This week it occurred to me that Stargirl will be a high schooler next year. The thought terrifies me. Oh, I can handle teenage mood swings, teenage social lives, and perhaps I’ll even live through driver’s training. But homeschooling a teenager scares me to death!
Why? I feel like Stargirl’s entire academic future rests on my shoulders, on the decisions I make regarding curriculum. And Stargirl is such a different student than I was at that age, that I really feel like I’m shooting in the dark. It’s not a good thing.
I need a plan. So I’m making one. And here’s what I’ve learned while I begin looking ahead toward high school.
Know Your Graduation/College Admission Requirements
Since we’re homeschooling through a charter school, this one is a no-brainer. In order to receive a diploma, Stargirl will need to meet our state’s graduation requirements. If we were going it alone, though, I’d still pay attention to the state graduation requirements, just so I could give her a competitive education.
Anyway, our state’s requirements are pretty typical: 4 years of language arts, 3 years of math in algebra and above, 3 years of science (2 with labs), 3 years of social science, some pe, health, language/fine arts, and electives.
After I printed out the graduation requirements, I looked up a few colleges to see what their admissions requirements were. Some required three years of a foreign language, so I noted that on my print out. These notes will give me the basis for a four year plan. The last thing I want for Stargirl is to realize at the beginning of her senior year that she is short a bazillion classes. By the time she starts her 9th grade year in September, we will have a good idea of what every year of high school will look like.
Know Your Student
This was an area where I needed to make a big adjustment. When we pulled Stargirl out of public school to homeschool her, I wanted school to be fun. I wanted her to LOVE learning. We bought Sonlight and read wonderful books. Stargirl wasn’t impressed. We tried a Tapestry of Grace approach. Still not impressed. Charlotte Mason style. Not impressed.
Stargirl knows what she likes and what she doesn’t like. She likes music. She loves music. Music is a huge part of her life right now, and it will likely be a huge part of her future. Academics? She tolerates them. She doesn’t care if history is fun. She just wants go slog through her work, so she can get on to music. Same with math. And language arts. And science.
And she’s a very diligent worker. If I give her a list of things to do, she works hard until it’s done. She’s not a student that dawdles around, hoping her work will disappear.
Stargirl also hates tests. Abhors them. She knows her material, but has a hard time translating that into a good standardized test score. A big goal over the next few years will be helping her get comfortable with the idea of the SAT test. But we both know she won’t get near perfect SAT scores.
Evaluate the Data
Once I checked out graduation and college admissions requirements and evaluated my budding high school student, I was able to make some informed decisions.
1. We will likely continue schooling through a charter school. I had considered going it alone again, as I would have many more curriculum options without having to adhere to state standards. However, the concern about Stargirl’s test taking abilities made me hesitate.
Since homeschooled students (unless part of a charter school) don’t receive a regular diploma in Oregon, I am concerned that colleges place more emphasis on SAT scores than grades, when it comes to admitting homeschool students. I want Stargirl to be able to fall back on her grades, rather than putting so much weight on a test. By sticking with the charter school, she’ll have a regular transcript and diploma that colleges will definitely count.
I’m not saying that colleges always rely heavily on SATs for homeschool students, but with Stargirl’s hatred of tests, we’re not prepared to take that chance.
In addition, so far the charter school has offered Stargirl lots of opportunities in music that she wouldn’t otherwise have. And she’d definitely like to continue her musical endeavors.
2. We will likely use one of the charter school’s computerized curricula. To me, online curricula just screams BORING. This is where I’ve had to set my feelings aside. Stargirl wants an independent program, where she can cruise through the academics and be done with them. She doesn’t care if it’s interesting. And this will fit the bill.
Our choices are Odysseyware (by the same company that does Switched on Schoolhouse) and EdOptions. I don’t know much about either program, so I’m not sure what we’ll choose yet. I’ll be checking out both options in the coming months.
Are these the most exciting homeschool choices? No, not really. But they’re choices that will work well for Stargirl. And that’s the point of homeschooling, isn’t it? Freedom to make decisions that are right for the individual child.