From Homeschooling to a UC School

This post was originally published at Simplify.
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For years in the homeschool community, we have heard how difficult it is for a California homeschooler to gain admittance to a UC school. With the a-g requirements that the UC schools used and a limited number of approved providers of a-g classes, the path seemed impossible. Over the years though more and more homeschoolers are getting into UC schools which is definitely wonderful news for both the schools and for homeschoolers!

 

The reasons for more homeschoolers getting into different UC schools seems to be a combination of things. First, it seems that the UC schools are becoming more and more open to homeschoolers perhaps as a consequence of the high number of homeschoolers in California. Second, with online educational providers and the use of community colleges, there are more opportunities for California homeschoolers to meet the a-g requirements. Lastly, there is more than one path to gain admittance to a UC school making it easier for homeschoolers to meet the requirements in a variety of ways.

There are three pathways for homeschoolers to meet UC admission requirements and they are:

  1. Admission by meeting the a-g requirements
  2. Admission by exam
  3. Admission by exception

Admission by meeting the a-g requirements

As stated on the UC website, a-g requirements (usually referred to as “a through g”) are subject categories as follows:

History/social science (“a”) – Two years, including one year of world history, cultures and historical geography and one year of U.S. history, or one-half year of U.S. history and one-half year of  American government or civics.

  • English (“b”) – Four years of college preparatory English that integrates reading of classic and modern literature, frequent and regular writing, and practice listening and speaking.
  • Mathematics (“c”) –Three years of college-preparatory math, including or integrating the topics covered in elementary and advanced algebra and two- and three-dimensional geometry.
  • Laboratory science (“d”) – Two years of laboratory science providing fundamental knowledge in at least two of the three disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
  • Language other than English (“e”) – Two years of the same language other than English or equivalent to the second level of high school instruction.
  • Visual and performing arts (“f”) – One year chosen from dance, music, theater or the visual arts.
  • College-preparatory elective (“g”) – One year chosen from the “a-f” courses beyond those used to satisfy the requirements above, or courses that have been approved solely in the elective area.

Remember, these are minimum requirements, which means that fulfilling them as stated does not guarantee admittance to any of the UC campuses.

California high schools seek a-g approval from UCs by submitting their courses for an audit process. This is where as homeschoolers, we find our hands tied. There is nowhere for us to submit our home-made classes to UC for approval!

However, homeschoolers have found various ways to still fulfill UC’s a-g requirements, i.e through:

  • Community college (CC) coursework: usually starting in 10th or 11th grade, homeschoolers are able to access a-g compliant coursework to fulfill requirements. These classes are especially helpful in the lab sciences, higher math classes, and for foreign language requirements, the three areas that are often the most challenging for homeschooling parents to teach. To search for a-g approved CC coursework, utilize the UC A-G Course Listsite. Plug in the CC’s name in the Institution Name search bar to see a drop down list of a-g approved classes by year and subject category.
  • Homeschooling through the Private School Affidavit using a-g approved vendors: Families may choose to use this path with or without CC coursework. Many enterprising homeschool course providers have submitted their classes to UC for a-g approval and year by year, the list seems to be growing, giving us so much more choice than what we had before! To find these classes, use the UC A-G Course List site by typing the vendor’s name in the search bar.
  • Charter school or public school independent study enrollment: Many homeschooling families choose to enroll in independent study and high school programs offered by various state-funded charter school programs. Since the schools are publicly-funded and issue the final high school transcript, students are required to follow a state-mandated, four-year high school program with less flexibility to choose their classes. Some charters allow students to take a non-college-prep pathway that does not stress on fulfilling a-g requirements. We recommend checking with the relevant schools to see what options are available to your child.

Admission by exam  

Admission by exam refers to taking the SAT or ACT with Writing test and two SAT Subject Tests of your choice. The scores from these tests will then be used to determine if the student has earned a minimum UC Score total for admission. To learn more about this path and to see how you calculate the UC Score please see this page.

