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A High School Plan (Part 3), Spelling Test Twist, New Baby on the Way

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, February 09, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 11 February 9, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- A High School Plan (Part 3)
Helpful Tips
-- Spelling Test Twist
Winning Website
-- 1828 Dictionary
Reader Question
-- New Baby on the Way
Additional Notes
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

A High School Plan (Part 3)

This issue I will share with you just a few of the high school plans
that have been developed by parents and children who have met with
me locally and followed the basic steps I outlined in the first 2 parts
of this series. This printable 'transcript' is meant to serve as a tool,
not to add stress! The beauty of it is that you can continue to edit
it throughout the high school years, adding subjects as opportunities
arise and removing them as interests change. In fact, feel free to
save any of the files at the link below and use them as a template
for your own child(ren). You will see one that is my own son's draft.
It has some grades added and it has been 'tweaked' about 10 times
over the past 3 years. I'm sure it has more tweaking yet to come!
Next issue I will share my 14 year old son's first draft. You will see
they are as different as night and day. :-)

Here is the link to the file with transcript drafts in .doc format:


I'm going to take a bunny trail now and try to answer two related
questions that came in from readers this week:


"I have a question. Generally, I have made our children keep up with the
number of hours he/she has spent on each subject. When that child has
completed the course (i.e. Saxon Algebra 2) and logged in at least 120
hours of work, I have counted it as one credit or unit of study.

(From doing some research I found that there really is no such thing as
a Carnegie unit. The term came into being when Andrew Carnegie and
some educators were trying to standardize the high school years. I
picked the 120 hours as a general number, as I have not been able to
find a consistent reporting of how many hours constitutes a unit of study.
I have seen everything from 90 hours to 160.)

My question is: What happens when your child has completed a course,
but it has not taken 120 hours? This is what has happened. My youngest
daughter has viewed the Western Civilization tapes from The Teaching
Company's Great Courses. There are 48 tapes and each tape is about
30 minutes long. The professor has his doctorate and teaches at Notre
Dame. The tapes were divided into four sections. I am having her write
a paper of her choice concerning something in each section (four papers).
However, her hours spent on this course are not adding up to 120 hours.
Do I still count it as a unit of study?

Here's the rub: Our curriculum provider asks for the accounting of our
hours per subject. It has been helpful in the past to have a copy of
their recorded hours along with my transcript. If my units and their
hours do not add up -- then what? In other words, on her transcript I'd
count this as one unit of study under History: Western Civilization.
However, on her'transcript' she would have Western Civilization: 80 hrs
and a grade. If I state that I am basing one unit of study being equal to
120 hours of work the two do not bear one another out. I don't know if
I'm making any sense. Any enlightenment on this subject would be
appreciated." -- Joanne M.


"How many credits do you give to a college course taken in high
school? Suppose, for example, my son takes a semester long
computer class at the local college his senior year in high school.
Does this count for a full 2 high school credits or just one? I have
really enjoyed and appreciated your emails!" -- Elizabeth


My answers:

Firstly, Joanne, I would concur with you that the public schools have
'invented' the credit hour system to standardize and even 'engineer' a
smooth running operation for popping out 'finished' students at the end
of 12 years. One problem with this (among many others) is that there
is no way to say that 90 or 160 hours (just pick your number!) on a
subject is going to produce mastery of that subject or even a remote
understanding of it if the student is not passionately involved in what
is being taught. Some students can master a subject with 15 hours of
intensive self-study over a period of a week... and turn around and teach
a class themselves! Other students may spend 200 hours on algebra
and not be able to pass a basic test for lack of understanding. It is
all relative.

As a homeschool parent, you should exercise the freedom to decide
when to let a child move on because of the amount of hours spent,
whether the mastery will ever be there or not, and also the freedom to
reward a child for a job-well-done when mastery is accomplished in a
short amount of time.

Many subjects don't even require mastery! For instance, an 'Intro to
Literature' credit can be given for exposure to great literature; just
adding to the 'well-roundedness' of the student -- if this is something
you desire your child to be exposed to. I am in the midst of teaching
an 'Intro to Nanotechnology' class at my local homeschool co-op.
I do not expect any of my students (2 of which are my own children)
to be experts at the end of my class (I'm certainly not and I'm
TEACHING it!) but I do know they will be able to carry on an
intelligent conversation about nanotechnology with a scientist
working in the field. I also have expected them to participate actively
in conversation in class about the controversial issues prevalent in
this field of science. I'm teaching it because I feel passionate about
it... and the kids are really learning a lot about a field of science
they otherwise wouldn't have known existed.

