Monday, September 29, 2008

Deciding What to Teach in High School...

I have had a few people ask me how I decide what to teach my high school student.  I am sure that everyone has a different system based on beliefs, child's interests, learning/teaching styles, and state requirements.  This is what I've done.  My big teen is now in his senior year and our system has worked well for us.  Many factors went into determining what courses to teach my son.  The following was all taken into account.
  • State requirements ~ Here in North Carolina there are very few rules about high school.  There is, however, suggestions of how many times to take English, History, Math, and Science.

  • My son's interests and career goals ~ I am lucky that my son knew early on that he was interested in making a career at the local nature center, which is the only one available in a large region of our state and substitutes for a zoo which we don't have in our area.  This gave us a better idea about science and internship requirements.

  • My son's severe learning differences ~ Because of my son's learning differences, I knew that he would need a lot of hands-on lessons and basic math for life skills more than anything else.  Plus, we would need to lean heavily on life experiences for him to learn the most.

  • My son was not college bound ~ When we started high school, my son was very sure he did not want to go to college.  Thus, we decided to follow our local high school's transcript requirements.  This is not to say we did "school in a box" at home, but we decided to do 28 credits, name our courses with similar/same names as the local high school, and give each course 100 hours.  In this way, his transcript will look very similar to our local high school and will be accepted more easily by the city government.  The city government runs the nature center, so he must be hired as a government employee to work there.
Taking all of these factors into account, I bought four lesson plan books that had room for seven subjects each.  I then labeled them by grade and put seven subjects in each one.  I did leave two subjects blank in 12th grade so there would be room as we went through the years, in case the big teen developed new interests.  By doing this, we were afforded a lot more flexibility to fill out subjects as they came along.  For example, for the past two years, the big teen has been taking a class in world history with a college professor who teaches homeschoolers.  The credit will all count under 11th grade, even though he is using 14 weeks of 12th grade to complete this course.  Another example would be physical education.  As he had the opportunity to do interesting physical education such as archery, we filled the hours in.  Math courses, which are agony for the big teen who has dyscalculia, could be spread out so that he did not have to be so pressured by them.  I was very stressed out part of last year (11th grade), concerned that my system was not going to work out.  We seemed so far behind, and I was still working out of four lesson plan books.  However, I worried in vain, as we are now on target and are currently only working out of 11th and 12th grade lesson plan books.  Furthermore, two subjects are already completed in 12th grade, and most of the subjects are complete in 11th grade.  Another 11th grade course will be completed this week.  Yippee!

So here are his subjects ~

9th grade:
  • English I ~ Grammar, spelling, basic writing skills
  • Applied Math ~ Basic math skills
  • Physical Education
  • Home Economics
  • U.S. History I
  • Earth Science
  • Geography
10th grade:
  • English II ~ Literature and Film
  • Consumer Math
  • Internship year I at the nature center
  • U.S. History II
  • Art I
  • Life Management
  • Biology
11th grade:
  • English III ~ British and U.S. Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • World History
  • Art II
  • Current Affairs
  • Theater/Music
  • Internship year II
12th grade:
  • English IV ~ World Literature
  • Work Skills
  • World Religion
  • Community Service
  • U.S. Government
  • Chemistry/Physics ~ 1 semester each
  • Algebra I
All of these courses are found at our local high school.  The high school also has several different types of diplomas.  Our course work is basically following their "work studies" diploma for those who want to enter the workforce right after high school.  There is only one kind of high school diploma for homeschoolers in North Carolina, but I wanted the transcript to be easily accepted by the city government.

I hope this answered some of your questions.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. Oh boy....this post reminds me that I have start thinking about things like this having a 7th grader in the house. There is A LOT to think about....

  2. High School is such a great time! I am totally enjoying this time with my 3 high schoolers!!


  3. You are doing a great job! HSLDA also has some great tips and resources for home schooling your highschooler.


  4. Thanks for sharing how you did it. Love the idea of the 4-plan books. Helps to keep the records straight.