Some of you have listened to my musings about homeschooling high school in previous posts. It can be overwhelming to look at high schools, and many mothers I have spoken with, no matter what methodology or pedagogy they use to homeschool, feel overwhelmed.
It is almost like being back as a parent of a preschooler when all the options for schooling and building up family traditions and dealing with childhood behavior seem overwhelming, but back during those early years most people had time to get together for playdates and to support each other. Trying to figure out how to homeschool high school is like this, only there are no supportive play dates. Sometimes not many people are homeschooling high school in a local area, so there is no one around the learn from, and then on top of that, no one has time. There may multiple children involved in multiple things, and no one seems to have time to get together to discuss high school. No more supportive playdates!
I am very lucky because my county has a BIG contingent of people homeschooling high school. The time factor is still very real, but at least I know there are people to reach out to.
Waldorf homeschoolers, have another issue and challenge though, that few traditional homeschoolers understand: there are hardly any resources for homeschooling high school in relation to doing the traditional blocks mentioned on the AWNSA chart or Waldorf high school websites. There may be paragraphs here and there, for example, about ninth grade living chemistry, but just a few. Other blocks have even less then that! There are samples of main lesson book pages for high school, but I find this is mainly for ninth grade and not much for tenth grade and up.
The curriculum can also be more fluid as well and difficult to pin down. as some parts of it are traditional and seen in every grade and other subjects seem to vary by region or school. There are curriculum layouts from most Waldorf high schools on the Internet, and some schools have published more specific things… The Chicago Waldorf School has done a terrific job publicly sharing some of their Main Lesson Block topics and assignments and it offers a tantalizing glimpse into the high school world. One of the Waldorf High Schools in Hawaii has published some great main lesson book pages from tenth grade. However, this takes a lot of time to sift through different websites and articles. (Although I am grateful for anything that is out there!)
Then these is the fact that we are not only sifting through Waldorf resources, but also mainstream resources. If a credit is around 150 – 180 hours and we know how many credits our high schooler needs to graduate, we need to know if our homeschooler is interested in college what those credits need to be in. Some colleges list very specific things such as “3 credits Social Studies – 1 American History, 1 World History, 1 American Government and Civics” for example, – and then YOU as the parent really need to know WHAT these credits entail so you can match what you do in blocks to fulfilling credit hours.
For example, in eighth grade, I realized we had an Asian History block, an Oceanography Block, a Meteorology Block, and a World Geography Review and deepening that I was planning to run all year twice a week as a review from all that geography from fifth grade onward. When I looked at a mainstream geography book and syllabus and realized all of these areas were included in high school Geography, I knew between all of this, our hours doing Main Lesson book work, plus performing music related to time periods, our hands-on projects, use of badges from historical sites from our National Park Services, our reading lists and reading reports, would certainly give us more than 150 hours in this area. So there is a high school credit in eighth grade!
Sometimes what you will be doing will span more than one year due to the block system of Waldorf homeschooling. So you may be doing a lot of American history in eighth grade and that combined with the blocks you are doing in ninth grade, may count for a whole credit of American history completed in ninth grade. Transcripts can be created that say when you “completed” a course, so it could theoretically cover more than a year but end in the year where a traditional American school may place it. Examples of this might especially include the sciences, where transcripts normally place biology, chemistry, physics in separate years in that order but Waldorf puts them together every year.
You may need to run a subject not only as blocks, but as a “track” as well, where you meet several times a week all year on top of one or two blocks. So, the important thing is to look ahead and see how you want to divide things, what you want to run as track classes (like perhaps you run math as a year long course ON TOP OF the math blocks or run biology for a whole year ON TOP OF the blocks you will do that covers life sciences). You can keep careful track of your experiential learning and reading lists as well as part of your homeschooling for high school credit.
Great thinking as always. I do have to say, having done this all the way with one and through 9th with another, being on 9th with the third one, like many things in Waldorf we can overthink this. Overthinking often leads to overwhelm and a lot of stress. It very much depends on what your child wants to do when they leave home which is a hard thing to pin down when they are 14. I tried to balance and then thought a lot about my own goals at mother/educator. What did I want for Harry? In the end, I wanted him to have the Waldorf balance and the academic ability to go after anything he wanted. I believe we came to a good happy medium. Think about the college your child wants to attend, find out their requirements for homeschoolers. Go from there.
In the end, Harry took the GED (did wonderfully), Jacob transferred to public school seemlessly in 10th grade (no credit transfer issues) and with Elleanor we will likely work on a transcript but it is too early to tell. I am not stressed about it at all, each will come into their own and we will cross those bridges as we need to.
