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Preparing for homeschooling high school is a big job. Once you have a four year plan in place, it’s time to choose the materials you will use for instruction. There are a lot of choices. How do you know what is best for your student? Choosing High School Curriculum will help you to address your student’s needs and determine the materials for their courses of study.
Criteria for Choosing High School Curriculum
The first thing to consider is what subjects your student will be tackling. Then you’ll need some criteria for what’s appropriate for your student. Make sure they are involved in the decision making process. That’s crucial to the handing over of the reins!
- Student Goals– What are your student’s goals within each course? Some curriculum will better meet those once you know what they are.
- Style of Instruction– This goes along with how your student wants to learn. They may not want the same style for each course, but they will want what matches them best.
- Content– Does it meet your requirements for what the student is to learn? That’s an obvious one! This can also mean is there objectionable content. However, I would avoid dismissing curriculum at this point based purely on small objections or sections of content. The older your student gets, the more they need to be given the tools to discern material and separate content from their values- in the sense that they need to practice upholding their values in the face of content they might not totally agree with. You want to have these discussions before they leave for college- or the workplace!
- Need for Outsourcing– Many parents want to use outside sources for course work in at least some areas. Choosing which way to do this is another topic, but in general suffice it to say that it will influence your curriculum choices.
- Dual Credit, CLEP, & AP Options– These are not necessarily outsourced, but if you plan to use one or more of these options, you must know that going in so when the time comes you and your student are ready.
Fitting Curriculum with Your High School Plan
You’ll want to be sure the curriculum you choose is in line with your four year plan. Makes sense, right?
- Authentic Experiences– If you want a more project based program or you want hands on experiences, does the curriculum allow for it?
- Be a Stand Out– How will your student find his niche and stand out? Your student will want a little sparkle in his transcript. Choose accordingly.
- Level of Academics– Choose the rigor based on the course’s importance. There’s no need to go to the mat in every subject area. A basic health course will work. No need to complete a semester of advanced comparative anatomy for this credit.
- Tailor Curriculum to Your Student’s Goals– Find the sparkle for the courses that most matter to your student for whatever reason.
Outsourcing High School Classes
To outsource or not. That is a question many parents ask. What does it look like for your student? Every family will make their own choice, but it’s important to keep in mind what is best for your student in his situation. Each option has its pros & cons.
- Online Academy Classes– There are many out there in the homeschool world.
- Community College– Local and accessible to high schoolers, many families choose this option allowing their students to take courses on campus. Additionally, many schools now offer programs for high school students online at a reduced cost.
- CLEP classes– There are online options for CLEP courses related to the subject you want to take CLEP tests in. CLEP tests allow you to earn college credit by taking an exam.
- MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses)– Offered by many universities and colleges on websites that host the courses. You can earn certificates for the course or you can audit them. We use these in our homeschool at many levels. They’ve really changed the game for college admissions.
A note on dual credit: I’ve witnessed many discussions on this topic online and it’s important to understand how the earning of credits works in these situations. If you want credit for both high school and college for the same course, you must make sure the intended college and department accepts those credits for both college and high school. Not every school accepts them as both and this seems to be a controversial concept. Colleges and universities are not obligated to accept your two birds with that one stone. Homeschoolers adore the dual credit, but go in fully knowledgeable. One of the schools our kids are applying to will accept a community college class as high school credit OR college credit but not both. If it shows up on your high school transcript, then it is counted only that one time. Or you can use it as a college credit if it doesn’t count toward your high school coursework.
The best advice when dealing with outsourcing classes and eligible credit is to not take anyone’s advice for certain- not me and not the woman on Facebook who answered your question based on her experience with all the teens she’s gotten into college. Check with a firsthand source yourself. Actually, have your student check for herself.
High School Curriculum We Use
On my curriculum page, I list out the programs we have used at all levels. But, these are our tried and true items for high school.
We use Life of Fred for our high school math. It’s challenging and quite a bit more than what you find in traditional high school programs. In fact, during their ACT prep classes, the instructor knew what math program they used based on having learned concepts no other program offers.
