2.24.2015

Homeschooling High School: The Road Less Traveled

A few months ago, I shared what I would use for elementary and middle school level home education curricula if I could do it all again. And now that my girls are officially in "8th grade" - we follow a January-December academic schedule so a "new year" started for us last month - I've naturally been thinking seriously about our high school plans.

And I've been wrestling with myself.

On the one hand, I found some very good resources for a somewhat "traditional" approach using engaging (as opposed to typical, boring) textbooks. I could easily implement that program, making my time as a parent to homeschooled high schoolers really simple. And I could probably feel pretty good about it in the end because of the quality of the resources I considered:

Traditional Academic Studies Option

Year 10 / 9th Grade (Age 14-15) Credits
Reading

Composition: Excellence in Literature connection

Daily Literature Read-Alouds
1
Language Arts
Math
1
Science Apologia Physical Science 1
Social Studies World History 1
(The Mystery of History, Vol. 1 & 2 as spines w/additional reading, research, and writing)
1
Health Fitness Activities
Read-Alouds, Discussion, Activities in Health, Safety, Character
½ – 1
Other Cat & Dog Theology, Year 1 1
Artistic Pursuits
Draw to Learn (Acts)
1
Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Foreign Language 1
Life Skills: Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers ½
Current Events (WORLD Magazine) ½





Year 11 / 10th Grade (Age 15-16) Credits
Reading

Composition: Excellence in Literature connection

Daily Literature Read-Alouds
1
Language Arts
Math
1
Science Apologia Biology 1
Social Studies World History 2
(The Mystery of History, Vol. 3 & 4 as spines w/additional reading, research, and writing)
1
Health Fitness Activities
Read-Alouds, Discussion, Activities in Health, Safety, Character
½ – 1
Other Cat & Dog Theology, Year 2 1
Artistic Pursuits
Draw to Learn (The Letters of Paul)
1
Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Foreign Language 1
Life Skills: Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers ½
Driver Education (once during Years 11-13) ½
Current Events (WORLD Magazine) ½





Year 12 / 11th Grade (Age 16-17) Credits
Reading

Composition: Excellence in Literature connection

Daily Literature Read-Alouds
1
Language Arts
Math
1
Science Elective 1
Social Studies State History from a Christian Perspective
1
½
Health Fitness Activities
Read-Alouds, Discussion, Activities in Health, Safety, Character
½ – 1
Other Cat & Dog Theology, Year 3 1
Artistic Pursuits
Draw to Learn (Psalms)
1
Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Life Skills: Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers ½
Driver Education (once during Years 11-13) (½)
Current Events (WORLD Magazine) ½





Year 13 / 12th Grade (Age 17-18) Credits
Reading

Composition: Excellence in Literature connection

Daily Literature Read-Alouds
1
Language Arts
Math
1
Science Elective (if desired) (1)
Social Studies We the People Fight Tyranny (Civics) 1
½
Health Fitness Activities
Read-Alouds, Discussion, Activities in Health, Safety, Character
½ – 1
Other Cat & Dog Theology, Year 4 1
Artistic Pursuits
Draw to Learn (Proverbs)
1
Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Life Skills: Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers ½
Driver Education (once during Years 11-13) (½)
Current Events (WORLD Magazine) ½





But, on the other hand, the thought of making my girls endure any sort of cookie-cutter high school experience - read this chapter, take that test, rinse, wash, repeat - honestly makes me cringe. After all, part of the reason I chose to homeschool is so my family and I could embrace our freedom to think outside the box by pursuing more authentic, holistic means of learning. So I've been investigating an alternative, unit studies-oriented program to which I am strongly drawn.

However, going that route is rather intimidating precisely because it is outside the box. It would require much more time and effort on my part, though that's not what causes me to think twice; after all, I've made a commitment to devote myself to my girls until they leave our nest, including whatever it takes to provide them with a wonderful education. No, my hesitation comes instead from the remnants of my own cookie-cutter educational experience rearing its ugly head - having been educated in the system, I don't naturally think about learning in a creative way even though I want to - coupled with latent bits of people-pleasing fear about what others might think if we pursue something "different," especially during high school. I don't like those feelings, but they're hard to shake.

There is, however, something stronger than my uncertainty and fears. Namely, conviction. When I think about taking the safe, traditional path, I know in my gut that I'd be copping out. That wouldn't be true for everyone, of course. But for me...it would. On the other hand, thinking about the alternative route excites me and also brings an inexplicable sense of peace even in the midst of my insecurity. Ultimately, I think that's God's way of reminding me to "trust in the LORD with all your your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take" (Proverbs 3.5-6, NLT).

And so...barring his redirection in the next few months, we will be taking the road less traveled. 

In our case, that means using the Far Above Rubies (FAR) program by Lynda Coates as our foundation, following where it leads us through the girls' high school years. 


