Saturday, January 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes - High School Homeschool Edition

Joining Jennifer at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes (somewhat belatedly)...
~1~
BEGINNING



I recently ordered and received a copy of High School of Your Dreams and consider it an excellent purchase. I had postponed buying this because of the price (as I often do with CHC products). Fantastic products but really difficult to budget for, especially when I can't see before purchasing. I've been searching for a used copy and finally found one in unused condition.

The program definitely provides what I need which is clear, basic directions on the how-to's of homeschool high school education. How do I count credits while still maintaining our flexible style of learning? Can a student graduate early? This kind of information is available for free all over the internet and through various books but High School of Your Dreams offers a simple, flexible and thoroughly Catholic approach.

We had already decided that we wanted to continue to use a flexible eclectic approach and that we would not enroll in a program with Seton, MODG or similar programs. But how to do it in a way that pleases a college admissions board? My anxiety level went from THIS to this in about 45 minutes.

We began planning right away and Professor is heavily involved and very excited. I highly recommend this book for those of you who are a newbie like I am, looking to maintain a flexible approach, and unsure where to start. It covers non-college bound, college bound and vocational options which makes it valuable for any student regardless of life goals. Now that I have a good base of knowledge, I have enjoyed browsing additional online resources without the previous anxiety.

Home School of Your Dreams isn't perfect - you will still need to consult a wide variety of sources while you plan and build - but if you are looking for solid guidance I'd definitely recommend buying or borrowing this program. Full price is hard to swallow... start looking now for a used copy.

Update: One of the reasons that I have difficulty with this book at full price is because the included forms (which I love) are not currently available for printing... only photocopying. This produces a not-quite-professional result (on my copier anyway). For the price, I would expect forms that I can actually use for permanent, professional record-keeping. I am hopeful that CHC will provide the PDF files for those who purchase the book in the future. (I did drop a bee in their bonnet about that one so I'm hopeful!)

~2~
PLANNING 
One of the first essential questions when beginning high school planning is that of a student's long term goals. The planning of details such as courses and credits depends upon knowing a little about what a student would like to do after high school graduation.

Professor has a strong interest in attending college and is already specifically attracted to Christendom College. He has researched credit and course requirements, minimum test scores and scholarship opportunities and that information is guiding our high school planning. For example, we know that tuition is high and that a couple years at the local community college and a job might be necessary first in order to afford it. If Professor would like to attend for all four years, he needs to explore scholarship opportunities. For Christendom, this can be achieved with excellent SAT scores... which means that Professor is suddenly very interested in adding test prep to his high school coursework.

We will be exploring multiple colleges in the next few years but Christendom has Professor's singular attention right now. Why? Explore the Christendom College website  to find out why he's so taken with it. Here's the first of nine parts to Christendom's "Breathe Catholic" video...




~3~
COSTS
How much does it cost to achieve a quality homeschool high school education? It appears that the somewhat unsatisfying answer is: A great deal, not much at all, and anything in between. Enrolling in Seton or Mother of Divine Grace starts at about $700 and can roll into the thousands depending on the courses and services that are required. Online courses can be free but usually aren't. Homeschool Connections is a wonderful resource for Catholics with costs running anywhere from $70 to $200 per live course with a $30 per month archive option. The library is free, of course. YouTube is free. Free takes more work but may be worth it if a family is pinching pennies to save for college. Finding excellent used books is very do-able and the topic really deserves it's own post.

We recently picked up a free audio course called Seven Myths about the Catholic Church and Science from Catholic Courses. They are currently running an offer for receiving a free MP3 audio course (your choice) if you are a first time customer. I don't know how long the offer lasts but it is worth jumping on since it is a $29 value. Professor already has it loaded into his ipod.

Other favorite free resources we have enjoyed are Kahn Academy (we use it for Math only) and select products from The Great Courses that we order from the library or have been given as gifts. Not all their products are recommended... do your homework to find out if the particular professors share your worldview on important topics. Professor loves the music courses taught by Professor Robert Greenberg, who is not Catholic but has vast knowledge and true appreciation for the Church's contribution to culture and music.

~4~
SPORTS
Professor at USA Junior Nationals
As a result of the completely insane emphasis on athletics in our sports-centric culture, the opportunities for high school sports for homeschoolers are extensive. I confess... we are a sports-lovin' family. We occasionally become temporarily insane about it but are doing our best to retain our family and individual identities while still competing. As high school approaches, the opportunities are opening up before us and we can see that truly, if there is a will there is a way. Think Tim Tebow.

Our kids play CYO and they play club sports. Most sports have club opportunities. Professor competes in a sport (boys' volleyball) that is less popular in our area of the country but he still being scouted by a couple area high schools (only a handful have teams). One is an all-boys Catholic high school whose varsity team won the state championship last year. The coach is very eager to work with us to have Professor play for them while still remaining a home-educated student. We're not sure what that means but assume it means taking a class or two. He also has an area public school coach interested in having him play. We do not live in that city but since our city public school does not have a boys' team, we can play wherever we are welcome.

When discussing sports and college, we try to never use the words "athletic" and "scholarship" in the same sentence. Sports have a place... and it isn't first.  On my particularly lucid days, I would love to just dump youth sports all together and play whiffle ball in the front yard for fun and exercise.

~5~
PROM
I'm not sold on prom. I've written my opinion before. However, if someone in my area would put together a prom like this one, I would be very happy to participate. Delighted, in fact. You must check out St. Monica's Ball; so beautifully Catholic. Dress code (with photo examples of beautiful but modest gowns). Behavior Code. Even how-to videos on dancing and formal manners! FUN! Talk about dynamic orthodoxy! :)

~6~
DRIVING
I am clueless about this. Is it really only two years away? Is that when the rest of my hair will go gray? Well, at least I will have someone to go on emergency milk runs.

~7~
SUCCESS
Success is a funny word when it comes to education. To define what success is we must define what the goal is. Some people do believe that the proof of the success of homeschooling lies in the test scores because the numbers are the goal.  For most home educators, test scores are simply a key to open certain doors... not an absolute measure of success.

As I approach the final lap of my academic journey with my oldest child, I can say (and believe with all my heart) that all I really want for this kid is eternal happiness. As exciting as it is to see him excel athletically and academically, I would trade all those proud parental moments to know that he is at peace with God's will.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very well put together post. Thanks for all the resources as we are still discerning what we will do for Monica for high school. It's nice to have all of this in one place! I did receive your comment regarding my review of Chesterton Academy...not really a review, oh well! Anyway, I've had trouble with my comments so it was deleted but not before I read it. Thanks again & let's keep each other in prayer!

    ReplyDelete

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