E is for Entering the High School Years.
Just when do you start planning high school? I know folks who have it all mapped out long before the kid enters teenhood. I know folks who start trying to get it together somewhere around their high schooler's 18th birthday.
Personally, I think either of those extremes are probably, well, not ideal.
Somewhere around the point that your precious little firstborn child hits 7th grade though, I think it is a good idea to at least start paying attention. Not necessarily planning each and every elective for the next six years. But paying attention. (You might be able to procrastinate a bit more with later kiddos, since you've already gone through some of it!)
Around 7th grade, you might have an idea as to what your child is interested in. At least vaguely. You know, do they love math and science, but cry when you ask them to write more than a sentence? (Please. Tell me I'm not the only one with kids like that!) You might not know exactly what they are likely to do or need in the future, but it is probably a good bet that taking math and science courses all through high school is a good idea.
Are they constantly writing stories? They'll still need math and science, but you may not care about them doing a full four years' worth.
You get the idea.
There are great resources out there. I like the High School Planner from The Old Schoolhouse, personally, but just a notebook page can work really well too. For my 7th grader, I'm mocking up some basic plans. Oops. He's an 8th grader now. I keep forgetting. Anyway, his rough sketch looks something like this:
English/History -- Old Western Cultures: Greeks (won't count for credit, as I'm not making him do it all)
English -- IEW's Student Writing Intensive B, Analytical Grammar
Math - Pre-Algebra
Science - Physical Science
Other - Artistic Pursuits Sculpture
English/History -- Old Western Cultures: Romans
English -- something else to specifically teach composition. SWI C?
Speech -- IEW Speech Boot Camp (1/2 credit, probably over the summer before, with his brothers)
Math - Algebra I
Science - Science Shepherd Biology
Other: Artistic Pursuits: Sculpture
English/History -- Old Western Cultures: Christendom
Math - Geometry
Science - Chemistry
Other - Artistic Pursuits High School 1
English/History -- Old Western Cultures: The Moderns
Math - Algebra II
Science - Physics
Other - Artistic Pursuits High School 2
English ?? -- probably something focused on college-level writing
Math -- PreCalculus
History -- Archaeology; 1/2 credit US Government (with Richard?)
Science ?? Maybe a combined Archaeology Science/History. Or Adv. Bio, Chem or Physics.
Other - art?? a class in town??
You'll notice a couple of things here.
- First, some stuff has actual product names. Some doesn't. I don't care. I've put in what is working and what I think will happen. But I'm not worried about those details that I don't already think I know.
- There are some big question marks, especially towards his senior year.
- He's getting a LOT of English "stuff" early on. Because he needs it. That may continue.
- This child is also very interested in Art. And at some point, I may pull some science-y stuff out of there, and find more art-related things for him to do. Or I may do a full-blown Art History course his senior year instead of Archaeology. We'll see where he goes and what he wants.
- The other thing you cannot tell here is that this is all written in pencil. Well, not literally. But figuratively. You can write in pen (that is the actual format of the above stuff... a bic pen on a notebook page) in reality, but it is the plan in your head that needs to be written in an erasable form. You have to know that, most likely, it will change. If you have a tough time changing a plan, don't go further than what you are doing right now.
- If you go back and look at my C is for Credits post, you'll see I've mostly covered what I said were minimums. But not everything. Like a foreign language is a glaring omission. (You have NO IDEA how tempted I was to fill that in and make it look like I'm consistent and prepared!) In my defense, PE is not something I "schedule" as such, and it will just happen. But Health is missing too. <sigh>
Here's the thing. He's 13, and it is a mere five years before he graduates. While that is a long time, I also know from personal experience that it will go fast. (Very fast. Every time I look at his big brothers, I realize that.) And the reason I throw out this much detail in this blog post is that if you are just getting to the point of thinking you need to plan high school, you need to know that you don't have to be able to fill everything in.
What do you know? Are you using a program that is working and you know you'll continue it? Mark it in. I did that with Sonlight back on Connor's mock-up plan. Is Connor using Sonlight in high school? Nope. Pencil, remember? It was planned in pencil. (Have I made that point enough yet?)
The value of plotting things out around 7th grade is that if something is important to you -- or your student -- you still have time to try to figure it out. A child wants to take Calculus in high school? If you are starting pre-algebra in 8th grade, you are going to have to get creative to get there. And the sooner you start, the better. I blew that with Thomas.
Seventh grade is also a good time to realize you need to start working more on writing. <ahem>
Seventh grade is WAY too early to start panicking about high school though. To some extent, high school is just a continuation of what you've done before. But it feels more like that, to me anyway, if I have a rough idea as to what to expect.
Marcy is posting a word study, and this week is E is for Education. There are a few dozen other amazing E posts linked up too. Go check some out!