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We are speaking at conferences around the country! See us at:
August 5, 2017: Christian Homeschooling Association—Springfield, IL (Carol Becker)
Don’t miss our informative new eBooks, now available from the HSLDA store!
Develop a Plan for High School is the first in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers how to choose courses, assign high school credits, evaluate coursework, and improve time management for you and your high school student.
Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript is the second in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts.
Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? HSLDA’s recorded event High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality features sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and more—with lots of encouragement! Purchase it at the HSLDA store.
The Pros and Cons of Different Course Options
|Dear Friends,||July 6, 2017|
Deciding the types of courses teens should take and who will teach each course is a top priority for homeschooling families. However, choosing from among publishers, curricula, and tutors as well co-op, online, and dual-enrollment courses can be mind-boggling. There are helpful considerations to keep in mind as you think about the best delivery option for each type of course. Let’s investigate each alternative so you can match your teen’s needs to the course format that meets your objectives.
Begin by determining the high school courses your teen will complete. Below are individual resources to help you develop this plan:
During the elementary and middle school grades, many parents teach all or nearly all of their children’s courses. The same can be true for high school. Never underestimate your ability to teach any course you put your mind to!
Some curriculum publishers provide parents with all of the necessary tools to teach all of a student’s courses: textbooks, prepared lesson plans, test banks, answer keys, and other helpful resources. You can select one or all of your curricula from these publishers. In addition, this list of subject curricula offers materials to explore in 40 different subject areas if you want to investigate specialty publishers for individual courses.
The benefits of parent-taught courses include having firsthand knowledge of your teen’s understanding and retention of subject matter, setting assignment deadlines that fit your teen’s schedule, determining the pace of learning to meet your teen’s abilities, and retaining control over course content.
If you consider a parent-taught course:
- Will your other responsibilities allow you the time necessary to teach your teen?
- Will you purchase the curriculum or will you create your own?
- How will you evaluate your teen’s work to determine a final course grade, and how will you determine high school credit for the course?
- What records should you generate?
If there is a co-op nearby, your teen can take advantage of courses taught by experienced, enthusiastic, and capable teachers in subject areas that you would rather not teach on your own. Co-op teachers may be homeschooling parents who have expertise in the field or professionals hired by the co-op.
The co-op setting provides teens with a ready-made audience for presentations, a classroom of students for group projects and socialization, and the experience of interacting with a teacher who may have different expectations than you. Co-op science courses can provide cost savings for lab equipment and shared curriculum resources. Plus, co-op teachers can be sources for letters of recommendation when your teen applies to colleges or for jobs.
If you consider a co-op course:
- Does the co-op meet at a time and place that fits your schedule?
- What costs are associated with the class?
- What are the co-op teacher’s credentials?
- Does the content match your goals for the course?
- What are the responsibilities of the teacher, parent, and student? For example, who will evaluate your teen’s work and assess the course for credit?
- Are you willing to supervise your teen’s course work outside of class to ensure that assignments are completed and submitted on time?
With the boon of available online courses, it’s likely that you will find an option for any course your teen needs or wants to take. Below are links for core academic courses:
Below are samplings of online electives:
- Fine arts: art fundamentals, art history, music appreciation
- Biblical life applications
- Christian apologetics
- Financial management
- Leadership skills development
- Novel in a year
- Research skills
Online courses may utilize a live class format in which all students are online at the same time and can ask the instructor questions during lectures, or courses may be self-paced, utilizing recorded lectures. Self-paced courses provide more flexibility because classes may start at any time in the calendar year, and your teen can choose when to watch the recorded lectures. Live online courses may be a better choice if your teen prefers to interact with the instructor and other students in the class.
Most online course providers are experienced and enthusiastic about the subject material. If the instructor has taught for several years, your teen will benefit from lesson plans that have been tweaked and teaching methods that have been honed over time.
If you consider an online course:
- Do you have the required computer hardware, software, and internet speed for the course? (Check these details with the course provider before enrolling your teen.)
- What are the teacher’s credentials?
- Is the course live or does it use recorded lectures?
- What does the course cost?
- Does the course material/content adhere to your goals for the course and your family values?
- Does the instructor evaluate and grade the student’s work and assess the course for high school credit?
- Is your teen motivated to complete assignments and turn them in on time?
Dual-Enrollment (or PSEO) Courses
High school students who are ready for a challenge may choose to enroll in one or more college courses. The main benefit for teens who take dual-enrollment courses (called concurrent courses in Pennsylvania) is that students take one course and earn high school and college credit simultaneously! Who doesn’t like a two-for-one deal?
Although high schoolers typically take such courses at local community colleges, some four-year universities and colleges offer online dual-enrollment courses. In some states, such as Minnesota, Ohio, and Florida, dual-enrolled students can receive tuition discounts or free tuition through Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) programs. Every community college and PSEO program sets policies on eligibility for teens who wish to take dual‑enrollment courses. Some policies require a placement test or a minimum SAT or ACT score to determine if teens have the necessary skills for succeeding in a college-level course. Other schools may require a minimum age such as 16 years, or may limit the number of dual-enrollment courses a teen may take. Check with your local community college or four-year college/university to determine its requirements.
A dual-enrollment course provides your teen with classroom experience and an opportunity to practice time management. Use the course to develop responsibility in your teen by having him or her take ownership of tasks such as understanding and completing assignments, reviewing for tests, and segmenting larger projects and papers into manageable sections.
If you consider a dual-enrollment course:
- Is your teen ready for the academic challenges of a college-level course, and is he or she an independent learner?
- Does your teen possess the maturity to be in a class with students who may be many years older?
- Has your teen met the prerequisites for the course?
- Does your teen have the time management, study, and research skills necessary to do well in a college course?
- Will the course transfer to your teen’s destination college?
For some courses, you may want to hire a tutor who will teach your teen the entire course, be available regularly to answer questions, offer additional instruction when your student has questions, or provide remedial help. Search for tutors among homeschooling parents, relatives, recent homeschool grads, neighbors, church members, and others. For example, a former teacher—now a stay-at-home mom—may be very willing to tutor your teen. A retired engineer may jump at the chance to teach your teen a science or math course. A college student may be available on an as-needed basis to offer writing help or evaluate your teen’s compositions.
Tutoring options may work well for courses for which curriculum is hard to find. For example, you may want to offer botany to your teen, so you enlist a botanist who designs a course that includes plenty of hands-on experience. It may be helpful to write a simple tutoring contract so that all parties agree on cost, meeting times, and the responsibilities of the tutor, parent, and student.
If you consider a tutorial course:
- How much assistance will the tutor provide and when? As needed? Or at a regular weekly meeting time?
- How much does the tutor charge?
- Who is responsible for deciding the curriculum and course content?
- Will the tutor evaluate your teen’s work and assess the high school credit?
As you develop your teen’s high school plan each year, consider each course you would like to provide and then determine the best way to deliver the course. Your teen may benefit from gaining experience with all types of courses, or your budget, family situation, and other responsibilities may dictate one type of course over another. Each family situation is unique; however, with the plethora of course options available, you’ll be able to choose the one that suits your teen.
Join us next month as we discuss the benefits of community service and ideas to involve your teen in the volunteer world.
Grateful for the opportunity to assist you as you teach your teens at home,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants