Mister remains my hard-to-classify homeschool student and I’m not sure how to label our high school plans for 2023-2024. Each year I struggle with what grade to label him as because he has always been ahead of the academic class on his own trajectory.
Historically, I have tried to keep him with his age peers grade-wise for extracurricular and social activities. Even his kindergarten graduation highlighted how bright he was because he was starting a second-grade curriculum. He used 9th-grade curriculum in 2020-2021 when his age peers were in 7th grade. Our High School Plans for 2021-2022 included a mix of 9th and 10th-grade level work. Last year, I thought I’d just call his school year what it most closely resembled, so we call had 10th Grade Plans for 2022-2023. Once again, I’m at a crux because he’s hard to classify and it’s complicated. Technically speaking, he has enough credits to be labeled a rising Senior while his age peers are entering their Sophomore Year.
High School Plans for 2023-2024
When considering his 2023-2024 homeschool high school plans, and whether to call him a sophomore or junior, I had to factor in several things. As I mentioned, he has enough credits to be a Senior IF he was in the public school system. The state of Missouri requires that public and private school students complete a minimum of 24 credits for high school graduation. Also, in Missouri Public Schools, grade level is determined by the number of credits attained. In our local public school district, a student must have 7 units of credit starting sophomore year, 13 units of credit starting junior year, and 18 units of credit starting senior year. He rounded out the 2022-2023 school year with 18 credits. So, but public school standards, he’d be starting his senior year. As homeschoolers, we do not follow public school standards, we follow Missouri homeschool law.
Missouri Homeschool Law
Homeschoolers in Missouri are not required to follow the high school credit system by the current Missouri homeschool law. In other words, there are no credit requirements for Missouri homeschool high school graduation. Missouri homeschool law requires compulsory attendance for students until the age of 17. Homeschool students must receive at least 1,000 hours of instruction during their annual school term. By law, our homeschool year runs from June 30th-July 1st. Of the 1000 required hours of instruction, 600 of the hours must be in the core subjects of math, reading, language arts, social studies, and science. Of those 600 instructional hours, 400 hours must occur “at the regular home school location”. Currently, Missouri has no laws relating to graduating a homeschooled student. In Missouri, the homeschool parent decides what their homeschool high school must achieve prior to graduation. It is up to me to determine whether my student is sufficiently prepared to receive a diploma. Of course, there is more to homeschool laws in Missouri with regard to record keeping, student portfolios, and such.
Although not required, many Missouri homeschoolers will issue credits for subjects taught if their student plans to complete higher education such as college or trade school where credits on a transcript matter. Traditionally, high school credits are based on the Carnegie Unit where 1 credit in high school equals 120 hours of coursework, whereas 60 hours is a half credit and 30 hours is a quarter credit.
Okay, back to the question of what grade is he really and credits. Mister started taking high school classes in 6th grade because he was capable of the material. Mister qualifies for the Early College Academy program at our local community college. The Early College Academy program is a program that allows students to enroll as a junior, complete all their coursework at the college for their junior and senior years, and graduate high school with an associate’s degree. After many discussions, he just didn’t feel like he was ready to jump onto the college campus at age 15 but would like to keep Early College Academy as an option for the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 school years, which would make this year his Sophomore year.
Add to that the fact that as he completes higher-level coursework, I can drop stuff off of his transcript. For example, he’s taken Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Trig/Precalc. When he completes Calculus, I can drop Algebra 1 from his transcript. Similarly, while he is required to complete enough physical activity to count a credit of P.E., physical education has yet to appear on his transcript. As I mentioned, if he were in public school, a minimum of 24 credits is required for graduation. There is no maximum set. This means, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with graduating with 28 or 30 credits. That may be just what he does because ultimately, I will decide (with his input) when he’s ready to graduate.
Now, on to our 2023-2024 homeschool high school plans… I should preface this by saying that while Mister will complete the bulk of his courses at home, most of his classes will have a weekly lab or class outside of our home, either through our local homeschool learning center or through our homeschool co-op.
