Several weeks ago I wrote about the Easy First Step for High School Curriculum Planning. This post will follow from that, so if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll want to go check it out. Then come back here — no worries, I’ll still be hangin’. 🙂
So now that we know what general requirements colleges have for freshman applicants, we can use that knowledge to begin planning out the high school curriculum. You may find that one time doing this step will suffice for all your kids, or you might end up doing it for each student. My #1 and #2 are so different that I needed to almost entirely revamp what I had done for the first to better fit the second… and that’s OK. Let me just revisit a huge point from the First Easy Step that is important to keep in mind: there is no one right way to do this high school thing! (Exclamation point!!) If you remember that, it all seems less overwhelming.
The second easy step for planning high school curriculum is a two-fold process that will most likely happen pretty much simultaneously. As you are working on one aspect, the other will be falling into place, and vice-versa.
The first part of this step is that there needs to be some decision-making about what your high school graduation requirements will be. In other words, based on what you’ve seen in the college catalogs, how many credits of each subject will you require for graduation? Will you require four full years of math, or can your child just take three? Do they need foreign language credits, and if so, how many? Do they need to take American History, specifically? Or Government? Or a science lab? How many credits will you require in total?
The biggest help to me as we were answering that last question was to check out many different states’ public high school graduation requirements. There is a handy chart at this link: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_234.30.asp. This chart is fairly recent; it’s from 2013. And the thing that should jump out at you is the VAST difference in the total number of credits needed to graduate for the different states (shown in the first column). Crazy, isn’t it? And guess what? Most states do NOT legislate that homeschools even follow these requirements. So not only are they widely varied; they are also NOT something we need to feel bound by. I’m telling you, your high school is YOUR high school. YOU can decide how many credits you think are sufficient for a high school education. Don’t you feel empowered? I know I did.
[BTW, it’s a good thing to know that in high school terms, a credit is a course that lasts a full year, and ½ credit is a course that lasts only a semester.]
The second aspect that you will be thinking through is a general four-year plan for when those required credits will take place. It helps to make a chart (I just took a sheet of looseleaf paper and split it up into 4 sections, with the numbers 9, 10, 11, and 12 at the top of each section) where you can write down what credits will go where. If you decide that your child needs four years of English, then you will write “English” down under each year. If you think only three credits of math are necessary, then you might choose to write “math” only under 9, 10, and 11. You can decide to get the heavy coursework out of the way early, or you can decide to spread it out more. You can decide when they might need some elective credits (no need here yet to specify what, unless it’s obvious — my first was getting lots of violin credit, and I knew that from the beginning; but #2 was gonna take several electives that we hadn’t decided on yet, so I just put “elective” where it needed to be).
If you want to get more snazzy than my piece of looseleaf paper, my blogging buddy Heidi at Starts at Eight has a free printable Excel worksheet: Four Year High School Plan — Free Spreadsheet Printable.
As you work on the four-year plan, you might realize that your graduation requirements are too steep, so you can rework them a little to be more achievable; or you might realize that you need to beef them up a bit more. You might realize you can graduate your child early so he can go get a job for a semester before college; or you might decide he can look for an internship and count it as high school credit during a certain semester. The possibilities are endless!
For us, this process occurred over the course of several days as The Man and I discussed what we wanted our children to have accomplished by the end of high school, and I began to plan it out over the four-year span. As I would get part of it down on paper, I would go back and ask him questions, and we would consider and re-consider how it should all look. It was a fun time of communication between us as we worked together to firm up our plan.
Please know, though, that the plan at the beginning and the actuality at the end did NOT match each other. LOL! Circumstances change; plans that seemed great turn out to be not-so-great; the child who at one time loved math decides halfway through junior year that she absolutely cannot stand to take another course of it — you get the idea. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that we can flex as needs change. I just love that, don’t you?
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan. These steps in planning high school curriculum are crucial, because they give us the confidence to take a stab at homeschooling high school. Completing each step in the process helps us feel empowered, even qualified, to think about graduating a homeschooled student down the road. Once you have your graduation requirements decided and a general four-year plan in place, the worst is over! 🙂
After this it’s just a matter of deciding which curriculum to use for each year, and you can do that just the same as you always have, in the spring or summer before each year begins.
Taken step by step, a bite at a time, homeschooling high school is not a daunting task. It all begins with a couple of EASY steps of high school curriculum planning! So go for it! 🙂
Shared on the Hip Homeschool Hop and