Monday, February 6, 2012

Planning for High School Part 2: What Classes?

Planning out the high school years can be a daunting task. In Part 1 of this series I talked about taking an aptitude test sometime in the middle or high school years so as to gain some insight as to the direction of study to be taken.  It really can help to understand the direction that your child's talents and interests will take them.

But, even with that information under our arms, how do we know what subjects to teach during the high school years?

First, my general suggestion would go like this:
check with the state, any colleges or universities your child wants to attend, and refer back to the aptitude test(s) you had him take.  Each state is a different when it comes to homeschooling laws.   Its important to first check with the state you live in to see if they have any particular requirements for high school graduation.  If they do, then this will frame out your basic skeleton of classes for 9th-12th grade.  This publication put out by HSLDA is a great resource for outlining what courses to take in high school whether your child is college bound or not.

Checking with a few colleges or universities your child may be interested in attending for their admission requirements is also recommended.  The basic high school graduation requirements may not suffice for some college admissions.  Many times more is required.  For example, I seem to remember that taking a foreign language was not required to graduate from my high school.  However, all the colleges I applied to required at least 2 years of foreign language classes, preferably in the same language.  When thousands of students are applying for admission, the ones that don't meet basic admissions requirements are weeded out first.  Be informed, not surprised.

Here are some other sites for information on high school classes to take for college prep:

The ACT recommended college prep courses

College Board.com

The US Department of Education Recommendations

The Mapping Your Future site has lots of great information including this course planning chart.

And, the Homeschooling through High School site at HSLDA is an exceptionally valuable resource for the high school years.  This link will take you to their page with brochures where you can find  "Download a four-year form" which is a worksheet to use in planning out high school courses.

Debra Bell's High School Checklist

Debra Bell also offers a 4 year planning grid to download and a planning grid with movable tiles (kinda cool!)


What about electives?  Even with all the required courses, there will be room in the schedule for some elective courses.  What do colleges look for?  This is where that aptitude test comes in handy as well as an idea for valuable life skills.  Build on those.  And be aware that your child's high school transcript will appear more impressive with "Applied Economics" as opposed to "Underwater Basket Weaving."  Electives can be a great way to show that your student is well-rounded socially and academically.  Is your child very much into math and sciences?  A course in art, music, or drama can show that they have outside interests and talents.  Is your child very much into the fine arts?  Some courses on computer skills will show that she is also very much able in the technical world.

Honestly, just the thought of planning the high school years makes me nervous.  I attended a speaker's talk once where she said, "Experiment all you want with different methods and curriculum when they're young.  But, don't mess up the high school years!  They're important."  Geez...no pressure.  I can't even say for sure that we'll still be homeschooling then.  But, at least if we are I'll be prepared...a little.

And again...

DisclaimersPlease note that while I understand that not everyone intends or is suited to go on to higher learning or earn a degree, the information I am sharing is intended for those whose children are on track to attend college after high school.

I am in no way an expert in the way of planning out high school for homeschool.  These are my mental notes in blog form.  Feel free to swim around in my mental-ness.

Please note that these companies and websites have not asked nor compensated me in return for this post.  I cannot and will not personally vouch for the information found on other websites nor should the links I include be interpreted as any sort of personal endorsement of websites or products.

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