So -- to answer your question -- I would honestly report hours to the
curriculum provider if you are comfortable with that policy. I would
also make a notation of 'mastery' beside each subject you report on.
Then take whatever the provider gives you and adjust it to your liking at
the end of each year... or just ditch what they give you and make your
OWN transcript. After all, you should have that freedom. The 'system',
(in this case your curriculum provider), should *serve* your family --
not the other way around.

Now, Elizabeth --

To the best of my understanding, a normal high school transcript
looks different from a college transcript. Courses are usually worth
1/2 a credit or a full (1) credit for high school. A year's worth of work
(or, in my opinion, 'mastery' and/or quite a few hours spent) is equal
to 1 credit. In the case of a science class, like biology or chemisty,
where you may have an additional lab class, I would put the lab on
a seperate line for 1 credit by itself in order to add up to 2 credits.
Otherwise, a semester of work is usually 1/2 credit. If your child
does additional self-study you can/should give him/her a full credit!
It is up to you to determine if 'mastery' of a subject should bump a
shorter course (1/2 a year or less) up to a full credit.

If the course being taken is a college level course, I would note this
on the transcript as well, but it is should still be recorded as 1/2 or 1
credit for high school. If the college also awards college credit for
the class, then you have 'dual enrollment' that also results in 'double
crediting' because they are earning simultaneous college credit.


[You will notice that some of the transcript drafts in the link I gave
at the beginning of the article have (CLEP) noted by the subject
name. These are students who intend to show mastery by taking
the College Level Examination Program tests. I will write in depth
about the CLEP exams in the next issue!! I have run out of space
in this one!! -- Heather]


Do you have a comment or a question?
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Overheard on our HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group:

"When my son was 8, we were doing Sing, Spell, Read, and Write,
and he hated doing the written spelling tests. Changing them to oral
helped, but another thing that helped us quite a bit, was when I let
him give me every second spelling test.

When he was giving me a spelling test, he held the book, asked me
the questions, and checked my answers. He was learning more spelling
by focusing on the words, and it really reduced his resistance to the
spelling tests." -- Jim McGinn - www.homeschool-guide.com


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Webster 1828 Dictionary Online

I remember looking longingly through a homeschool catalog at the
reprinted 1828 Dictionary. Unfortunately, for a long time it was out
of my budget. Thankfully, someone has graciously made this
resource available for free online! Now, even if you can’t afford to
purchase this huge volume, you can still access this great
dictionary containing thousands of Biblical definitions. When a
word is defined, there is a sentence to show the word in context
-- these reference sentences are often Bible verses or contain
reference to a character building or Biblical truth.


This issue's 'Website Winner' brought to us by Cindy at...

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have always planned on homeschooling my kids, and I have read
your newsletter for a few years to get ideas. However now I find
myself in a tough situation. We have just moved to a new area,
and I am five months pregnant. My oldest son will be five and ready
for kindergarten this year. We have been doing pre-K crafts and
activity pages on an irregular basis this year, but I know he needs
a daily structure for next year. Come August I will have a brand new
baby, a three year old, and my oldest. I am looking for any resources
or ideas for homeschooling a child while caring for an infant and a
toddler. I know other women must have done it, but now I find myself
facing skepticism from family members about my ability to handle it.
Sadly, I think it is beginning to affect my own opinion of whether I
can 'handle it'. Any suggestions would be appreciated, and also
any recommendations for a good homeschooling group near 77354,
Texas. Thanks so much." -- Ali S.

Our Readers' Responses

"I have five children and have been teaching them for eighteen years.
I must say that my best kindergarten experience was with my
youngest one. Last year, when he was in kindergarten, I would ask
him, 'Do you want to do school today?' If his answer was no then
we read together and let the rest go. If the answer was yes, we did
one page in each of his subjects and read together. By the end of
the year he could read at an 'end of year first grade' reading level,
do basic addition and subtraction, and could write his letters. I
think he learned faster partly because when he did school, he
*wanted* to do it and paid better attention.

