When ever I share with moms about high school, I always start with understanding what your state requires for a child to receive a diploma from their state. I found our state's homeschool organization website to be the most helpful when I did my research. You can find your state's organization on HSLDA's website. I love how the Charlotte Mason way works perfectly in the high school years, and prepares them for higher education and life.
Things to look at when you are looking into the state's standards:
- What is equaled to a credit hour in your state? For many states it is approximately 120 hours of work or a completed curriculum.
- What subjects do they require to be taught to receive a diploma? How many English, History, Science, etc. makes up a standard diploma.
- What is required or suggested for college bound children? Often times, there is an additional credit in one subject or a few subjects to earn a higher diploma.
To plan out for a full credit hour, you will need to take the number of hours needed for a full credit and divide it by the number of weeks you plan on homeschooling, to know how many hours a week you high schooler should be working on their subject.
For this example:
120 hours divided by 36 weeks equals 3 hours and 20 minutes.
We do 30 weeks of school, so it is 4 hours a week.
Once you have knowledge of ‘what' and ‘how much' is required or standard in your state to receive a diploma, you can then plan your high school years.
Here is how I did mine for my older two:
- For each subject required, I would drop the planned focused in each year on a piece of paper. One paper for each: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.
- Decide what focus you desire for history, science, english, etc and place them on each paper.
- Add electives and subjects that would help for future career or desires.
- If college bound, consider doing dual enrollment at a local college. This can start in the 11th grade and counts for high school AND college credit.
Now that you understand how to get a high school coursed out on paper, I would love to encourage you that high school doesn't have to change from what you have been doing with your children's education to this point and why a Charlotte Mason education is so important in high school.
How to Teach High School the Charlotte Mason Way
LIVING BOOKS AND DICTATION
We have to start here.
In college, books are used for Literature type classes. Already having your education consisting of living books will take the stress off from the focus of this in college. In addition, most adults use living books when desiring to learn about a subject of interest, not a textbook.
The difference with how college and Charlotte Mason go together is simply that with Charlotte Mason's written dictation, she had the children ‘retell' what they recall from the living book.
In college, they require essays and thesis papers.
A child who has grown up with dictation can easily switch in their high school years to doing more of essays and thesis, to prepare for the work in college or being able to give a thorough report to an employer.
SCIENCE AND JOURNALING
For high school science, you can choose the sciences that are most intriguing to them or follow the normal subjects taught in highschool: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc.
Staying true to the Charlotte Mason method, we used journaling as our focus for the high school sciences. Although we did some labs, we didn't do them heavily, however with colleges, they require this, so this is where knowing your state's requirements and college requirements will benefit your high school plans.
We utilized The 101 Series, Ken Ham DVDs and many other creation based curriculum that have more of a living book feel.
We focused a lot on photography in Biology, experiments in Chemistry and allowed for individual inspiration to flow with other sciences, including collections.
My children LOVE science!
HISTORY AND BINDER BOOKS
Again, looking at colleges, they teach in ‘time periods' or ‘eras'.
Structuring your high school similar to this will also be training college bound children with ease, but will also allow for you to stay true to the Charlotte Mason method of education.
Charlotte Mason believed that you could learn so much from the study of ONE person for a year. I know this to be accurate from our own homeschool journey, but for high school, I would suggest focusing on more than ONE person, but rather FOUR (one for each term).
Here is how we did history in high school:
- I assigned a time period (either for American History, World History or Government) and gave my children a predetermined time to accomplish this time period. We always used Binder Books for history in high school as a way for them to report on what they were learning.
- They would choose ONE person to read a biography about that lived during that time period. Then they would write a narration on the person. They would sometimes do a essay on something during this person's life.
- In addition to to the biography, they would create a binder book that required details for quotes, events, inventions, wars/battles, politics and more. We heavily use a timeline for our high school history courses.
Each child is very different in how they learn and what they desire for their future. We used the four years of high school to focus in on what interest them, provided the tools and time to learn about them, giving elective credits. It has been through this four year focus of helping them learn what they are gifted at and giving them the opportunity to spread their wings that has given our older children a clear knowledge of what they desire for their future.
Homeschool graduation. It isn't what many of us think about when we start homeschooling. Homeschooling can seem like a long journey, but with our second child about to graduation, trust me – graduation day will be here before you know it!
