Last year's curriculum plan, as usual, changed a bit. One of the changes was that we ended up dropping home ec about 3 months in to the school year because of stress and time constraints while we were fostering 2 little boys (it's a long story).
But this coming year, we're hoping to stay on track better. One reason things might be easier is that my oldest child, Jaden, finished high school this month—albeit in a different manner than we had all planned (it's another long story). He's planning to start at our local community college this June in their Audio Engineering program. Consequently, I'll be focusing on fewer students, namely my two daughters, Joely and Jerah, who will be starting 11th grade and 8th grade respectively.
But to throw a monkey wrench into things, Jerah decided this week that she wants to try to finish high school by the end of next summer (2016) so she can start college classes either in the fall of 2016 or spring of 2017. During our time of being foster parents, she learned a lot about working with troubled children, and that started to pique her interest in child psychology and in possibly becoming a therapist (possibly a pediatric occupational therapist).
Since that career choice requires a Master's degree, I think she's eager to start the process as soon as possible, so we sat down together recently and determined what classes she'd need to finish high school. We especially focused on selecting courses that would feed into her passions and interests, which are writing and working with children.
Next we determined how long it would take her to complete each course and mapped out a plan for her to finish everything over the course of 11 months, from July 2015 to May 2016. Adding some CLEP testing into the mix also makes her plan to graduate early much more doable. She has already passed the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP which will earn her 6 credits at our local college when she begins attending there (I will apply this as 2 high school English or elective credits. )
She didn't do any formal classes to prep for the CLEP test, but she's done a lot (and I mean a lot as in hundreds and hundreds of hours) of informal "non-school" reading and writing over the last 5 years (she's written over 1.3 million words in fact—can you tell she loves to write!?). Plus, she's also inherited a little of my Grammar Nazi tendencies! Doing the One Year Adventure Novel and attending three summer workshops was also helpful for the Analyzing & Interpreting Literature CLEP.
After much thinking and planning, and since Jerah much prefers working in blocks of subjects instead of 6 different subjects per day, we've determined that the best course of action is for her to work on two courses at a time, doing two days' worth of work each day, plus one day of Child Development reading as well since she has a LOT of pages to read and notes to take! When she finishes one course, she'll begin another one, but she'll continue with Child Development the whole time as that'll take the entire year to finish.
(UPDATE: As of July 27, 2015, Jerah has completed over 4 weeks of her senior year and has progressed quite well. She's nearly finished with Economics and has done quite a bit of the work in both psychology and child development. It looks like her plan to graduate this year will work out!)
11th/12th Grade Girl
1. British Medieval Literature from Lightning Lit & Comp
2. Analyzing & Interpreting Literature (2 credits) through CLEP testing and LOTS of individual reading and writing as mentioned above over the last several years.
- SchoolYourself Geometry
- Selections from Chalk Dust Geometry & SAT/ACT Math Review
- Selections from Geometry the Easy Way
Anatomy & Physiology: Apologia Advanced Biology (The Human Body) (1 credit)
World History: (1 credit) Mystery of History Volume 4 plus additional reading (yet to be determined)
Economics (1/2 credit)
To make the subject less dry and more practical, I put together my own curriculum by compiling a number of different resources. (Jerah is almost finished with this course already, and she is actually enjoying it a lot which is NOT what she expected!)
- Lessons for the Young Economist (You can actually download both the textbook and the teacher's manual free from the publisher!)
- Free Market Economics: a Reader (Yup! You can download it for free from the publisher!)
- Hillsdale College's Economics 101 course (This is a free online course with about 7 hours of video.)
- The Law, by Frederic Bastiat
- A few videos from Khan Academy about fractional reserve banking
- Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security
Child Development & Psychology: (1 credit) Jerah will be reading selections from these books (we haven’t worked out the details yet), taking copious notes, and writing several research papers. She won't be starting this course for a while so we have lots of time to work out the details.
- Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting
- The Out-of-Sync Child and The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Processing Disorder
- It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success
- The 5 Love Languages of Children
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychology
- Trauma Through a Child's Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing
- The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth
- Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them
- Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives
- You Can't Say You Can't Play
Health & Nutrition (1 credit)
See a full breakdown of our DIY health & nutrition curriculum.
Driver's Ed (1/2 credit)
DriversEd.com: Jerah has had her driver's permit for quite a while now, but because of her and our schedule this last year, she has had next to no practice. Our goal is for her to finish up driver's ed and get her license by the end of the summer or early fall.
8th Grade Girl
Joely has varied passions: she loves senior citizens, science, and mission work. To that end, she would like to become a registered nurse. She would then work with older people—possibly in a nursing home similar to the one where she volunteers with our church—and then perhaps go on missions trips as a medical missionary. At least that's her plan for the time being.
So for her upcoming 8th grade year, we added a course that will feed her interest in becoming a nurse.
This year's focus is on writing, both creative writing and essay writing. This looks like a BUNCH of books, but many of them are short and we'll be spreading it out throughout the year. Joely will likely spend about 2 hours a day or so on language arts.
- One Year Adventure Novel: We love, love, love this curriculum, and we'll be using the new 2nd edition this time. Joely is super excited about finally getting to be an official OYANer!
- Easy Writing Skills Step-by-Step, by Ann Longknife. She'll be using this specifically with her history reading as she'll be writing several essays related to what she's reading.
- Proofreading, Revising, & Editing Success. This will be used along with OYAN as she'll be able to directly apply what she's learning.
- Phunny Stuph: Proofreading Exercises with a Sense of Humor, by M.S. Samston
- The Art of War for Writers, by James Scott Bell
- Robert's Rules of Writing: 101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to Know, by Robert Masello
- The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, by Noah Lukeman
- Grammar: This free online grammar curriculum will offer a good review, and the other writing books she'll be going through also reviews and applies grammar to writing.
- Wordly Wise 8: We've been using Wordly Wise for years, and while the kids don't necessarily like the curriculum as much any more, I can't tell you how many times I've heard them say in the middle of reading a book, "Oh, I know that! That's one of my Wordly Wise words!" Consequently, we continue to use it as I really adore how it teaches vocabulary.
- Independent Reading: This current school year I started Joely with a stack of about 15 books that she was to read independently throughout the year. We're still about 6 weeks from the end of this school year, and she's now on her fourth stack of books! Needless to say, she's asked me to continue the practice next year. (Like she really has to twist my arm!) I'll be choosing books that correlate mostly with her history study.
(This list has changed up several times since I first typed it up. Here's what we're planning to do now, and after much study and research, I think we've finally got it nailed down!)
Medical Terminology, Anatomy, Intro to Nursing, etc: To give her a jump start on nursing, Joely's going to start learning more about some of the subjects that she would take in nursing school. Here are the books we'll be using in this hodge-podge of a course.
- Exploring the History of Medicine
- Building Blocks in Life Science: From Genes & Genesis to Science & Scripture
- Nursing Assistant Care: The Basics
- Exploring Medical Language: A Student-Directed Approach
- Anatomy & Physiology Made Incredibly Visual
Spanish 2 (BJU): For the last 3 years Joely has been tutored by a friend of ours. She's nearly done with BJU Spanish 1 and will move right on to Spanish 2 for the next school year. I think I'm also going to have her do some maintenance with DuoLingo over the summer (but she doesn't know that yet). Since we live in Texas with such a large Spanish-speaking population, she'd like to finish at least Spanish 3.
Drums and percussion. Joely continues to play the drum set for the high school band at church and also plays percussion (shaker, tambourine, djembe, etc) in the adult band a couple times a month.