We are wrapping up our first semester of this school year! At the beginning of the year I promised that I would share our curriculum this year and I’m finally getting a chance to finish up this post… This year we have a 12th grader, 9th grader, 7th grader, 5th grader, Kindergartner and Pre-schooler!
Pictured above: Rose Floral Clipboard, Homemade Checklists, an outdated Teacher Lesson Planner (I didn’t use it much last year so I’m re-dating some of the weeks to use this year instead), and a beautiful 2023 Catholic Planner (I was given the planner as a review copy and love how beautifully it coordinates with my other planning tools). I haven’t started using it yet! This past year – with my right hand in a cast like brace for a few months and still not fully recovered – I’ve found myself opting for my phone calendar instead of having to write… Looking forward to using an actual planner again!
Here’s how we homeschool high school…
Before I start with the specifics I want to share a little more about how we have been homeschooling for high school. That seems to be what I’ve been getting the most questions about! It’s always nice to have someone share what’s worked for their family to help inspire you with your own… As the oldest of twelve, I was able to watch how my mom homeschooled all of my siblings (over many years with different styles/curriculums) and I have a dear friend with young adults a little older than mine who has been a huge inspiration to me. Maybe hearing what we’ve done will help you figure out what is best for your family!
Like my youngest two brothers (who are now 26 and 28 – our oldest son is four years younger than my youngest brother!) I’ve enrolled our first four children with Kolbe Academy for high school. It was mainly for the paperwork/transcript side of things in case our teens decided to pursue college sports like my brothers. I have loved the flexibility offered by Kolbe and that we can continue tailoring our curriculum to our family’s preferences and our students’ needs. I submit graded samples twice a year and they keep all the necessary records for the transcripts. So far we have had three Kolbe Academy graduates and will have a fourth this upcoming spring!
We actually decided not to enroll our new high schooler this year due to the extra cost… With the cost of everything going up (and our grocery and gas bills skyrocketing) I opted to put our limited homeschooling funds towards a few live high-school classes and some dual-enrollment college courses instead of the enrollment fees. (Thankfully we live in a state that gives parents total freedom over home educating, and doesn’t have a set curriculum that must be followed, so I don’t need enrollment for any of those reasons.)
My hope is that our current freshman will actually graduate with (or very close to) an Associate’s degree by the end of his four years of high school so I’m not as worried about having that official high school diploma this time around.
Kolbe no longer has it on their website, but our first four high schoolers all worked towards Kolbe’s old Magna Cum Laude Diploma. The courses I’ve chosen to complete the requirements prepared them all well for college.
*Kolbe’s current options are a little different, it looks like they are no longer requiring that extra year of English/Literature (my kids all completed at least 10 semesters) and Foreign Language (now it’s two years instead of three). Here is their current college preparatory recommended track.
NOTE: Any one semester college course counts as a full YEAR of high school credit. For example this school year our daughter is taking 4 college classes in the fall and 4 in the spring. This will equal 8 high school credits on her high school transcript (as well as 24 college credits). The college classes are taught at a much faster pace than a typical high school course.
Here’s an overview to give you an idea of how I plan high school courses for our students and minimum graduation requirements for each subject:
Theology – 4 credits
- Understanding the Scriptures
- Introduction to Catholicism (At the suggestion of a friend we start this one second, giving them a little more maturity for some of the topics covered.)
- The History of the Church (This usually doubles as a History spine for one year.)
- Our Moral Life in Christ
Our current senior completed the first three and then took Christian Moral Principles from FUS. She is actually planning to get an AA in Theology from Franciscan and will be taking more Theology this upcoming semester and next school year.
Our current “freshman” has already completed Understanding the Scripture and Intro to Catholicism so this year he is taking Apologetics as you’ll see below.
English & Literature – 5 credits (including at least 2 credits of Literature)
Pretty sure our kids have all exceeded this requirement, taking both English and Literature courses most years. We use Institute for Excellence in Writing for English and a few Homeschool Connections and/or Lukeion live courses for Literature. My current college students have told me that IEW’s The Elegant Essay was especially helpful for college. You can find my IEW page here!