If the student has taken a transferable college course and has received a grade C or higher, there is a risk that UC will not consider a Subject Test in the same subject area as one of the two Subject Test scores for admission by exam. For example, if a student has taken algebra-based physics through the community college and received a grade of A, B or C, UC might not use the student’s SAT Physics score as a qualifying score for admission by exam.  We strongly recommend speaking with a UC admissions counselor before your student takes Subject Tests with the view of applying for admission by exam.

Admission by exam is a great choice for families who have students who are strong test takers. Depending on their goals, admission by exam allows students more flexibility to either put aside or supplement the required a-g coursework, and to continue on in high school with individually planned classes.

Admission by exception

Students who have not met the admission requirements through a-g or testing might still be accepted to a UC school via admission by exception. This path is usually reserved for students who do not have transcripts, who have not had the same opportunities as other students, or who have had to overcome highly unusual and/ or very difficult circumstances.

If using this path to apply, you will need to utilize the personal insight questions to present your unique life story. You may also want to use the additional comment section on the application to better explain yourself as a candidate. Certain UC campuses may be more open to this option than others and again, we recommend contacting the schools directly if planning to explore this application path.

Still confused or worried about applying as a homeschooler to a UC school?

We have two suggestions. Complete a pretend application and apply to more than one UC school.

In your student’s freshman or sophomore year, when the UC application becomes available in August, register for a UC application account and (with your student if they are interested) take a test drive of the application to see how best to complete it. This, in turn, will provide valuable insight into how best to plan your student’s upcoming high school years. Repeat the test drive the following year to give more certainty. By the time your student is ready to apply to a UC school in senior year, they will feel so much more confident about the UC application process as so much of the application will look and feel familiar to them.

The UC application makes choosing schools easy with one check box per school. Too many times, families target only selective UCs without realizing that another UC school might be a better fit for the student. To give your child the best chance of being accepted to a UC, research as many of the schools as you can and be practical about which of these schools are reaches and which ones matches or safeties. Then, apply to at least three or four UC schools. It only takes one application and one round of writing personal insight questions so why waste the opportunity?

Jill and Suji are both well-versed with the UC application process, so do reach out to us either via our Contact form or our Facebook page if you have more questions.

Accommodations for College Admission Exams: A Guide for Homeschoolers

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This post was originally published at Simplify. To utilize Simplify‘s services please contact us here.

Homeschoolers are often judged more on their test scores than their public and private school peers because of the fact that their education is evaluated at home and often by parents. Having an outside test score or scores to back up the information on a homeschool transcript is essential. In addition, test scores are often used in awarding merit scholarships at many colleges and universities and AP scores can be used for awarding college credit. For many homeschoolers the SAT, ACT, and the APs are a very important part of the college application.

For homeschooled students with disabilities, whether they are physical disabilities or learning disabilities, this is also true. But the process to get accommodations approved can often seem overwhelming and confusing to a parent just starting out. This guide is to help you get through the process.

The first thing you need to decide which test you need accommodations on. If your student will be taking the ACT then you will be working with the ACT only. If your student will be taking the SAT, SAT Subject Test, the PSAT, or the APs you will need to go through The College Board for accommodations. Both of them do work with homeschoolers but the process is different for both. One thing to remember is to start early on accommodations as sometimes they are not approved in a timely manner.

ACT ACCOMMODATIONS

Step 1: Register for the ACT first – you have to actually register your student prior to requesting accommodations. When registering indicate that your student will need accommodations. Select the type of accommodation or accommodations that are needed and complete the registration. ACT will send you an email about working with your school. As an independent homeschooler you will not need to worry about this.

Step 2: You will need to complete the Request for ACT-Approved Accommodations Supports form. It is also recommended that you, as a homeschool teacher, fill out a Teacher Survey Form to provide more information on your student and the accommodations your student receives in your classroom.

