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If you know me IRL, you know that I’m a planner. Despite the reality that our life can appear to be organized chaos, emphasis on the organized. Haha.
So, lately I’ve ventured down the rabbit trail of high school planning. And before we get there, I want to draw your attention to the two stock photos that I found for the word “high school.” First of all, apparently people who search for high school stock images are primarily interested in sports action shots or prom photos. Second of all, while I was first envisioning something mirroring a school, as above, the photo below of a girl in ripped jeans reading a book on the floor is obviously much more apt for a homeschool! But I digress.
Yes, in fact, it does feel a though our oldest child was just 5 years old. We started homeschooling her after preschool, in 2011 or 2012, I can never quite remember! All I do know for certain was that it was in the summer. I resolved to see how it went having all 3 kids with me “all of the time,” and I would decided after that trial period whether I thought it would be reasonable to continue. And now, here we are! She is set to enter either 8th or 9th grade in the fall of 2021, and I’m not crying, you’re crying!
The thing is, our daughter has a late December birthday, so she’s the oldest in her peer group among kids in the same grade. While I couldn’t care less about that, I am considering whether she wouldn’t be able to do well with more challenging materials at this point, at least in certain subjects (read: English and History).
The beauty of homeschooling is that your kid can study whatever materials you want without having to change grade levels. That being said, there are some advantages to being “officially” in high school, especially when it comes to concurrent enrollment at community colleges. Of course, there are also drawbacks: less time until college, potentially shortened study of certain subjects, and less time to prepare for the SAT.
So, I don’t know how the technicalities of everything will shake out. What I do know is that I am in full on evaluate and plan mode. And while I have found some resources that I think will be suitable, I am wishing that I had a lot more to choose from. Sadly, a lot of my favorite new to me resources are written for younger elementary ages (cough Blossom & Root, cough).
So while I am sending out into the universe a request for an enormous amount of secular & academically rigorous options for high school, I thought I’d share with you what’s on my list so far. Enjoy!
Beautiful Feet (affiliate links)
I am currently most interested in these two:
ICYMI, I nearly went back for a second degree/double major in Economics. It was my absolute favorite subject after Political Science. However, upper division Econ classes required all kinds of Calculus, and when you’re a senior in college, the though of having to meet additional math requirements is the opposite of interesting. Fortunately, although I didn’t end up getting that second Bachelors degree, I have found many ways to connect to Economics through Political Economy, and studying legal-economic, and other theory from the purely social science aspect of things. If this is making sense. I love Economics. Thesis length tangent over.
My oldest has done really well with the History of Classical Music pack, which is the “oldest” age group we have made purchases from BF for. We have also purchased 2 packs for the younger grades, and are currently still using one. But that’s not related to high school, so I’ll refrain from another tangent 🙂
For whatever reason, Bookshark’s high school curriculum isn’t built out yet. I suspect this has to do with its being relatively new. If my memory serves me, it is the sister organization of the famed Sonlight, a Christian curriculum provider. I believe Bookshark essentially attempts to copy and paste over what it can from the Sonlight lesson plans, but attempts to scrub the obviously Christian components. I have been very happy with Bookshark’s Reading Through History and Science in particular over the years. (With the exception of the reading in grades 1-3 for History, which focuses almost exclusively on Anglo Saxon and White European history and sources. In the future I will likely look to BYL for more comprehensive & diverse perspectives). For example, Journey to the Eastern Hemisphere, IYKYK, is my absolute favorite history curriculum that I’ve found to date. The upside to purchasing something like bookshark is that it can be (and is) re-used for younger kids. The potential con is that it involves extensive amounts of reading, which is why it hasn’t been a good fit for either of my boys, per se.
I have my eye on Level J (History of Science) as a a possibility for next year, and am also interested in 20th Century World History & Literature, which is currently the only level designated as “high school.”
pros: It’s Brave Writer! The class sizes are small, teachers are responsive, and the kids learn a lot without the boring-ness that’s inherent in many other (in my experience) writing classes on the market. There are also several different classes available that teach different foundational skills. We will definitely enroll in some of the offerings!
cons: price. Next year I’m planning to focus on budgeting and planning in advance, and BW classes will definitely be their own line item. So worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pros: low cost. While the curriculum includes booklists, many of these could likely be purchased from low cost book sellers (such as thrift books). Also, unlike other “all in one” sellers, the price includes lesson plans across all subjects. So, in my opinion, this is a really good deal. (Plus she runs a great sale once or twice a year, so generous!) The materials chosen are also secular and high quality. Very good option for literature based learning.
Cons: Gathering all of the materials can be overwhelming. That being said, I can deal with that over paying hundreds of dollars to have someone put it together for me.
So, CAP offers two providers: Schole & St. Raphael school. I have no idea what’s different about them other than that one offers Latin and the other offers Russian– both of which I am interested in. The classes are pricey, but for the two I mentioned, the price is for the entire year, twice a week. So value wise, I think it’s a good deal.
I don’t know how it works in other states, but in California high school students can enroll in courses at the local community colleges in most cases for free. The classes count for both high school and college credit. The pro is the ability to take classes that aren’t otherwise accessible. The potential downside stems from children who are unprepared to meet the rigor of college classes scoring grades on their college transcripts that aren’t great. We will absolutely be utilizing concurrent enrollment, but I don’t know when or for what, lol.
So, I love Oak Meadow. I really do. But what is going on with their site right now is highly confusing to me. OM used to have various high school courses that were available either for independent study or through their school. Now, it appears, most if not all of their courses require an additional traditional textbook from a main public school publisher. I don’t understand whether these options are meant to support parents whose children are pandemic schooling, or whether they are changing their platform altogether. I hope the latter is not the case. I am highly interested to see what happens with their new offerings: Race & Ethnic Studies, and U.S. Government (although this one states it requires a textbook. why? what?)
I don’t know enough about this curriculum to describe it. In essence it involves reading literature and answering questions about it. Writing to?? I found it by googling secular ELA high school, or something like that. There is a specific Christian Lit pack, which makes me wonder whether there is any pour over. I don’t know. But I am looking into it further, and we may give it a try. My plan is to try and purchase everything except for the books, which we will try to get from our local library.
cons: price, requires test scores & other admissions materials.
Scout from University of California is a SAPEP program that develops and delivers A-G approved online classes and curriculum to students around the globe. Our course materials are designed to inspire lifelong curiosity and prepare pupils of all backgrounds and education levels for an increasingly technological world where training and job skills are mobile, asynchronous, and self-directed.
So, this program allows for currently enrolled K-12 students to access the material FOR FREE. Yep, you read that right. Which I LOVE.
But for the rest of us, you gotta pay, and it’s pricey. However, it offers many AP classes. Additionally, at its core, UC Scout satisfies the A-G requirements. UCs will not accept classes that aren’t offered from authorized providers. So if your kid has their heart set on a UC, this may be a good option for you! I am heavily leaning towards using this resource in the years to come.
So, that’s pretty much it. That’s where I’m at. That’s all I’ve got!
If you know of a secular homeschool high school curriculum or service provider that I haven’t mentioned, will you please let me know? I am particularly interested to hear more about Literature, History, and Science options that aren’t solely online classes.