Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Create Your Own High School Curriculum for this Year



Many families faced with needing to withdraw their teenage children from high school hit the panic button at the beginning of the year and automatically think that they will need a supervised correspondence course to teach their children at home. Queensland is the only state to offer private primary and secondary online education through religious educational institutions: the other states offer public distance education but the students need to meet strict criteria. There is another option and it is cost effective and not too daunting: write your own curriculum using the vast range of resources available to classroom teachers.
Take a look at the range offered by long-term home educators, Frank and Valerie Marrett on their Homeschool Supplies website
http://www.homeschooling.com.au/catalogue.asp?time=0&id=&doc=1&page=newcatalog&k\
eysearch=1.
Campions are also suppliers of school materials and have a huge range:
http://www.campion.com.au/. Another supplier is Wooldridges:
http://www.wooldridges.com.au/. Ask if these companies offer discount to home educators – you might be pleasantly surprised. If you are operating on a budget, check out AussieHomeschool Classifieds http://aussiehomeschool.com/ for second-hand high school materials and books: home educators have been using this popular forum for over a decade.

You can purchase text and student work books and simply work your way through them. This way your home educated student will be using similar materials to what she would be using at school. Of course, his or her education isn't 'supervised' by a teacher but the scope and sequence will be appropriate and suitable for her developmental stage and academic needs. Plus you can mix and match 'grade' levels - for example, she might be Year 9 in Maths and Year 10 in English, etc - you don't need to stick to the same year level across all subjects. If your child is self-motivated this approach will work brilliantly. If not, you will need to offer help, guidance and supervision as she works her way through the books, but you’ll find you will need to do this anyway even if you enroll her in a school of distance education.

Most text or workbooks have 'tests' in them which will help both of you evaluate progress, plus you can use the contents as 'checklists', ticking them off as she completes each area of learning – this would become part of his or her homeschool records.

I created a 'report card' recording system for home educators (available from http://alwayslearningbooks.com.au) that is based on 'assignments'. You can fill it out retrospectively or use it as you progress through the year. The idea is to pick a topic if interest or concept and create a unit study or assignment (that covers set objectives). There is space for 10 or a dozen of these to be
reported on in the report for each subject area. The report lists general objectives for each subject area for that stage of development (early adolescent is the one that would suit you). I used this recording approach for my sons (now adults).

For example, for English one assignment could be 'comparative texts' and included reading and watching different versions of the same story, lots of discussions, plus a few activities. 'Reading log' was another - this could include a brief 'book report' or 'summary' as well as simply log what was read. Suitable book lists can be found by browsing through catalogs such as Campions. A science unit study on animal husbandry could evolve from pet care – the complexity of the study evolves as the child ages. For a teen the unit could focus on animal rights as well as the particular care needs of a pet, or it may involve an enterprise such as breeding and selling chickens or their eggs. If such unit studies are drawn from areas of personal interest to the child, such as hobbies or passions, then motivation will remain high and learning relevant to the immediate and future needs of the student. There are many excellent maths texts available which teach the concept, offer examples, drill exercises, revision and extension activities. Or you could avail yourself of one of the many excellent online learning programs which, for an annual or monthly fee, offer 24 access to a maths tutor.

It isn't too difficult to create your own curriculum and supervise your child's learning. You won't get a certificate of completion at the end of the year... you can print your own! Plus your daughter will also have the flexibility and time to look into and perhaps do accredited distance education courses - either
through open learning university, TAFE, adult colleges etc. Think about pathways to apprenticeships, universities etc - have a look at TAFE websites and see what is on offer. Even a few short courses - for which she will get a certificate that will add to her personal portfolio and stand her in good stead when she needs to write a resume.
The flexibility and relative cost saving expenses of creating your own personalised secondary school curriculum will surprise you. There is always help on hand through homeschooling forums and online groups, as well as local homeschooling groups, to support you and guide you over any bumps or sudden losses of confidence. There are thousands of young adult home educated graduates that can attest to the value of ‘going it alone’. 
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