High School Homeschool Curriculum
High School Science
Last year, Mister used the Discovering Design with Chemistry Textbook, written by Dr. Jay Wile and published by Berean Builders. It is a robust college-preparatory curriculum and he enjoyed the challenge. This year he will use the all-new Discovering Design with Physics Set, also by Dr. Wile, which includes the Discovering Design with Physics Textbook and the Discovering Design Answer Key & Tests.
This is a solid laboratory-based introductory physics course. As with the Discovering Design with Chemistry textbook, this curriculum is written with a conversational tone, which Mister appreciates and it keeps him engaged. It offers plenty of practical applications and experiments and He will complete labs for the course at our local learning center.
Mister will complete a health class this year using the Total Health – Choices for a Winning Lifestyle curriculum. This class will include a health lab at our local learning center. In this course, he will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and a Christian perspective on health issues facing teens in today’s postmodern world. This class will cover male and female anatomy, body systems, healthy relationships, responsibility, and various diseases including sexually transmitted infections, anxiety and depression, nutrition, exercise, and basic first aid. This class will stress making godly choices when it comes to relationships, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Much of this will build off the ongoing open conversations we prioritize with our kids throughout their lives.
The Total Health – Choices for a Winning Lifestyle curriculum for high school students is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of all important physical, mental and social health issues.
Intro to Aviation
Over the years, Mister has completed a couple of free Young Eagle flights near us and signed up for a Free Young Eagles Membership. He has completed a portion of the free Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course. In the last year, he joined our local Aviation Explorer Post and his interest in aviation has grown to the point that he is seriously interested in a career in aviation.
This summer, his aviation explorer post attended AirVenture in OshKosh, Wisconsin. This year, he will complete the Sporty’s course, continue with the Aviation Explorer Post, and he’ll do some independent studies on aviation.
His current goal is to become a commercial pilot. Because he is affected by AEC syndrome, and unable to sweat properly, he is unable to pursue a career as a military pilot. Which stinks, because he’d love to fly a fighter jet one day.
We’re considering some aviation courses on Outschool, as well. We’re specifically interested in the following aviation classes on Outschool:
- Aviation Science: The 4 Forces of Flight
- Stunt Pilot! How Pilots Make Airplanes Do What They Want
- Learn to Fly! Level I–Flying the Airplane
- Learn to Fly! Level II–The Aviation Environment courses.
The first two are prerequisites for the Learn to Fly! courses. I’m not sure if any of those would be duplicates of the material he’s learning on Sporty’s, so I have a message out to the instructor. The Outschool courses would also be dependent on how his other course loads shape up and would most likely be Spring semester, since his Health class is only for Fall semester.
High School Math
Last year Mister used the Math-U-See PreCalculus Set for his math course and did very well. Of course, the next logical math class is Calculus. He has started Calculus via CTCMath online. HOWEVER, given that he’s also taking Physics this year, I’m not sure whether he’ll finish his homeschool math online during the academic year or wait until summer. We’ll follow these success tips for high school math online and play it by ear, as the saying goes.
High School Language Arts
Mister will explore creative writing this year with two creative writing labs. The first writing lab will be at the local learning center and will be a Bible-based creative writing lab where he will study a person from the Bible each week. He will complete character sheets as he uncovers the facts about this person’s life. He will look for their strengths, weaknesses, how God used them, what is known about their family tree, how the character changed, and where to find them in different parts of the Bible. He will look at their character traits and what can be learned from them. From there, he will have a writing assignment for that person. Writing assignments will include things like writing a letter from that person’s perspective, journal entries, and so forth.
The NIV Teen Study Bible from Zonderkids includes book introductions, a topical index, colorful maps, and so much more.
His other creative writing lab will be at our homeschool co-op and is only one semester. In it, he will explore different ways to get over the hurdle of the blank page. This lab will discuss various ways to begin a story, and techniques that can be used to enhance his writing, and we’ll complete some short writing projects that help him realize, and express his own creativity.