Step 3: Gather all supporting documentation that you have in regards to your student’s disability, the teacher survey form, a copy of your student’s ACT admission ticket, and the support form you filled out and email it all to actaccom@act.org.

If you are unsure about what supporting documentation you need please see ACT Policy for Accommodations Documentation.

After ACT has received your request they should get back to you within a timely manner. Depending on what test date your student has signed up for the deadlines are as follows:

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COLLEGE BOARD ACCOMMODATIONS

For anyone wanting their student to have accommodations on the SAT, PSAT, SAT Subject Tests, or the APs you will have to work with the College Board. In previous years the College Board was very hard to work with and more times than not accommodations were not approved not only for homeschooled students but for public and private school students as well. With accommodations so hard to come by there was a great deal of backlash and in response the College Board has made some changes to the process and made it simpler for qualified students to get their much-needed accommodations. Remember to start the process early in the year especially if you are trying to get accommodations for the AP exams.

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Step 1: When you begin researching accommodations through the College Board you will see that they have moved to an online platform. Homeschool parents will not be using this platform to request accommodations. Instead you will need to email the College Board at ssd@info.collegeboard.org and request a paper Student Eligibility Form. Make sure to include your physical address in the email as the form will be sent to you through the mail.

Step 2: You and your student will need to fill out the Student Eligibility Form. Instructions will be included with the form The first half of the form is easy to fill out as it is just student identifying information. Sections 13 through 16 deal with the accommodations requested, the student’s disability, and documentation. Make sure you, as the parent, fill this section out and read the instructions for each step prior to filling in your student’s information. Section 17 is for schools only. As a homeschooling parent you do not need to worry about this section.

Step 3: Gather all supporting documentation you have to justify the accommodations. You can get more information on what documentation to send by visiting the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities here.

Step 4: This is not a required step but I do highly recommend it. Download the Teacher Survey form from the College Board and fill it out. This form gives you, as the homeschool teacher, a chance to explain accommodations that you use in your homeschool for your student. You also have an opportunity to discuss if you give your student extended time and what the impact of having accommodations has on your student. If you have another teacher that works with your student and has insight into their accommodations they may also fill out a form. Remember: when it comes to getting accommodations, the more documentation and information you have on your student the better.

 

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Step 5: Place all the forms and documents you have in the envelope that the College Board sent you and send it back in. You can send it via regular mail or if you are worried about the highly personal and sensitive information you may want to send it via trackable mail. After mailing the materials you can expect to hear back from the College Board within seven weeks. The decision will be mailed to your student and will be available online if a student has an account on My Organizer.

Step 6: If your accommodations have been denied, don’t give up yet. Usually, they are denied because more documentation is needed. Or, they may be partially approved. Either way your letter from the College Board will explain everything and give you your options to proceed. For more information on denied accommodations head over to the College Board.

Having a student who needs accommodations in order to perform at their optimal level can sometimes feel overwhelming. Hopefully, this guide helps you work through the steps needed in order to receive accommodations for whatever test or tests your homeschooled student needs to take. If you would like further help with this process or any other part of the college admission process please contact Simplify. We would love to work with you!

2014-2015 Education Plan for the Girl

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Today I want to highlight the girl’s plan for the coming year. Some classes she will share with her twin brother, and others will be unique to her and her talents and interests. 

English – She will be joining her brother and I in our study of British Literature. She will also be self-studying, with my help, for the English AP which I have no doubt at all that she can do. She is an amazing writer, especially academically, and I hope she enjoys the challenge of working hard in this area this year. 

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Someone asked me for a list of the twin’s books that we will be reading this year. I do not have it all put together yet, but here is a link to our Goodreads shelf if you are interested in what we have planned so far. 

Math – The one subject that does not interest her at all is math. Last year she worked independently through Teaching Textbooks, and that was a disaster. This year I decided an online class would be much better for her, so  I signed her up at MyHomeschoolMathClass. I have heard nothing but praise for these classes, and the girl is actually somewhat excited about math this year. Honestly I couldn’t ask for more than that. 

