Ramblings of a Homeschool Mom
Adventures in Trash
(our community service blog)
Ramblings of a Homeschool Mom (with links)
Homeschooling High School Honors:
Homeschooling High School Honors: 10th Grade
Most of the prepared curricula available for homeschoolers is Christian,
containing scriptures, references to god's glory and creation, and definitely
lacking in any evolutionary theories, except in attempts to debunk them! Don't buy it! You may have
heard of the following:
School of Tomorrow (Now,
Accelerated Christian Education)
Unfortunately, these curricula are so steeped in Christianity that even
purchasing individual subjects will not shield you from the onslaught of
indoctrination. Yes, my friend, even mathematics can be related to the
glory of god!
KONOS are also Christian curricula but can
be taught without the Christian slant. For example, KONOS is a multi-level
teaching guide with suggested activities and readings that can be modified to
fit your secular lifestyle. Sonlight consists mostly of books to read, few
of which are decidedly biased in favor of Christianity. But, as with the
other packaged curricula, these are very structured. Your school day is
outlined for you with little room for change. Sure, you could purchase
KONOS to use in any manner you want...but the cost is prohibitive. [Please note
that this was written several years ago and these curricula may have changed
significantly. If I find more info myself, I'll be sure to note it here.]
If you think you need a packaged curriculum,
Core Curriculum of America offers both
a Christian AND a secular package and, even better, will customize packages for
your family and student. They're not cheap, however, but they might be
just what the beginning homeschooler needs to ease fears and anxiety about how
on earth they can teach their kids at home.
We spent the first several months of our homeschooling experience testing
the waters and learning about the methods that might work for us. We're
still doing it! Don't expect to jump into homeschooling and have
everything fall into place. Homeschooling is a lifestyle that you grow
into and may take time.
At our homeschool, we follow the
Sequence put out by the Core
Knowledge Foundation. (Beware the
sold on the Core Knowledge website! They are not unabridged,
but retold classics. That's a big no-no in our home school.) In the beginning, we followed it very closely
by Hirsch, supplementing with library books, experiments not given in the
books, and Saxon Math. (Note that now it appears the Core Knowledge
Foundation sells many books for each grade level, for teachers and students.
When my children were 10 and 12, we felt they were ready
to be self-taught. We began a new adventure loosely modeled on the
The Robinson Curriculum is Christian-based, make no mistake about that. I can't tell if the materials in it are slanted to Christianity without
purchasing them. It sounds as if this curriculum may be used by secular homeschoolers--but,
I have been told by a fellow homeschooler that it is "very religious." The
package consists of some 22 CDs including the classics that you print out for
the kids to read, encyclopedias, etc.
Mr. Robinson's idea is that kids should learn the basics of reading, writing and
math and not start formal science until they've mastered math through calculus. His children are self-taught, spending five hours each day at their own tables
with two hours of math, a one-page daily essay, and readings in history and
science for the rest of the time. Mr. Robinson is far too strict for my
liking (I see no problem with a short break for a snack, we're not schooling six
days a week for ten months a year no matter who tells me I should, etc.) but
many of his ideas make sense to me. For one, I want my children to stop
depending on me to put information into their brains. It is time they
learned how to learn themselves!
I approached the self-taught method with the expectation that my kids would
need very little of my input and would work through their lessons on their
own...willingly. Right. I didn't "assign" them anything. I
went over their books and workbooks with them, explaining about how much they
should do daily or weekly to finish in the school year, showed them their "plan"
books where they ought to keep track of what they did each day, and left them to
become self-motivated. My 10-year-old son could not move from subject to
subject without being told to and I frequently found him in his room playing. My 12-year-old was a little better, but typically avoided the subjects he didn't
like and spent hours reading on those he enjoyed.
September of 2002 brought some changes. My 11-year-old is now
"assigned" a list of school work to do each day. When he's in a good mood,
he can be done in an hour and a half. I keep thinking I ought to assign
more, but his "off" hours are spent journaling, creating character cards similar
to Pokemon, writing and illustrating comic books, etc. and these are all very
My 12/13-year-old was left on his own still, though with a bit more input
from me. Mid-year I realized he wasn't keeping track in his plan book so I
took over and now try to get info from him each day regarding where he's at in
This method is working for us. My children have become more
self-motivated, at least in completing the school work they know is expected of
them. Getting them to pick up dirty socks, well, that's another thing
Update 2003: My 13-year-old entered 8th grade in public this year. He
was desperate for more kids to hang out with. He's in the top group in his
school and it's very challenging for him, mostly because he has to learn to take
tests and figure out what the teachers want of him. He's doing well and is
happy. He insists that his 12-year-old brother start public school for 7th grade
I had always planned for my kids to go to public
high school. My philosophy
on schooling is that children ought to remain family-oriented until their teens,
when it is natural for them to become more peer-oriented--not totally
peer-oriented...but not all-consumed with family either. They must begin to
become their own persons and prepare for leaving home. We lived in Denver when
the Columbine shootings happened and I spent some time considering home
schooling through high school. But I never really gave up the idea of their
returning in 9th grade.