Far Above Rubies Unit Study Option

Year 10 / 9th Grade (Age 14-15) Credits
Reading
Daily Literature Read-Alouds
(Excellence in Literature titles)
½ – 1
Math 1
Language Arts
Composition
Elocution/Speech
Grammar
Literary Analysis
Spelling
Vocabulary

Science
Astronomy
Biology
Chemistry
Earth Science
Physics

Social Studies
Civics
Current Events
Economics
Geography
History

Health
First Aid
Growth & Development
Hygiene/Personal Care
Nutrition
Physical Education
Safety/Prevention

Bible/Theology
Apologetics/Worldview
Bible Study
Christian Living
Creation Science
Scripture Memory

Art
Appreciation/History
Technique/Expression

Music
Listening/Appreciation
Technique/Theory

Life Skills
Entrepreneurship
Home Management
Keyboarding/Office Skills
Personal Finance
Far Above Rubies: Units 1-5:
Becoming a Virtuous Woman
Rocks, Rubies, and Minerals
Creation and the Origin of the World We Know
The World of the Old Testament
God's Plan for Romance
Human Sexuality
A Trustworthy Wife
Managing Personal and Family Finances
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
Breeding and Raising of Livestock
Beasts of the Field
Fabrics, Textiles, and the Textile Industry
Food Production and Distribution
Trade, Travel, and Transportation
Explorers and the Age of Exploration
Oceans and Ocean Life
Food and Nutrition (w/Digestive and Excretory Systems)
Slavery: From the Bible to the Americas
Ancient Egypt
The War Between the States and Its Aftermath
5+
Other Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Foreign Language (if desired)
(1?)
Draw to Learn (Acts)
(part of Art + Bible)
Fitness Activities
½ – 1




Year 11 / 10th Grade (Age 15-16) Credits
Reading
Daily Literature Read-Alouds
(Excellence in Literature titles)
½ – 1
Math 1
Language Arts
Composition
Elocution/Speech
Grammar
Literary Analysis
Spelling
Vocabulary

Science
Astronomy
Biology
Chemistry
Earth Science
Physics

Social Studies
Civics
Current Events
Economics
Geography
History

Health
First Aid
Growth & Development
Hygiene/Personal Care
Nutrition
Physical Education
Safety/Prevention

Bible/Theology
Apologetics/Worldview
Bible Study
Christian Living
Creation Science
Scripture Memory

Art
Appreciation/History
Technique/Expression

Music
Listening/Appreciation
Technique/Theory

Life Skills
Entrepreneurship
Home Management
Keyboarding/Office Skills
Personal Finance
Far Above Rubies: Units 6-10:
Gardening and Plant Propagation
Farming and Agriculture
The Real Estate Business
Westward Ho!
The First Americans
All Kinds of Strength
The Olympic Games and Other Sports
Ancient Greeks: Founders of the Olympics
Ancient Rome: Warriors of Great Strength
Being Prepared for Whatever Comes
Light and Energy
Vision and Optics
A Woman of Diligence
Sewing and Needlework
Simple Machines: The Seedbed of Invention and Industry
The Industrial Revolution
Poverty, Charity, and Welfare
The Great Depression
The War to End All Wars: World War I
The Next Great War: World War II
5+
Other Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Foreign Language (if desired)
(1?)
Draw to Learn (The Letters of Paul)
(part of Art + Bible)
Fitness Activities
½ – 1
Driver Education (once during Years 11-13)
½




Year 12 / 11th Grade (Age 16-17) Credits
Reading
Reader's Workshop (The Reader's Odyssey  and Honey for a Teen's Heart)

Daily Literature Read-Alouds
(Excellence in Literature titles)
½ – 1
Math 1
Language Arts
Composition
Elocution/Speech
Grammar
Literary Analysis
Spelling
Vocabulary

Science
Astronomy
Biology
Chemistry
Earth Science
Physics

Social Studies
Civics
Current Events
Economics
Geography
History

Health
First Aid
Growth & Development
Hygiene/Personal Care
Nutrition
Physical Education
Safety/Prevention

Bible/Theology
Apologetics/Worldview
Bible Study
Christian Living
Creation Science
Scripture Memory

Art
Appreciation/History
Technique/Expression

Music
Listening/Appreciation
Technique/Theory

Life Skills
Entrepreneurship
Home Management
Keyboarding/Office Skills
Personal Finance
Far Above Rubies: Units 11-15:
Climates and Seasons of the Earth
The Uncertainties of Weather
Stars in the Heavens
Renaissance and Reformation
Fashion and Clothing Design
Interior Decorating
Lilies of the Field
Church and Family Government
Civil Government – An Overview
The Founding of America
The U.S. Constitution and Political System
Gates, Walls, and Buildings
Mind Your Own Business
Free Enterprise and the Global Economy
The Middle Ages
Dignity and Strength in All Circumstances
The Family Cares for Its Own
Prophecies of the Future
5+
Other Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Foreign Language (if desired)
(1?)
Draw to Learn (Psalms)
(part of Art + Bible)
Fitness Activities
½ – 1
Driver Education (once during Years 11-13)
(½)




