If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is to make sure you start a number of weeks ahead when planning for high school. Everything takes longer than you expect. I sort of knew this based on planning junior high the past couple years, but truly this has been a whole new ballgame. It’s the decision making! I love and appreciate that AmblesideOnline takes a salad bar approach to the upper years, but this does mean time must be spent making choices and then, if there is not a schedule for a book you chose, creating the schedule yourself.
Before I tell you what I chose, can I just say that I think this year is going to be awesome?? I’m so excited.
So here’s the deal: I am a little hesitant to share my choices.
Because I think that when we get to the upper years, our choices are very personal. I chose books based upon who my child is, his strengths and weaknesses and interests. I also chose based upon what books are already in the family library, what else we are doing this year outside of AO. And the list goes on. By sharing my choices, I don’t want anyone to think that this is some sort of recommendation. I mean: I recommend AO, yes. But my personal choices may or may not be a fit for you.
So. The choices. These were made based upon this list, and is not a complete list of what we are doing — where there were no choices, I didn’t bother to mention what we’re doing…
- Bible: I cut both Francis Schaeffer and Brother Lawrence. I love Schaeffer and own his complete works, but my husband and I decided we wanted our children to become more familiar with the Church Fathers before leaving home. So, this year we’re spending two terms on Eusebius and then one term reading through On the Incarnation by Athanasius.
- History: We’re still doing Churchill because we will finish all of History of the English Speaking Peoples if it’s the last thing we do.
- Biographies: So AO says you really must assign a George Washington biography, but we’ve already read a number of them on our own over the years (plus we’ve already read the suggested John Adams biography), so I had my son look at the list and see what piqued his interest. He chose Peter the Great, Ben Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Life of Johnson.
- Historical Supplements: In addition to all of the little speeches and documents that appear on the 36-week schedule, we added Founding Brothers.
- Grammar: I decided to go with something completely different this time around and we’re reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.
- Science: This year, we have been given an amazing opportunity. A woman from my church is teaching Apologia Physical Science to a group of homeschooled eighth and ninth graders. She is amazing. Plus, she will do labs. I am a labs loser. Truly. I keep telling her she is an answer to prayer!
- Economics: We’re adding Wealth of Nations because we are econ junkies around here. I had a number of people tell me that I should keep this as a free read — that their children like it better as such. I’m one to listen, so I talked with my son about this. He said he wants it on the schedule because he wants me to read it with him so that we can discuss. We decided that the schedule I planned is tentative — we’re trying to get through Book 1 in one term, but we won’t be sticklers about it. If he wants to read the rest, he can do that on his own time.
- Art: Continued with The Story of Painting because we already own the book.
- Literature: We chose Isaac Bickerstaff and Days with Sir Roger De Coverley by Richard Steele over The Coverley Papers, and we also cut Gulliver’s Travels (because we’d already read it). Also, I would just like to say that my one splurge book was a pretty copy of Pride and Prejudice.
- Poetry: We chose option 1.
- Nature Study: I chose Land of Little Rain because it’s about an area near here.
I have this big fear that I’ve planned too much, but I just decided we’ll do what I planned by plugging into my blank templates, and then we’ll do the first two or three weeks as usual: in troubleshooting mode. For us, this means that my son records how long each assignment actually takes him, and we compare that with my estimates (which are in parenthesis in the schedule). If it’s too much, we’ll adjust at that point, which probably means moving a book to free reading, or slowing down and not finishing a book — at which point my son would choose whether to finish it on his own time or not.
This is what I’m calling it: pre-transcripts. These aren’t official transcripts, but they are records that are different from before — they are divided into classes that use the legal language of our state and then weighted by credits. I am legally required to create a Course of Study for each student each year, and this is doing double-duty as pre-transcripts. Honestly, I can’t hardly remember what I did last week, so I would never be able to go back and recreate what we’ve done if I waited until the end. I keep records, but not thoroughly enough for the purpose of transcripts.
With that in mind, I created a simple spreadsheet that has columns for the year the class was taken, the teacher of the class, a brief description (which is mostly a book list), credits, and the grade received. I don’t usually give grades, but he receives them from classes he takes online or outside our home, and that’s where I’ll record them.
Also, that I don’t lose them, I copied over the minimum requirements for graduating from high school in our state, and also the A-G Requirements for the UC system. I honestly have no desire for my children to attend a UC school, but I think keeping their requirements in mind will be helpful along the way.
Something I learned in The High School Handbook that I found helpful was to accord 10 credits for a one year class. In the words of the author:
Ten credits can be more easily divided up into small units as part of a course than 1 credit can.
This was waaaaayyyy helpful when I was thinking through AO, where certain courses are done over all 4 years, for example. If I give a few units for Art each year, by the end of all four years, it’ll equal a full 10-credit course, which I think is about right.
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