Making your own High School English Course


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There are many ways to homeschool high school english.  One way is to make your own course.  One year, we did just that.  So today, I'd like to share six things that we included in creating our homemade English course.  You can, of course, add in grammar review and vocabulary, too, if that is needed for your student.  

 Six Important Components to High School English 

1.  Reading Literature

Choosing your own literature to read can really be fun, and that can include some free reading books, too.  It all depends on what your teen needs and where you think they are heading.  If your student is going into the trades or right into a vocation, then the reading does not need to be in typical high school literature selections, it can be nonfiction oriented to their probable trade or future job.

2. Write A Lot

I encouraged my teen to write..a lot!  

First, I assigned essays to write, related to her reading.  But we did a variety of other writing, too, when she wanted to do something else.  The important thing is to help your teen get comfortable with the written word.

Sometimes I gave her the choice to write in whatever way that she felt motivated to do....such as:  Write about a newspaper article, write some dialog to a short story, write how to's - such as a recipe, or how to find a good deal on cell phones, etc.  You

If your teen is interested in writing fiction, I would encourage that. Writing fiction is a great way for kids to learn the components of literature - setting, point of view, characters, plot, etc.  That is the basis for literary analysis, discussed below!

It is also helpful to introduce your teen to different types of essays, if they are college bound, eg, narratives, expository essays, persuasive essays, etc. Time for Learning has a great resource for that here.  But the topic was always teen-led, in our house. If you want a guide, there is a listing of writing standards for 11th and 12th grades on this link. 

3. Practice the Steps of Writing

Time for Learning has a simple outline of these steps here, which include:

1.  Prewriting/Making an Outline 
2.  Drafting 
3.  Revising 
4.  Editing 
5.  Publishing 

Taking it step by step, as above, helps to make essay writing or report writing less daunting. Having the goal of making an outline, or sketching out a draft was doable, as opposed to trying to do the whole thing at one time! 

My daughter disliked making an outline, but learning to outline has really paid off or her, and helped her to create meaningful essays that were well constructed and made sense!

4.  Do Literary Analysis  

Why do literary analysis?  ...I do it because it is a great way to teach critical thinking skills, needed for whatever your teen will be doing.  But what exactly is it?  

"Literary Analysis is the practice of looking closely at small parts to see how they affect the whole. Literary analysis focuses on how plot/structure, character, setting, and many other techniques are used by the author to create meaning....." from Arrowhead High School.  Click on this title for more info on literary analysis.

Oak Meadow helped us with literary analysis by asking lots of questions to ponder.....about plot, setting, character development, etc. Ambleside Online also has a great sample list of narration questions as well.  We had great discussions together.  

Join your teens in pondering the why's and how come's of the story, the plot line, how the setting impacted the plot, etc.  

5. Write Research Reports

Writing research reports is probably something your kids have learned to do through the years.  Knowing how to research and write up one's findings can be important in many future career opportunities.

6.  Take a Break

Taking a break not only helps with writer's block, it can also give your teen something new to write about.

One day, we stopped by a farmer's market, and got a bunch of apples.  That got us busy cooking.  Nothing like homemade applesauce.  We had it with latkes, potato pancakes, for dinner.  

Recipe writing is a good skill, too.  Learning to write the procedures needed in a recipe is good practice for other "how to" writing assignments, such as writing out the steps for a plumbing problem, or how to repair an air conditioner. 

What are your favorite resources for making your own English course?  Please feel free to share in the comments.  I love reading them.  

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Betsy blogs at BJ's Homeschool, where she writes about high school and collegeand all the fun of homeschooling the early years, too.  She also wrote the book Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, to help homeschoolers with the college process.  As a veteran homeschooler, Betsy offers free homeschool help to families.

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  1. This was great for me. I have been struggling with choosing a curriculum and this came right up when I searched! God always puts the answer right in your face. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Katrina, for stopping by to share your comment. I hope it is a help and that you and your family enjoy your English studies in your homeschool this coming year!


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