Choosing Curriculum with College in Mind



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Choosing curriculum for your high schooler who is aiming towards college…Well, that really can’t be hard for us.  As homeschoolers, we are experts at choosing curricula…..it’s almost a no brainer!!

We have searched for and picked out curricula each year for our kiddos.  And we know how to tweak it, too, to help it fit with our children’s learning style.

There is just one important factor that is different now, for our college bound kids. 

Choosing curriculum for high school is really just the same, with one important difference....now we have the college admission requirements to think about as well. 

With that list of requirements in hand, (see Chapter 1 of my book for more info) my daughter and I looked for curricula one year at a time and found the whole process to be very similar to our previous years. 

One thing that made it easier for us was that most of my daughter’s entrance requirements were very similar, from college to college.  And our planning process was similar, too….

Our Planning Process



We explored around, as usual, choosing the unit studies, textbooks, living books, and/or online courses that would be a good fit for our teen.  We worked to meet our teen’s entrance requirements, but did not forget to focus on her own special interests as well.

My Teen's Interests

My daughter interests in high school focused on film making, and political science. We made sure to center her electives around those interests. 

But we found out that, if she wanted to study either of these in college,  the college entrance requirements would still be the same.  

She needed to complete her college entrance requirements in the basic subjects (LA, social studies, math and science), for either path.  But, we still, her interests framed her electives. We also did a course in Government for one of her social studies requirements, and did outside activities centering around her interest in government as well.  Later, photography and video making became more than one of her homemade electives.  

Getting the entrance requirements does take some time away from following your teen’s interests in high school, but they allow them to be able to dive deeply into their interests in college.

And we kept our eclectic homeschooling style all along the way.

Our Eclectic Approach



We are eclectic homeschoolers, who love unit studies, lots of hands-on learning, and mixing  art into our academics.  We found a curriculum that could do all of that, early on, called Oak Meadow.

We have used a number of the Oak Meadow courses, through the years, and into high school as well.  Their courses are project based, with lots of hands-on-learning, some even in high school.  We found that the Oak Meadow approach had many similarities to Charlotte Mason.  

Below, I will be sharing our favorites for high school curriculum, with college in mind, and some of my homeschooling friend's favorites, too.  I hope these choices will inspire those of you who are in the planning mode.  We used both faith based and secular curriculum in our homeschool.


So what did we do for Science? Math? English? and Social Studies?  Foreign Language? and Fine Arts?


First, here's two great resources for your own high school curriculum search:
  
Curriculum Search Tools

1. CURRICULUM DIRECTORY at Let's Homeschool High School


This curriculum directory for high school is the most complete one I have seen!  And it includes TONS of links.

2.  THE CURRICULUM CHOICE



This site is full of curriculum reviews, written by a team of authors (I am one) who have actually used the curriculum.  It includes reviews of such curriculum as Tapestry of Grace, IEW for literature and writing, a number of Charlotte Mason options, Oak Meadow and 1,000’s of other reviews.

Here are our favorites...what are yours?


OUR CURRICULUM CHOICES

SCIENCE




Most of our college choices required two lab sciences.  But if your teen is headed towards a math or science major in college, they will usually require 4 science courses, all with lab.

We found many choices for science including Oak Meadow, Apologia, A Beka, Switch-On-Schoolhouse (SOS), etc.  

We made sure that our choices included a science lab component.  

We decided to look for a structured course that included regular test-taking.  Getting used to test-taking would help my daughter to prepare for later test-taking in college.
  
We chose Switched-On-Schoolhouse (SOS), as we wanted a computer based program, and my daughter wanted to work independently.  And all the lessons were graded for me.

SOS also offered tutoring (from their high school science teachers), to be purchased by the half hour.  Working some of the science problems out with a teacher really helped, when complex concepts came up. We also used Home Science Tools for our high school lab kits.

Other Science Options we considered:

Oak Meadow, Apologia, A Beka, Lifepacs, Apologia Science 
  
The typical requirements for college entrance include two science courses, usually Biology and Chemistry.  If your student is headed towards a math, science, or programming major in college, they will likely be required to do 4 lab sciences.

 MATH


Most of our college choices required Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.  (Or the series that Saxon offers, which is equivalent). 