My oldest has had some difficulty adjusting in 8th grade where it seems
expected that he should know the ropes from the 7th grade experience. High
school is much bigger and more challenging than junior high. So, he feels that
it will be best for his brother to start next year. We'll see... Our youngest
remains in his excellent charter school.
For those unfamiliar with our situation: I have never been fully committed to
homeschooling as a philosophy, only to finding the best situation for my
children and my family.
Update 2004: My oldest not only survived public middle school, but
actually came home on the last day of school saying he couldn't wait for next
year. He said that the first few weeks were tough and there were times he wanted
to return to home school. But the good outweighed the bad so he persevered and
is glad of it.
My middle child is preparing psychologically and emotionally for entrance
into public school in the fall for 7th grade. I am very worried. There are times
in child rearing when we aren't completely sure what the best course of action
is. We are, after all, conducting experiments and our children are the guinea
pigs! Part of me would hold this child home through high school. But I can feel
in my heart that such a decision isn't based on an objective and reasonable
assessment, but instead on my love for him and my fears for him.
I was telling him (while probably trying to convince myself) that what he
needed at thirteen was to begin to be his own person, to be out of the house and
out from under mother's nose for a while each day, to find some friends other
than his neighbors, to expand his mind and his options. "Bad" he said. "True,
but bad." And that's about all the acceptance I think I'll get from him.
And so, it appears, for at least another year, my homeschooling experience
is ended. Our youngest will enter third grade next year. His charter school is
still small and wonderful. He is learning far more than his brothers did in
their short public school experiences. However, their chances of getting fourth
through sixth grades at the school are looking slim. So, I may be bringing him
home for a few years of homeschool. It will be quite a challenge, as this kid
thinks he is so much brighter than his mother that I may have to have him
Update: 2005: My three
sons are doing well in public school and benefiting from it. We enjoyed our
homeschooling experience and would recommend it to any parent seriously
considering it. But we see the good points of public education as well. Neither
choice is wrong; and neither choice is right. The choice must be a personal one
for you, your family, and especially your child.
For my part, I'd like to say a
few things about parenting and schooling.
1. Homeschooled children are not
better behaved than public-schooled children. The same Lord of the Flies
mentality exists in both groups. I witnessed homeschoolers teasing, hitting,
kicking, alienating and bullying. I witnessed public school children being kind,
tolerant, accepting and cooperative. Homeschooling children doesn't make them
any less children.
2. All children whose days are
filled with too much activity suffer stress. Public school children will suffer
more because they spend less time at home and with a parent. Public school
children, especially, should have few extra-curricular activities.
3. Elementary public school
children need a parent or guardian to come home to. Before and after school care
is bad. BAD, BAD, BAD! If you can't parent your children, don't have them.
4. Homeschool parents do not
necessarily care about their children more than public school parents. Being
with your children all day can be just as selfish an activity as sending
them off to school every day. Not everyone who makes these decisions does so
with the best interest of his child in mind. So, make your choice, and don't let
anyone else make you feel you're doing the wrong thing.
Update 2006: My middle son never really got into public school so, after a
couple of weeks in the high school this fall, he came home again. And because
I'd always wanted to let our youngest have a taste of homeschooling, I pulled
him out of his charter school. The oldest is still fairly happy in high school,
but is considering attending college for his final year.
Homeschooling high school is a
scary thing. I realize that not all homeschoolers approach schooling as
academically as we do and they remain more relaxed. I have no doubt that their
children can and will succeed just as well as those more academically inclined
because, as I keep reminding myself, learning is a lifelong process. Being
filled with certain facts at a certain age isn't necessary. Still, I continue to
expect certain academic pursuits of my children. I expect them to do math
regularly, read science and history, practice spelling and grammar, and read
literature regularly. It's just the way I am.
Because I am still with an
umbrella school that issues transcripts, they do have standards for high school
courses and I am doing my utmost to ensure that my 9th grader gets a good '9th
grade' education. After my earlier experience, I decided this time I'd go with
Because I pulled the kids out
after school began, I was unable to get a reasonable appointment date with
Core Curriculum of America, so I
ordered packaged curricula from their affiliate,
Homeschool Supercenter. I'm
very happy with all of it except the math.
The math textbooks are designed
for teachers who plan their lessons. You can do that as a homeschooler, of
course. You'd have to read each lesson ahead of time and maybe research some of
it to understand it well enough to teach it to your student. But there is not
enough information in the text book alone for your student and sometimes not
enough for you.
