Until my sons reached high school, I didn’t know if my unit study approach would meld with tracking credits and courses. Also, there didn’t really seem an abundance of prepared high school unit studies. Between determining if unit studies were a good fit for high school and understanding record keeping, it was a lot to wrap my mind around.
Sorting out myths from truth, I hope these 3 tips will help you to easily homeschool high school with unit studies. Or at least give you a beginning place.
ONE/ Understand first that high school is just a continuation of the lowers grades – really!
Yes, it’s true that you’ll need to track credits and courses, but before stressing out about them, plan high school subjects like you’ve done in the lower grades.
That’s right. Begin with what you know.
In my article How to Choose the BEST Homeschool Lesson Planning Pages for THIS Year, I not only give you tips on how to do that, but each lesson plan form lists subjects by general categories; math, language arts, science, history and electives are the framework of well-rounded out high school courses.
It’s not hard to plan when you understand that you’re covering the same basic subjects albeit in more depth analyzing views instead of just a question answer format like your child did in younger grades.
TWO/ Next, I learned to look for two-fer resources.
A two-fer resource is another secret tip to homeschooling teens. Using a resource which teaches two subjects is vital when your child enters high school.
You don’t want your time wasted and neither do teens. More importantly though is the reason that unit studies rocked in the younger grades is the same reason which holds true for high school. Learning makes more sense when subjects are tied together instead of studied as separate subjects. Additionally, unit studies have always been a research-based approach. This is a skill which is needed on into adulthood.
Resist giving up your unit study approach because it may require a bit more time to put together. Sure, it’s easy to assign a text book and move on, but you and I know that high school is just hard sometimes. It’s a challenge to plan but still doable.
Begin again with something you know. Look at these things you may already know how and are doing with your kids in the younger grades.
- Reading history living books and having your child choose writing topics based on history.
- Reading science living books and choosing writing topics based on science.
- Reading math living books and having your child choose writing topics based on math.
How to Put Together High School Unit Studies
Now that you understand that high school courses fall into general categories and understand to look for two-fer resources, here are some examples of how to put it together.
We love the book Undaunted Courage.
Just a side note here. When I look at a book which can serve as a springboard for high school unit studies, I note 3 things:
- that it’s a living book,
- that it’s high school level so that I can legally note on my high school transcript that it’s a high school level resource,
- and I mull over how hard it will be to add external resources to enrich the study.
Not only is your teen covering part of his credit toward history when reading Undaunted Courage , but he is covering credits for literature too. Writing is part of a literature credit. So your teen is covering 2–3 subjects at once depending on what credits you’ve lined out for the year.
Because covering literature in high school means more than just reading, you’ll want to have a variety of resources for analyzing literature and for guiding your teen how to write well.
A literature-based unit study which has a history setting has been the easiest to start off with at the high school level. For example, I find it a challenge to round out a history book with literature analysis than a great book suited for literature analysis. It’s been easier to add history and science of a time period to a great read.
One super helpful resource we only discovered this year and that is the Thrift Study Editions by Dover. Not only are the books for high school level, but each one comes with a study guide in the back. For example, while reading A Tale of Two Cities, we studied about the culture of France and England and learned about the issues of the French Revolution.
With a resource like that, doing unit studies are a cinch at the high school level. This brings me to the third point you want to know.
THREE/ Fill your teacher nook with specialized how-two books for you and your teen.
Tackling how to teach a subject with out a curriculum can be daunting, but you can go from research to reward if you choose specialized teaching books.
Here are a few of my favorite resources. You don’t need all of them, but I’ve used them at one time or another to round out our unit studies.
- The Design-A-Study series are timeless. This series of books about science, history, and composition gives an overview of what to cover in each grade. Instead of giving you subjects, it’s helpful because it gives you the big picture of what your child needs to know from K-12. A resource like this is especially helpful if you want to cover a skill or topic that your highschooler may have struggled with in the earlier grades.
- Warriner’s English Complete Course. This set of books have been around for years and helps to hone writing. Christine Miller of Classical Christian said, “This excellent reference can be used throughout all three years of the dialectic to teach writing. It thoroughly covers grammar in detail, which provides a nice review for those children that need it, or for those children that missed some grammar instruction in the grammar stage. It also covers writing in detail, with a complete section on writing mechanics, usage, writing correct and clear sentences, paragraphs, and papers, the research paper, using references, and even public speaking.” Read the rest of her review here. Before we started using Rod and Staff high school levels, we used Warriner’s. Rod and Staff’s Communicating Effectively I liked one year because I felt like it was more streamlined. It helps to.understand that I used Rod and Staff in the younger grades and their grammar is very rigorous and by 8th grade formal grammar is completed. When you click the link above you can see the sample of their English and what is covered in the high school years.
- Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School. Don’t get overwhelmed by this book. There is no need to have to read all of it. Focus only on the grade level for this year. Having a handy reference like this will guide you to subjects for each grade.
In an upcoming post, I’ll show you how I plan credits now that you can see how easy it is to satisfy two to three subjects using carefully selected resources.
Also, check out Diving into Homeschool Unit Studies: The Dos and Don’ts and 10 Days of Diving Into Unit Studies by Creating a Unit Study Together and Homeschool High School–How to Log Hours for High School.
Hugs and love ya,