Debate and Current Events
Mister will take a Debate and Current Events lab at the learning center and will use Everyday Debate & Discussion by Shelly Johnson. While he has explored debate and current events previously, this class will enable him to conduct informal and formal debates. He will learn how to develop good arguments by using solid logic and the resources available in his own thinking as well as the world around him. He will employ the techniques of logic and rhetoric, such as the common topics of definition, comparison, relationship, circumstance, and testimony. Every week there will be an in-class debate. He will be given a topic and he will need to research and prepare a list of for and against points for the topic. Until the debate begins in class the will not know what side of the topic he is debating, so he will have to be prepared for both sides.
Everyday Debate & Discussion by Shelly Johnson enables students to will employ the techniques of logic and rhetoric.
High School Reading Books
Of course, Mister will participate in our morning group time with read-alouds and those books will vary. A few that I have on my list for the year include:
- Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
- Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are
- Habitudes Book #1: The Art of Self-Leadership
Of course, we’ll intersperse those with fun books and he’s making a list of the titles to be considered. He’ll also read the Guy’s Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket.
High School Social Studies
For social studies this year, Mister will study Missouri history including the past, the present, and future endeavors. He will explore not only its rich history but its counties, government, and famous Missourians. He will compile a notebook of their tour through Missouri’s history which will include maps, essays, and other activities that will complement their journey. These pages will be checked weekly with semester grades given based on the completion of their notebook. He’ll use Missouri 365: This Day in State History and It Happened in Missouri as his course texts.
By the way, did you know you can get a free state map from AAA if you’re a member. I picked up the Missouri state map and the St Louis area map at no charge.
High School Electives
Mister will take a Lectio Divina class at our homeschool co-op. In this class, he will learn the steps of Lectio Divina, a spiritual discipline of meditation on Scripture, and experience being led prayerfully through the steps while focusing on a selected Scripture passage. The class will use the Lectio Course by Pete Greig to teach the practice of Lectio Divina. With his class, he will read, meditate, pray, and share reflections on the passage with guided questions. This class won’t count as a credit because it won’t have nearly enough hours, but I’m hopeful that he’ll discover he loves the method and use it personally.
Intro to Logic
Mister will take an Intro to Logic lab weekly at our local homeschool learning center using the Introductory Logic: The Fundamentals of Thinking Well Student Edition course. In the lab, they will complete one to two lessons weekly as well as have in-class tests or quizzes most weeks. At home, he’ll complete assigned reading, and various exercises, along with studying/memorizing things for quizzes.
Logic is key to helping students excel in every subject they study, from math and science to rhetoric and humanities. This course will help students understand the fundamentals of thinking correctly. The Introductory Logic: The Fundamentals of Thinking Well Student Edition is a year-long course.
Career and Personal Development
Because he’s contemplating career choices, Mister will complete a Career and Personal Development class this year. In the first semester, he’ll assess his personal strengths, work on daily routines and time management, learn about appropriate social media behavior, participate in team-building exercises, and more. In the second semester, he’ll learn to prepare a resume, practice job interview basics, and learn about employee rights. He’ll use the Teen Practical Life Skills Workbook from Whole Person Associates and the Practical Life Skills – Employment & Volunteering from Classroom Complete Press.
Mister started Spanish 1 last year at our homeschool co-op. Our plan was for him to take Spanish 2 this year at the learning center, but the class is no longer being offered. He’ll round out his Spanish credits by taking Learning Spanish: How to Understand and Speak a New Language and Learning Spanish II: How to Understand and Speak a New Language.
I will have him start with the first course as a refresher and to avoid missing anything essential for the second course. Each course has 30 episodes that are roughly 45 minutes each and each course has an accompanying Course Workbook (or Guidebook) that is a printable PDF that he’ll use. He’ll continue using DuoLingo, as well.
Mister will participate in Chess Club at our homeschool co-op. The Chess Club will include beginners and students who have played for a while. In each session, time will be spent learning some of the history of chess (how chess started, famous players, why Saint Louis is becoming a chess mecca…) as well as game basics (opening moves, middle game, end game). There will also be plenty of time to play chess! There will be a dual focus on the competitive aspect of chess, as well team aspect of everyone getting better and having fun.