Science – She will be working through physics with her brother. If you missed the post on his plan, they will be using  Kinetic Physics and several courses from The Great Courses. This course they will be primarily doing on their own.

History – History is one of the twin’s favorite subjects, and they especially love European History. This year they will both be taking AP European History through Harari College. This class will be challenging, but I think she will enjoy the challenge. 

Foreign Languages – Also through Harari the girl is taking Italian. She has been in the class all summer, and she is already speaking and writing at a high level. She loves her teacher and the format of the class. Because there are only two students, she learns at a very fast pace. Her and I are both so grateful for Harari and her Italian class. 

She will also be continuing with French with her brother. She has an ear for languages, and she and her brother love their French class. Also she is hoping to go to University in Europe. The more languages she knows the better it will be for her, so I feel this is an important part of her studies. 

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Art – She, like her brother, works with her grandmother on art once a week. She also spends most of her free time drawing and sketching. She will continue working on art this year at a more serious level then her brother in hopes of taking the AP next year in studio art. She hasn’t decided whether she wants to pursue art at the AP level, but I want her prepared in case she does. 

Music – She will continue with piano for the year, and depending on what level she gets to, she may begin organ. The girl is hoping to begin her organ studies this year, perhaps around January. The organ requires a more attuned level of skill because it is truly a multi-task instrument hence the need to be prepared. 

In addition to all of this she will most likely be in a bookclub with her brother and I. She is also a member of the OC Astronomer’s Group which she and her brother have been part of for nearly a year now. The group holds monthly lectures, which the twins always find engaging. The group also has star parties and other activities that they can take part in. 

Her year looks challenging, but I know it will work out for her. She is the type of person who needs to keep busy and who needs to be challenged. This schedule meets both of those needs. 

High School Plans – A little of this, a little of that, with a good deal of flexibility thrown in

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Flexibility is the key this year to the older boy’s school plans. Because we are not sure yet if it will be a year of doctor appointments or not, I am trying to formulate a plan for him that will allow for changes as needed. We have a strong year planned, and he and I are both happy with the choices we have made. What we have is a variety of classes, some online, some parent taught, and some in person. A few of the classes are AP classes, but we are not sure he is going to take the APs. If he has a good deal of time this year to study he will take them. If not he will do the classes but not stress about the AP tests. In addition there is one class he is signed up for (AP Computer Science) that we may drop if he is too overwhelmed. He can easily take that class his junior or senior year if necessary. 

2014 Plans – 

English – He will be taking a writing course from the Well Trained Mind Academy, and he will spend the year reading and studying British Literature with his sister and me. We have an amazing book list planned, and we are all looking forward to discussing the books together. In addition I am hoping to lead a teenage book club again this year which he will be part of. 

Math – He is moving on to pre-calculus this year and is working with Thinkwell math. Along with this I am hoping he will be able to work with a tutor. I know he will do better if he has someone to correct his work and someone willing to discuss math theory with him to his heart’s content. I haven’t found anyone yet as we are on such a tight budget, but I am fairly confident that I can find some young college student who would be willing to help out for less as we live in a college town. 

History – The boy is signed up for AP European History through Harari College. The twins were signed up with Harari this summer, but they had to drop most of their classes due to all the doctor appointments we had. We thought we would have all the time in the world for summer school, but it just didn’t work out that way. From their short time in the school though we were all impressed with it, and I knew the kids would want to go back to it. This fall the twins will take AP European History, and they are both looking forward to it. If you are on a budget and looking for some great classes I highly recommend you look into Harari.

Science – He is working on physics this year with Kinetic Physics and several courses from The Great Courses. This course he will be primarily doing on his own. He is planning to take the AP, but if it is too much he won’t. Either way he is looking forward to science. 