I ended up adding Saxon math
curricula for both kids. I had to pay extra money, to be sure, but to me it was
worth it. Next spring, I will order custom curricula for the boys that includes
Well, it turned out I didn't care much for the 5th grade history book in the
packaged curricula either. This year, I purchased all of our textbooks
separately at the Homeschool Supercenter and saved a good deal of money, as well
as getting some really great books.
Our oldest pulled out of public
high school this year, after about a month. He was finally sick of it. Most of
his friends had graduated, so there was little to keep him there. He said only
one of his teachers actually taught him anything and he could stay home and read
textbooks. So, I found all of his textbooks online and ordered them for him.
Only one was expensive, at about $100. He'll be doing mostly AP work and taking
the AP exams. And in January, he'll do full-time dual enrollment at the local
I'm having to pull teeth to get
the 10th grader to do any work beyond music. He writes music and lyrics and
plays bass guitar. He's very good at it, but he has to actually do the Algebra 2
and history and science if I'm going to give him a grade. I told him to start
with 2 hours of academics a day. I left him with that for a week and came back
to see what he'd accomplished. Maybe one page of spelling. Okay. I gave him one
more week and told him if he didn't start getting work done, I'd be assigning
him daily work. Still nothing. So last week I assigned him a small amount of
work on Monday. By Friday, he'd accomplished it. ARGH.
The plan next week is to give him
a full week's worth of work on Monday and nag the hell out of him. :)
Anthony is gearing up for dual enrollment for his senior year next year. Jeffrey
is taking a few high school courses this year and plans to start dual enrollment
in 10th grade. Danny's at BCC and moving on the UCF.All is well; we'ver relaxed
a great deal and seem to have found our pleasant rut.
After one day in 9th grade at the public high school, Jeffrey has decided to
homeschool again. That was fast. I think he made a sound choice and he will
still begin dual enrollment in 10th grade. Dual enrollment is much easier in
homeschool. You can take classes any time you want, instead of having to get
back to the public school for the rest of your classes.
So, this year, we plan to
push math to make sure he's ready for college algebra. I've purchased honors
curricula to keep him challenged. Wish me luck.
Danny, the oldest, did time
at UCF and is moving over to Tampa to finish out his schooling at USF,
majoring in mechanical engineering. Anthony
is at BCC, not particularly happy with the academic lifestyle, but resigning
himself to it; his goals require it, so what can he do?
I have no idea what happened to 2011. Where'd it go? Here's the atheists
honest truth: homeschooling takes up less and less of our lives as our
youngest grows older. He's got his high school level books and I make him do
some work. He's got his community college classes on which he spends most of
his time. And other than that, we don't think about it much anymore. So, I
suppose there's just not much to blog about. Jeff will be a junior next year
with three college classes. I guess he'll have to take the SAT, we'll get on
that. And he's volunteering to get his community service hours for Bright
Homeschooling High School Honors:
homeschool your child through high school! The more education you have, the
better, it's true. But even if you are lacking in some subjects, there is
help available if you need it. And there are many options open to your
Florida Virtual School
is an online school that appears very open, ie: looks like you can join up
at any time. If you feel unqualified to handle some subjects, see what sort
of online learning is available in your area. Tutors are another option, if
you can afford them. But there's really nothing, in my humble and wacky
opinion, more exciting than learning along with your child. As long as you
have the answers that go with the questions, you're set!
I'm not sure I'd
recommend teaching honors classes to your kids if you don't feel you have
the educational background to do so. And by that, I don't mean a "teaching"
background. I mean, your own education. You need to feel comfortable with
the material. You don't have to know it all, but you have to be confident
that you can read a chapter in Honors biology and understand it well enough
to help your child understand it. There are a lot of resources to help both
of you: the Internet, Dad, a family member, a neighbor, etc. Someone out
there must know calculus. And if not, learn it! I imagine you've learned the
math and science along with them for their junior high years, so now you
just have to keep going with algebra, geometry, and calculus, biology and
physics. It can be done!
were/are enrolled in a homeschooling umbrella school that is classified as a
private school. We have to follow the graduation requirements set out for
Florida schools. I imagine that homeschoolers signed up with the school
board have to as well, but I'll check on that.
requirements for Florida schools**:
Social Studies: 3 credits
Personal Fitness: 1 credit
Fine Arts: 1
Electives: 8 credits
include a combination of grammar, composition, and literature.
Math: must include 1 credit in Algebra 1
Science: should include 2 credits which have a lab component if available
Social Studies: must include the following: American Govt. 1/2 credit; World
History, 1 credit; American History, 1 credit; Economics, 1/2 credit.
Personal Fitness: can include any sport or training
Fine Arts: can include music, dance, drama, painting, etc.
Electives: just about anything, including more academics
*You MUST search
out the graduation requirements for your state, as well as consider the
colleges your child may attend--they may want to see certain classes on a
*As of 2007-2008, for students entering 9th grade in 2007 or later.
