Oh, man. Where did summer go?
I can’t be the only human who thinks summer break should be a month longer than it is. I do love the relaxed vibe that the summer months bring, but I’ll tell you a secret: my soul really does flourish on a schedule. Thus, fall, and all that it brings. Cooler temperatures, soccer season, early alarm clocks, and school.
This is our third year ‘doing’ high school homeschool, and each year has taught me some things about how my older kids learn, what challenges they face, and how to customize our lessons and schedules. This year our kids will be in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 11th grades.
Many of you will recall my Dissatisfied post last year, that really resonated with a lot of folks. In fact, that post has been visited about three times as often as anything else I’ve written, and republished and linked by several online publications. Which tells me that I’m not alone in wanting something better, more fulfilling, and less boring than what is so often offered by traditional curricula. Of course, that stepping outside the box usually entails more planning on the part of mum. But I think it’s totally worth it.
This year was both easier and harder (I say that every fall, I think) to plan. It was easier because two major high school classes, Spanish and Biology, are being taken at our co-op. So those were two I didn’t need to plan for or think about. It was also easier because I decided to go back to Teaching Textbooks for Noah. He has struggled with different methods in the past two years, and what I’ve come to decide it that reading a math lesson out of a book is not ideal for him. I’m pretty confident that he will do well with the video instruction, and TT has worked well with my other kids the past few years.
But I digress.
Once Math, Science, and Spanish 2 were out of the way, I was left with planning for two other major subjects, English and Social Studies. English is something that I feel pretty confident putting together for myself. I’ve shared in the past how unhappy I’ve been with most packages I’ve tried, so I usually end up picking and choosing whatever suits us each semester. This year, everyone needs to work on improving writing. Especially when it comes to research and essay writing. So instead of prepackaged lessons, I am planning to use other subjects to build assignments in these areas. More on that later.
The subject I had the most difficulty planning this year was Social Studies. I just couldn’t decide if we would continue some type of history, or go with current events, world cultures, geography or civics. There’s no wrong answer, of course. But frankly, we’ve done history, world cultures, and geography to death. At the start of August I posted this question on my Facebook page:
I’m trying to plan our high school social studies classes and have a question for you. What was one subject/topic you wished you’d learned in high school, related to social studies? Could be civics, govt, history, economics, world cultures, etc.
The overwhelming response was: Civics. Most of us seemed to have gotten a fairly thin background in government during our high school years, and it’s one subject I’ve never done much on with my own kids. So after deciding to do that for all the grade levels this year I was happy to find that HSLDA.org offers an online course called iCitizen that we are using for high school.
It is designed as a one semester, half credit class, but offers additional resources to turn it into a full credit, which we are doing. The course requires quite a bit of reading, note taking, essays and chapter quizzes and tests, so I feel it is a good fit for us. I plan to build a lot of our English into this course as well, assigning extra reading-both fiction and non-fiction, research papers, and creative writing.
For my middle school boys, I wanted to keep them in the same subject and found some lapbooks on Currclick that I liked:
For electives, the kids will be taking Art (taught by myself) where we’ll do some painting basics and mixed media projects, as well as Music Appreciation, Literature Class, Missionary Journeys, and Art of Argument. These are all classes offered at our homeschool co-op.
I’m exhausted just writing about all we’re doing this year. But I’m excited as well, thinking about all we’ll learn together, challenges we’ll meet, and experiences we’ll share.
What excites you about this school year?