Homeschooling High School: The Finish Line — Graduation

Our final topic for the Homeschooling High School series is, of course, graduation. 

Now that your child has covered all the requirements and some electives, how do you celebrate the completion of the high school years? Does the homeschool group you may be a part of have an annual graduation ceremony? What if you don’t belong to a homeschool group? What then?

When my oldest son was ready to graduate, we actually just had a simple program at church, after church and potluck.

I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation, which played on the screen. Then, the pastor spoke a few words, after which I spoke a few words and presented my son with his diploma. I don’t think the program lasted more than about 30 minutes. The only family present were the kids, my husband, and I.

My son and I designed his graduation announcement together.

The verse on his announcement was Isaiah 32:2, NIV:

Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

If you knew anything about my son, you would know why this verse is appropriate! He has been interested in storms and natural disasters from a very young age. Perhaps it’s an inherited trait. <grin> Both his biological father and I are interested in such things (his father more than I, perhaps).

When my daughter was ready to graduate, we were part of a homeschool group which holds an annual graduation ceremony for all the high school seniors in the group…or at least for those who wish to participate in the ceremony.

We (the seniors and parents) had several planning sessions, beginning in January or February of the senior year. Caps, gowns, and diploma covers were ordered. There was even a photographer who did a photo shoot of the kids.

The graduation was held at a Christian church. It was a lovely ceremony, very spiritual and Christ-centered indeed. My parents and my younger brother and his family came in from out of town to attend and celebrate with us.

The young people marched in. There were musical numbers performed. Someone gave an inspirational speech. The students then sat up on the platform. There was a PowerPoint played for each student (which made everyone cry), and then each of us parents went up to give a brief address to our child and present him/her with the diploma.

My daughter and I designed her graduation announcement/invitation. The verse she chose was Jeremiah 29:11.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Looking ahead to my current high schooler’s graduation (fortunately I still have a year yet to prepare my heart for that one!!), I imagine his will be more along the lines of a quiet, simple celebration, like my oldest son’s was. But, we’ll see.

As you can see, there are different types of graduation celebrations from which to choose. Simply choose whichever best suits your student and your family. Be sure to treasure the memories and take lots of photos!

(If anyone is interested in seeing the graduation announcements we designed, I will gladly share; leave a comment below.)


Homeschooling High School: Help! How do I fit it all in?!

Even though I have graduated two already, and number three is three-fourths of the way through high school now, I still am asking myself, “How do I fit it all in?!

By the time my children reached high school age, I figured they should be able to be independent learners, for the most part. (If I “did my job” properly while they were at the elementary/middle school levels, then I’ve already taught them to love learning. Still, I’m here if they have questions or need assistance with anything.) However, I also provided an outline, or list, of what I wanted them to cover during their high school years. Some of it has been the same for all three of my high schoolers; some of it has been specialized for each individual.

For example, they all had to cover the basics: math, English, history, and science. How they did that is individualized, as far as resources used, etc.

So… First step: Decide what has to be covered. Some colleges/universities require four years of math, for example, and some only three. Some require three or four years of science, some only two.

Second step: With your student, write up your “game plan,” what subjects will be covered which year, and maybe even decide together what resources you will use. Also, decide together what extra-curricular activities you may wish to include. Will your student have a part-time job to work around? Will your student do dual enrollment at a community college at any point?

Third step: Together fill in the calendar, or student planner. Teach your student to fill in the deadlines, etc. I think this is where I may have failed, to some degree, with my oldest. My daughter, though, seems to be naturally inclined to journal and fill in calendars, etc. This serves her well now; she often writes her work schedule on a calendar, so the rest of us will know what her schedule is. My current high schooler does plan to attend college, so now is the time to be teaching him how to closely manage his time.

Fourth step: On that calendar, you will also want to fill in any extras, like co-ops, field trips, music lessons…and the student’s work schedule, if he/she does have a job. Also, if your student will be taking tests such as PSAT, SAT, or ACT, you’ll want to write those dates in.

This will give your student a greater sense of independence.

What if your student has younger siblings? Well, this is one of the reasons you’re encouraging independence — so you are able to devote the extra time the younger children demand. Still, there is plenty that can be done together as a family, which is one reason I like unit studies so well. And, I read aloud to the children. My daughter sat in on a lot of the books I read aloud to the boys. Now I am reading several books aloud to both boys, especially related to history.

Do you have any tips for fitting it all in? Please share.

Next month we will be discussing graduation. Please come back then.

Homeschooling High School: How Do I Teach High School?!

We have everything planned out, the curriculum chosen, the electives figured in. Now the question is this: How do I even teach high school? It can be rather daunting, intimidating, overwhelming, even frightening perhaps.