Foreign language – He is studying French again this year. He may take this through Harari if it is offered, otherwise we have another online class lined up. Languages aren’t his strong point, but my goal for him this year is to get him to a place where he is comfortable with the language and enjoying learning it. 

Electives – AP computer science which he is taking through an online class that is being offered for free. In addition he will be working with my step-dad on this as needed. This is the first class he will drop if he is unable to do all we have planned. 

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Guitar – He started guitar last year, and he has discovered that he loves it. He has an amazing teacher and practicing brings him so much joy. I imagine he will always play guitar, and I am so happy that he discovered something that makes him so happy. 

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Art – The twins go to their grandmother’s studio once a week to work on art with her. I am not sure what they enjoy more, the art or the coffee shop they stop at. Either way it is a fun time for all three of them. 

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Astronomy – He is a member of the OC Astronomer’s Group which he and his sister have been part of for nearly a year now. The group holds monthly lectures, which the twins always find engaging. The group also has star parties and other activities that they can take part of. 

This is his year, and I am very satisfied with it. The boy will be in a few online classes, a few mom-lead and grandparent-led classes, and a few teacher/tutor-led classes. He will be taking classes that both meet high school requirements and follow his passions. It would not be possible to have an education like this if we weren’t homeschooling, and it wouldn’t be possible to have so much flexibility if we weren’t homeschooling. I have always been so grateful that I can and do homeschool, but this year, our eleventh year, I am appreciating it more than ever. 

Looking Ahead to the Next School Year

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To be honest this last school year did not quite go how I envisioned it. My time was taken up by several health issues and therefore I was unable to be as involved in homeschooling as I would have liked. Even though the kids are older and are very independent homeschoolers they do need some structure and someone leading them along through their days. This is especially true for the girl who craves interaction and feedback from me while doing school work.

Looking back though I do realize that we finished all the work we set out to even though it didn’t feel like we did. The twins had several online classes and those went great, and they learned that they love online, live classes. Tru finished all his math early and had time to go down several rabbit trails on his own. Their first year of high school English went great as did science. They fulfilled all the credits we set out to at the beginning of the year, and their love of learning is still there. I worried that the pressure of doing high school right might have taken away from the joy, but it didn’t.

The younger boy worked through Bravewriter’s Arrow again this year. I cannot say enough about this program. For an advanced child in writing it has been a perfect match. He enjoys the books and feels like the instruction does not talk down to him. There has been a few times that we needed to skip sections because he already knew what was being discussed, but for the most part he was happy to read the weekly notes and to work on the passage. Because he is a writer, this program speaks to him. It is the highlight of his day.

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The boy worked on math here and there, but this was a real struggle this year. I feel that his very low processing speed had something to do with this and I am debating whether we should seek out further testing. History went great towards the end of the school year. He discovered The Kane Chronicles and then moved on to the Percy Jackson books. Along the way we studied ancient history and myths to go along with it. Overall I was very excited about his sudden interest in history.

Next year I am buying very little curriculum, and I feel so good about that. The twins are enrolled in an online private school that is free. They are in five classes each, and I couldn’t be happier. In addition to these classes they need to keep up with math, and they need to take chemistry. I am still looking for a chemistry class for them, but I feel good about their upcoming school year. My goal is to be more involved in the oversight of their learning and to have daily feedback for them. I know this will be appreciated by them both.

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For the boy we are going to go through the Arrow one more time (this will be his third year) and then we will move on to the Boomerang the following year. He also will be working through Thinkwell math at the recommendation of his older brother. This is all the formal school he will be doing. One aspect of him that I had re-affirmed this year is that he fills up his days quite nicely. He works on Scratch, he writes, he reads, he listens to audio books, he draws, and along the way he learns quite a bit. I don’t want to get in the way of his self-learning as he goes through the middle school years.

