Homeschooling high school CAN be done!
In fact, homeschooling high school is where I am starting to see the fruits of my homeschool mom labor.... why would I quit now when it's just getting good?
We have been part of a Classical Conversations community for the past three years. In that time, my oldest (now 9th grade) has completed Challenge A and Challenge B - and now she is on the home stretch in Challenge I.
There are so many reasons I would recommend Classical Conversations, but for high school I love it for a few BIG reasons.
1. Unlike many other homeschool high school programs, I (as a parent) retain the control in grading and assignments. Our Challenge tutor partners with our family, but we still have all of the authority.
2. Students learn together (in an intimate setting) about TOUGH topics. Everything is based on a give and take - lots of discussion.
3. The five canons of rhetoric - invention, arrangement, elocution, memory, and delivery - are emphasized throughout ALL subject areas. This prepares our children for a world where they will need to defend their faith in God and viewpoints in an articulate and accurate manner.
*I have not been compensated by Classical Conversations for this post. I'm just a happy CC mom that wants to share our experiences.
A Word About Accreditation and Transcripts
Before we go any further.... so much of a homeschool parent's fear about homeschool is wrapped up in accreditation and creating transcripts.
After doing much research, I am confident that I will be able to transcripts my children's high school experience and help them gain acceptance into a college of their choice.
I will be using The Total Transcript Solution from The HomeScholar to assist me in creating a transcript. I recently had the pleasure of hosting a high school webinar with The HomeScholar.
If you'd like your heart to be calmed about homeschool high school, listen to the webinar playback. It will give you GREAT peace of mind!
About Challenge I
Anna meets one day a week 4 other classmates and a tutor. This tutor isn't responsible for being the "expert" who imparts all of her knowledge to the students, rather she is a fellow learner that comes alongside the young people and models learning and helps lead discussions.
Six seminars are covered each week, and they are all so beautifully woven together and they all point the students back to their Creator.
American Literature and Persuasive Essay Writing
Free Market Economics and American Government
Drama and Music Theory
The students are accountable to each other and to their tutor - and this accountability spurs them to do their best work.
The theme for this year is Discipline Brings Freedom.
When I asked Anna's tutor to describe Challenge I in a nutshell - this is what she said:
A Typical Week in Challenge 1
Anna attends class each Tuesday. She plays on a tennis team that practices every Tuesday after CC - which a great way to get some energy out after a full day of academics!
On Wednesday morning she makes a planning sheet. She looks in her Challenge 1 guide to assess what is due the following week, then she schedules the work onto a planning sheet.
This skill - of discerning, prioritizing, and planning her activities - has been one of the most valuable things in Challenge. She knows what is expected of her and is in control of when to complete the assignments. Sometimes it goes well, other times it does not. But through all things we are learning and growing.
I love Classical Conversations' careful incorporation of the fine arts into all areas of their curriculum. This year the students read The Taming of the Shrew for drama and now move on to music theory in the second semester.
Anna is my piano player. She loves music and says she wants to be a Music Therapist one day.
This semester she is using her expertise in music theory to help lead the class in a new study - Math in Motion: First Steps in Music Theory. Her tutor has let her take the lead with the class. Anna helps explain new grammar and has been making up her own review games to help her peers. She LOVES this!
This week she completed the theory exercises in her book and continued to plan review games for the class. She also practiced playing the example hymns from the book.
American Literature and Persuasive Essay Writing
The American Literature selections for the Challenge 1 years are carefully selected. Most books are then followed with a persuasive essay on an issue of the student's choosing from the book. Because these kids have been using The Lost Tools of Writing since Challenge A, they are becoming quite adept at writing persuasive essays.
Anna just finished a persuasive essay after reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and is starting Up From Slavery. She's also beginning to compose an issue and start an essay for Born Again.
Good stuff - not exactly what I was doing in the ninth grade.
The literature list for Challenge 1 is impressive. And yes, they read ALL OF THIS in one year.