First of all, continue praying for God’s guidance, for, of course, we’ve been doing that all along.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him,” James 1:5.

Next, realize you may not be able to teach everything your child will need to study during these high school years. This has been a hard one for me to admit. I feel like I should be able to “do it all” myself. Well, I see how I failed my oldest two by clinging to that idea. But, in my defense, I didn’t have a support system, nor the outside resources I have available now.

I especially feel the need for “outside help” for the math classes, since that is my weakest subject. Like I said previously, I never did find a math curriculum/program that worked for my oldest. My daughter used a more student-led approach. I thought my current high schooler would use that same curriculum (Life of Fred), but it just wasn’t working for him. So, now he is using a virtual school, with a live teacher who can also tutor him when he needs it. He is still struggling, but at least he has certified math teachers to help him! My youngest will probably continue using the video-based program (Math U See).

One resource to keep in mind is the possibility of having your student take dual enrollment classes. Another possibility is having your student work as an apprentice, especially in a field which your student is considering for a career. Co-ops are also great resources for outside help.

Third, allow your child to “take the reins.” If you are like I am, one of your main goals in homeschooling is to teach your child to be a self-learner, and to develop a deep love of learning. If your child has learned how to research the information they want to know, and if they love to learn new things, they will become lifelong learners. You have provided them with the tools they need. So now, in high school, if he or she wants to learn more about some aspect of world history, or have an indepth knowledge of physics or calculus, etc., they know that the library, or Google, will help them find their answers.

Remember, if you want your children to be lifelong learners, you will show them that you yourself are a lifelong learner. Don’t be afraid to learn right alongside your student! One reason I still enjoy reading aloud to my children is because I like to learn right alongside them. I enjoy watching educational videos with them, too. I know I will continue learning along with my youngest, because of his learning challenges. I have to read most everything to him (or have my Kindle do that).

One more thing to keep in mind: You may have to invest a bit more, financially, for the resources you will need. For example, if you have a student who is keenly interested in science, you may want a microscope, and even dissection tools and specimens to dissect. There is also a cost for taking the ACT or SAT. Perhaps your student wants to become an auto mechanic; help him start building a collection of tools. Or, maybe she wants to become a photographer; help her collect quality equipment.

Are there other ideas you have for teaching these sometimes-challenging high school years? Please share!

Homeschooling High School: Electives

Homeschooling High School

Now that we have those core subjects planned, let’s talk about electives, which basically include everything that isn’t a core subject. Although, sometimes core subjects can be considered “elective” if your state requirements have already been met. Say, for example, your student only needs three science credits, but you’re having him or her earn a fourth…or they are doing a higher level math than “required.” (That will never happen in my household! Ha!)

First of all, I do have each of my high schoolers do Home Ec — yes, even my sons. I think it’s important for each of them to know how to cook and do laundry. They also need to learn how to properly clean the house.

In this day and age, we find it is important to learn computer skills; not just proper hand placement on the keys, but also the proper format of typing up essays and reports. I’ve also tried to teach the kids proper format for business letters and personal letters.

Other courses I have had or plan to have my kids cover in their high school years are foreign language (my current high schooler wants to learn several languages, because he plans to become a missionary); music appreciation, music lessons if possible; art appreciation and art techniques; and physical education.

My husband has been excellent at teaching the boys, in particular, home maintenance and repairs. He even taught them some carpentry. They have also been learning auto mechanics and maintenance. Oh, don’t forget driver’s ed!

My oldest began a job when he was in 11th grade. In fact, he was at that job for more than 7 years, until he moved back to Florida. He is dependable and well-liked. My current high school student has done some occasional work for his friend’s dad, in his landscaping business.

We had a hobby farm in the past, with which all of the kids helped with the animal care. It was a great way for the kids to learn responsibility. I’ve also tried to have them work on gardening.

Now, drama or speech and debate are some subjects we’ve never covered. I think speech especially would be good for my current high schooler to do, to prepare for a life of preparing and giving sermons.

What resources are available to cover some of these electives?

Well, this year we are in a homeschool co-op. My current high schooler is taking a class there in marketing. He actually could’ve taken speech and debate, but he didn’t want to. He also could have joined one of the teams working on the yearbook (now, my youngest did choose to join a yearbook team…at least first semester).

Both boys are taking photography through the Florida Virtual School this year, and enjoying it immensely. They will both also take driver’s ed through Florida Virtual School. (Yikes! Did I just type that?! My youngest, to take driver’s ed?! Oh, help!) It’s also possible for them to take various computer classes through FLVS.

Now, you don’t have to be living in Florida to take classes through Florida Virtual School. You can enroll worldwide. It just won’t be free, unless you are a Florida resident. I know there are other virtual schools in which your student may enroll.

