Friday, April 13, 2012

When is My Homeschooler Ready to Graduate?

As most of my followers can see, there is no real common denominator as to how I arrange my blog posts. I posts what and when I am led to post. This morning, I woke up sort of reliving a recent conversation with a friend who will start homeschooling her three princesses in a few weeks. She kept asking how I knew that Melody was ready to graduate.

Truly, the simple way to know when your homeschooler is ready to graduate, is if you are using a packaged curriculum that has a definite beginning and end. Sometimes, out of frustration, I have wished that we had used something like Abeka or Connections Academy, but economics and the varying needs of each princess made it impractical for us do to anything other than Charlotte Mason. I know this, because we've tried. Some families thrive on a packaged set that is complete with hard and fast rules. We are not one of those families.

At the beginning of the path to homeschool high school graduation with Melody, I was very inspired by Hacking High School. The early posts of this blog were about how one homeschooled girl made it through high school early in some creative ways, and then went on to do all sorts of awesome things with her life. By the way, I am glad to have found her blog again so that I could post it for you, and because it looks like she has some very interesting content posted that I will want to read later.

Armed with the ideas from Hacking High School, I started going through test prep study guides such as the SAT and GED. I did not intend for Melody to test to get a GED, but the point being that if she knew the material that was being presented in the book, then she might be ready to graduate. Right? WRONG! I urge you to get a GED study guide to look through and see for yourself. Nearly every subject is solely dependent on being able to read one or a few paragraphs, and then there are multiple choice questions to answer about the reading selection. This is how everything but math is set up. The math is pretty hard, and one must actually know how to do it in order to pass, but if a person can read and comprehend, then he or she can pass the rest of it. By the time that I started looking into this, Melody had already studied so many subjects so extensively, that it would have been a great injustice to use the GED or SAT, or any of those other tests as the deciding factor. That's not to say that no one should ever do these things or that none of my other children will, but it just didn't feel right for this particular child. What to do? What to do?

I looked into some online high school programs. Some promise a diploma based on life experience and a few hundred dollars. Others actually offered a full curriculum that would end with a transcript and diploma, which might actually be something that I do for the other girls. However, I was determined to give Melody credit for the things that she already had completed, rather than making her start over from square one, use only the new curriculum, and have a transcript issued to her that doesn't mention a great deal of her hard work before she started the program.

I finally started going through her paper work, to review what and how much she actually did throughout her high school career. It was a pretty overwhelming task, considering it was my first time to have to do such a thing. I made a list of courses that she had completed, and those that weren't quite completed to my satisfaction. I then got online and sent off for information from a couple of those online high school programs, knowing that I was not going to sign her up for them, but that I would get to see what their standards for graduation are. Once I started receiving brochures, I got out a pen, went through their course lists, and started checking off what she had already completed at home, and took note of how much credit that each course was worth. This gave me an idea of how much work we did and didn't need to do.

My readers are probably wondering what all of this really has to do with "hacking high school". Below is the list of courses that I checked off on one particular brochure, and how I determined that they had been completed, keeping in mind that this is not the complete course list, but only those courses that ended up on Melody's transcript.

Reading Skills: 1 credit: She reads VERY well, can do a wonderful job of narrating per Charlotte Mason's instructions, and knows all of the skills on the course description very well.

Basic English and Practical English (2 credits): All of this was covered via the Charlotte Mason method many times over.

General Math I and II (2 credits): We used a variety of resources for this.
Consumer Math (1 credit): This is my favorite type of course, and is pretty self explanatory. As an older teen with a job, she has had to spend time with her own money management, banking, setting goals, having insurance for her vehicle, etc. etc. We also took Financial Peace University together. LOVE THIS!
Earth Science (1 credit): This was learned via video course, nature study, field trips and library books.
Civics (1 credit): Several years of scouting and video courses as well as earning awards via
Written Communication (1 credit): The course list covers everything that the Charlotte Mason method embraces, so she has already completed this just through daily practice.
Biology (1 credit): Besides video courses and nature study, she has had a dog, ducks, fish, birds, and younger sisters. However, we did do our duty and go through quite a few subject specific books and the aforementioned video courses.
World History (1 credit): Melody is a history buff, and is so well read on the subject, that she could probably teach it to others. She actually deserves a lot more than one credit in this area.
Physical Science (1 credit): She did a couple of video courses, read some subject specific books, and we read biographies of some famous scientists.
Literature (1 credit): The course list has a puny list of required reading in comparison to all of the classic literature and Shakespeare plays that she has read independently. By the time I get to this part of the list, I am starting to feel really blessed.

Electives: Music appreciation for 4 years, Opera Study for 1 year, Church choir for 2 years, Music Literature, Music History, Artist Studies, Economics (video course), General Science (Charlotte Mason's nature studies), Spanish, Home Economics (she can cook, clean, wash her own clothes, budget, pay bills, hold down a job, take care of herself, take care of others, plan a meal, plan a party, and this list keeps getting bigger), Computers, Typing, Physical Education (four years of baton twirling, and earned the Presidential Active Lifestyle Challenge).

If you are still with me after this long post, I urge you eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers to look into various course lists for various schools. It's very encouraging to see where you are, and to get a better idea of what direction you want to take your prospective homeschool graduates. If you have children that have graduated from homeschooling, I would love to receive comments about how you knew that they were ready.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your post. I have a middle schooler right now, and we use Time4Learning, which keeps records for me. I am worried about high school though, because I will be creating the curriculum. After seeing the things that you included as part of your daughter's course list, I am encouraged! I know it will be difficult, but not impossible to document the life experiences and course work that will make up her high school career. Thanks for the encouragement.