So, high school
is really not much different from the other grades you taught, unless you
want to do honors and AP. Then you have stricter guidelines.
guidelines for our umbrella school, a course is considered Honors if
it is so designated by the curriculum, if it's an AP course (also designated
by the curriculum), if it's a college level course (again, you'd have to use
a college level textbook), any foreign language above level 2, and any
course designated honors by the FL DOE
on their website.
Well, I don't
know about you, but I couldn't find anything on the FL DOE website that
listed any guidelines for determining if the books I wanted to use were
"honors." So, I went with the honors designation by the curricula
themselves. And here is what I am using for Jeffrey in 9th grade:
Literature and the Language Arts from The EMC Masterpiece Series: Birch
When I first began purchasing this series it was designated as an honors
course by the curricula provider. I can't find that designation now,
probably because the series has become so popular that everyone is using it.
However, I found a
course syllabus online using this particular book for an honors course
and printed it out to use both as a guide, and as proof of the honors level.
Jeffrey already started using this book last year. But now that he is using
it as an honors course, there will be more work to do. He didn't do the
summer reading one would expect either, so his reading load will be a bit
tougher. I'll try not to injure him.
Reading from 9th grade honors reading lists:
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Saxon (I love Saxon. I learn right along with the kid!)
Biology: A Guide to the Natural World by David Krogh
Homeschool Supercenter has it wrong about this book. They are calling the
course Biology II. But this book is just the 4th edition of a biology I AP
textbook. I have the 3rd edition and debated whether to use it. I decided
against it for two reasons: I could not find a designation of honors or AP
for the 3rd edition. Of course, once the 4th edition disappears I'll have
little proof other than the hope that the text is simply notable for being
AP. And second, the new edition has expanded the section on human evolution
to an entire chapter.
I don't know anything about this textbook and haven't received it yet from
the Homeschool Supercenter. But it was the only one designated honors so it
better be good!
Update: It has turned out to be a fabulous textbook! Loving it. But it's
just too huge to get through in one year!
Rosetta Stone and
dice! Level 1 (available for purchase
I haven't yet figured out where Jeff is in Spanish. According to my records,
he's in Spanish 3 and already has two high school Spanish credits. But his
transcript says something different. I'll be straightening that out next
Update: Jeff quit Spanish. So, I had to create another elective for him.
"Star Craft and the art of war." (Yes she did!) He played Star Craft II and
wrote two papers on it. And he read Sun Tzu's
The Art of War and Machiavelli's
Your Own Damn Movie
Yes, we curse sometimes in our house. Jeff will read this book, write,
direct, film, edit, and produce his next movie. He's no novice.
That's it. Six
classes. At the public high school, they gave him 7. He got three electives.
But two of them were required by the state: HOPE and something about careers
and research. HOPE is about health and fitness, I think. And careers? Who
the hell knows. One of the advantages for me in having Jeff in public school
was Driver's Ed. But they don't offer that anymore, anyway. Luckily for me,
I have a Driver's Ed textbook for next year.
So, wish me luck
on my last homeschooling adventure. And good luck to you!
Homeschooling High School Honors:
We made it
through 9th Grade! Jeff is now enrolled in two classes at Brevard Community
College in the Dual Enrollment program. So, his classes this year are:
Literature and the Language Arts from The EMC Masterpiece Series: Willow
Biology II Honors: Same text as last year. Fabulous book!
American History Honors: College level textbook that his brother used
at BCC and he will use next term when he takes Am Hist there.
American History: A Survey. Love this book. I'm reading it and creating
the study guide; remembering all that history I forgot!
Driver's Ed using the Driver Handbook you get at the DMV, and then
the online study for the learner's permit, a class with a real teacher, not
mom this time, etc.
Spanish II: We thought we already did Spanish II and I'd argue it
with my umbrella school, but then what would he take? Might as well just do
more Spanish. This year, because he's sick of Rosetta Stone, we're using
Spanish for Dummies, and
Easy Spanish Step-by-Step, along with the first two Harry Potter novels
in Spanish! Woot.
Intermediate Algebra at BCC
Creative Writing at BCC
Next term we
plan at least two BCC courses and the year after that at least three. Jeff
is on his way!
I guess the section above was my 2011 update. Last term
at BCC, Jeff took intermediate algebra and creative
writing as a intro to college. He did very well. This
term he took college algebra and American history. He
did very well again. So next term, his junior year,
we'll go for three classes.
Honestly, at this point, homeschooling takes up less and
less of our lives as our youngest grows older. He's got
his high school level books and I make him do some work.
He's got his community college classes on which he
spends most of his time. And other than that, we don't
think about it much anymore. So, I suppose there's just
not much to blog about. I guess he'll have to take the
SAT, we'll get on that. And he's volunteering to get his
community service hours for Bright Futures.