When the spectre of high school loomed in the distance for my oldest child, I started researching how to homeschool high school. After all, planning these school years is very important.
There is a lot of information out there, almost too much. I
had a few second-hand high school books and bought a brand new one,
studied Charlotte Mason style high school, classical high school, unschooling high school, textbook high school, and various forms of eclectic high school,
learned about marks and transcripts and grades and university requirements,
discussed it all with my husband and had planning tea times with my teen, and
in the process, got completely overwhelmed, to the point where I could come to no conclusion on most of my questions, even though they kept on running around and around in my head. There was just too much in the books, too many options, no chance to think clearly, and the clock was rapidly ticking away to the dreaded beginning of high school.
What I really needed was someone to show me what to do, in practical detail, without giving too much overwhelming explanation. My books could supply any necessary in-depth information, but I wanted someone to hold my hand. In her e-course, Upper Level Homeschool, Terri Johnson provides the helpful, practical guidance I desperately needed several years ago.
Upper Level Homeschool: Continuing Strong and Finishing Well was written to encourage and equip parents to continue homeschooling through high school. This e-course is sent to your inbox in 13 weekly instalments, with links, suggestions, and even a weekly assignment.
First, I received a free mini-course, available to you here, telling about the joys of homeschooling high school, outlining some of the decisions that need to be made, and mentioning the importance of keeping records.
Then, when I signed up for the course, I got one lesson a week for 13 weeks. Each lesson contains 5-10 pages of information on one topic in practical but not overwhelming detail. Most of the lessons also have links or references to further helpful resources. A unique and very helpful component is the weekly assignment, which shows exactly what you need to do next.
For example, the first lesson discusses mapping out a course of study for the four high school years. Terri shares requirements for her state and shows, using tables and lists, how she chose both required and elective courses for her children. The week’s assignment involves finding out the high school requirements in your area. Helpful links are provided for both the US and Canada.
As another example, the chapter on financial literacy includes five principles of money management to work on with your teen. It also suggests various experts to study and gives links to relevant information, some free and some not.
Other lessons cover topics such as designing courses, transcripts, study habits, essay writing, achievement tests, jump-starting college, and success. Occasionally an expert such as Kim Kautzer (Write Shop), Jojo Tabares (Art of Eloquence), or Janice Campbell (Transcripts Made Easy) contributes significantly to a lesson.
How I’m Using It
Each week I printed out the lesson, put it in a three ring binder and read it in bed, making notes in the margins. Actually, I didn’t put them in the binder until I started losing pages, but each page is so well-labelled that it was easy to organize them again. I also put sticky tabs at the edge of each lesson’s title page so I can find things more easily.
I have done several of the course assignments, although I have not yet finished all of them. Since we have been homeschooling high school for a few years, I skipped some of the assignments, and was encouraged to notice how many important things we were already doing.
On the other hand, Terri pointed out quite a few things that I had not been thinking about, including the various resources mentioned in the course. These have led me to useful information, much of it online, that I would probably not have found on my own.
Upper Level Homeschool contains practical tips that are not in the weekly assignments. I wrote these down on a separate sheet of paper and plan to work through them step by step. For example, the lesson on essay writing for the SAT is full of useful tips for teaching writing. I will be applying some of these hints this year as we work on essay writing
I’m setting up planning/record binders for each of my teens using some of the Forms and Checklists that came with the course as well as the records we have from previous years. As I go through the course, completing the assignments and applying the relevant tips, I also note what needs to be looked at again in subsequent years. This should save considerable time and stress in the future.
It goes without saying that the course does require some work from the homeschooling parent; it is not an automatic injection of knowledge. Sigh. That may be obvious to you, but there’s always an unconscious hope in the back of my head…. On the other hand, Terri does make it as easy as possible for a busy homeschooling mom and I think she has minimized the parent’s work while maximizing the information available.
One suggestion I’d like to add. If the high school requirements of your province or state (see links in lesson 1) are as wordy and unclear as the ones for Ontario, pick up a course outline at a local high school guidance office. That will probably give a great overview of what is required in your area, and can serve as a bit of a map to the ‘official’ information.
Even though we are several years into our high school journey, I found this course helpful and encouraging. It is simple, quick, organized, and confidence-building. Although I use and value the books I own on how to homeschool high school, this course was more practical and easier to follow than the books, perhaps because of its unique format.
If you have read several overview books about high school at home and are successfully and confidently applying them, this course is probably not for you. However, for any mom who is uncertain, worried, or confused about how to homeschool high school, this course could make all the difference.
Upper Level Homeschool, an e-course, is available here .
For more homeschooling tips, see Thirsty Thursday: Satisfying Our Kids’ Thirst For Knowledge, One Sip at a Time by Five J’s.