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The First Six Weeks for Our 8th Grader

Laurianna is working on her 8th grade homeschool year this year, which has meant a larger workload for her, especially as she is working on six high school credits in addition to a few other subjects. Over the past six weeks it has been so incredibly amazing to watch her step up and take on the workload (with hardly a complaint other than typical teen emotions at times).

This has really been such a new area for us both. Remember preschool and early childhood are my specialties and where much of my focus has been for many, many years. Making the switch to actual brain work has been – umm…interesting at times! (But it’s all good!)

Here’s a peek at what Laurianna has been working on. For high school credit she is working on Algebra 1 (1 credit), Geography (I credit), Spanish (1 credit), Literature (1 credit), Physical Science (1 credit), Greek Mythology (1/2 credit), and an extra science class (1/2 credit). You can get a peek at our overall high school plan here.

Here are a few highlights of the last six weeks…

North Star Geography

North Star Geography Experiments

Geography has been one of Laurianna’s favorite ‘new’ subjects this year. We’re using North Star Geography, a new program from Bright Ideas Press, and she has been LOVING it. She literally has some new little tidbit she is telling me about daily, between her country fact sheets, what she is learning in her mapping time, or as a part of the hands-on projects.

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The hands-on activities are probably her favorite part of the lessons (see the above project), and although it is one of her more intense classes, it is FUN. To me that speaks volumes alone! She’s also been pulling out our GeoPuzzles to work on and help her remember the various country placements.

Not only do I love hearing about all that she is learning, but I recently discovered the Excel spreadsheet grading sheet Bright Ideas Press provides as a part of the program and am 100% in love with that. With all the lovely quizzes and mapping projects, my life just got a lot easier (and my brain has to think a whole lot less!). Amen.

Physical Science

Glider from Everday Exploration

Even though she does most of the work during the week, Laurianna meets with a small group of homeschoolers (four total) to review the labs and other work in her physical science class. Everyone in the house has enjoyed watching her glider progress over the last few weeks as well. It’s a little bigger than we expected – but oh so fun! Keeping two certain boys away from it has been difficult!

Literature and Writing

All of her other classes have been going along well too, including her Lit class (another one we are working on as a small co-op). One thing that I have to say – I am SO very thankful for our using WriteShop 1 & 2 the last two years with Laurianna. That program gave her such a great headstart in becoming a great writer – which shows in her literature papers.

And there have been a lot of papers – even with only four kids. Enough that as the teacher I am remembering one of the main reasons I did not pursue that last semester of my English education degree. (grins)

The kids are taking it all in stride and very excited because many of the books and short stories we are reading this year are also movies, so we get to spend time together comparing the book to the movie as well. It’s the little things that make life fun, right? Personally, I can’t wait for the boys to sit through Jane Eyre (hee hee).

Saxon Algebra 1

And Algebra 1 – our switch to Saxon was mainly because a friend of Laurianna’s was using it, so she wanted to as well. Despite her misgivings about Algebra and her belief that it wouldn’t click with her, she doing great, and I’m remembering how much I absolutely love this realm of math (no, seriously I do!).

In other subjects (Greek Mythology, History, Spanish, etc…) she is working along and doing great! That pretty much wraps up our first six weeks of school for 8th grade. How are your middle and high school adventures going?

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Mapping Out the Homeschool High School Plan

Homeschool High School Class Planning

The last few weeks (oh who am I kidding? MONTHS!!) have been filled with perusing curriculum, thinking about high school credits, electives, checking state requirements, and all the fun that goes along with planning for homeschool high school.

It may be a wee bit overwhelming at times.

Part of me is trying to balance the fact that GOOD GRIEF, MY BABY IS OLD ENOUGH FOR HIGH SCHOOL and the responsibility of providing a solid education. All that ‘pressure’ that I originally felt when we started to homeschool oh-so-many-years ago has been multiplied exponentially.

Keeping it real here.

Or maybe this is just me – I realize that is entirely possible. That said, a few deep breaths, a few friends that are walking the same road with me, and lots of prayer – and slowly a plan is beginning to emerge and take shape.

Laying out the Framework

Homeschooling in High School

If you haven’t already read it, the post Homeschooling in High School by Kris from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers will be a huge help to you. Over the last bit, I’ve been reviewing several of the key suggestions she made, including;

  • use the 8th grade as a trial run
  • start keeping transcripts now
  • look at college admissions to guide your coursework (our oldest already has a college in mind)
  • remember his/her interests
  • consider a co-op

Using all of the above, another mom and I had a mini pow-wow of sorts where we bounced ideas off each other and came up with a basic framework for the next five years. We looked at the requirements that our state has for a basic and advanced diploma, took notes, and then began mapping out the courses.

Don’t Forget Local and State Requirements

In our state, students can begin earning high school credits in grade 8, so the four year plan became a 5 year plan. Truthfully, this works out great, because it gives us a little bit of a buffer and also the option for some dual credit earning (the ability to take college classes and earn both high school credit and college credits when eligible).

Your state also may have limits on how many credits can be earned prior to the 9th grade year, so be sure to check on that before planning too much the 8th grade year. A great starting point is visiting HSLDA.org.

The Tentative Plan (for now…)

Based on our local county guidelines, we’re shooting for an advanced diploma. For us, this means fewer ‘electives’ and more of a focus on science (4 years), language/lit (4 years), math (4 years), history (4 years), foreign languages (3 years) and other key subjects too.

We’re starting early (8th grade). Next year will officially be her 8th grade year, but our oldest will be working on credits toward high school including math, language, foreign language, world geography, and science. An elective or two may be thrown in there as well, but it will depend on her course load and double checking on what the state allows.

Several of our classes will be done together with some other families in a small co-op setting. Right now we’re planning on our literature class and possibly science or some fun electives together.

After talking with our oldest, we’re put together a few ideas for electives and classes that are tailored to her interests: art (drawing or pottery), a Greek mythology course (for 1/2 credit), and a few other ideas are spinning. We don’t want to forget the fun things! Need help determining credits? Check out this article from HSLDA.

Transcripts are being formatted now. Rather than waiting, I’m trying to come up with something that makes sense for my brain now. Based on the grading system for the school and such, I’m keeping track of the credits that are being earned and staying on top of it all as we go along.

We’re keeping the end in sight. Laurianna already has a college in mind (she may be a wee bit of a planner…). We’ve picked up some brochures and started looking at dual enrollment classes for her junior and senior year and what classes will (or won’t) transfer in so we have a good idea on what to expect as she progresses each year. It may seem a bit early, but having an idea has been really helpful.

A Peek at Our Plans

All that said, do you want a peek at our tentative plans? Keep in mind this is NOT set in cement – it’s just to give us an overview and something to base things on. There is plenty of wiggle room allowed – we may move a few of the classes around in the upcoming months.

High School Class Planning

click on the image to view a larger copy

If you’d like, you can download a blank copy of the High School Planning form to work on your own high school planning. It’s nothing fancy – but hopefully will help you out!

I’m curious – what electives and FUN things are you hoping to build into your child’s high school years? And how much do your state/local guidelines play into your plans? (Ideas are always welcome!)

Middle and High School Planning Pages

Middle and high school planning printables

If you’d like to get a little more detailed, be sure to check out the middle and high school planning pages as well. This set includes credit and class tracking pages, as well as high school requirements for graduation – and more.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years