By Beverly S. Krueger, senior editor Eclectic Homeschool Online
You’ve looked over a number of different high school chemistry textbooks, teacher’s manuals and accompanying resources. Chemistry seems too involved. You remember very little of your high school chemistry or never had it to begin with. You’re not comfortable with your own ability to provide back up support when your child doesn’t understand concepts presented in his text. What’s a homeschool parent to do? Throw in the towel when it’s time for high school level work? No, there are better solutions.
There are a number of public and private institutions that offer high school level classes by correspondence or online. Many of the traditional correspondence schools are moving towards more electronic instruction. That means you still have the traditional books and materials mailed to you, but you can often correspond with your oversight teacher by email. Online classes usually involve regular meetings in a chat room environment as well as email correspondence.
Video School or Software Curriculum
A friend uses video school and says that her children actually begin to feel in some measure part of the classroom where the course video is taped. They’ll tell her that so and so got in trouble in class today. This option puts you in the position of most parents with kids in school with one important difference, you can always play the video again and find out what the teacher said. If your child doesn’t understand how to complete his assignment, you have the video to fall back on not just the textbook.
There are a variety of commercial products now available at software stores that cover middle school and high school level topics. Typically these rely heavily on text with some charts, graphs and multimedia clips. They are not very glitzy, but they do cover the basics of the course title. There are now several companies marketing this type of software. To find out more about the specifics of a particular set of software visit Juline Lambert’s Learningware Review website. For a $10 yearly fee you can access Juline’s unbiased, thorough reviews of all types of educational software. http://learningwarereviews.com.
AlphaOmega offers their core high school level courses on CD now. Their Switched on Schoolhouse is a step above their regular LifePac curriculum. Each CD offers some multimedia. They are also interactive so your child knows right away when they miss a problem. You can track your child’s progress, set up a schedule for completion, and input your own grading system. Each CD is $89.95.
Eligibility to enroll in community college classes varies from state to state. You’ll want to look into this option at your local community college. My oldest has taken several classes from Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. They allow homeschool students early entrance at 16. They require placement testing. Your testing results determine which classes you may take. They have a series of three remedial levels of math, two of English and one in science. These remedial classes cover typical high school level course work. My daughter tested into the high school algebra equivalent but went straight to college level freshman composition.
Enroll in one or two classes in your local public school
If your state and local rules allow you to take a class or two at your local school, this is also an option that can work for some high school classes. One of my daughter’s friends is taking French at the local high school. Another family may allow their son to take a half load of classes at the local high school which will also make him eligible to play football.
Co-ops can be very effective in providing instruction for more technical or difficult to do high school subjects. They can operate with parents each selecting a class to offer, or a group of parents can combine to pay an instructor for a particular topic. Perhaps the local Christian high school science teacher would like to earn some extra income by providing biology lab twice a week in the evening. Some college instructors may enjoy the opportunity to work with homeschooled students. Find a tutor On a fairly regular basis I am approached by teachers interested in providing tutoring to homeschooled students. There are probably teachers in your community who have retired or are not working full time who would be willing to tutor your child in a specific subject. Post notices in the local paper or on teacher bulletin boards at local schools. There may be another homeschooling parent who has the ability and desire to tutor a foreign language or calculus. The money they make tutoring will help them cover their own homeschooling costs
Find non-textbook resources that cover the same learning objectives found in text driven courses.
There are non-traditional ways of studying many high school level subjects. Our local children’s museum had an exhibition which covered the basics of physics. They were looking for homeschooled students to act as exhibition guides and to help with children’s workshops. Volunteers were required to take classes learning the physics behind the exhibition and how to perform a number of hands on demonstrations. When you listed off all the different physics concepts they would be required to learn, they had covered most of what a typical physics course covers. Another example is Friendly Chemistry, a complete game oriented chemistry curriculum that teaches basic chemistry in an easy to understand manner with lots of hands-on reinforcement in the games that accompany it.
Beverly Krueger is Senior Editor of the Eclectic Homeschool Online and EHO Lite. She also blogs regularly at HS Blog.