In Our Classroom: High School Edition (2014/2015 School Year)

In Our Classroom High School Edition 2014

On Monday we begin our official “school year”.

Kaitlyn* (16) is entering 11th grade. Where has the time gone?!?! She has a full year planned. She’ll once again be participating in drama one day a week. She’ll have regular dance classes (ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, and tap) four days a week, will be a teaching assistant/instructor for four other classes, and will have ballet company rehearsals most Fridays and Saturdays.

With such a full extracurricular schedule, my motto for her academic work this year is “keep it simple”! Of course, simple doesn’t mean not academically rigorous! As she heads into her final two years of high school, I’m going to have high expectations for her!

Here’s what I have planned for this fall:


History/Geography: As much as we’ve loved Sonlight over the years (and are continuing to use it with our younger kids), the decision to switch to Notgrass history last year was a good one! It really simplified her schedule and she enjoyed the format and material. This fall, she’ll be doing Notgrass Exploring World History. We’ll be adding in Drive Thru History DVDs as they fit in, and I’ll be beefing up the literature, as discussed below.

Notgrass Exploring World History

Literature: The Notgrass high school programs do have literature assignments included, but there’s not a lot involved. She’ll be reading most of the assigned literature this fall, but will also be doing a unit on ancient literature that I’m creating for her, including The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer, Greek and Roman mythology, and several other selections. In the spring, she’ll be continuing a study of Shakespeare using Lightning Lit’s Comedies and Sonnets and Brightest Heaven of Invention: A Christian Guide to Six Shakespeare Plays.


Writing: We’re really going to focus on her writing skills this fall in preparation for college, so in addition to the writing assignments in history and literature, she’ll be doing The Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Student Writing Intensive C.


Math: We’ll continue with Teaching Textbooks, wrapping up Geometry and then moving into Algebra 2.

Science: Kaitlyn made it about halfway through Apologia’s Biology program last year before petering out. This is just not an area of high interest for her, and the textbook approach was boring her. To finish out her biology credit, I created a unit for her that uses more of a “story” approach using the following books:

Biology Unit

She began the unit a couple of weeks ago and will continue it through most of the fall, after which she’ll move into Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum’s Integrated Physics and Chemistry course. This type of course is much more her style, and she’s enjoying what she’s done so far. That’s one of the beauties of homeschooling – being able to adjust courses and expectations to fit the student’s strengths!

Foreign Language: She’ll continue working her way through Rosetta Stone Spanish, and we’re most likely going to add in Visual Latin this year also.

Biblical Studies, Life Skills, & Electives

Biblical Studies/Worldview: In addition to the Bible study included in her history program, we’ll continue our practice of reading and discussing a book together, going on a mom/daughter “date” once a week to discuss. We’ve just begun Mere Christianity. We’re also still working our way through Heaven as a family (I explained more about this study several months ago). With 46 chapters and only discussing a chapter or two a week, it’s taking us awhile to get through! We’ve had some excellent discussion on it, though, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the chapters!

Life Skills: Being employed as a teaching assistant at her dance studio offers plenty in the way of life skills, but I’ll be fitting in more instruction in running a household, real food cooking, and finances around her other activities too. More on that as the year progresses.

Driver’s Education: She is wrapping up the final requirements for her driving hours and hoping to be ready to take the test in the next month or so. I’m really looking forward to this, because it’s going to free up a great deal of my time not to have to taxi her to and from classes and rehearsals every day! 🙂

Electives: As I mentioned above, she’ll be doing both dance and drama again. These count for physical education, fine arts, and elective credits. She also receives elective credit for our Biblical studies/worldview reading and discussion.

It’s going to be a good year! 

We have some great materials and subject matter! We’ll begin slowly on Monday, adding just a few things at a time, until we have a full schedule. I’m really looking forward to digging into it. Homeschooling high school has been a scary journey in some ways, but one of the huge blessings has been witnessing my daughter blossom into a mature, informed young lady. There’s nothing quite like discussing issues of worldview, history, culture, and theology, etc. with your child and hearing their intelligent, thought out opinions and understanding of them!

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but  I really can’t recommend Debra Bell’s The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens or Lee Binz’s Coffee Break series highly enough if you have a high schooler or will have one in the near future! These have been indispensable to me in my planning!

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens

Next week, I’ll share what I have lined up for Kyle’s 8th grade year, and then, in the following weeks, Kendall’s 3rd grade year and Kade’s kindergarten year (sniff!).

Do you have a high schooler? What are the surprises, struggles, and blessings you’ve encountered with them? What will you be studying this year?

You can read my “In Our Classroom Summer Wrap-Up Edition” here, if you missed it last week.

*I’ve made a decision to drop the nicknames and just use my kids’ given names this year! So, instead of the Dancer, I’ll refer to her by her actual name from now on. 🙂

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