Year 13 / 12th Grade (Age 17-18) Credits
Reading
Daily Literature Read-Alouds
(Excellence in Literature titles)
½ – 1
Math
Teaching Textbooks, Pre-Calculus
or Consumer/Business Math
1
Language Arts
Composition
Elocution/Speech
Grammar
Literary Analysis
Spelling
Vocabulary

Science
Astronomy
Biology
Chemistry
Earth Science
Physics

Social Studies
Civics
Current Events
Economics
Geography
History

Health
First Aid
Growth & Development
Hygiene/Personal Care
Nutrition
Physical Education
Safety/Prevention

Bible/Theology
Apologetics/Worldview
Bible Study
Christian Living
Creation Science
Scripture Memory

Art
Appreciation/History
Technique/Expression

Music
Listening/Appreciation
Technique/Theory

Life Skills
Entrepreneurship
Home Management
Keyboarding/Office Skills
Personal Finance
World History: post-World War II – Present
(not included in Far Above Rubies)

Far Above Rubies: Units 16-20:
The Woman After God's Heart
The Brain and Its Processes (w/Nervous System)
Educating Children God's Way
Personal and Home Management
A Lifestyle of Productivity
The Christian and the Community
Your Family's Environment
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Train Up a Child
Honor Your Father and Your Mother
Orphanages, Foster Homes, and the Child Care System
God's View of Marriage
In Search of Excellence
All Kinds of Beauty
The Fear of the Lord
Fruit: Physical and Spiritual
Evaluation and Standards
Graduation and Beyond
5+
Other Instrumental Lessons (Piano, Voice, or Other) 1
Foreign Language (if desired)
(1?)
Draw to Learn (Proverbs)
(part of Art +Bible)
Fitness Activities
½ – 1
Driver Education (once during Years 11-13)
(½)




FAR Possible Resource Spines


myriad biographies, informational texts, works of literature, etc. according to our preferences and as outlined in Far Above Rubies


As a unit study, FAR approaches learning via themes, and traditional content areas are "covered" through the themes by reading living books, engaging in self-directed research, and participating in a wide range of creative activities. Thus, through FAR and our separate math curriculum (Teaching Textbooks), the girls will get everything they "need" for a high-quality high school education, delivered in a very compelling, well-designed, non-traditional package. 
I've just begun to map out what this will look like for us - for example, I'm not sure how we'll decide upon particular activities from among the amazing array of possibilities presented in FAR, and I'll need to come up with an appropriate record-keeping system - but I trust I'll be able to figure that out over the next few months. In fact, I've tentatively mapped out the following schedule, starting with a little jump-start this fall after we finish our current "8th grade" history and science books:

Far Above Rubies Tentative Schedule: Order & Scheduled Days Per Mini-Unit

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Mini-Unit Days Mini-Unit Days Mini-Unit Days Mini-Unit Days Mini-
Unit
Days
1.1 15 2.1 5 6.3 5 11.1 10 20.2 10
1.2 10 2.2 10 6.4 15 11.2 10 16.1 10
1.3 10 2.3 10 6.5 15 11.3 10 16.2 10
1.4 10 2.4 5 7.1 10 12.1 20 16.3 10


3.1 5 7.2 10 12.2 10 17.1 10


3.2 5 7.3 15 12.3 10 17.2 10


3.3 10 7.4 14 12.4 14 17.3 10


3.4 10 8.1 9 13.1 8 17.4 9


6.1 12 8.2 10 13.2 10 Mod.Hist. 18


6.2 12 8.3 10 13.3 10 20.1 10


4.1 14 9.1 5 13.4 15 18.1 10


4.2 15 9.2 10 13.5 5 18.2 10


4.3 15 9.3 10 14.1 8 18.3 8


4.4 10 9.4 13 14.2 10 18.4 5


5.1 13 10.1 5 14.3 15 19.1 10


5.2 15 10.2 15 15.1 10 19.2 10


5.3 15 10.3 15 15.2 10 19.3 10


5.4 15 10.4 10 15.3 10 19.4 10








20.3 10

Having settled this much, I'm now free between now and October to plan and organize the other nuts and bolts we'll need to get off on the right foot and to begin gathering the resources we don't yet have. I've even launched a group for those who use FAR (as well as Blessed Is the Man, Lynda Coates' program from young men).

I'm sure I'll have moments of doubt along the way - our faith is inevitably tested once we know we've chosen correctly - but I really can't wait to get started. Before I chose this path, I was feeling rather blasé about homeschooling through high school - resigned to doing what was expected even if it wasn't particularly engaging. Now, though, I know we'll be doing something right, and it's already made all the difference.

TRACKING MY OBEDIENCE