Homeschooling high school can seem like an intimidating prospect. Homeschooling, high school simply, however, turns a potentially daunting task into one in which not only much learning occurs, but a love of learning prospers.
Language arts, otherwise known as English, is the only subject my state requires four full years of in high school.Through the years, I’ve interacted with several homeschoolers and former homeschoolers who seemed to needlessly complicate this subject by using a separate full-blown curriculum each for grammar, writing, literature, and vocabulary, when it is so easy and logical to combine these subjects, or, at the very least, keep the lessons short and to-the-point.
Homeschooling English does not have to be complicated, and it does not have to be time-consuming. Today I’ll be introducing you to a variety of approaches you can take. In fact, I highly recommend that you mix and match these ideas to break up the monotony of performing the exact same tasks over and over again. Whatever you choose, however, always remember to keep the learning style and interests of your child in mind.
One thing to remember when utilizing a textbook is that short lessons are better remembered than long, drawn-out ones. For this reason, I’m always on the lookout for a curriculum that is short and to-the-point. To date, my two favorite textbooks for this subject are the Life of Fred Language Arts series (Please note: If you look at this series on Amazon, it is listed as a middle school series. However, the LOF website lists it as high school level) and Daily Grams.
Life of Fred is completely literature-based and covers more than just grammar. You’ll find writing tips, some science, and even some history within the pages of these books. Each chapter can be covered within five minutes, as they are only about five pages long, and there are usually only around five questions to answer per chapter.
Daily Grams is a simple grammar review that takes about five minutes per day. There are 180 pages for a 180 day school year. Although it is meant to be used as a review, there is enough repetition in these short lessons that you could introduce a new concept with this and your teen will pick it up easily.
Rather than using an expensive, tedious writing curriculum, one of the tools I’ve found this year for my 17 year old is Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond. This provides excellent guidelines for writing college-level papers and introduces students to the formatting styles which will be expected by their professors, should they choose to go to college.
Since so many teenagers enjoy anything web-related, educational websites are an inexpensive way to add some variety to a language arts routine. Two that come to mind immediately are SpellingClassroom.com and NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program.
This year, we’ve been using SpellingClassroom.com as a supplemental vocabulary program. We do not normally use any sort of curriculum for vocabulary; it usually works its way naturally into our other subjects. However, I was asked to write a review for this program earlier this year, and I found it to be a great asset. On this website, there are 40 lists of SAT vocabulary for high school students, and each list has several fun and engaging modules to help learn the words. Besides that, there are games that can be played after a student has accumulated tokens through successfully completing the aforementioned modules. These modules are short, yet successful- two of my favorite qualities in any curriculum.
NaNoWriMo is a program designed for young writers that challenges them to join an online community and write a novel within a certain length of time. None of my kids have used this so far, but I plan on giving them the option to look into it further this year.
Some people may believe this activity should be reserved for younger students, but I tend to disagree. One of my high schoolers does copywork out of his history book everyday. Not only does it help him to remember what he’s studying, but it also reinforces proper punctuation and sentence structure without him even realizing it. 😉
We’ve all heard how beneficial living books can be for subjects like science and history, but I make great use of them for English, as well. Besides being great models for writing techniques, these books are also excellent for seamlessly introducing unfamiliar vocabulary by just exposing a child to it in the context of how it should be used. One of the greatest advantages to using living books is how easy it is to fit language arts in with other subjects- a huge timesaver.
For example, my daughter just finished reading Number the Stars. Since this book focuses on the Nazi Germany era, she was able to cover history, literature, grammar, vocabulary, writing (through the use of notebooking), and comprehension (through narration and discussions with me), all in one shot. Just how I like it.
The simple act of narration completely removes the necessity of doing any conventional literature study. This can be done either formally or through simple conversations with your child. I tend to use both. Sometimes when I am reading aloud to them, I will stop and ask them to retell what I had been reading about. Other times, usually for a book they have been reading on their own, I will have a casual conversation with them about what they read that day. These are both excellent, yet simple ways to determine if your student has understood and absorbed what was read that day.
Notebooking is often the glue that holds everything together. Otherwise known as journaling, this is a great way to get students who have an aversion to writing to be more open to putting their thoughts, ideas, and information obtained on paper. Notebooking can be used for any subject. My son notebooks for his science field work and for his history book. My oldest daughter is notebooking through her writing book and physics. My other daughter is notebooking through her science and history, both of which she strictly uses living books for. No matter what you choose to use notebooking for, it is an excellent approach to reinforce writing, grammar, spelling skills, and comprehension- all at once.
Homeschooling high school doesn’t have to be scary, and it doesn’t have to mean 6 hour homeschool days. If you are resourceful and learn to combine subjects wherever possible, not only will your teenager learn in a shorter amount of time, they will enjoy it, as well.
Do you have any tips on homeschooling high school English? Leave a comment below!