Homeschooling high school doesn't have to be scary.
Yes, it is higher stakes than homeschooling elementary school. Yes, it requires more planning, record keeping, and grading.
And yes, it can sometimes feel like an enormous responsibility (because it IS).
Homeschooling "big kids", however, is a great joy and honor. It is where we are able to witness the fruits of our labor.
There are so many wonderful CONVERSATIONS to be had when you homeschool high school. There are DEEP subjects to be tackled. There are so many social aspects (too numerous to count) to be avoided when you homeschool high school.
There are abundant opportunities to grow and learn alongside your teen, and for this I am thankful.
Homeschool High School - The BIG Plan
We have made the commitment to homeschool high school using the Classical Conversations Challenge program as our SPINE. My daughter is part of a class of 7 young people who come together once a week to discuss their work and receive guidance from their tutor.
( It really is a BEAUTIFUL model for learning, and I'm very thankful we have a thriving Challenge community in our area. )
This year Anna will be participating in Challenge II:
Notice I say SPINE... not everything in the Challenge curriculum has worked for my daughter, nor do I believe one size EVER fits all for homeschool. One of the largest reasons we began homeschooling eight years ago was to tailor our children's educations to their needs and interests.
To that end, we are adding and subtracting from the Challenge program - while still maintaining the overall integrity of a Classical education.
For the past two years we have been using Mr. D Math. Really, I could go on forever about why we love this math program.
For 10th grade Anna is enrolled in Geometry. She attends a once a week online class meeting, and then completes the rest of the coursework during the week.
So many people ask why we abandoned Saxon Math (it is after all the gold standard, right?). It's very simple: the spiraling got to be TOO MUCH for my student. (We still use Saxon for my youngest - it works for him but it may not when he gets to be older - who knows?)
My daughter was checking out during lessons and getting extremely frustrated by the amount of repetition - and not enough time spent on individual concepts. Math was a source of tension and anxiety - for BOTH OF US!
Mr. D puts math into a language she understands. He goes concept by concept -- AND (my favorite thing) he integrates SAT test taking strategies in his math courses. Best of all, my daughter genuinely enjoys Mr. D and he instills confidence in her.
This will be a challenging year of British literature. The theme of the year is learning about making wise choices through an analysis of the characters in the books they read.
We follow the schedule of readings in our Challenge guide and will read (and write a persuasive essay on and discuss) the following novels this year:
- Selected Canterbury Tales
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- Paradise Lost
- The Pilgrim's Progress
- Gulliver's Travels
- Pride and Prejudice
- A Tale of Two Cities
- Jane Eyre
- Animal Farm
- A Passage to India
- Something Beautiful for God
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Robinson Crusoe
- Favorite Father Brown Stories
- A Morbid Taste for Bones
- Out of the Silent Planet
- The Hobbit
- The Screwtape Letters
SO MANY PEOPLE wonder how homeschooled children will complete science labs at the high school level.
Anna reads the text this year and completes lab reports and tests at home, while doing work with the microscope and dissections in her Challenge II class. She is my science kid and really looks forward to this seminar each week!
This year's text is Exploring Creation with Biology.
This is another area where we diverge from the Challenge II curriculum.
Yes, we are still using Henle Latin - but we are moving at a slower (and I believe more thorough) pace.
If there is one struggle I constantly hear from Challenge parents it is that the Latin is TOO difficult. We aren't ones to shy away from difficult - but the difficulties we were having with Latin (especially since Anna jumped into Challenge with no prior CC experience) were huge stumbling blocks to learning.
Last year we gave ourselves permission to START OVER in Latin. We enrolled in Memoria Press Online Academy and completed the year long Henle I course (covering Units 1-5). This was the BEST decision we could have made!
Anna attended a once a week 90 minute class meeting and was led BY AN EXPERT LATIN TEACHER through the Henle book. It was such a huge sense of relief - after feeling that Latin just wasn't sticking or making much sense during Challenges A & B.
This year she is enrolled in Henle I Units 6-14.
Benefits of outsourcing Latin?
- Learning from an EXPERT in Latin eliminates confusion.
- A strict, graded online class environment is good to experience.
- Having this variety in her high school experience makes her more well rounded.
- Mom can be 100% hands off!
Western Cultural History
This is probably MY favorite part of Challenge II -- because it is just so rich and beautiful:
As a special gift to our family, I've subscribed to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. We will be going to see five concerts this school year - to get a closer look at music history.
(We will also continue to use SQUILT during our Morning Time because it perfectly prepares Anna for a deeper study of music appreciation this year. )
Our Logic studies come from Memoria Press - Traditional Logic.
Logic was very difficult in Challenge B, but I have heard that this year's Logic is a bit easier. I'm hoping so!
As I look at this 10th grade schedule it IS demanding.
What I love, however, is that Anna has learned to budget her time. After three years in the Challenge program she has disciplined herself to create a weekly schedule and stick to it.
Our favorite saying lately is:
"You can always do more than you think you can do!"
School work is our priority - most days Anna will be working from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., and it is amazing what can be accomplished in that time.
She is also taking piano and guitar lessons, and tennis drills twice a week at our local YMCA. Add to this youth group and babysitting jobs, and she's a busy girl - which is a GOOD THING!
I keep asking myself how we got this point, and how I could possibly have a 10th grader I am homeschooling?
How could we have gone from pulling this avid third grade reader out of public school to registering for the PSAT?
I marvel at how God has paved the way for this homeschool experience, and how He will continue to pave the way through graduation.
Honestly, I never thought I would be able to homeschool high school, but God truly has equipped me to guide Anna through these years, and to be the "learner in charge" - NOT the expert in all areas.
Are you homeschooling a high schooler this year? I would love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below!