…..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?
I have two in high school (well, one is officially done, but is still finishing up some work). What I have learned:
Be as organized as possible!
Teach them time management and organizational skills.
Make sure they have a detailed schedule: Most high schoolers cannot organize their studies themselves when they start out with high school.
Teach them good research skills: Wikipedia is NOT the only place to find information.
Teach them how to use computers and all new technology responsibly. Do not allow them to have unlimited access to the internet.
Teach them money management and household skills so that they can take care of themselves.
Teach them to finish things and stick to them.
Teach them that there might be subjects they don’t care for, but they still have to do.
Use only homeschool materials that allow you to grade the work of you student easily. I chose some things I thought looked neat, but then I did not have time to do them with my student and could not evaluate what the student was actually accomplishing. In case you are short of time or are not familiar with a book or concept, make sure you have a GOOD teacher’s manual.
Grade your student’s work in a timely fashion. Don’t just hand the answer key to him or her.
Do standardized testing, in case you have not done so so far.
Let your student take outside the home classes.
Think about where your high school education will lead your student: college, trade school, marriage, etc.
Start preparing for PSAT and SAT early enough, parallel to your studies, maybe once a week.
Look at colleges and deadlines early enough (if your child wants to go to college).
Write down all the books your child is reading: You might have to list them on a college application.
Find meaningful extracurricular activities. They are very important for college applications. Volunteer work looks especially good!
Find classes and activities where your child has to talk about things or participate in discussions, not just online!
Some high schoolers become very slow when it comes to doing their work. Make sure they finish their work before they get to do fun things!
Do math and English every day, first thing. Those two subjects are the most important.
Make sure your student gets a good foundation in English grammar, not just literature.
Be firm in your approach, your child will challenge you constantly, but they need your firmness.
Well, this is all I can think of for now.