How to Make a Homeschool Graduation Special
With his graduation, we will have already graduated two of our four children, and I can't believe how fast it went. I would love to share with you how we have made our two children's homeschool graduation special.
Formal or Casual
Deciding what kind of celebrations for your child's homeschool graduation is the first step. For most graduates, they desire to have a formal graduation with cap and gown, diploma and the pomp and circumstance playing as they walk down the aisle.
Other children, however, would prefer a more casual approach to making that day special, with perhaps a few close family friends, a luncheon and the cherished diploma to be awarded them in front of those that matter most.
These tips are going to be geared toward the formal ways to make a homeschool graduation special, however many of the tips can also be used for a casual celebration as well.
Find Other Graduates to Celebrate Together
Most state homeschool organizations have a graduation for the homeschool graduates in their state to participate in. To find these options, search ‘homeschool organizations for (enter the state you live in)'. These graduations tend to be larger and more formal, less personal in nature in my experience. Knowing that so many, literally two hundred, do this year after year, I would say this would be the most likely option for most. For the most part, you pay an amount and show up to having it all done for you.
Another option is to find a smaller graduation, perhaps with a local homeschool support group. I coordinate one for our local homeschool community that celebrates between 35-45 graduates each year. (Yep, this is where the tips are coming from and you won't be disappointed!) Although this kind of graduation still has an element of things being done for you, it can easily reflect the graduates desire, focus on the parents as being part of the ceremony and even allow the graduates to participate in more ways than just receiving their diploma.
The last option is to find 3-10 other graduates that you know personally and create your own unique graduation that fits just the handful of graduates in this group.
Secure a Location for the Graduation
If you are going with either a smaller graduation or an intimate graduate among a few friends, a location will be first on your to do list. We have found churches to be a great option for our venue and we currently hold our graduation in a very large church, making it nice for the families to invite as many guest as they desire and opening it up to the local homeschool community.
The cost of the location can evenly be divided by the number of graduates graduating.
Plan for the Elements that Say Graduation
You can't have a graduation without a few things: caps and gowns, diplomas and announcements. These are the three elements that make the graduation. We use Herff Jones for caps and gowns, HSLDA for diplomas and if the parents do not desire the announcements from Herff Jones, I recommend getting the graduation announcements from where we did for our son. Check it out here… we have the graduation details on the front and his graduation party details on the back, along with three of the photos that he liked.
Make It Extra Special With a Personal Touch
In the graduation that I coordinate, the graduates vote for the following: colors for the caps and gowns, the Bible verse, the congregational song that will be sung during the graduation ceremony, if there are graduates that want to participate in an Ensemble they choose the song, vote on what graduates will give addresses, pray, introduce the Master of Ceremony and Commencement Speaker.
We also have roses for the graduates to hand to their mothers, as the parents wait for them to cross the stage and receive their diploma from their parents. We even take pictures for that special moment and others.
Don't forget to let them throw their caps!
Top It Off With a Party
We throw a BIG graduation party – HUGE! I start making food several weeks in advance and invite family, friends and neighbors. We have all kinds of fun that day, celebrating the accomplishments of the graduate and taking it all in!
How do you make your homeschool graduation special?
My daughter loved taking high school photography when she was homeschooling. I was able to find some free online classes that helped her learn how to take great photos, along with a few DVDs and a local photography class. I'm sure she would have loved to taken the online photography class by Craftsy. Most states require 120 hours of work to earn 1 credit, so be sure to take advantage of some of the classes available to you.
Here is how we turned her high school photography credit into a keepsake:
She became the family photographer to be sure she got in 120 hours of photography! Everywhere we went, she brought the camera and was shooting away! She would get on the ground, climb up on benches or lean over obstacles to get the best possible shot.
The classes she took helped her to get a feel for perspective, framing and capturing the most appealing photograph of a landscape or even fast moving subjects.
Some of her favorite things to take photographs of are flowers and children. Her baby brother has been one of her favorite subjects and now at just 3, he is always willing to help capture the right photograph.
With the age of digital photography, editing photos are easy to learn and breathtaking to look at. The photo of our youngest in the above photo, was taken by my oldest son, the day after our baby was born. It was taken in our living room, with a lot of stuff from the hospital in the background. I loved the photo because my husband was holding Manoah with such love. A few days later, my daughter turned our laptop around and showed me this edited photo that she had just learned to do on her own. I literally lost my breathe for a moment and began to cry! It looks so professional that I can't get it printed at any local stores because ‘I don't have the rights to print it from the photographer'. The other two photos were also edits that she did.