Just my thoughts. Probably not popular ones, but take them for what they are worth.
No, I think those are great thoughts! I think there can be a lot of pressure out there and also feeling isolated too…and I think taking a tip from our unschooling friends too can be helpful… I have heard of taking sticky notes for everything you do and then organizing it by credit after the fact.
I think you have great confidence and hopefully those of us just entering the high school years will grow into that!
Thanks for the encouragement,
I do agree, I think there is a lot of pressure and there are always those that are questioning our continuing with high school, the important ones don’t question though…. the important ones are the ones that get to know our kids, the ones that see them shine. I am constantly amazed at their own will for more. Ellie wanted to be stronger in US Geography so she took it upon herself to study each state bit by bit. Harry before he left for his mission suddenly took up San Diego history, he missed it since we moved here when he was in 11th grade. Our kids (meaning ALL of the Waldorf homeschoolers and others across the board) are great kids. They will help us know what is right for them. We are the BEST guidance counselors they can have. We know them intimately, much more than anyone else.
This is wonderful advice, Melisa. My eldest daughter is in her senior year and I took a similar approach. She too transferred seamlessly into a high school in gr 9 but it wasn’t the greatest fit and she returned home in Gr 10. She soon figured out that she wanted to explore through travel and explore social justice issues and history through studying art so she joined our city gallery’s youth council. There are certain things that I wanted to make sure she was exposed to with respect to math, literature, and basic sciences. She opted not to complete her high school diploma through our province’s online resource (which is the only way to get a high school diploma outside of attending school).
This semester she was able to enrol in an online university course this year for Spanish – high school credits or post secondary credits are required for an overseas program she wants to apply for next September. However, she knows that there is no rush and that if she couldn’t gain the credits now, there would always be a way to do what she wanted when the time was right.
With my next four children, I anticipate letting things unfold a little through gr 8 and gr 9 as well. And I love that, “we will cross those bridges when we need to.” Because it is still a family journey together.
I am a couple of years behind you but also very aware that there are not a lot of resources or information out there for homeschooling high school with a Waldorf spirit. So thank you for posting about this because I always have one eye on the upcoming grades.
My general thoughts at this stage are like Melisa’s (and great to hear it has worked well for her :-)), I think we will try to tailor-make a curriculum based around what is needed for our child’s individual interests, passions, talents and plans for the future, and try to do this in a Waldorf way. So, perhaps not following the exact curriculum in the schools, but covering those blocks which fit with our plans and pursuing any other subjects using all we have learnt about Waldorf education in general in our approach to it. It feels quite freeing to me to create a curriculum for ourselves, but at the same time risky!
Both my husband and I were mature college students/grads and I think that helps a bit psychologically to take that risk because we have both had that experience of not going to college straight after high school and surviving 🙂 But it is hard when, as a homeschooling parent, one feels responsible for guiding the decisions and facilitating the learning. Plus the world is changing so rapidly, it is impossible to gauge what skills and knowledge will be needed for such an unknown future.
I think that is the goal of homeschooling high school, to be sure…However, I also see the high school years as the time passions are often “emerging”, at least for one of mine….with nothing foreseeable right now…I think this may come more around 16/17 year change, so I am keeping in mind we may have some years of schooling that are more directed by family goals or college goals than a particular passion…if that makes sense..
I like your experience of being a “mature” student..I did it both ways, right after high school got one degree and then got a second four year degree after working for a time. There are advantages to being a college student after real world experience!
Great article. I have graduated 4 children from homeschool – all have gotten into colleges. Most state schools want the credit to look a certain way (like your example: Biology, Chemistry, Physics). Private schools are mush more flexible. There are four ways to receive credits for a specific: 1)Test out of the subject in college level test 2)complete 80% of traditional textbook 3) Hours (that’s what you covered) 4) Textbook equivalent. Although I am new to Waldorf. I have always taught unconventionally. I found text book equivalent to be the easiest to keep track of using unconventional teaching methods. Instead of having to figure hours you can look at a text book – at the library, or on line. I take a picture of the table of contents. If all of the subjects in the table of contents have been covered – then the student receives a credit. Like you said with the hours – these topics can be covered over a period of years – not just one year “Physics”. Which is what happens with main lessons.
Thank you so much! Your textbook idea works great and I wish someone had mentioned that before…that is how I figured out the work we were doing this year in World Geography could be a high school credit. I appreciate your help!
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