History – 3 credits (World History, US History, History Elective)
Our students have typically completed the three years of history and followed it with Government and Economics their senior year. Our current senior is the first to take history as a dual-enrollment class and has really enjoyed the course!
Mathematics – 3 credits (Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra II or higher)
Our second son completed Advanced Math his senior year. The girls opted to finish with Algebra II. One daughter finished with Foundations in Personal Finance her senior year. Our current Freshman is already working through Algebra II and I plan to put him in dual-credit Pre-Calc/Calc classes etc as soon as he is old enough. One son got his Geometry credit by working through Saxon Algebra I, II and Advanced Math. Another son and one daughter completed Teaching Textbooks Geometry on top of Saxon Algebra I and II, and one daughter completed Jacob’s Geometry in addition to Saxon Algebra I and II. As you can see it has varied depending on the student.
Science – 3 credits (Biology +Lab, Chemistry +Lab, and a Physical Science)
We have used Taylor Science for high school biology and chemistry for our older students. I prefer having two siblings take it together when possible so they can work through the experiments at the same time. It was nice having the older boys go through high school science together and then the older two girls. It’s harder now that we have bigger age gaps with the younger ones.
Foreign Language – 3 credits (2 credits must be in the same language)
We now start with a Grammar Intensive in 8th grade, followed by Latin online with The Lukeion Project. We’ve had four students take Latin from Dr. Sue Fisher and we love her so much! Charlotte was the one to introduce us to Lukeion and the live classes my high schoolers have taken have all been excellent.
For students with auditory processing challenges/dyslexia, ASL is an excellent foreign language option.
Our first completed 1 year Latin, followed by 2 years ASL.
Our second completed 4 years of Latin.
Our third LOVES ASL so she also choose to take it on top of Latin.
Our fourth completed 2 years Latin + 2 years college Spanish (6 high school credits all together since each semester of college counts as a year of high school credit)
Our fifth is taking his first year of Latin now.
To quote Lukeion: “There are many programs now available for younger students. In our experience, however, these programs demand a lot of busy work but deliver very little in the way of learning the functional nuts-and-bolts of Classical languages. Students are not generally prepared to master these languages until they have reached the logic stage. You will accomplish much more in a fraction of the time if you wait until your student is 12 to 15 before you start formal instruction in Latin and Greek. Better still, waiting to start these logic based languages may mean your student will enjoy them more.”
I’ve found this to be true and no longer attempt to teach Foreign Language to my younger students. It’s just not worth the effort, time and frustration.
Academic Electives – 2 credits (we have always exceeded this requirement)
This is usually additional Math, English, Literature, Philosophy, and Government/Economics – lots of options! Academic areas only.
Visual/Performing Arts – 2 credits (Kolbe would allow them 1/2 credit each year)
Choir, drama, art, music lessons, etc
Physical Education – 2 credits (Kolbe would allow them 1/2 credit each year)
Our high schoolers have all participated in our local public school(s) sports.
- Captain- Varsity Hockey (2 years), Varsity Golf (4 years), Varsity Soccer (2 years), Ski Lessons
- Ranger – Varisty Hockey (2 years), Varsity Golf (4 years), Junior Varsity Basketball (1 year), Varsity Soccer (2 years), Ski Lessons
- Twinkle Toes – Varsity Golf (4 years), Varisty Soccer (1 year), Ski Lessons
- Chiquita – Varsity Golf (1 year), Ski Lessons (both girls were in Irish Dance for awhile too)
- Scout – Junior Varsity Golf (just completed his first year), Hockey, Ski Lessons
We’ve been grateful that we live in areas (both in Southern Oregon and North Idaho) that allow homeschoolers to take advantage of the public school sports programs. It’s usually right around $100 for the season (when else can you golf nearly daily for a 2-3 months for so affordably?!) and thankfully the hockey and ski options here are fairly affordable too.
Home School Help!
We’re still paying the monthly fee for access to all of their recorded classes which the kids can take at their own pace. Middle School favorites have included science classes with MacBeth Derham and history classes with Philip Campbell. For high school we have loved Joseph Pearce, Gregory Pyne (Screwtape Letters), and Eleanor Bourg Nicholson’s literature classes, as well as American Sign Language.
