Handcrafting High School: Year 1, September, October, November, December

         I am the homeschooling mom of a recently turned 15 year-old. I have been handcrafting his education for 9 years. The thing about handcrafting is that there are continuous tweaks to be made. Since I am in the thick of it, I am figuring it out as I go along. I am not sure what these posts will look like. Handcrafting high school will take a lot of planning, much of it to be done as we go along.

This is the first of a series of posts about what we did for the first 4 months of the 2014/2015 school year. I had planned on this just being one post but each core subject has its own story. As I wrote about each one, this post became longer… and longer… and way too long for one post, so I am going to give each of the core subjects its own post. Next quarter, which starts January, 2015 has some new classes. After this series I plan on posting monthly through high school. In each post, I will tell you what we have used and done so far this year. There will be occasional tips and advice, use them if they help, ignore them if they don’t.  I will tell you what materials we have used. I will tell you what I think about the materials we used, but if something works or doesn’t work for us it does not mean anything more than that. I have paid for every single program we used. (HMMN, unfortunately – LOL!)

The Core Subjects: Year 1 – 1st Quarter  
Math Algebra
Computer Science Introduction to Programming with Java
Science Applied Chemistry and Physics
Language Arts Spelling, Grammar, The Mechanics of Writing, The Craft of Writing, Reading/Literary Analysis
P.E. Crew (Rowing)
History World History

         For more information about my philosophy of how we learn in our house refer to my previous posts on Handcrafting an Education. This is the run down on the core for this quarter. Sean’s core subjects are what I refer to as the “coffee” in our recipe. If this looks to you like a school at home schedule, in a way it is. How we implement it and the actual work are more innovative, directed, and dynamic than in traditional school. As I have written before, I am not a labels person and I do not like it when homeschoolers label each other. One size fits all… does not! That is why most of us are homeschooling in the first place! What we have been doing this year has worked very

Sean takes time out in October to go camping for a week at Pismo Beach with HSC with over 100 homeschoolers.

Handcrafting High School: Sean takes time out in October to go camping for a week at Pismo Beach with HSC with over 100 homeschoolers.

well for us. That’s all that matters to me.

Of course the beloved pug Jezzie came camping with us!

Handcrafting High School: Of course the beloved pug Jezzie came camping with us!

My son works at his academics 4 to 5 days a week. He has plenty of time for field trips, camping trips, hanging out with friends, texting, skyping, playing computer games,

and other forms of socialization. He wakes up between 8:30 and 10 and works steadily at his academics until 2:40 when he gets ready for crew. We often listen to a Coursera class in the car on the way to rowing or he reads. He does not have academics to work on in the evenings after crew except for reading or an evening class he attends once a week.

Record Keeping through High School: I highly recommend you begin keeping track of grades, courses, assignments, and extras (like volunteer work and sports accomplishments) at the start of 9th grade if you think your student will apply to 4-year colleges. It will make your life so much easier 3 ½ years later!

I am not a very good record keeper. Part of it is the sheer number of projects I have going on at any one time. That presents a problem for a parent whose child will most likely be applying to 4-year institutions for college. What a headache if I didn’t get control of it though, I would be stuck trying to put everything together at the last minute! I had the good fortune this summer to be speaking at a conference where the vendor MyHomeschoolGrades.com had a booth. I was a bit skeptical about needing their program when I saw the booth and went home without purchasing it. A few days into 9th grade I decided I needed something for record keeping though, so I called John Echols the owner up and bought the program. I am really glad I did. Not only is it really easy to use to keep track of Sean’s classes and grades, but John has helped me in other ways as well. He suggested I keep track of all Sean’s medal from his crew events on his site so they will be included in Sean’s transcript. He had me go back and put in volunteer work Sean had done in 8th grade. He told me about concurrent enrollment. (No I really didn’t know about it, even though I had Sean in an extension course!) On top of all that the customer service is superb. https://myhomeschoolgrades.com/