It was a steep learning curve for my teaching this semester, my friends. I have never taught ninth grade before, and I think what I mainly remembered from high school was twelfth grade. And i kind of forgot how I got there, if that makes sense. So, I want to share my mistakes with you so you don’t have to re-create the wheel when you get to ninth grade homeschooling. Now of course, this is how I think I should have changed things for this particular child in our family situation, and it may work out totally differently for you and your child! So, I guess maybe these are just points to ponder.
In no particular order:
- I would recommend to decide what your track and block subjects will be if you are still continuing to homeschool with Waldorf Education as your base. We are doing Algebra I as a track class with an outside teacher; High School Spanish II as a track class through Oak Meadow (enrolled); blocks on American History to add to last year’s blocks to make a credit for social studies; Literature and Composition throughout in a combination of blocks and weekly readings and responses; Biology as a track class; Art History and Foundations in Design and Drawing as both a block and weekly artistic projects. Our music credit we are getting through our church’s musical theory and performance program. What I have found is that it is very hard to earn enough hours to make a high school credit if you ONLY do things in one or two blocks, unless you add up the blocks from multiple years. And really, I think there is a lot of material to cover so you need both weekly and block experiences
- Count your hours of experiences as well. I have used 4H experiences, experiences at our National Parks earning badges, and field trips all as part of experiential learning in each subject area because I consider that to be a main feature of a Waldorf Education at this level – seeking truth from experts in the field; doing things instead of just reading about them. Plan and count your experiences! Field trips!
- Biology may work out well for some children this year, but I would put it in tenth grade if I had to do it over. If you put it in ninth grade, be prepared to have both you and your student put a lot of time into it. I would choose a physical science or environmental science if you must have a track science class in ninth grade.
- Pre-read all the works of literature you plan to cover. I am sure this is where teaching the same grade multiple years in a row yields advantages! This semester we covered The Last of the Mohicans, and in accordance with the Christopherus Comedy and Tragedy guide, we covered Electra by Sophocles, The Damask Drum (Japanese Noh Drama), Twelfth Night, Six Characters In Search of An Author, and Raisin in the Sun. The Last of the Mohicans fit in great with American History, but it was a really difficult go and probably would have been better in eleventh or twelfth grade. Neither of us enjoyed Six Characters in Search of An Author, and had I pre-read it I probably would have picked a different work to showcase an example of modern theater. Some books have themes that your child may or may not be ready for in these works, so that is another reason to pre-read. Next semester we are using some works from Oak Meadow’s Literature and Composition I course along with The Old Man and the Sea. I will let you know how it goes! Literary analysis is exceedingly hard for most ninth graders, and so you must have a clear progression in your mind as the teacher as to how you are going to develop this and work toward this.
- Keep your rhythm and the artistic and academic deepening work going in that same two or three day rhythm you used througout the grades. I have found that this worked really well, and kept us grounded. I hope to share some pictures of our work at some point in the future.
- Don’t forget to hike, celebrate the seasons and festivals, get outside, pursue interests. The whole point is to be well-rounded.
- Handwork, music, dance and movement, gardening, cooking – don’t give up. Find spots for it, both in the main lesson and the track classes, but also separately.
Share with me your high school homeschooling experiences! I can’t wait to learn from you!