High school planning is challenging because of the becoming. I can tell you I think the largest, biggest, scariest, most brilliant leaps in development happen between ages 15-17 and it happens in ways so hard to predict! So on one hand, who wants to plan high school so far ahead and pigeon-hole what beautiful opportunities and passions come out of growth? On the other hand, who wants to think myopically and make the world very small and not plan far enough ahead so that opportunities will then not be available for the young adult? I think this is the fine line that every homeschooling family straddles.
So far, I can only tell you our plan for one child, who is currently in tenth grade, and what we think the next few years will look like. I am happy to share that; I am also happy to share that ninth and tenth grade have been vastly different for this child and that things are emerging daily that could be a path to something for the future that I cannot even foresee yet. There really are no planned out tracks or goals for a career right now, no set path. This child would prefer to have four years of high school and not pursue dual enrollment. In my area, dual enrollment is insanely popular and perhaps for good financial reason. But I also understand my child and how she wants the excitment to enter college as a freshman (or in taking a gap year and then entering) and how she wants the beauty of the full college experience as a new freshman and how she doesn’t feel ready for dual enrollment with many older students. And I think that is okay!
So, my main advice to you in planning high school is to:
LOOK AT YOUR CHILD. What is their temperament, their personality, their interests? Are there any outside academic high school classes in your area and if so, does your child want to take them? Does your child want to go to college? Do they know what they want to do or do they have an area in which they shine that might lead to a career path? Do they want to do dual enrollment? Or not?
THINK ABOUT BEING MINIMAL. High school can suddenly seem very, very complicated. In all states in the United States, you can create a transcript for graduating high school. However, if your child is interested in applying to college, there may be certain requirements the college or university is looking for. So look at the public college system in your state and see what the requirements look like. After freshman year, perhaps your student will be willing to chime in on a few colleges they like and you can look at those requirements as well. So, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be limiting. There are many ways to meet science or history requirements, and many unique areas of focus that would count depending upon the final goal upon high school completion. Most homeschooling families who have homeschooled multiple children through high school have commented that every high school path has looked different for each teenager. As it should be – THAT is one reason why we homeschool high school!
DON’T PANIC. 150 hours is usually a humanities credit, and a 180 hours is usually a science with lab credit. You can fulfill this a variety of ways – hours of experience, using a textbook and getting through most of the textbook, or honestly, when you feel the material has been mastered. Some will use CLEP tests or SAT II Subject Tests to prove mastery. If you keep track of what you do as you go along, you will have no trouble putting a transcript together.
CHASE THE PASSIONS. This is why we homeschool high school on one hand, but on the other hand, not every homeschooled kid has this insane passion that takes hours a day. Be easy on this if they don’t have a passion, but do look for the opportunities that make homeschooling worthwhile!
WALDORF WHAT? Many of you here are Waldorf homeschoolers and I am here to tell you whilst there is almost no information out there, it is possible to homeschool Waldorf in a high school manner using a mix of track (all year) classes and block classes (just like you did in grades 1-8). Check out the Waldorf High Schools around the United States on-line and you will see the same blocks over and over with some geographic variation, just like in grades 1-8. The AWNSA chart created by David Mitchell details high school in it, as does books by Stockmeyer and the book by Finser. You will be putting together blocks yourself just as you have done through the middle school years when less curricula was available. you can do this!
Our plan right now, for one very specific teenager who wants to go to college and pretty much likes only math (LOL) and whose siblings’ high school courses will look much, much different:
We did World Geography as a year-long course (Oak Meadow’s high school course) in Grade 8 and High School Spanish I in Grade 8. These credits could count toward high school if we need them – especially the foreign language.
Ninth Grade – we did Biology as a year-long track class with labs (Oak Meadow with things I added to it); American History (through blocks that added up to enough hours between eighth and ninth grade); Algebra I (outside class in our town); Spanish II (Oak Meadow); and Literature and Composition I (including the typical Comedy and Tragedy block found in ninth grade) and math blocks (see Making Math Meaningful for High School for more information on these blocks). Typical Waldorf blocks also include Art History, which would count toward a fine arts credit if a college requires it and you add in fine arts projects or toward an elective credit. We had a credit with Music Theory and Performance (vocal, piano).
Tenth Grade – AP Environmental Science is our year-long track science class (outside class in our town); we will start World History in several blocks and finish that in eleventh grade; United States Government and Civics as a year-long course (and tied back into Greek History and Civics that is a popular block in Waldorf Schools); Literature and Composition I (taught in blocks, this year, Ancient Literature, Epic Poetry, Contemporary African-American Poetry/Essays) and math blocks. Books with reports throughout the year. Health and Physical Fitness (Oak Meadow). Geometry and Algebra II/Trig were the other two outside classes our tenth grader chose to take (two credits total) along with the math blocks found in tenth grade Waldorf Schools. Our embryology block will tie back into our Biology credit from ninth grade. We will also have another credit with Music Theory and Performance II.
Eleventh Grade – Chemistry will be our science, I believe, along with several blocks of botany found traditionally in Waldorf Schools and blocks on astronomy. We will finish World History and include resources on world religions, usually found in Waldorf Schools in this grade. Eleventh Grade English is usually Dante, Parsifal and more in this grade, so still deciding that route. Books with reports throughout the year. Math will be Precalculus and possibly AP Statistics as outside classes (two credits). We will most likely have another credit in music and will apply the hours in our History Through Music block to this.
Twelfth Grade – Physics and Calculus will be our outside classes, most likely along with AP English and AP Psychology, also outside the home. The traditional Waldorf blocks include literature such as Faust , Transcendentalists, and Russian literature, so I will be drawing from those, and History through Architecture. We most likely will have another credit in music and I would love to cover Marine Biology, but we will see how far we get.
There are some things we may not cover, such as a lot of Earth Science, which is covered in Waldorf Schools. However, I think for the most part, our plan lines up to both some of the things found important developmentally in Waldorf Schools and also meets requirements for the more competitive colleges our teen is dreaming of applying to.
So that is our plan, but mostly we want to be flexible and allow time for all of our teen’s passions, of which there are a few (mainly horseback riding and musical ventures, and involvement at our parish).
Tell me your high school plans!