 

 

Art Class for Teens

Today I have a guest post by my mom who is teaching the twins an art class at her studio in Laguna Beach. She is having so much fun with it that she is thinking about offering it to more teens in the future which I think would be a great idea.

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I have decided to teach an art class for teens this new year. I have started with my twin 14-year-old grandchildren to see how it goes. One is very creative, loves to draw, and indeed outshines me at her age. Her brother is creative in math and science and CAN NOT DRAW! and has told me so many times. Which is why I have put together a class I think they both will love, at least they get up in the morning without grumbling and that’s always a good sign. Just in case though, we take a short walk to my favorite coffee shop, order some coffee or hot chocolate, and walk back to my studio in Laguna Beach armed with our hot drinks before tackling an hour of art in my studio.

photo 3 (12)My loose schedule for the semester is this: we start each class with line drawings–blind contour, gestural lines, continuous lines. Right now we are doing blind contour sketches which is drawing an object with a continuous line and without looking at your paper. As they have found, it’s hard not to look at your sketch to see where you are and how you are doing. I have found this is a bit more difficult for someone who does a lot of drawing than it is for the one that doesn’t. This exercise loosens them up plus they’re fun; even for the math/science teens out there.

Here are some of their blind contour drawings.

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Autry takes her sketch book wherever she goes and has drawn a sketch of Tru. This is also a blind contour sketch but drawn in the car; a continuous line and I think, a wonderful, fluid pen and ink drawing:

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The next project we are working on is self-portraits (the selfies of the old days). I have shown them self-portraits of artists from the past as well as more modern artists–to show them different painting styles and let them know that there is never a right way or wrong way in doing this:

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We’re in the middle of this project. I am having them do one quickly and then spend a little more time with another one. We will use several mediums in completing these.

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During each class I try to introduce them briefly to a bit of art history (while they’re drinking their coffee or tea) as it relates to what we are doing at the moment and by showing some of the artists works and perhaps a bit about the artist that they may find interesting; for instance, Henri Matisse. When he couldn’t paint anymore he became successful doing cutouts. He called it scissor art.

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We are trying our hand at this process. First we chose colors similar to what Matisse chose and painted heavy paper with these colors.

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Next, we will cut pieces out and put them together and see what happens!

I also have planned a trip to the Laguna Art Museum where we will see an exhibit of Wayne Thiebaud. He is a working artist living in California. A sample of his work:

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This is just some of the things I have planned. I want them to focus on creativity and invention. What I don’t want is to spend time on laborious projects in this first class. My goal is to have fun, look forward to getting together, and learn a little bit along the way.

This post is part of the February 2014 Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop.

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Holiday Chaos, Holiday Peace

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Posing together before they go out.

I have this lofty idea in my mind every year around the holidays. This idea is related to scheduling, specifically our school schedule and when we are going to take our Christmas break. I always plan to have the kids work throughout December, but it never, ever works out that way.

This year because the twins are in high school my idea was for them to work until the week of Thanksgiving, take a week off, and then to continue until the third week of December. Part of this plan was dictated by their online classes because they their own schedule and part of this was dictated by arbitrary deadlines that I have in my mind. I must confess that most of these arbitrary deadlines are made from mother’s guilt.

Mother’s guilt is the worst kind of guilt. It pops up at very inconvenient times, and it is such a killjoy. This year, like every year, I wanted to just take off from Thanksgiving to New Years, and I wanted to enjoy this special time of year with all my children. Then the guilt crept in. I thought about how the twins are in high school now and can’t afford to take too much time off. I worried that they would fall behind their peers and that they would fall behind our own schedule. I felt there was no way we could take off that much time.

Then Thanksgiving came, and we had a wonderful break. Towards the end of our weekend though the first thing happened that got in the way of my school plans, the kids all got sick. And when I say sick I mean sick, as in can’t get out of bed for days, sick. It is hard to do school when you have kids who are that sick. The next thing that happened? I also got sick as in I can’t teach at all sick.