I have my degree in elementary education and taught first and
second grade for two years before having my own children. I have
never been fond of a structured kindergarten program. I would
recommend teaching this way to anyone. Don't feel guilty about
not doing school every day. The only 'subject' that I would say
needed to be done each day is reading and you can do that while
nursing your new one -- or anytime that you want to cuddle up with
your five year old." -- Karen


"I, too, had reservations about my ability to handle homeschooling
(I have 5 children), and the only regret I have is that I didn't start
soon enough. By the time I finally realized that I was letting my
insecurity and my husband's lack of faith convince me to resist
the Holy Spirit, my older children had already learned to hate
school and learning.

There are so many ways to homeschool that it will take time to
figure out what suits your family. Remember one thing: learning in
your home will not look anything like school, especially with an
infant and a three-year-old! This does not mean that learning is not
happening. I will pass on one of the best recommendations I ever
received: starting now, simply keep a journal of what your children
do each day (both the 6 year old and the 3 year old). Then write
what they might be learning while they're playing, helping you,
watching you, etc. When they 'help' you do dishes, they are
learning about floating and sinking, absorbtion, measuring, flowing
of liquids, bubbles, surface tension... I could go on and on. Don't
forget to record interesting conversations that you have with them.
It's quite an eye-opener!

You will discover that God has built your children for learning, and
that very little actual instruction is needed -- simply provide them
with opportunities and materials. By watching your children, you
will also learn a lot about their God-given interests and learning
styles. Allow God to gradually grow your 'school' out of what you
learn. He has a plan for your homeschool; you just have to follow
His lead. It is well worth the perseverance." -- Eliza


"Are you sure your son needs daily structure so soon? According
to many research studies, he doesn't; in fact, he might be harmed
by it. I would encourage you to read books by Dr. Raymond Moore.


He explains very clearly why children should be allowed to wait
until a later age to begin formal schooling. If you involve your son
in your daily activities, you'll be very perceptive to when he's really
ready to do more concentrated schoolwork. In the meantime, allow
him lots of learning opportunities through 'real-world' experiences
and you'll be astonished at how much he will learn. Many things
you do can be done with all three children -- read or sing to all of
them at once; play games; take walks; draw pictures or make crafts.
The baby can watch from his seat or from your lap when the older
ones are doing things he can't yet manage. And he'll be learning,
too! You'll also have the little ones' nap times to give you time
alone with your older son. (But if you need a nap then, too, be
sure and take it!) Another resource that might have some helpful
hints for you is: www.largefamilylogistics.lifewithchrist.org

Don't let the skepticism of others discourage you. Consider it a
training drill for the resistance which you will probably encounter
throughout your homeschool journey. Prepare answers for them
-- courteous, respectful, but firm. Be confident in your decision,
and let them see the strength of your convictions. Smile and be
enthusiastic about homeschooling when you talk to them. They
are bullying you, and bullies will usually only pick on people they
think won't stand up to them." -- Mary Beth


"The first thing for you to do is relax and realize that kindergarten
is not such a big deal. It is just a continuation of what you have
been doing during the first 5 years of your son's life. You have
taught him to feed and dress himself, put his toys away, among
other things. Now you are going to add a few other things -- it's
a natural progression. In fact, your 3 year old can do things right
along with him. My 3 year old daughter did kindergarten right
along with my 5 year old because she was very capable. Now
they are in the 9th grade together -- still homeschooling.

Take a deep breath and know you are doing a good thing for and
with your children!" -- Holly in TN


"I wasn't able to steadlily start with my oldest until she was about
9 years old because the three others were born ill. But she
learned math sorting skills and colors through helping me sort
the laundry and measuring by putting the soap in, and she
learned life skills by cooking dinner. She learned a hundred other
things just by living and helping and being my partner. I read her
'real books' about 'real people' while she drew a pictures about it
that went up on the time line. And at bedtime we read classics
that every kid should know.

Who says you even have to start this year? Set yourself FREE
little birdie!! Don't allow yourself to be dictated to by the 'public
school system' idea of what is good and true. After all, you chose
not to put them in public school for a reason. God gave your
children to YOU. Just relax - and PRAY! If God is with you, who
shall stand against you?" -- Deb