If your teen is aiming towards math, computer programming, or a science major in college, they will likely be required to have 4 years of math, including PreCalculus.  (Check with your college.)

We looked at LifePacs, Switch-On-Schoolhouse, Math-You-See, A Beka, etc.  We also considered Teaching Textbooks, but found that, for us, it did not provide enough depth for good retention. We found that SOS met our daughter's needs well, and it had the structured and depth to help my daughter retain that she had learned.  For us, SOS did a better job in providing the solid math background needed for tackling the SAT/ACT later in junior year.

It's all about what fits for your student. 

We found that SOS met our daughter's needs well, and it had the structured and depth to help my daughter retain that she had learned.  For us, SOS did a better job in providing the solid math background needed for tackling the SAT/ACT later in junior year.

Others that we considered: 

Check out The Curriculum Choice for a review of ALEKS, and also one on No-Nonsense Algebra. We also looked at  Life of Fred, A Beka, Saxon, Math You See, Mr. D. Math and Khan Academy, all of which are strong programs.  Some families love Teaching Textbooks, too.

For math, we are staying with an old favorite, Switched On Schoolhouse (SOS). It is complete, with clear explanations.  I like how this course is structured, with regular quizes,  giving my daughter practice in test taking.  She will need this, wherever she goes to college. 

I also like how it gives the student instant feedback, and also grades the lessons for me!  What a plus!  And it even helped my daughter to retain the information, so helpful to  help prepare for the math SAT/ACT.
  Math Tutoring Options

All of the Alpha Omega Publications programs offer tutoring (including Monarch, Lifepacs, and SOS). It can be purchased by the half hour, from teachers who specialize in each subject area.
We used this tutoring  last year.  It helped us a lot, and also gave my teen practice in discussing math with her tutor.  Great for critical thinking, too!  

There are now a number of online homework help/tutoring options, too, and I noticed that some of them are free.  Just google homework help.  Of course, there is Khan Academy.

ENGLISH


When looking for a high school English program, we found that most colleges wanted something strong in literature and/or composition each year.  But some are more lenient.  Our college allowed us to do a speech and debate course for one of our English credits.
One option for that is to create your own literature course, and pick out the literature yourself.  Pairing that with writing assignments can make up a complete English course for your teen!  
 
We decided to go another way, and chose a ready made course, with good quality living literature.  We chose Oak Meadow, which offers a variety of literature based courses, including writing, too, from 9th to 12th grade.




Click here for my review of Oak Meadow Literature and Composition II. This course focuses on literary analysis and essay writing. We liked how she got lots of  writing practice, with different types of essays and research reports, to help her to prepare for later essay writing in college.

Recently we found more great resources for English from the 7 Sisters Homeschool site. 


 
American Literature


I love this one in American Literature.  Each of the English courses from 7 Sisters Homeschool are complete, written to the student, requiring little or no prep from you, and none of them have busywork.

They offer a large variety of English courses, from individual Literature Guides, to helpful easy-to-use Essay Writing courses, and even one in Speech, all written by homeschool moms who have been there, and have graduated their students from their homeschools. 

Put together your own courses using your teen's favorite lit guide, or pick a complete course from a variety of choices.  

The English courses from 7 Sisters Homeschool are comparable to Oak Meadow, but are a much more frugal option.

They recently added a brand new literature guide for Right Ho, Jeeves.

Right Ho, Jeeves Study Guide


Other options we considered

We also looked at such programs as Hewitt Homeschooling: Lightning Literature & Composition , Lifepacs, Sonlight, Write@ Home, Brave Writer, Ambleside.com, Monarch, and SOS and found them all to be strong. IEW offers a very structured, step by step approach to composition.  My student did not prefer their approach, but some teens do. Go to here for Barb's review of it. 

SOCIAL STUDIES

Plotting World War I on the map.
Many colleges ask for 1 year of American History, 1 year of World History, 1/2 credit of Government, and 1/2 credit of Economics.  But ours left it up to us.  It all depends on the college.

We had a lot of flexibility for Social Studies, as our college choices wanted only a certain number of credits, and did not specify which courses we had to take.  For us, we had a wide variety of subjects to choose from, such as World History, US History, Geography, Economics, Psychology, etc.  