Don’t forget your local Pathfinder club, or working on the Investiture Achievement coursework and Pathfinder Honors. These are great methods for working on electives.

What are some of the electives you plan to have your student cover?




Homeschooling High School: Core Subjects

Homeschooling High School

This morning as I prepare this blog post, we are waiting and watching Hurricane Matthew make its way up the Florida coast. We are learning about storm preparedness. Then, later, we may have the opportunity to learn about disaster relief.

Last weekend, my high schooler and I attended the local conference’s High School Bible Retreat. He was one of four in our group: two from our church, and two from the homeschool co-op we attend. There were nearly 300 high schoolers in attendance, most of whom attend public schools. (For the more conservative among us, it might not be an option for your kids! I’m just sayin’.)

Now, do either of these really fit in with the core subjects?

The core subjects are language arts (grammar, literature, creative writing, speech, etc.), mathematics, science, social studies (history, civics, government), and Bible (at least for Christians). How can we cover these subjects in our home schools? Pull out those planning sheets I mentioned last time.

At the top of those planning sheets, they already have English filled in for grades 9-12. But, what resources are best suited for each grade?

You can find a list of resources right here on this blog. Several of those resources my family has actually reviewed for The Schoolhouse Review Crew. I’ll share the links to my reviews.

If you or your student are “word nerds” and enjoy history and learning the origins of our English words, you would really enjoy King Alfred’s English. We received an electronic version to read on our Kindles. If you go to the website, The Shorter Word, you will find resources to enhance your student’s study.

Senior High School Lightning Literature and Composition, by Hewitt Homeschooling, was another great resource we were able to review. The level we actually reviewed was for seventh grade, but they also have high school levels available.

Another resource we reviewed, with which I was impressed, was Excellence in Literature.

I was also impressed with, and thankful to review, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, by Writing With Sharon Watson. There are other amazing resources available on her website, including writing prompts.

If you are interested in an online course, Time4Writing is an excellent program. We did review it, when my daughter was in high school, but that was many years ago now; in fact, it was one of our first review items!

This year, for our first time ever, we are attending a local homeschool co-op. My high schooler is taking a poetry class this semester at co-op, and enjoying it immensely. Hopefully there will be a high school level literature class next semester, too. I also have him reading a book (electronic format) called, Grammar-Land, which we obtained through Yesterday’s Classics. I plan to have him read English Literature for Boys and Girls, as well.

There is a list of science resources on this blog, too.

The main science resource I used for my older two children was Apologia. They both did biology. My oldest did chemistry and physics, while my daughter did the high school anatomy and physiology, and marine biology. My current high schooler is using the list of suggestions from Simply Charlotte Mason. This year I actually have him listening to the Apologia physics via Audible. They have all of the junior high and high school level texts available.

You can find a list of history resources.

I will admit, one of my most favorite resources is Heritage History. This year, my high schooler is using this for his main resource. We also watch a lot of videos through Netflix. We could use Amazon Prime, too, if our wifi was better and more cooperative!

We also maintain a timeline. I especially like the free timeline I downloaded from Simply Charlotte Mason, then printed off. There is also an online Biblical Timeline, which Amazing Facts supports.

If you use living books and/or videos, make sure your child keeps a list of what he/she has read or viewed for the transcript, whether for history or science, or any other subject.

Yes, there is even a list of math resources. Math has always been the most challenging subject for me to teach to my children. Only one (of four) likes math; the others basically detest/ed it, like their mother!

No matter what I tried, I never did find a resource that suited my oldest…poor kid! My daughter finally found that Life of Fred worked for her. My current high schooler has been as challenging as my oldest. He tried Life of Fred, and Math U See. This year I actually have him taking math through the Florida Virtual School (because we personally know two of the math teachers, who attend our church). I plan to stick with Math U See for my youngest all the way through.

Lastly, you will also find a list of Bible resources. We have used resources from Doorposts (one of which we were able to review),  My Bible First, and Young Disciple.

My favorite resource, though, is just reading the Bible. We are currently reading through Psalms together, reading one Psalm a day. I think we may move on to Proverbs, then the four gospels, after that.

I also have suggested to my high schooler to read through the Bible and the Conflict of the Ages series, using the Encounter reading plan. Frankly, I have been using this plan myself for the past three years; I have one more year after this one. You and your high schooler may also be interested in using the resources at Believe His Prophets, where they have a daily Bible reading plan, as well as weekly readings from Ellen White’s books. The readings can be sent directly to your email inbox, or you can read them online at the website.

I hope this information will be useful in implementing the core subjects for your high schooler. Next time we will discuss methods of choosing and working on the electives.

(You can read more of my reviews on my blog, Life at Rossmont.)