"Spend some time reading, talking with other homeschoolers,
and questioning the assumptions around the idea of school for
a five year old before spending too much time with plans. There
is no magic age for beginning school, and one of the benefits of
homeschooling is that all of life becomes learning. Public
schools moved to pushing education earlier and earlier as they
began to fail more and more. Research actually shows that,
while beneficial for deprived children, early education such as
kindergarten can be counter productive for other children --
leading to high stress levels and burnout in children by third
grade (among other problems). I cannot recommend highly
enough reading David Elkind's book 'Miseducation' for more on
this topic. Also the Moores' book 'Better Late Than Early' is a
classic for homeschoolers. I often tell parents to remember
that you have six years to teach a child the basics -- reading,
handwritng, four functions in math plus fractions, decimals and
percents -- and then you even get the middle school years to
play catch-up if needed! That's really not much in six plus
years! Everything else (science, history, etc.) is icing on the
cake because they will be doing it again in high school! So
slow down, enjoy life with your children now; the pace picks
up so much later. There's plenty of time." -- Babette R.


"I just wanted to give you a word of encouragement. Phil. 4:13
says 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.'
Last August, I began homeschooling my five year old and I, too,
had a three year old son and a baby that had just been born in
early July. If I told you it were a 'piece of cake', I would be
dishonest. But I feel the Lord has called me to homeschool,
and He gives the strength, grace, and help I need to face each
day of this journey. It is going well, and I believe my son is not
suffering from being schooled at home. One suggestion: I like
to have special 'school activities' for my three year old to do
while we're having 'school'. Play dough, finger paints, small toy
tractors in cornmeal (makes a great field to plow), educational
computer games, etc. Keep encouraged, and remember, 'God's
providence will not place you where His grace cannot keep you.'"
-- Dorothy in AR


"Even though your son is kindergarten age, do not sweat it.
Informal education and snatching moments when you can sit
down with him alone are fine. Do not be pressured to educate
in the traditional way. I know my state does not require that a
child be in school until they are 8. As the two oldest mature
another year or half a year they will be more willing to sit down
with you to learn reading, etc. Relax and enjoy your children
in these tender ages." -- Debra W.


"I have 5 children and am expecting my sixth. I also will be
adding two littles to the homeschooling schedule this September.
I will be going from homeschooling 2 children to 4.

It may seem intimidating, having never done it before, but why
does he need to start at age 5? Why does he need to start in
September? Why not consider starting in January? Why not
consider waiting till he's 6? It sounds like you are anticipating
doing a 'school day' just like the public schools. It doesn't have
to be that way.

The best thing you can do is read to your child, and with a new
baby, what better time than feeding time? I believe my children
have learned more from me reading to them, than from any
formal structured curriculum. Don't let the pressure get to you
that you have to start at 5 or that you have to start in September.
Start when you're ready. It's kindergarten. It should be fun, not
rigidly structured! Enjoy your new baby and don't worry, he'll
learn twice as quick if you wait till he's six!" -- Crystal N.


"When my oldest was 5, I had a 2 month old baby. I was so
concerned with making sure he had enough 'socialization' that
I ended up making a lot of mistakes. Hopefully my mistakes
can be an encouragement to you.

Kindergarten is one of the easiest years to home school. Many
of us fall in to the trap of thinking we must simulate a 'true'
school atmosphere at home.

Don't over do it with too many activities out side the home,
thinking that you have to keep your child socialized. This is what
I did, and having a new baby with all that activity ended up being
too much for me. If you go to church, or have a once a week play
group with other homeschoolers, etc., that is enough socialization
for a kindergartener.

Homeschooling is not always easy, especially with three small
children, but nothing worth doing is really ever easy. Don't give
up out of frustration. There will be good days and bad days all
the way through school. My children are now 13, 8, and 5. We
have really great days and some really frustrating days, but the
benefits always outweigh the negatives." -- Deborah in East TX


"Well, you're handling it now! You already have experience
homeschooling a five year old and a three year old while pregnant;
a four year old and a two year old; a three year old and a one year
old; and a two year old and an infant. That all worked out okay.
Think about when your oldest was three. Would you have been
able to sit down and read with a six year old now and then? Get
a six year old to help you measure formula/baby food? Nurse at
the table while a six year old did printing and your three year old

A grade one education does not need to be filled with formalities
and book-work. If you do prefer bookwork, you can do those things
while baby is sleeping." -- Pam W.


"The nice thing about homeschooling with a newborn is that you
don't have to get up and run out of the house first thing in the
morning. Its hard enough remembering to brush your teeth first
thing, let alone running out the door by 9AM. In kindergarten,
schooling can be done in under 1 hour a day. It doesn't have to
be done all together either. You can do little bits as the day goes.
You will find 'your schedule' as time goes and once you get to
know your new baby's routine. At that age kids learn most of
their 'schooling' through play anyhow." -- Stephanie C.


