planning for a highschool homeschool yearI have two highschool students homeschooling this year.  Naomi is in year 12, and Daniel in year 9 – but really, in our homeschool that doesn’t mean anything (other than the fact that Nomi may not be homeschooling next year – we’ll see!)

Though each year is slightly different than the year before, our highschool plans are much the same as the year before. I continue with the discipleship homeschool scope and sequence – Relationships, Responsibilities, Personal growth (intrapersonal), Talents and Interests, Academics.

Even at this age, it is still important that we address heart issues: beliefs and relationship issues, before we worry about academics and employment readiness.  We need to assess each child, and make plans that meet them where they are at, not feeling compelled to push them to where they ‘should’ be.   We need to be secure in the fact that we have been diligent in step by step growing our children in the skills and knowledge that they need.  If we feel we have been a little slack, then we take stock, and step forward – at a doable pace.  Rushing through lessons never helps anyone.

My kids have found it helpful to understand that in highschool itself you have a few standard subjects, that everyone needs to take, and then you start specialising according to ability and interest.  We do the same.  Over the years, my four children have diversified in different ways from each other.

  • Joshua majored in history and worldviews
  • Jessica though she studied (and loved history) also maintained a blog, volunteered, learnt music/piano, helped with office work, created a few business like projects, ran a few one-day long kids clubs. Her interests, activities, and focus was varied.
  • Naomi’s focus is very much the arts – art history, drama, painting, making.  Though she is also involved in sport, music/piano and volunteering
  • Daniel is keen on digital media for both communication and art, he also wants to explore woodwork and electronics.

You can see the diversity in these subjects.  They all took (or are taking) math and writing, and though science and history is encouraged these subjects are studied from a different perspective from each other and therefore use different resources/curriculum than each other.

So when it comes to planning we can still create an individualised plan for each of our children, something that blends with our own unique family.  We do not need to copy the schools way of doing highschool (though some homeschooling situations may have to incorporate standard curriculum guidelines etc).

In planning for this year’s studies I have considered:

  • What does each of my children need to grow in their relationship with God, family members and friends?
  • What does each of my children need to grow in being responsible people?
  • What areas in each of my children’s lives, needs specific instruction and encouragement in order to grow and mature?
  • What are the gifts and talents that I see in each of my children, and how am I going to help them blossom this year – what skills do they need to learn or practice?
  • What skills to they need to be independent learners – Not just in the highschool setting, but as adults?
  • What are the gaps in their general knowledge?  What aspects of general knowledge will help them in their specifics fields of interest?  If I was following  curriculum guides (government requirements etc) it is at this stage that I would check what was needed and which aspects we needed to work with.

A few other practical considerations

  • Do they have lessons left from last year’s resources?  We don’t necessarily complete a unit in a calendar year.  We often study less per week than most curriculums are written for, which means we tend to go over into the next year.
  • Are the outside the home commitments that the kids are talking about fit in with their needs, goals and time available?  How are these outside the home commitments going to affect the family? Often these commitments creep up on us and now is a good time to consider them from an intentional perspective and pull out if you need to.
  • Are there areas of need in our family where people outside our family unit may be able to contribute to the training of our children?  People often consider tutors for math or music, but we can also ask for help in terms of technology, sewing, sport, art, science – anything.
  • Do they have enough free time to rest and enjoy, but not too much to waft and be idle?
  • What specific goals do we have as a family this year, and how are my children going to be involved?  Do they need to learn anything to be involved?

By this stage I have a general idea of the subjects that my kids need to (or want to) study or be involved in.  I consider the resources already in our home, or I ask around and see what new resources I need to add for this year’s studies.  This year I’m adding a new Bible study, Geography and Writing resources.  I then put together a study routine – this is a guideline for our best days, something to aim for, something that tells me that all being well we can fit it all in.

Here is our plan for term 1, 2014:

Mornings:

Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday:  Bible Study, Math, Writing, General knowledge

Thursday:  Naomi volunteers with Mainly Music and then will go swimming/exercise

Daniel maintains our yard and then will work on various media studies units

Friday:  Character lessons, Living Math, General knowledge.

Afternoons are more hotch-potch trying to fit everyone’s different activities but we do things like:

Naomi:  Reading, piano lessons/practice, work for pay, drama, Girls Bible study, creative projects, exercise/sport,  Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Daniel: Reading, guitar lessons/practice, work for pay, project time with me (helping me with various projects), productive time developing personal interests, sport/exercise

After lunch on Friday they will have free time – only if they have completed their assignments for the week.  If they are behind then this is the time they need to catch up.

They both have free time – I rarely direct Naomi’s free time, as she understands the importance of using her time wisely and knows the projects she wants to work on.  Daniel is still exploring his interests and needs help so we split his free time into times where he needs to intentionally decide on a project (Productive Free Time) and times where he is free to have screen time or do whatever.

There needs to be a degree of flexibility with our routine because opportunities come up.  There are a few opportunities in the pipeline that may change things.   One of the lessons I have learnt from Joshua and Jessica’s highschool years, is that I have to be more discerning about what life opportunities I let interrupt their planned activities.  As their studies become more finely tuned towards their individual needs, these other opportunities can be distractions, whereas in the primary school years they were a central part to heart training, and developing life skills.  Of course the opportunities may be exactly what we need – that is why I need to be discerning.

It is easy to let the academics of education overwhelm and distract you when your child gets into highschool – it seems like we are running out of time.   We must remember that we are still the parent and as such we have our children’s whole being to shape and guide:  their physical wellbeing, their spiritual, emotional, moral, their life skills as well as their intellectual.   Our plans need to cover all those aspects.

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