Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homeschooling High Round Table

This is notes taken by several moms at our recent Roundtable Discussion. I took out all of our mom's names.

Planning & Recordkeeping
·         Determine state requirements. Arkansas does not have requirements, but recommendation guidelines can be found at Education Alliance. Consider your teen’s college and career goals, and check with the college/s of their choice for their entrance requirements. Also consider requirements of any scholarships, grants, etc.

·         Transfer these to some type of 4 year credit planner, such as this one.

·         Get your teen involved in this step and transfer some of the responsibility to them. Very important for them to have time management skills by college and/or career.

·         Secure an online or paper tracking system to notate and calculate credits. Some moms use Scholaric to schedule lessons, track hours and grades (the program tracks both of these for you)

·         Put school records on memory stick each year and stores it in safety deposit box. She learned the hard way when she lost a ton of school work in a flood.

·         3 inch binder and filled it with clear plastic page holders. Every field trip, anything she goes to, special classes, etc… puts it into the binder as a sort of portfolio. If there is no handout at a field trip, print something from website.  

·         The Well Organized Day is an example of a paper scheduler/tracker. Online forms can be found at Donna Young.

·         You can obtain a transcript through Education Alliance, do your own, or use another source. Your teen can also “walk” and get their diploma through Education Alliance at the Searcy Homeschool Convention.  

·         A transcript and ACT and/or SAT scores are all your student will likely need when applying to a college. This information, plus things such as volunteer service or other qualifications, might be all that is needed for scholarships. But, depending on the institution, you may need to describe the scope of specific courses.

 Credits : What is a credit?
·         Credits can be figured 2 ways:

1.       Use curriculum that states it is appropriate for a high school level credit and complete as prescribed. This info should be in textbook, website or teacher’s manual. (Since public school rarely finishes the complete text, it is your discretion to assign credit for completion of slightly less than full text).

a.        This type of curriculum would earn the credit, even if the teen can “test out” of it by completing the exams or can speed through it at an accelerated rate. This is the parent’s discretion based on the grasp/knowledge of the material.

2.       For curriculum not sufficient for credit by itself, you can supplement and log the hours spent on the subject. This would include all time spent on reading, research, writing, studying, audio and video materials, explaining the material to another person, tests, oral reports, co-op classes etc.

The info on the required hours varies, with suggestions being from 120 to 200 hours. One mom uses 180 hours based on 180 public school days. Another uses 180 days, but 50 min. classes, which translates to 150 hours.

**This is your discretion.  Remember the goal is for them to be prepared for their future, whatever that might be.
·         Partial credit can be given for subjects per year (i.e. 1/4 credit P.E. over each year of 9th through 12th).  Likewise, if a high-school level text is split over 2 years, ½ credit would be earned each year.  Education Alliance’s form does not allow for this, and you can just put the full credit on the year completed or at your discretion.

Curriculum or What Courses Should My Student Take?

Using your high school credit planner described earlier in the planning portion, you and your teen can find a multitude of curriculum choices to meet those requirements.
Focus should be put on the core courses:
·         English/Grammar/Literature/Literature Analysis/Composition
·         Sciences
·         US & World History/Government/Economics/Civics
·         Mathematics
·         Foreign Language.

The number of credits needed for each of these would depend on their chosen career/college path. Education Alliance has different credit recommendations for general graduation through rigorous college prep. You can view those at
One of the parents at the roundtable had read that Arkansas History was mandatory, but this information could not be found on Education Alliance’s website. Possibly this was a recommendation from a particular college.
Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a good place to search for curriculum discounts and reviews. Other sources for reviews and curriculum suggestions are Cathy Duffy, the Well-Trained Mind Forums, The Old School House (TOS) reviews, and  You can google the web for more information on these resources.
  Multi-subject curriculums:
·         Switched on Schoolhouse for some subjects. It is basically a textbook on the computer. A pro is that it grades it for you…but it sometimes marks things wrong that are simply missing the word “the” or something similar. Also, you can delete portions that you don’t feel your teen needs to complete.

·         Sonlight as her “spine” and supplements. This program uses living books.

·         TRISMS is another curriculum that uses living books and is research based rather than using a textbook. This is pretty intense time wise and is best split over 2 years. Their website gives a (long) list of credits that can be obtained by completing the curriculum as prescribed. Discovering the Ancient Worlds is one recommended skipping because access to resources for many of the questionnaires is hard to obtain.

