From a reader in the comboxes:
We have decided to start homeschooling mid year for our son who is in 10th grade. He previously attended a private high school.
I am a newby and i am looking for structure without stress.
Any suggestions? Post in the combox or at your place and leave Anne a link so she can find you, please!
My thought would be to take his course load from school, and do a subject-by-subject picking of a decent text book? Something like this:
Math: Pick an appealing program, ideally something that uses DVD or computer instruction so you aren’t doing it yourself. Figure out where to start mid-year by doing sampling of the end-of-chapter questions until it gets to new stuff. (You may need to back-up and review select topics from early chapters that the school was going to introduce later in the year.) If money is tight, math books is where I’d risk the biggest investment, if you come across something that is good but expensive.
Science: Do part 2 of his current-year subject (biology probably?), using a text book that meets his general aptitude. As you read reviews, you’ll hear about some that are more rigorous, some that are “too easy”, etc. Try to aim for a ‘just right’ for his science abilities, challenging enough to be interesting, but not overwhelming. If he’s already in chemistry, either continue with it if he’s strong in the subject and knew what was going on, but if he was flailing, abort that mission and proceed with a different subject for the second semester — either morphing in “physical sciences” or going with something like astronomy (just do the first semester of a year-long program.). I would not try to remediate Chemistry mid-year. This is the second subject I’d invest in, in terms of quality of materials.
History: Pick up where he left off, time-wise, and just keep on moving. This is low-stress. Pick a book or books he likes, and have him write a paper a week (the infamous 5 paragraphs) on what he studied that week. If there’s no final exam (for example if you just do library method, where grab books on topic and read ‘em), have him do a term paper or oral presentation for his final. If he was doing the government/economics two-semester combo, do the other subject this semester.
English: If he was doing a particular study (“British Literature” “English Literature”, etc), you can keep going with that, or morph into a generic “English 2″. You’re looking for a combination of literature study (reading good stuff and thinking intelligently about it), plus vocabulary practice from a vocab book in preparation for the SAT, and a grammar book and/or composition book to work the writing/editing skills. You may be able to just continue at home with whatever vocab book he was using at school. I’d look around at the various curriculum providers (Kolbe, MODG, etc etc.) and see what appeals to you and fits the budget.
Cheap alternative: Go to your library and check out Grammar Girl or an equivalent; one good beginner’s writing book written for aspiring writers (watch for foul language, there are some excellent writing books that have a touch of potty mouth); and a pile o’ classics that are of interest, and work through those for 2nd semester. There are also some curriculum out there such as the Literacy through The Lord of the Rings and so forth, that build a one-year or one-semester literature curriculum around a single work or genre. (I have not reviewed the curriculum, FYI.) If you find one that strikes his fancy, this could be a good way to finish out English 2 and cultivate an appreciation of literature that doesn’t involve too much penance.
Foreign Language: Your #1 concern is meeting the college-entrance foreign-language requirements. So take into account what he’s already studied, how much time he has left, and figure out whether you need to continue with current language, or if you can start a new one, or if this is a subject you don’t need to worry about this semester. Pick a program that appeals to you and roughly matches up to his current level. It’s okay to do, say, “Latin 1″ or “Italian 3″ spread out over odd-semesters, as long as he completes the necessary units of study. So don’t panic over this one.
You could also wait a few months and do your 2nd-semester foreign language in ‘summer school’. Language-learning can be brain-intensive, and some students benefit from focusing 100% on the language for a time, and essentially completing a semester or year’s worth of classes in a shorter more concentrated period. Picking the exact right book/program is not important in 10th grade second semester. Language-learning is cumulative in a networked, whole-brain way. Whatever he uses will benefit him, and you can refine your choice next year. If you aren’t sure what to do, beg a free loaner book off someone to start with, and invest after you are confident of your choice.
Religion: If you’re looking for suggestions, give us some more details on what he’s done already? Kids are all over the map in terms of background knowledge, interests and abilities, and you want to strike a good balance in difficulty-level and topics, in order to keep it interesting and appropriate.
Other electives: What can you knock out this spring that you’ve got to do in order to graduate / get into college, without making anyone cry? My thought would be to pursue a hobby that he loves and would consider rewarding, ie if he loves to draw than take an art class, or if he plays sports, join a team and give him credit for PE. But I wouldn’t pursue the extras this semester when you are transitioning if it’s going to stress you out or make him miserable. A man should be made miserable in moderate doses.
If there’s a pre-packaged curriculum that just seems like the perfect thing, go with it. If not, compile your course of study a piece at a time. My advice would be, when you read about the curriculum, does it make sense to you? Can you get your head around it? You’ve got so much suddenly on your plate, this is probably not the time to slog through an academic approach that is going to stretch your brain to snapping point. Look for stuff that makes you go, “Oh yes, that! Perfect!”
Okay, that’s my guess. Other people, correct me, hmmn? Any personal experiences to share? Cautionary tales? Bits of encouragement?