"Do not worry about how you are going to cope with teaching a
kindergartener. The actual teaching time takes about 30 minutes
a day, and the rest is just providing opportunities for your son to
play, do puzzles, draw, and so on.

The most important thing you can do educationally is to read to
your children, and that can be done with all the little ones in your
arms, leaning against you, or playing near you. On days when
things are really tough, that is enough. Be creative about school
time -- do it while the little one is sleeping or having tummy time
or under the baby gym. The middle one can either have his own
basket of things to do (my two year old has a basket with paper
and felts, stickers, lacing cards, a peg board, and simple puzzles)
or be given a short independent playtime in a specified space.

Keep curriculum choices minimal and simple so that you are not
having to spend a lot of time. Ruth Beechick's books offer some
very simple ideas for both math and reading. For phonics we are
doing the Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code books. My
son loves them, and I can supervise him while still managing my
other children. A dot-to-dot book also lets your son practice his
number recognition skills independently -- a good option on days
when you can't muster the time or energy to do more. A friend
of mine has put together a small basket of counters and number
cards that her daughter brings to her so they can work on numbers
when my friend needs to be on the sofa." -- Elouise in Canada


"There is an excellent article titled 'The Baby IS the Lesson'.
You can find it here at this link:


It is written by Diane Hopkins, an experienced homeschooling
mother with several children in a wide range of ages." -- Sherry A.


"When our baby was little, we did our schoolwork around the baby's
sleeping schedule. For example the baby would nurse about 7:00
and go back to sleep for about 2 hours. That was plenty of time
for me to get in some quality school time with my then 5 and 6 year
old children. Then when the baby got up we would have some play
time. If we had anything else to finish up we would just wait till the
next nap. As the baby got older and more active we had to slightly
readjust our schedule to accommodate his needs.

I really hope that your husband will encourage you, because you
are right -- you can do it. A great organizational tool is 'Managers
of their Homes'. It has some practical advice for doing school with
a baby and a preschooler." -- Alicia in KY


"The beauty of homeschooling is that you are not required to have
a structured program for your children, especially kindergardeners.
I did not start my oldest son in 'formal' school lessons until first
grade. Continue to read to your son, point out to him the letters
that words start with, have him help with laundry (doesn't it make
more sense to pair socks and fold washcloths in 1/2 than to have
them draw lines on a piece of paper to match things and show
fractions?), let him watch good nature and science videos, and all
the other things you probably already do to teach him about life
on a daily basis. Try not to worry about formal schooling at his
age." -- Donna E.


"I had the same situation: Planned on homeschooling, starting
kindergarten in September, pregnant with our fourth child due
in October! How could I do it all?!? However, homeschooling
was absolutely the best decision we could have made. Our
family was able to follow MY schedule, rather than the school's
or anyone else's. When the baby slept, we schooled. When
the baby nursed, we read. When I needed lots of rest, we rested.
Remember to keep it simple in kindergarten. It's easy with your
first child to try to do too much, especially when 'facing skepticism
from family members', but just remember to enjoy your young
family, keep up the simple activities, read a lot, involve your older
ones in helping you, and remember that you have LOTS of years
to teach them and the most important thing you can do now is
just love your kids." -- Jennifer in CA

Answer our NEW Question

"We will be moving into our third year of homeschool next year
and I'm stumped when it comes to teaching history. My son is 8.
Can anyone give me advice on where to find a complete program
that is not packed full of units, user friendly and appropriete for a
4th to 6th grade level. I love incorporating literature, and don't
mind if I need to read to him, if the books are above his reading level.
He's a strong auditory learner and recieves a lot of information thru
audio books, consuming 3 to 6 a week. I am looking for a more
traditional approach to history that will arm him for facing early
college enrollment. If anyone has any suggestions I would be so
thankful." -- Jessica L


Do you have a suggestion or some ideas for Jessica?
Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!


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Tags: homeschool high school planning, high school transcript, Carnegie units, Teaching Company, subject mastery, CLEP tests, College Level Examination Program, Sing Spell Read and Write tip, homeschooling curriculum, support, tips, advice, help

Next - High School Plan (Part 4), Fighter Jet Valentines, Living History Curricula
Previous - A High School Plan (Part 2), Fallacy Detective, Teaching a Friend's Children

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