Landscapes and old structures also became subjects that she enjoyed photographing. Even now, I point out barns that are falling apart, knowing that she would love to stop to photograph it.
As I mentioned, my daughter loves to take photographs of flowers, but I was so surprised when she displayed to me her addition of scriptures to these gorgeous photographs that she took on some of our nature walks. Simply gorgeous! I have two enlarged photographs that she took of my piano and her violin, hanging on the wall in our music room that she has added scriptures to them.
I hope this inspires you to turn your children's high school photography credit into a keepsake! I trust Shutterfly with my Photo Book creations and have used them created 7 of our keepsakes already. Recently, I have shared my field trip keepsake, which has inspired many of my readers.
If you are familiar with the Charlotte Mason method of education, then you know that she was not into grading her students. Her philosophy in giving grades consisted of two words ‘acceptable' or ‘unacceptable'. How she determined what was either was based on the individual child and their personal ability in the assignment. She always required their best and only their best. If the assignment proved to be a child's best, it would receive an ‘acceptable'. On the other hand, if the submitted work proved not to be their best ability, it received an ‘unacceptable' and was expected to be redone until an ‘acceptable' was received.
This concepts makes so much sense to me, especially in the elementary grades, as it raises the bar for the children to apply themselves and gives their own work as what is expected. This was very crucial in our home, where one child was a natural student and another was a struggling learner. Comparing their work would have broken the struggling learner, while creating pride in the other. It was so easy to say, “This isn't the best work you have done. You need to fix these areas and let me check it again.” If the work was their best, an ‘A' went on the paper, for ‘acceptable'.
As my children grew from elementary to high school, I knew a different system was necessary to keep appropriate records for those who desired to have higher education. In our home we have a child who is a natural ‘A' at their best and another child that is a natural ‘B' at their best, not to say that at times a different grade is given in unique situations where the work was either under done or pushed past the norm. I never gave an ‘F' to my children, or anything under a ‘C', because they have grown to understand that giving their best is what is expected and accepted and they strive to reach that in their work.
In the High School grading system, this is what the letters represent:
- A – 90-100
- B – 80-89
- C – 70-79
- D – 60-69
- F – 59 or below
- + is anything between X7-X0, so a 97-100 would be an A+
- – is anything between X0-X3, so a 90-93 would be an A-
- just a letter would be anything between X4-X6, so a 94-96 would be an A
Through the year, I would pay attention to key aspects of each subject and would give them a grade based on our grading system. Here is the key aspects that we found important through the high school grades:
- 25% for attitude and assignment deadline
- 50% for assignments quality
- 25% for final assignments
Here is an example of how I would assign a grade to a child:
- What was the child's attitude for the subject and did the child respect the deadlines given. For this example I will say that 90% of the time the child had a good attitude and was on time with their deadlines.
- I would give the child a grade for their overall assignment quality, paying attention to what I know is their ‘best'. For this example, I will say a 95%.
- Each subject has a final assignment, that consist of a project that would require at least 8-10 hours of their time. For instance, for Geology they had to pick a location perfect to explain the creationist argument of the formation of that site. They would need to create a powerpoint presentation and publicly (with around 3-4 family friends) they will have to go through their presentation and prove to those attending that they in fact understand the creation evidence for the site they choose. I would be grading the content of the powerpoint, the public speaking, the ability to answer questions and the amount of evidence they used to prove their point. I will say that for this example the child was given a 94%
- I would combine all of these grades: 90%, 95%, 95% (counts twice because it makes up half of the grade) and 94% – totally 374 points, divided by 4 to find the average. That makes the overall score 93.5%, rounded up to 94% overall average. The final letter grade would be an A.
I have found that this grading system works perfectly for the student and wonderfully for the teacher, as it is less demanding on grading each individual paper and allows each student to feel confident in their skills.