Then the kids started feeling better, and the activities started to pop up. Teens, I am learning, can have a lot going on. First there was a night out at the opera. Then the next night there was Evensong at church, and tonight they had a Yule Ball. Next week they have two Christmas parties and a night out caroling. In between this they want to get together with a few friends and I have to get us ready for a trip to visit family for the holidays.

School is naturally falling to the way side during this time. We are all too busy with other things, and as I take a moment to reflect on this, I have to admit I am happy. I am happy to be forced to let go of academics. I am thankful that we are all spending time together even if we were sick for part of that time. I am delighted that the twins are enjoying the season with family, friends, and activities. And I am pleased to let the schedule fall to the side. Yes they still have to do their online classes, but everything else is on hold until January. After all we are homeschoolers and being able to set our own schedule is one of the greatest benefits.

Happy Holidays!

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High School Reflection

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We have made it through the first three months of our first year of high school, and it has been going wonderfully. Last year was a trial run, and it was a disaster (primarily because of health issues my daughter was experiencing). I was worried this year might have been a repeat, but to my pleasant surprise, it has not been. I have been counting my blessings with this year, these kids, their curriculum, and their classes. I am thankful for so much, and being that it is November, it seemed like an appropriate time to go over exactly what it is I am thankful for.

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1. I am thankful that we found out what was wrong with my daughter, and we were able to fix it. It is not fun being sick, nor is it fun being a parent to someone who feels so bad. I am happy that she is starting to feel better, I am thankful that she is enjoying her days, and I am grateful she is engaged in her work.

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2. I am thankful that the twins have a wonderful support group. They belong to a wonderful gifted group, they have a great group of friends and teachers at church, they have wonderful online teachers, and they have family that are very supportive of all they do. One week my mom is giving them an art lesson, another week we are camping with our gifted group, and another week they are up in LA at Griffith’s Observatory with group leaders from church. They are engaged with others, they are learning from others, and they are experiencing so much. I am grateful for that.

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3. I am thankful that I made good choices in regards to the curriculum they are using and the classes they are taking. They don’t love everything, but they don’t hate any of it either. For the most part they find their work interesting and engaging, and what they aren’t crazy about (I’m looking at you Biology), they tolerate because they know it is necessary. This leads me to the next thing on my list.

4. I am thankful they are older, have goals, and know what is necessary to get to the next stage in life. Homeschooling really does become easier when the student takes responsibility for their future. Of course, ultimately I am responsible for their education, but now that they have their own aims, they are just as invested in their education as me.

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5. Finally I am thankful for the twins. They are truly great kids, and often I wonder how I got so lucky with them. They are well-behaved, intelligent, funny, creative, responsible, sweet….I could go on and on. They are not perfect, but they are perfect to me. I have enjoyed these last few months with them, and I look forward to the next few years.

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High School – A Reflection

I have been homeschooling the twins in their first official high school year for a little over two months now. I thought it would be nice to take a moment and reflect on what I have learned so far in that time and what kinks we have had along the way that we have had to work out.

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The twins working hard.

1. Homeschooling in the high school years is hard. – Although I have been homeschooling for many, many years I underestimated just how long our days were going to be and how intense some of the work would be. It might be because I have two in high school, and it might be that they are both very academic, but I have to say I wasn’t quite prepared for our new routine. I think this was especially hard for me because we had been for so long “relaxed” homeschoolers. I never had the twins spend hours a day doing their work when they were little, as I far preferred outside time over seat work, Lego time over math sessions, etc. This year though, because they are both working towards very specific goals, the work is taking longer and involving a good deal of teaching time and grading time from me.

2.  Our time should be protected – I made the mistake of over-extending ourselves this year with far too many outside activities. What once was easy for me to balance is not anymore. It is hard to finish up your work in the afternoon because of a field trip when that work is going to take you hours to do. No one, especially teens, wants to be working until 10:00 on school work that could have been completed during the day. I have had to pull back on many of our activities or tried to schedule things after the school day.

