…..and what I learned…
This is the first time I ever been through homeschooling high school, and it is definitely a learning curve when you are putting together your own materials for the most part. I talked a lot about planning this grade in this back post. , and many families have homeschooled children with strong interests that they can creatively mix into their child’s first high school year. We are following more of a traditional Waldorf School kind of high school path modified for the home environment and what I can feasibly do.
Our first week was a mix of homework for an outside Algebra I class that is a mainstream class, a year-long biology class that I created, and our first block of the year which is Native American and Colonial History which includes not only a main lesson book but a literature study on the book “Last of the Mohicans” (hint: the book was not as easy as I thought it would be!) (block also created by me). These are the things I learned along the way this first week of homeschooling high school from a sheer weekly/daily structure kind of standpoint:
If your child takes an outside class, the child will have a good amount of homework to do if the class meets only once or twice a week. We figured this going into it all, but I am so glad I put time in our rhythm every day to field homework questions. And I am so glad I totally remember my high school algebra for whatever odd reason! Seriously, though, homework is an independent endeavor, but your student still needs time to ask you questions and you need to have a plan of how your child can get help if it is a subject you are not as familiar with or don’t remember well.
For year-long classes that you are creating, particularly science, do make sure your child knows how to take notes from what you are saying and from what you assign for reading for the class. I learned I really needed to break things up more by day and into much smaller chunks than what I anticipated in the original syllabus I created, and also that I needed at first to give a little guidance how to pick out the most major ideas and key phrases, etc. We had done some of this in middle school, but reading technical and scientific things can be quite different than other types of reading.
It is a delicate balance between track and block classes and the amount of work. It is important to look at it all and really plan longer for the blocks than you might normally.
The artistic end of the high school work is so very important. I know in the Waldorf Schools there are specialists in these areas, and I consider myself so NOT a specialist. Of course we have been drawing, painting, and modeling just like in previous grades, but I also have been relying on some kits to help us and am searching for some outside teachers or classes as I locate them for the artistic skills our high schooler wants to learn. For this particular history block, I tied in Native American basketry (kits), Native American beading (already knew how to do but working on more complext patterns and such) and soapstone carving (kits). For biology, we are tying in block printmaking (experimenting on our own with the help of books from the library) and the art of gyotaku, Japanese fish printmaking (kits and experimenting on our own – the fish are plastic replicas in the kits). Music, drama, and speech are also important. We are fulfilling these things outside the home but also tying in music and speech in with our history block.
Nature and exercise – has to be up there on the priority list. Ninth graders really cannot sit still well and need those healing balms of movement and nature.
For those of you going through homeschooling high school, what have you learned that would help a first time high school homeschooling mom as far as the day to day scheduling and priorities?