When the high school years were approaching for my children, I sensed a lot of concerns about what was expected of me by my state. What I chose to do is something that I recommend all home schoolers, who plan on educating their high schoolers at home, look into the state requirements for two things:
- What a credit hour equals – for our state it is approximately 120 hours or the completion of the course curriculum
- What credits are required – for our state, some of the main credits are that a graduate need 3 credits of math, 3 credits of history, 3 credits of science and others
What I found to be really helpful, once I knew what was expected, was putting a course plan together for all four years. This may sound overwhelming and challenging, but it was very easy and only took about 15 minutes, once I knew what requirements I needed to fulfill for my child's education.
Here is what I did:
- Earth Science – 9th
- Biology – 10th
- Chemistry – 11th
- Physics – if desired – 12th
- American – 9th
- World History – 10th
- Government – 11th
- I throw Geography into both our American and World History years
- Algebra I – 9th
- Algebra II – 10th
- Geometry – 11th
- Trig, Calculus or also other options – if desired, – 12th
- Consumer Math – this is so overlooked today and very important to ensure your children have money smarts – 11th or 12th
I then continued to look a the child to determine what other courses were necessary for that child, like foreign language (one of my children took two years of Latin, where the other is not taking any foreign language), electives (Bible, typing, photography, mechanics, etc.) based off the individual child.
After I had that planned for the four years of high school, I then began to divide down the amount of hours a week to complete the assignments. When talking to my high schoolers, they said they would prefer to work for longer periods of time on the core subjects, rather than put things away and get out other stuff. It has proven to be a big time saving factor for getting more done in less time.
Here is how I'm able to homeschool in 32 week, even in high school:
- I plan for 30, with two floating weeks for catching up on any projects that are behind. For a high school student that means a total of 4 hours a week for each subject to arrive at the 120 hours of work or for the assignments to be completed. If you do a 36 week schedule, you would need to schedule each credited subject for 3 hours and 20 minutes each week.
- Bible – 45-60 minutes a day of Christian living – prayer, Bible, journaling and a missionary biography
- Math – I would require 1 hour a day for 4 days
- Literature – 30 minutes Monday-Thursday, with 2 hours on Friday
- History – 2 hours on Monday and Tuesday
- Science – 2 hours on Wednesday and Friday
- Electives – 1 hour 4 days a week – I attempted to keep Friday as a 2 hour elective, since Monday-Thursday each week is a big work load.
I hope with these tips and encouraging you to get to know each individual child, their skills and their ambitions, it will help you to articulate your own successful high school plan.
Here are some of my most popular High School post that may help you in preparing for your high school journey (with giveaways):
I can already hear you saying, “Charlotte Mason didn't teach photography because they didn't have cameras then.” You would be right there, but I guarantee you if they did have cameras, she would have had it in her method.
Here is why I know she would teach it:
- Observation was part of their weekly schooling
- Journaling (capturing what they saw) was part of their nature time
- Art appreciation was a crucial part of their weekly schooling
- Free time was an important part of a child's afternoon
- Handi-crafts (hobbies that promoted skills) were considered part of a child's education
As you can see, photography fits in perfectly to a Charlotte Mason's education. My personal favorite digital camera is a Nikon D3100 camera, as it gives such a professional finish, even in the auto setting. A good digital camera can cost a lot of money, so start where your budget will allow. There are great companies where you can purchase cheap digital prints and even having your high schooler create their own photo book, as a final evaluation.
Here is a great plan to being able to accredit a full credit (120 hours of work):
(remember it would count as an elective, so you can span it over two or even three years, depending on the interest of the student)
- I start with the final goal in mind. If I wanted 20 photos of each kinds of categories, like flowers, trees, animals, insects, people, landscapes, etc., then I have them take hundreds of pictures of each of these and ONLY select their best when pulling together their final portfolio, rather if it consist of printed photos put in albums or a photo book.
- While taking a nature walk (even with your younger children) have your high schooler taking pictures of not only the nature, but of your family on the walk.
- Assign your high schooler as the family photographer for all special events (that means you get to be in the photos, too!)
- Assign your high schooler a photography job of taking a free photo session of one of your closest friends.
- Be creative in your assignments or give them the freedom to create their own, especially if they are the artistic kind.
- Take advantage of FREE photo classes on line… here are a few resources (please research to be sure that fit your unique family):
- Photography Colleges
- Free Photo Course
- Best Photo Lessons
With these tips, you can really bring a Charlotte Mason education into a full view for your high school student and open up the world of photography in a way that they will see the world in a whole new way.