Back from hiatus!
Since leaving my job at the big-box bookstore, I’ve found that I have less access to all the new releases in the book world. But that’s okay! I’ve decided to focus on more curriculum related materials (print, web, and other) as well as other homeschool related publications. My hope is that you find my reviews helpful, that I might introduce you to something you hadn’t considered before, and that we both learn a little along the way.
Homeschooling the high school years
My oldest is about to have a birthday. 13. A teenager (teenager!). And while we still have a year to get our acts together before officially beginning the high school years, we’re taking this next school year as our “trial run”. So we’re buckling down, hitting the books, counting hours and calculating grades… all while it doesn’t matter. This will allow us to get into the groove and make as many mistakes as we need to before things really count. I’m a sucker for over-preparedness.
I’ve been checking out a lot of books lately on homeschooling through high school. Here are my reviews of a couple of popular ones:
Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships by Lee Binz
I loved this book. Loved. I wouldn’t say that it’s the most comprehensive book out there, but the areas that it does tackle are done impeccably, and leave the reader feeling confident about their ability to see their homeschooler through to graduation and beyond. This book doesn’t try to be all things to all people; it focuses on documentation and transcript writing and does it well. Lee Binz (the Homescholar) uses the transcripts and documents from her own children’s records as examples, as well as those of numerous other students. It’s helpful to see exactly what a good transcript looks like, especially one that doesn’t require an umbrella school or an expensive computer program (she uses Microsoft Word for all her documents). Her writing is engaging (lots of exclamation points, which made me laugh) and she drives her point home: you can do this! If you’ve made the decision to homeschool through high school, this book will give you the tools you need to document it properly. If you’re on the fence, Setting the Records Straight may give you the confidence you need to take the leap with your student.
This is a book that came highly recommended to me from several people, so I was anxious to check it out. It’s harder to find (not available new from Amazon or from any of the brick-and-mortar bookstores I checked) but is available at a discounted price from Christianbook.com. I have to say that I was sorely disappointed. Some readers may be drawn to Ms. Shelton’s conversational style (she likens her book to having coffee at her kitchen table with a friend) I found it to be unprofessional and a bit haphazard. The book focuses more on Bible verses and finding God’s will for your student’s life than anything academic. Again, that may be the approach that some parents wish to take when embarking on this journey, but I found the content to be lacking in terms of practical advice or direction.
I also found this book to be somewhat anti-college. The author gave numerous reasons why students should stay away from college, then almost as an aside, presented some information that parents might need to prep their kids for college if they were positive this was the correct direction for their student. Perhaps if you already know that your student will not attend college (or join the military, or any other path that requires specific academic requirements) this book will speak to you and encourage you on your journey. As a parent who is unsure of their children’s paths, I would like them to be prepared for whatever direction they choose, and that means college prep courses and record keeping.
College-Prep Homeschooling: Your Complete Guide to Homeschooling through High School by PhD David P. Byers, Chandra Byers
This is another book that I’ve found extremely helpful. Dr. Byers is a college professor and homeschool parent, and writes as one experienced on both sides of the diploma. College-Prep Homeschooling covers a wide variety of subjects, from encouraging study skills and critical thinking skills to creating schedules, syllabi and transcripts. While the book is titled College-Prep Homeschooling, Dr. Byers makes clear that the skills covered within will benefit any high school student, regardless of their plans after graduation. That said, if your student is college bound, this is a book you will find invaluable in terms of preparation for college level study.
Aside from the stack of books I've read about high school record keeping, I couldn't miss giving a plug to Donna Young and her amazing collection of homeschool forms. If you haven't visited her site yet, sit yourself down with a cup o' joe and just click away. Every year when I sit down to plan, I hit her site and download a folder full of marvelous freebies. She has a full section on high school forms, where you'll find blank schedules, curriculum planners, grade sheets, etc.
I hope this gets you motivated! Happy homeschooling!