You may not have this same flexibility for social studies. Please be sure to check with your college choices.  (More info is in Chapter 1 of my book.)

We decided to use Oak Meadow's history courses, and also some geography  from the Rainbow Resource catalog.  Then senior year, we did a course in Government, from Northwest College.

Other options we considered:

We also checked out SOS, Lifepacs, Tapestry of Grace, Ambleside.com and Sonlight for social studies, all strong programs.  Alpha Omega Publications offers a number of dual credit courses in social studies.


Then in senior year, my daughter took a government course at the college level from Northwestern College. This gave my teen college credit, and more importantly, experience in doing a college level course.  

Social Studies is an area where my daughter is strong, which was essential for her being able to do this college level course. 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE 

  
Most colleges require two years of the same foreign language for their incoming freshmen.  Some two tier or ivy colleges require three.

Be sure to check with your colleges as to what languages they will consider.  Some now are accepting American Sign Language. Check with your college re whether they accept Latin or Greek. Some do.

We chose a Spanish 1 class from a  regional school program in our area, Highline Choice Academy, which offered it twice a week, and that worked out well.  And I liked the fact that the students met together to practice their language verbally.

For Spanish 2, we went with the homeschool version of RosettaStone (RS). I liked the homeschool version best because it had a solid study of Spanish grammar, as the regular RS version did not.  Also, our college choices preferred the homeschool version. 

We also looked at SOS, and Monarch, but wanted something that focused more on conversational Spanish. 

There are so many options now for foreign language.  Cathy Duffy, @ http://cathyduffyreviews.com/foreign-language/foreign-language-index.htm, has a number of reviews of foreign language curricula.  

Middlebury offers digital world language courses, in Spanish, French, German, and Chinese.  Mango Languages offers a homeschool version, and is self graded.


FINE ARTS


Our Homemade Course in Video-Making

Most colleges require a 1/2 credit or a full credit in fine arts.  That can be done in a number of ways.  Art, art history, music, photography, or even video-making can be used to fulfill this requirement, at most colleges.  We chose to do a course in video-making, and had a lot of fun with that.  Here's how we made our own course for that, and it was easy to do.

Do you have a teen who is interested in art?  


Tricia Hodges, @ You Are An Artist, which has a 40% off SALE thru May 6th on everything, offers a large variety of art courses, taught by a professional artist, including some new video courses, perfect for a credit in fine arts.

This year, she has released two semester long courses, which each earn 1/2 credit in art.  Below is her course called "Video Art Course - Semester 2.", full of spring related chalk art lessons. 


She also offers Semester 1, all set up for fall subjects, like autumn leaves, holiday scenes, etc.  The best thing about these two courses is that they do not come with the usual complicated list of art supplies.  Instead all the is needed is an internet connection and a box of chalk pastels.

Now that we have covered all the core subjects for homeschooling high school with college in mind.....what would you add to this list? What are your favorites?  Please add them in the comments, as that could encourage other families as well.  

Are you looking for a simple guide to high school for your teen?



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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years



Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy

Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.  She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting


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6 comments:

  1. These are some great curriculum choices, Betsy! It's so interesting that I'm homeschooling my high schooler as well this year and am using completely different things than you. :)
    --Gena

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Gena from ichoosejoy.com! That is the beauty of homeschooling, isn't it? That we can pick and choose from the wide variety of homeschool curricula, out there to find just the right one for our teens, or just the one we want to try, lol. Thanks again for stopping by,Gena,

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's fun to see what other people are using for their homeschool high school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan Evans, for stopping by, and leaving your encouraging comment! With so many great options for high school homeschool, I don't even know how we all come to a decision for our teens! lol.

      Delete
  4. Wow! So many awesome choices and resources! Thanks for sharing :) I have one past homeschooling and my next one is going into grade 4. Will be keeping this handy for decision making!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nadine! I am happy to hear that! It is so fun for us bloggers to get comments from our readers. Thanks, Nadine, for stopping by. And congratulations for having graduating one already. To you, your husband, and your grad! I remember 4th grade, that was when we started using Oak Meadow curriculum and my kiddo loved it. So many great choices out there!

      Delete

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