·         **Both TRISMS and Sonlight can be adjusted by skipping some of the elements or going deeper into other elements and supplementing.

·         Abeka & BJU (no one with experience at high school level at Roundtable)

  High School Level Maths Include:
·         Saxon (can be purchased with optional dvds that work all problems step-by-step)
·         Teaching Textbooks—works all problems step by step. Considered by many to be a grade behind target.
· – grades it for you
·         Thinkwell (online)—grades it for you
·         Video Text (a mom really likes this)

  High School Level Science includes:
·         Apologia starting with Physical Science is worth a high school credit per book—experiments kits are optional and extra cost
·         Spectrum Chemistry through Beginnings Publishing.  Rainbow from this publisher for 9th grade, but it is a general science and listed as junior high level as per their website. As always, use your discretion. These both come with all items needed for labs.
·         NOEO was mentioned, but their websites say their level 3 sciences are through 9th grade only.  Again, use your discretion.

·         IEW (Institute of Excellence in Writing) has composition and grammar (Fix-it-grammar) courses
·         BraveWriter has course materials and online classes
·         Progeny Press has Literature guides
·         Center for Lit has many course materials
·         Grammarlogues
·         Daily Grams
·         Learning Language Arts through Literature
·         Total Language Plus
·         Sneak a few of the literature books in as audio books in the car.

 Foreign Language
·         Many people like Rosetta Stone
·         Visual Link—. It has computer cdroms and audio cds for car use. Optional workbooks are available on the website.

·         Mystery of History—Christian based. Needs to be supplemented for HS credit.
·         Sonlight (also Christian based) and TRISMS (See above under multi-subject)
·         TeenPact (Christian based government camp) highly recommend

There are many online courses in all subjects available, and you can search for reviews online. Landry Academy for online courses. It is real-time and your teen will need to “attend” the classes at the appointed time.  a traveling “intensive” in Physical Science through Landry that was scheduled to come to LR. This was cancelled due to lack of participation, and she is having a hard time getting a refund.
Supplemental sources for curriculum:
·         Local library for physical books, audio books and videos.

·         Khan Academy online includes detailed explanations of a variety of topics, mostly science and math. Has lesson plans. Now has ipad app

·         Youtube University. –This history channel has its own channel.

·         itunes university—by professors. Many are free.

·         Podcasts of audio books. Dana uses this, itunes and youtube often.

·         “grammar girl” and “coffee break Spanish” for short, memorable lessons that can be done in the car.

·         Homeschool Buyers Co-op has links to many “freebies” on their site. There are supplements in all subjects.

 Extras & Electives
This is where your teen can pursue their interests and get credit for them. You can get really creative here and give them credit for whatever they spend the time doing. This does NOT mean that a college will accept all of these that you assign, but a mom wants her son to see where his activities fit in the big picture.
Some ideas are:
·         Computer
·         Bible
·         Home Economics
·         Life Skills (basically necessities for boys who don’t want Home Ec. Designation on their transcript.) This can include cooking, shopping, leadership books, fishing, hunting
·         Personal Finance
·         More Music & Art credits than are desired under Fine Arts, such as Music Theory
·         Theatre Production
·         Drama
·         Computer or Electronics Repair
·         Woodworking
·         Animal Husbandry
·         Criminal Law
·         Sociology (This could also be logged as History/Government, but would need to be in addition to the recommended History courses)
·         Philosophy
·         Modern Architecture
·         Humanities or Architecture, Art & Music throughout history
·         Worldview
·         Debate (can also be included with Speech)
·         Cinematography
·         Photography
·         Design (Web, Fashion, or Home Interior)
·         Drafting
·         Industrial Arts
·         Robotics (at high school level)
·         Engineering
·         Forensics
·         Apprenticeships could fit in this category
·         Archaeology
·         Antiquities
·         Business
·         Accounting
·         Management
·         Journalism (This can also be combined or included in English Comp. Your discretion)
·         Marketing
·         Logic
·         Driver’s Ed (more on this below)
·         Conflict Resolution
·         Advertising
·         Health and/or Nutrition
·         Horticulture
·         Typing or Keyboarding
·         Early Childhood Development
·         Psychology(This is actually a science and can be logged as Science, but needs to be in addition to the recommended Science courses)
·         Speech (Required by some colleges—please check with yours. If so, this is not optional).

