I’ve been right where you are now. We homeschooled our two through high school. By God’s grace, one has a doctoral degree, graduating with honors, and the other is now in his last year of graduate school, also working on a doctoral degree. I’ve successfully been through this homeschool-to-college thing and have helped many others do the same. And I can help you.
But you only have two kids – it was easy for you, you declare. What if I told you I was diagnosed with breast cancer halfway through my oldest’s high school years, when we were supposed to be visiting colleges, have all the record-keeping done for merit-based scholarships, be taking the SAT and ACT, and preparing to fill the gaps in courses and credits to get everything we needed by the end of senior year?
Yup, that’s what happened, but it worked out, because God was merciful. Did I wish I had been a little more organized prior to that? Yes. Did we get to do everything we planned on the schedule we’d thought? No. But that’s okay, life seldom works out just like we plan it, but having a plan made ahead of time will help when life’s interruptions and the unexpected occurs. Because it will.
Step 1: Set up a spreadsheet or make a form you can use to create your big picture plan for homeschooling high school.
Or you can use a few from our upper grades Teacher’s Manual by clicking here.
Step 2: Especially if your student is planning on college, take an online survey of colleges’ undergraduate requirements.
Choose a couple of public and private colleges in your state or places you’ve considered/are considering. Search under one of these:
- undergraduate admissions
- undergraduate requirements
- recommended high school courses
And don’t forget to check with your homeschooling accountability group for their requirements!
Step 3: Based on your research, fill in the courses you know your student will need.
Something along the lines of:
- four English/Language arts courses – usually a General Literature, American Literature, British Literature, World Literature. The titles don’t have to be exactly the same. Though colleges do want to see courses that look familiar to them, not something real unique. 😀
- 3-4 math courses, with Alg. I, II and Geometry. If your student might consider a science or math major, try to squeeze in 4 and take Pre-calculus next.
- 2-3 sciences that have labs with them — usually, biology, chemistry and physics. Note that physical science is not a lab science.
- 3 1 credit courses of the same foreign language. This could be a modern language, such as Spanish, French, or Mandarin, or it could be an ancient language, like Latin, Greek or Hebrew
- 3 credits in “social sciences” (I never have liked that vague term, btw.) This usually needs to include 1 credit (year) of American History, 1/2 credit in American government and 1/2 credit in economics. You might also include World History for one of the social science credits.
- 1 year of fine arts –this could be anything from singing in the choir or piano lessons to music appreciation
- 1 year of physical education — this could be a matter of recording playing hoops in the driveway or taking tae kwon do classes, or a combination of running, exercise DVDs, etc. You just have to track the time here and equal about 145-150 hours.
- academic electives — colleges like to see some academic electives such as a high school composition course, Public Speaking, Research Paper, world geography, extra math or science, etc.
Make sure to get the three main math courses in as early as you can, because your student will do better on college readiness exams with them under his belt. You may need your student to take the SAT/ACT for the first time without the third math course, but make sure by the second time he or she has had them all.
Scholarship hint: it’s usually grade point average as of the end of the junior year that determine merit-based scholarship eligibility.
Step 4: Consider your child’s gifts and abilities with the fine arts and physical education credit and to round out the elective credits.
- Does your son play on a city soccer team? By all means, count that for physical education. Does your daughter take piano or guitar lessons? Count that for your fine arts credit. And you can count music lessons, recitals, and performances for that credit; both when your student is the performer or when she attends a performance related to her ‘course.’
- If your student likes to cook, how about a Nutrition course? You can simply find a few books to read about nutrition, have her write a few papers about the latest research, do a month or two of meal-planning, and cook a number of nutritious meals… it’s not too hard to put together. If you need additional help, consider our e-book: Designing a High School Course using Real Books.
- If your student loves art, there are a number of directions you could go in putting together an elective: art history, survey of a certain genre of art, watercolor or oil painting lessons, study of impressionism, cubism or other art movement.
Step 5 : Start early preparing for college readiness exams like the S.A.T. and A.C.T.
- It’s a good idea in late middle school to begin working on vocabulary. I know I’m not totally unbiased, but research shows reading a variety of books helps build vocabulary — so please consider using literature-based homeschool curriculum for the bulk of your high school courses. Have your students get in the habit of jotting down unfamiliar words and trying to figure out by the book context what the word might mean before looking it up.
- When your student hits 9th grade, purchase an up to date study guide for the SAT and for the ACT, if you are planning on having your student take both tests. (Find out which test is preferred in the colleges you might consider.) Make sure to get the study guide that’s put out by the people who make the tests, as they are the only ones who can legally use real questions/problems that have been used on previous tests. The most valuable part of these guides are the practice tests. Have your student work through the book, cover to cover, and take the first practice test straight through, under simulated test conditions. Then grade it and look back over the sections where review is necessary. Then take the next practice test… etc.
- Plan on taking the college readiness test(s) of your choice at least twice. Both of mine did this and made a lot of improvement the second time.
- If your student has a rough time on part or all of the test, consider getting a college student, a parent you know who’s a wiz at math, grammar etc., or a college prep test tutor to work with your student. It is worth the time/money if your student gets scholarship money, correct?
So, do you have a middle school or new high school student? Have you made a high school plan yet? Tell me in the comments!
Would it help to have a little e-book with a four and five year planning forms, examples and planning tips? Click here.