My second son is starting high school this year, and I have already this summer seen the hopeful glimmers of the corresponding jump in maturity and responsibility – the kind mothers tend to despair of happening during 7th and 8th grade.
When we met after the end of last school year, he had good insight not only into his own preferences, but into what actually helps him do his best work. We brainstormed ways to build in effective accountability and consistent discussion and feedback.
One thing that I know helps our high school responsibility leap is that they see that their time at home is short and their ability to take the next step – college at 16 – depends entirely on their own efforts (particularly in math).
So here we go, homeschooling a high school boy, take 2.
2019-2020 School Plans
Homeschool High School Math
This son is about 1/2-3/4 of a math book behind where his older brother was at the start of 9th grade, but that leap into algebraic, abstract thinking comes when it comes – once it comes, things will speed along nicely. Until it comes, pushing is in vain.
Last year this son spent several months “starting over” in Algebra with Khan Academy, because forward progress does no good until the concepts and basics click. So we did what we could to approach those basics in multiple ways.
Now he’s had not only that extra practice and a review of the same concepts from a different perspective, but also 7 weeks entirely off math. Though I think more time off would become detrimental, I also have seen a math maturity leap happen several times after a longer, true math vacation. All the built up anxieties and complaints and tensions have dissipated, the student returns ready to tackle it, and often other growth has happened during that time that helps along the math growth.
Diffuse learning has happened, you might say (Scholé Sisters episode coming up in the fall on that concept!).
So, he’ll begin 9th grade in Algebra 1 and I have Geometry ready in the wings in case we need it this year, too. We’re sticking with Math-U-See because we have no reason not to. So far it’s working for everyone – mostly because we’re working it (my husband consistently corrects math pages daily and keeps them in a brisk pace) and because we bring along other aids if necessary alongside (like xtramath for drill, extra practice pages, and Khan Academy).
Homeschool High School Science
Homeschool high school, take 2, means I get to put most of my previous plans on repeat, because they worked last time.
We use The Riot & the Dance for high school biology in 9th grade.
Every week he’ll read a chapter, write a thorough written narration (thorough because it must use all bolded vocabulary words from the chapter), add a science journal entry (an annotated illustration, usually), and watch a corresponding video (mostly from Khan Academy). Yes, you can find videos of the typical dissections done in high school biology, and yes, I count that.
Now, I don’t count it as a lab science, but I don’t need to worry about lab sciences. Lab sciences will be done at the community college in 11th and 12th grade. My goal in 9th and 10th is to work on adequate math for college-level science later and on introducing all necessary science concepts and ideas.
Click here to access my schedule spreadsheets via Google Drive.
You could also, I suppose, count Logic as either math or science, and he will be continuing his study of logic with the next book in the series he did last year: Intermediate Logic. He’ll watch a lesson once a week, narrate it, and complete 1 page of exercises for each lesson.
Homeschool High School History
In history we are altering the plan my oldest followed somewhat. My oldest did a year of modern history and then a church history survey in 10th.
My current 9th grader, however, will do a full modern humanities track over the course of 9th & 10th grade with a combination of materials.
Over the course of two years, he’ll complete
- Dave Raymond’s Modernity history series from Roman Roads
- Wes Callihan’s Old Western Culture: Early Modern series from Roman Roads
- Paul Johnson’s tome History of the American People
When I plotted out the readings for the first half of History of the American People, I ended up with about a month extra, so if we do end up with that extra month, he’ll read a book I just started American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard.
The work I have laid out for him in this area is to watch a lesson of the Early Modern series and two lessons from the Modernity series, taking notes while he watches and also adding at least one thing from each to his Book of Centuries. These he will be doing with his friend down the street, too, not only for efficiency sake but also because learning is better in community (especially in high school).
Homeschool High School Theology
I have a reading plan for ninth grade theology, but Jaeger chose to read Calvin’s Institutes along with his older brother. And, as I said above, learning is better in community (ok, yeah, and it’s also efficient).
So over the next two years, Jaeger will also be reading Calvin’s Institutes at the rate of 20 pages a week. He requested daily readings on his checklist, though, so he’s assigned 5 or so pages four days a week, leaving Fridays open for either catch up or discussion with his friends, brother, and mother.
Also, he is and will continue to use the Bible Reading Challenge checklist to direct his own personal Bible reading and continue Scripture reading as a lifelong habit.