3. Online classes are wonderful – The twins are taking French online and they love it! The teacher is engaging, the students all get along, and they are learning so much. The best thing is that I am not involved. The same goes for Tru’s online math class. This is wonderful for me because I don’t have the time to be involved with all their classes, nor do I have the expertise. It is great for them because they have the opportunity to work with other students and with different teachers.

4. Planning, grading, and scheduling is very important – I am going to admit something here. I have never graded the kids on anything before this year.  Also I never kept records of any kind, even when we were in a charter school. Schedules, record keeping, and grading are my weak spot.  Before this year I usually just kept everything in my head and never worried about whether I had a paper trail of that info or not. However this year, after a rough start, I have made it a priority to keep records of everything for the twins. I have to award credit to them on a transcript, and I can’t do that if I am not keeping track of all their work. I have had to set aside some time every week to do my record keeping, and it has helped me stay on track.

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Homeschooling teens is different from homeschooling younger kids. It takes more of my energy and time, but it is wonderful to see the twins make connections, to discover passions, and to over-come any struggles they may have. I love learning with them and seeing them grow. I am new to this stage, but so far I am loving it. It may be my favorite part of homeschooling yet.

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High School Homeschooling

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I have been officially homeschooling two high school students for four weeks now, and I am starting to feel that I have a good handle on it. All my worry over the past six months or so was really for naught, or maybe it served a purpose, as this year is turning out to be one of our best years yet. Regardless of whether all that worry played into our great year, I do feel that there are several other reasons as to why everything is going so swimmingly (And by the way I am knocking on wood through this whole post, as I don’t want to jinx my good luck).

You will learn!!  This is actually a clip from their latest movie, but I thought it went nicely with this post. :)

You will learn!!
This is actually a clip from their latest movie, but I thought it went nicely with this post. 🙂

1. The twins are enrolled in online classes for the first time this year – I felt that high school was the time to branch out into the online world of classes. The twins are enrolled in a french class with a teacher that meets twice a week. They are also in a writing class, and Tru is taking his Algebra 2 class online through CTY.

2.  Online classes are balanced with parent-led classes at home – The kids and I still enjoy learning together, and I especially treasure this time as I know in a few years it will be gone. It is a joy to discuss history and politics with them, to work through biology labs with them, and to learn Latin with them. Even helping them through Writing with Skill is a joy for me, although some days with Tru’s frustration it may not feel that way.

3. The twins have outside classes that they enjoy – High school is a time to discover and develop one’s passions through classes and lessons in the community. Autry is taking piano lessons and she is in a choir. Tru is getting involved with the local astronomy club. They are both taking guitar lessons, physical training, and they are in a teen book club. These classes also provide them with a social outlet which they both need.

4. The twins have a strong homeschool support group – This is crucial for them, and I am very satisfied with the group we are involved in. There are park days, social outings, and classes available. The teens in the group seem to all get along, and it is a very active and welcoming organization.

5. The twins and I are stressing the joy of learning over the stress of preparing for college – This was an important distinction that I made early on in planning for high school. Yes the kids will eventually head off to college and yes I want them prepared for that, but I also want teens who truly enjoy learning. Teens who find personal joy in reading, teens who feel they are learning because it is important and not so they can score high on a test, teens who are not stressed out by the demands of high school. I know so many parents and teens who are stressed through all four years of high school. I don’t want it to be like that for my kids.

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This is what the high school years look like so far. It will most likely change as they get older, and I am prepared for some teen angst along the way that may change everything. But for now the twins are content with their freshman year, and I am content with our routine. I enjoy having them home, and I enjoy watching them grow up. I am thankful for this opportunity to learn along beside them and to guide them to adulthood.

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This blog post is part of the Let’s Homeschool Highschool blog hop for September.  This month’s theme is Back to School. Would you like to participate? If so link up your blog post through the link below.

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