Next semester, my son enters high school. Homeschooling high school is a whole different level of commitment. There’s more work and more pressure. The count down to college and career has begun. And although I’ve done it once before, it’s still a little scary . . . and a little exciting.
He’s feeling it, too.
“Mom, is this going to be the hardest school I’ve ever done?”
But that isn’t so easy to answer. It is more work. But it is also more interesting work. You have more control over what you are learning. You start to explore ideas and careers. And your curriculum starts to look more like you.
It is an exciting time.
My son has decided he wants to be a YouTube millionaire. I am not one to squash dreams. In fact, we loosened our media restrictions so that he could start to learn more about recording and editing and publishing. YouTube could use more Christian channels. But is he going to make his first million on YouTube? Eeee . . . probably not.
So we also sent him to a sort of university open house thing where he got to talk to advisers and see what the University of Nebraska has to offer. He came away energized and determined to be sure that the curriculum we developed would be accepted. He also decided to study something in the general category of new media, journalism or film studies.
You know, as a fall back in case the YouTube thing doesn’t work out.
But this I can work with. This is something I can understand and write lesson plans around. And if he makes a million on YouTube somewhere along the way, I will have no regrets.
Also, he is hoping that we can put together some sort of forum where teens can discuss current events, history or writing. If that is something that would be at all interesting to you, please leave a comment or shoot me an email and we can see what would work best.
High School Communication Studies
To start with, he is starting his own YouTube channel. Ok, so he has one where he posts gaming videos, but this one is going to be more serious. It’s going to be something about the intersection of faith and politics, though I’m fairly certain it will comprise primarily of cringe-inducing rants. He is, after all, 14. And the world is so black and white when you are 14.
This, however, is his motivation. And mom is going to milk it for everything she can. He’s working on cover art and a title now while he learns a little about branding. I don’t have a curriculum, per se. Just experience and the internet. But what better resource is there for learning about communication on the internet? And you will likely notice just how many of my plans have at least a tangential link to his little pet project . . .
High School Writing
His writing is a little weak. He’s good at dialogue and at developing character and setting. He is not, however, very good at developing a plot. I’m not sure if he gets lost in the characters or if he doesn’t have a clear idea of where he wants to go to begin with. I suspect the latter because his nonfiction essays tend to meander and not really arrive anywhere, either. And I think I found the perfect writing curriculum for us: Write With World. Granted, it is actually a middle school curriculum, but I think the emphasis on studying quality writing, reasoning through images and articles and regular journal exercises are exactly what he needs. I can scale the assignments up a little for him, and we may push through and do one book per semester.
The only problem is that it seems that Write With World is no longer being serviced by World Magazine. I am glad I didn’t go ahead and get the Teacher’s Manual and access to the associated website, but the curriculum is still available new from christianbooks.com.
We’re also diving into rhetoric. ‘Cuz you gotta stick the classics in there somewhere.
We kind of already started this one, but it is fun, so why not? I haven’t hammered down the exact format, but he is going to fill out a summary sheet on each film we watch and write a paper on some topic. The first film we watched was The Poseidon Adventure (the orignal) and his paper was on the Reverend Scott as a Christ figure. As soon as I get the format down a little more, I’ll share it along with the summary sheet I come up with.
One of the biggest criticisms I have of most literature (and particularly poetry) studies is that they require the student to analyze them to death. We turn some of the most beautiful works in the English language into drudgery. So with that in mind, I am planning on only looking at one aspect of each film closely so we don’t lose the simple joy of popping popcorn and enjoying a good movie amidst the study.
High School Current Events
This ties together closely with the writing curriculum we are using, but for some time I have wanted to put together some lessons on discerning the quality of a news source. So our “literature” for the first semester at least is going to focus on news articles, editorials and essays. We are going to get a subscription to World News and each issue, he is going to choose one article to research further. The plan is for him to find two articles from different news sources which cover the same story but from a different perspective. He’s also going to look a little into the history of the topic and then report on what he finds.
High School Civics
There was this one speaker at the NCHEA conference, and, well, when I realized the guy that got my son all fired up at the teen conference was the same guy I had listened to in one of my sessions, it pretty much sealed my decision to go ahead and get the curriculum: The US Consitution Course by The Institute on the Constitution. It’s a self-directed video course with accompanying reading selections, quizzes and tests. He’s hoping to go through at least the video section with his best friend. He’s already looking forward to this one!
High School History
We are actually (sort of) following Hillsdale Academy’s online reference guide to organize our high school studies. We’re following the history curriculum a little more closely than other subjects . . . if you disregard the fact that American history comes junior year and he’s just a freshman. But it’s where we are at in our history cycle so I adjusted. Our main text is American History, a Survey (Volumes 1 & 2), by Alan Brinkley. I haven’t actually received it yet, so I’m taking it on faith that it is as good as the last texts they recommended.
Honestly, I have a stack of materials for US History and he already knows a lot of it. I think covering this in the ninth grade will be a nice transition for him to start getting used to the more academic requirements with a subject he is already interested in and knows a bit about.
High School Math
OK, so this is really middle school for most students. He’s just starting algebra as a freshman. We are currently using Life of Fred, but my daughter’s biggest complaint was that it didn’t have enough practice problems. So we’re switching to Saxon. Yippee. That’s about all the enthusiasm I can muster for that.
High School Foreign Language
He’d like to learn just about anything other than German, but I speak German. Probably about as well as he speaks English. So he’s stuck. If time were not an issue, I’d love to learn Russian with him. Or Swedish. Or Dutch. Actually, maybe I should see if Dutch would interest him more. I can read it. How much more difficult could speaking be?
Except I don’t have over 100 books in Dutch sitting in my library. So German it is. I am actually contemplating putting together a series of short Bible lessons in German for the kids in which I speak and draw and they use their familiarity with the Bible and my nonverbal cues to decipher what I’m saying. Let me know if that would be of any interest to you and I might record them.
Are you homeschooling high school? What resources are you using? I don’t feel nearly as lost as I did designing my eldest’s high school curriculum, but she just graduated and seems to be turning out just fine!