Homeschool High School Writing & Grammar
This student has already written five-paragraph essays for my literature class last year, but that was a big leap forward done for, yes, convenience and efficiency sake. This year we’re going to take a step back and reinforce steps of the writing process and practice with more concrete and informative writing instead of opinion-based and persuasive writing.
We’ll work on note-taking, outlining, revising, revising, and revising. They’ll write 5-paragraph (and more) papers on history topics from their studies, biographies (doing some research for those assignments), and compare/contrast.
This writing class will be done as a small class of three boys: Jaeger, his friend down the street, and their pal who is now on the mission field in Ghana who can still join via Zoom.
I’ll teach them to cite sources (something I skipped with the oldest set), diagram sentences (this is review), and self-edit. Oh, did I mention we’d be revising their writing also? Yes, that’s essential to improving writing skill for all writers, at all levels.
I don’t use a curriculum for writing, but I’ll be sharing assignments on Instagram as we go along, and I do plan on writing another post on teaching writing during this school year. If you haven’t already, you can find my previous article here: How to Teach Writing Without a Curriculum.
For grammar we’ll work through Nancy Wilson’s Our Mother Tongue, systematically, finishing the book over the course of the school year.
Homeschool High School Literature
Most of what I count as literature will not fall to me in a lit class this year, but to Wes Callihan’s Early Moderns series. The first two units we’ll do this year include a focus on poets, which I’m looking forward to.
However, good reading must continue to be encouraged, and to broaden my son’s reading scope, I am having him choose a novel (within perimeters) each term. For our first summer term I told him to pick a novel by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, or Sir Walter Scott (he’s read each of these authors already). He scanned our shelves and selected Bleak House (because it sounded appropriate for summer school, he said – teens are a great source of wit like that).
Plus, starting in the fall, we’ll spend 45 minutes or so midweek continuing our old habits of reading a Shakespeare play and Plutarch as a group with our teen neighbor compatriots. The teens will do the history cycle: Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V. We did Richard III this last year and my 9th grader has been vociferously requesting Henry V again for the last two years.
For Plutarch, we’ll do the parallel lives of Alexander & Julius Caesar. Alexander is twice as long, so I will likely assign some reading in that one instead of doing it completely aloud. I use Anne White’s guides, but they aren’t published necessarily by parallel sets. Alexander is in volume 5 and Julius Caesar in volume 3.
Another tag along to the history and humanities category is music, which he will be studying not only through applied piano lessons (and church service practice), but by listening and taking notes from the Great Course: How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. In the summer, he’ll do two lessons per week, moving to just one per week once his other history subjects begin in the fall.
Homeschool High School Latin
This particular 9th grader did Latin for Children Primers A & B in elementary school, then has done 2 years of Spanish in middle school using a variety of materials. Upon inquiring after yet another instance of shoddy and incomplete work in Spanish last term, it came out that he didn’t care enough about learning Spanish to carry him through actually doing the work.
So, that means he is back to Latin, because that’s a program I will oversee more closely.
I already had plans to move my elementary students to Visual Latin this year, and I had already bought the 2-year special value pack of that curriculum, so Jaeger will simply start Visual Latin at the beginning and move at a 2-lesson-a-week pace, completing both Visual Latin 1 and 2 in 9th grade.
That’s the plan, anyway. To his chagrin, I do not consider language study optional to education.
Homeschool High School Skills
Typing is an important secondary skill to have as a teen and adult, and so a few times a week he’ll work on increasing his typing speed using keybr.com
The other necessary skill to education and study is accountability and responsibility – and they are intimately linked. Never expect what you don’t inspect. We have twice weekly (Monday & Friday) meetings built into our weeks (which, my son pointed out, means they’ll happen half the time – he knows life well by this point), plus I must see all his work and approve his checked off checklist before he’s free for the day. It feels inconvenient and obnoxious to us both, but we both know it’s essential to ensuring the work actually gets done consistently without doubt.
Accountability isn’t a crutch, it’s a necessity.
My son’s homeschool high school checklist
Checklists are our most important communication and accountability tool in our homeschool, and I don’t want to mess with something that works (when I work it). So since I wasn’t freshening things up with a format change, I changed fonts. That’s about my level of fun-mom-ness right there. I was pleased with myself for thinking of it.
Related: Homeschooling High School, 9th Grade 2017