My high schoolers can’t get the “Kolbe designation” on the non-Kolbe courses, but they still qualify for high school credit (the high school level courses do anyway, with pre-approval from Kolbe) and they have worked well for us!
This is our very first year using LIVE classes from Homeschool Connections! Our 15 year old is very excited to be taking America History from Philip Campbell and his older sisters are a bit envious that he gets to take literature live from Elenor Nicholson (they loved her recorded classes).
Franciscan University of Steubenville Fast Track (11th-12th)
I wish our oldest children would have had access to these dual-enrollment online courses! We could never make it work for them, since we didn’t like the idea of community college classes, plus they never worked with their sports schedules anyway. Our current high school senior will have completed at least her first three semesters of college (with great content/courses!) for so much less than what we are paying for our other college kids. Spring registration will open on December 15th for dual-enrollment students so her course plans for spring aren’t confirmed yet.
Holy Apostles Take Credit! Program (11th-12th)
The price for the Take Credit! Program unfortunately went up this school year… It was more affordable last year, but it’s still worth it and I just enrolled her for two more courses this upcoming spring. (Still need to pay the bill though…) I’m grateful to have dual enrollment options from faithful Catholic colleges! As I mentioned above our daughter highly recommends Rhetoric with Patrick Reilly!
Math Tutor – I really miss having a math tutor. If we could afford to add anything right now (we’ve had way too many medical expenses and college expenses the past couple years) another math tutor would be at the top of my list. I loved having someone (from outside our home) come once a week to review all completed lessons, the weekly test, and go over any questions and mistakes. It really helps keep my kids on track having them accountable to someone other than mom! We are managing without the help, but the middle/elementary kids are slipping a bit behind where I’d like them to be and they will most likely be finishing up in the summer (again) this next year to make up for weeks of sickness, ski days, etc…
English Editor – I also love having someone edit IEW papers for me when I can get the extra help… Right now our 9th grader emails his papers to our oldest son who is off at college and once it’s edited I send him a little payment through Venmo… I get help and he gets a little spending money at college. Win win!
Moving on! Here is a closer took at what we are working through this school year…
.: High School :.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Theology for Beginners
- Faith and Revelation
- Catechism on Scripture CCC §§ 101-141 (onlne link provided)
- Dei Verbum (onlne link provided)
- Interpreting the Bible in the Catholic Church (onlne link provided)
- Verbum Domini (onlne link provided)
Gregorian Chant Choir
Confirmation Classes at our parish
U.S. History: Revolution, Republic, and Union (1763-1865) with Philip Campbell
High School Golf
St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (with Dad on Sundays & Class at SJA)
Literature: (recorded classes with Homeschool Connections)
Middle School U.S. History: Part 1 (1492-1847) with Phillip Campbell
Bud :: 5th Grade
Supplemental Religion Books and Saint Stories from Our Monthly Book Baskets
Structure and Style for Students: Year 2 Level A
- Selections from Grimm’s Fairy Tales
- Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
- The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
- The Golden Key by George MacDonald
- “The Happy Prince” and “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I also love this and this edition.)
- Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (And this audio!!)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
A Mastery of Mysteries for Middle School with Kevin O’Brien
or maybe some American Historical Fiction.
Saxon 6/5 with Solutions Manual and Tests/Worksheets
Saxon Math 6/5 Homeschool: Saxon Teacher CD ROM
Grace & Joy :: Ages 5 & 3 (Kindergarten/Pre-school)
Lots of fun learning Toys and Puzzles
Occasional Crafts and Baking with Older Siblings
I’m just choosing a couple themes each month as time allows… In September we completed I Belong to God and Alphabet Fun! During October we moved on to Colors/Guardian Angels and Fall is Here! For November it was Number Fun and Thanksgiving. This month I’m taking a break from Little Saints and we are focusing on Advent – reading books, bible stories to go along with the Jesse Tree, and celebrating all our favorite feast days. I’ve used parts of this curriculum enough times to know that’ll I’ll most likely never complete it in full, but I enjoy using some of the themes as inspiration and a starting point for themes for my little ones!