Driver’s Permit is obtained by getting your Homeshool Letter of Intent notarized by public notary and taking that, plus birth certificate and Social Security card to Ark. State Police. Please see their website for specifics.
Most public schools do not allow homeschool students to participate, but this is at the discretion of each district. Abundant life offers homeschoolers to take a few classes. Arkansas Baptist allows kids to participate in extracurricular for a fee (the fee jumps quite a bit for high school students).
The Flames has homeschool teams in several sports. You can access this info at Home Ed’s website. Cross country – CAHE and Home Ed have team. 

AP Courses, Clepping & Dual-Enrollment
If your teen has a desire to enter college with a bit of a head-start, there are many options here also. BUT, and this is VERY important, please check with the college and scholarship venues of our choice and research their requirements for this. Too many credits can bump your teen into sophomore status and make them ineligible for freshman-only scholarships. Also, make sure clep-testing and dual enrollment-credits will transfer if obtained through a college other than the college of your choice. Also, some universities only accept clep tests for subjects outside of your major. (i.e.—they would accept a Psychology clep if your major is math, but not if your major is Psychology)
***Look into “banking” college credits and cleps until after your teen is admitted into a college. This “can” (not will—but can) help in the area of having too many credits.
1.       Clepping—This is basically getting college credit for what your teen just learned. This saves time and money because the test costs less than the college level course and the book.  This works best when the teen takes the clep test shortly after they complete the high school subject. It can also work well when you do block-scheduling and the teen is focusing on a short list of subjects at a time.

Specific subjects, testing locations and practice questions and more can be obtained at

CollegePrep (through college plus) is a paid service that helps you with this and they really push block scheduling for classes you plan to clep.

 ClepPrep and is in the email group at Her daughter has not used this yet, but she likes the layout of the information.

Much of Freshman, and some of Sophomore, level college classes are basically just a review of high school. This is why colleges will accept clep-tests for these level classes.

2.       DANTES –is somewhat similar to clepping and was originally for military only, though now it is available to everyone. They have a wider variety of tests, and many are specialized (i.e. Vietnam versus a broad World History or American History). Again, see if these tests are accepted by the college of your choice. You might have better luck finding more non-military info by googling DSST along with Dante.

A bit of info on these tests
3.       DUAL ENROLLMENT –High School students can enroll in a college course, which counts as high school and college credit simultaneously. take the weed-out courses under dual enrollment. thinks you can dual enroll as soon student is 10th grade or 16 years old. Some students graduate from high school with an Associate Degree as a bonus. But this can cut into scholarship opportunities.

Be careful of what college you use for dual enrollment because of the students who attend there (uninterested in studying).  Use one that caters to non-traditional or adult learners. UALR is non-traditional. Stay away from schools like U of A Fayetteville. Some teachers don’t want to teach at Pulaski Tech because the majority of students aren’t interested in learning.

The Education Center just outside of the air force base has multiple universities represented.  Active duty military and their families get priority, then registration opens to the public. ASU Beebe has a branch here and offers many 8 week courses.

4.       Advanced Placement Courses—AP designation for classes is a bit harder for homeschoolers to obtain because it is done through the public school rather than the college. The tests are longer, more essay-oriented and more expensive than the Clep test.

More information can be obtained at collegeboard.

There are many varied schools of thought on going this route, so again please spend ample time researching this venue.

Things to consider:
·         AP designation does not automatically mean college credit. It is up to the college. Also, just like the other methods mentioned, this can bump you out of a scholarship.
·         For elite colleges, AP designations may be very important for admission or coveted scholarships
·         On the other hand, in a mom's experience as college professor in Texas, the faculty preferred students who made an A doing a traditional course over a student who made a C in an AP course.

Homeschool friendly colleges: UALR, Harding , Patrick Henry, Central Baptist are examples of a few local homeschool friendly colleges.  Elite colleges are becoming more homeschool friendly.

Still feeling overwhelmed?
If you feel inadequate to teach specific subjects consider online courses, a tutor or bartering with another parent for services or teaching.
The more information you read in books and online helps you feel more prepared.
This lady has a lot of information. Some of it is free, but most is not. You can poke around though.  
she also has a few posts on electives   and there's more info on her website.

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