- Life of Fred– We use Fred in its entirety and entirely on its own for high school.
- Mr. D Test Prep– Our high schoolers have taken his ACT prep course and it is wonderful!
We use literature based programs for English and incorporate grammar into their writing right up through high school. Creative writing is also part of our high school program.
- Excellence in Literature– Reading and writing through the classics. A perfect blend of classic literature and writing to go with it. There are five volumes beginning with 8th grade and I purchased them all so that I can go between them with my students.
- One Year Adventure Novel– A creative writing program which teaches students how to write an adventure novel in a year. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this program. The lessons are thorough and it is the curriculum that helped our high senior to solidify his interest in writing professionally.
- Other Worlds– The second module in the One Year Adventure Novel which teaches science fiction and fantasy writing.
- Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings– A literature program based on The Lord of the Rings. Our middle and high schoolers have enjoyed this program. It’s a good fit for fans of this book and its genre!
- The Potter’s School– Our oldest took two classes from The Potter’s School. One on fantasy and one on science fiction literature. It was a great experience for him.
History & Social Studies:
Generally speaking, we do two years of world history, one year of American History, and a year of Government and Economics.
- North Star Geography– Which can also double as earth science in some sections. I like to teach them together in 9th grade.
- Quest for the Ancient World– from Winter Promise (as are the quests below), this program immerses students in the ancient world for one school year.
- Quest for Royals & Revolution– world history from colonialism through revolutions
- Quest for the Middle Ages– from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance. Winter Promise is a great transition to more traditional schooling from the world of unit studies. There are lots of books and activities along the way.
- All American History– We used this for high school history with additional essay writing. It kept us on track with a scope and sequence. I used the second volume as our look at modern history- US Civil War and beyond.
- Exploring Government– from Notgrass. We read lessons along with essays, speeches, and primary documents to study American Government.
- Exploring Economics– also from Notgrass. This meets our economics requirement for high school.
We depart from the conventional with science because that is our background professionally. We have a lot of fun and follow this sequence: earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics.
- CK-12 An open source online text with resources which is free.
- Living Books– We supplement our science courses with good books which fit the course and content.
- Oak Meadow– for chemistry, we also used the text book and syllabus from Oak Meadow.
- Crash Course– a You Tube channel hosted by a witty (though sometimes mouthy) guy. We love his talks!
- Nature Study– We have all kinds of resources for nature study and natural history. It fits neatly into all sorts of science topics.
We are only required one year of a language. We are recommended to take two years and we check with the colleges our teens are interested in for specific language requirements.
- Rosetta Stone– An immersion program for languages of all kinds. If you want to speak a language well, this is a great course because there’s no English translation involved. You learn the new vocabulary from the very beginning. We have Arabic and Latin American Spanish.
- Hey Andrew! Teach me Some Greek– Biblical Greek which our oldest loved. This was his hands down favorite and if colleges would accept these credits, it would be much more than an elective on his transcript.
- Prima Latina– Our first Latin course. We have other Latin programs, but this is always our first stop.
- iTalki– Learn a foreign language with a native speaker. Our high school senior did very well learning Arabic from an Egyptian woman. She was such a great teacher and sent along lovely materials for him to work through. Of all our language instruction, this has been our favorite.
- DuoLingo– App for learning language. Our daughter prefers this to Rosetta Stone, but we’ve been using both for Spanish.
One year of fine art is required in high school and unless the student is art oriented, we go with a quarter credit per year.
- Online Courses– Such as those from Alisha Gratehouse and others.
- Craftsy– This platform is easy to use and has many classes available in photography, drawing, painting, sewing, etc.
- You Tube– You can find a video for just about any technique there is and it’s free!
- Books– We pick up instructional books from time to time and through the library to meet goals.
More High School Posts from Blog, She Wrote
Teaching & Mentoring High School Math– Our strategies for working with high school math.
How to Make A Four Year Homeschool High School Plan– How to bring your high schooler to the table and create a four year high school plan. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be!
Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled High School Teen– How do you make sure your teen meets his goals?