We’re one of those homeschool families that homeschool through-out the year. We started this model a long time ago because we liked traveling with dad during the school year and taking vacations in the off-season. Plus, starting in July, the weather is hot and humid in Kentucky (generally speaking), so while we could wallow away the summer poolside every day, we choose to use this time to keep on homeschooling, and then wallow away some days in nice weather. We do take off the entire month of June, which is now over, and Ben has a class from last year he still needs to complete. So his official new year will actually begin in August, but homeschooling is resuming next week.
As I began thinking about Ben’s upcoming sophomore year of high school, I wanted to simplify things as much as possible, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because simpler is just better for his often distracted brain, and also for my work-at-home schedule. I also need to make room in the school year for some outside classes Ben will be taking at our local creative arts academy. Last year, he began taking drama, and in the coming year, he’ll be adding some other fine arts classes — creative writing, art, and photography. This will mean that Ben will be out of the house all day on Tuesday and 1/2 the day on Friday. While I’m grateful for these opportunities for him to nurture his right brain, it complicates things just a tad with his core courses at home.
When we first began homeschooling, we used the Five in a Row curriculum, and one of my favorite aspects of this resource is that core subjects were taught on different days. For example, history on Monday, science on Tuesday, art on Wednesday, and so forth. We still did the 3Rs daily, but only having one other subject a day really simplified things.
Homeschooling High School in 12-Week Modules
I want to try something similar for high school, but instead of one subject a day, it will be one subject at a time for several weeks. So based on a trial I did at the end of the freshmen year with a unit study based on Pilgrim’s Progress, I have devised a plan that will hopefully serve us both well in the coming year — homeschooling high school in (3) 12-week modules. Not all subjects will be taught in this way. I think teaching English, Spanish, and math would be a mistake to do like this, but other courses will be completed one at a time over 12-weeks, with the exception of Study Skills. Ben will begin that course in August for 4 weeks (1/4 credit) to set a healthy foundation for the rest of the years. We’ll be using Victus Study Skills for that. For those of you wondering about teaching with unit studies in high school, I believe it can be done. We did it for part of last year. And while it may not look as though we’re using a unit study format in the coming year, we actually will be still continuing that model, only a little outside the box.
Logistically speaking, his is how Ben’s days will look:
English and Math will be completed 4 days a week — English will be comprised of one semester of writing (WriteShop II) and one semester of literature (Illuminating Literature). For Math, he’ll be using Life of Fred, finishing Pre-Algebra and starting Algebra. Spanish (Rosetta Stone) will be done 3 days a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the days he is home all day.
All other subjects will be taught intensely in 12-week modules, one at a time. This means he will cover one-year of classes such as social studies, health, science, apologetics, economics, computer programming, and so forth in 12 weeks, by studying those courses for about 3-4 hours a day, 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday). Courses that provide 1/2 credit will be combined with other 1/2 credit courses(ie: health and economics) in back-to-back 6-week modules.
For the coming year, Ben has requested:
Apologetics (we’ll primarily use a literature-based model for this — a blog post will be forthcoming when I nail down that list of books)
Biology (we’ll use a unit study model for this class with a spine of the 101 Series DVD (a reading list, lab kit, and field trips will round out the resources this course) — a blog post about this will be forthcoming
World Geography (we’ll use a unit study model for this class as well — resources will include notebooking pages from Productive Homeschooling and a reading list)
My hope is that this will not only simplify Ben’s homeschool day, but similar to the unit study model, will mean he immerses himself into the subject for those 12 weeks, going deeper than he might go if he only had an hour at a time and then had to move on to another subject.
My test with Pilgrim’s Progress tells me this should be a successful model of homeschooling high school for Ben. Only time will tell for sure, and I will be sure to update as we go along, and let you know of any modifications we make.