- Billy Budd, Sailor
- The Gold-Bug and Other Tales
- Born Again
- The Old Man and the Sea
- Johnny Tremain
- The Red Badge of Courage
- The Scarlet Letter
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
- Sign of the Beaver
- Self-Reliance and Other Essays
- Starship Troopers
- Through Gates of Splendor
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Up From Slavery
- The Call of the Wild
- Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond
- An Old Fashioned Girl
The surprise of the year has been how much Anna enjoys science.
The text they are using is Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Physical Science. She goes straight through the textbook, completing the study guides for each module and taking tests. The students complete experiments and labs in class.
(Again, I grade all tests and study guides. The tutor does NOT do this... the parent retains all grading rights!)
This week Anna continued to complete notecards from her sources for the science research paper. This research paper will be worked on for the entire semester. I love that they are walked through the research paper process over a long period of time.
Latin is one area where we have veered from the Challenge guide.
Classical Conversations suggests Henle Latin, and we abide by that suggestion. It is a rigorous Latin text that takes discipline and perseverance to complete.
I wasn't able to devote the time to learning Latin alongside Anna (which is really necessary for success in Latin without a traditional teacher), so we made the decision to enroll her in Henle Latin I through Memoria Press Online Academy.
Anna's class meets online once a week for 90 minutes. She is completely accountable to that teacher. All quizzes and tests are completed online. Anna keeps up with the daily exercises and is graded on in class participation and test grades.
This has worked PERFECTLY. Anna benefits from a Latin expert and also from having the experience of strict accountability to a "teacher".
Anna still participates in the Henle Latin seminar in class - she is just working at a different pace than her classmates.
I love that we can customize her Challenge 1 year to fit our family's needs.
Free Market Economics & Debate
The first semester was spent reading ORIGINAL American documents and annotating them. Anna also created a timeline of important events in American history.
(We then traveled to Washington, DC as a family to reinforce this learning -- what an experience!)
When Anna and I sat down to talk about her assignments this week we were looking at The Big Mac Index and going over economics terms I hadn't heard since college.
She is also following a stock portfolio each week - she invested $10,000 (imaginary!) in the stock market three weeks ago, and will track her stocks' progress until the end of the semester.
In addition to this, the students are working on a budgeting and personal finance project. Anna will choose a profession - determine the salary she will be making - and then create a working budget based on that.
How cool is that?
Also this week, Anna is preparing to present her IE - a 3-5 minute memorized Individual Event. She has chosen a sweet AA Milne poem, "Teddy Bear", and is having fun with this.
Classical Conversations recommends Saxon Algebra I.
After many frustrations with the upper levels of Saxon, Anna switched to Mr. D Math.
I've written before about Mr. D. He is my math savior! This is an area where we needed an expert to HELP us.
Anna takes Algebra every Monday afternoon with Mr. D and several other students. They meet online for an hour. I HIGHLY RECOMMED Mr. D's math curriculum. Read my review if you want to learn more!
The beauty of Challenge is that Anna can still participate in the math conversations they have each week in her Challenge I class. They are discussing CONCEPTS and students take turns leading the class with different ways to solve problems. Anna has benefitted greatly from her experience with Mr. D, and hasn't suffered at all during math seminar at CC.
Every Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. (yes, we have a time on the calendar for this) Anna and I sit down and have a check-out for the following day.
We go through the guide together and check off her assignments, discuss any areas of concern, proofread papers, and just assess the week in general. Check outs in Challenge A and Challenge B were sometimes rough. It's a learning process.
Now, however, check out meetings are running smoothly. Anna is generally well prepared and we have good discussions about the stock market, music theory, American Literature, and debate topics.
I never imagined homeschooling a high schooler in the first place, and I am constantly AMAZED at what a beautiful, God-centered education my child is receiving - with Classical Conversations as our partner in education.
Ultimately, that we have the freedom to choose what works best for our children and for our families. Homeschooling high school doesn't have to be scary. There are so many options out there.
Do you homeschool a high schooler? Do you have any anxiety THINKING about homeschooling a high schooler? I'd love to know.
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