Cosplay for High School Credit

Cosplay for High School Credit
For non-geeks, let me explain first that cosplay is a contraction of two words, costume and play . It means dressing up as a fictional character. Most often these characters are from a manga, anime, or comic book but they can also be from a movie or ...
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10 Topics Covered in High School Health Class

10 Topics Covered in High School Health Class
Have you ever wondered what you would cover in a high school health class? Here's your list of the most-covered topics in high school health. There are only 10 subjects to teach for your home high school to be a success. Curious? Click to find out mo...
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Mandarin Language and Chinese Culture Studies

Mandarin Language and Chinese Culture Studies
The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can create almost any electives for your child under the sun!  You aren't limited to electives that a teacher is interested in, and you aren't limited to electives that you feel comfortable teaching.

The bad part about homeschooling, is that when you recognize you can teach any elective under the sun, you have to somehow find the materials for your child to use!  Donna was talking to me about her child's interests.

Do you have any recommendations for a Mandarin Language course? My daughter would also like to study the Chinese culture. Do you have any courses you could recommend? Amazon has so many to choose from. Any guidelines to look for? ~ Donna

Mandarin Chinese?  Sounds like so much fun!  That's a very in-demand language, by the way, particularly by military and missionary organizations.

For Mandarin, there aren't that many foreign language programs to choose from.  So I'd suggest looking at Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More, and PowerGlide foreign language courses, because I think they have that option.  It's OK to blend a variety of options, and count hours spent on the task.  A minimum of 15 minutes per day will provide enough momentum to learn the language.  About 45 minutes per day would be a good amount for a high school credit.  That 45 minutes per day (or 4-5 hours per week) would be a blend of culture and language activities.

For a culture section of your course, I have always thought this looks good: From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History.

These are all "Great Courses" college level courses, taught from varying worldviews, but I do think they are usually good college preparation, with discussion at home.  Teachers usually use a great vocabulary when they speak, and it's a good opportunity for live note-taking skills.

I talk about Great Courses and how to use them here: The Great Courses for High School Credit.
This describes the note-taking class: Great High School Writing Course!
For more ideas on foreign language, this article may help: How to Have Fun with Foreign Language

Remember that a Mandarin class might include the culture (DVD or visiting museums and cultural centers) plus the language (reading, writing, speaking, listening.... )  Because there is so much, and so many pieces of a foreign language course, remember you can't do it all.  Just do your best, be consistent, and strive for 15-60 minutes every single day, one way or another.

Whether you have questions about delight directed learning, honors courses, CLEP, or the ACT, I am here to help.  My Parent Training A la Carte courses will help you become fully prepared for your next step in homeschooling.

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How to Document Homeschool Co-op Classes

How to Document Homeschool Co-op Classes
Have you ever struggled to document your students co-op classes? I’ve had a few questions lately from homeschool families who are struggling to do this very thing.

All co-ops have particular elements that make their classes unique and it can be hard to develop a class description for these classes when you weren’t the one teaching your student, but you want to make sure and get all of your students credits on their high school transcripts. I’ve gathered a few questions about co-op classes from a webinar we had and I hope they can help you in some fashion!
If co-op classes don’t issue a transcript, should you still list that as a separate class with a specific description of where they took the classes?

If you do list that, I would list it at the course description but not on the transcript. There is nothing wrong with putting it on the transcript if you choose to use a three-letter acronym; I just don’t think it adds too much, so it might be a cleaner-looking transcript if you leave that off and just put it on the course description.
Our co-op instructor teaching Speech 1 indicated that Speech is not considered an English class but a communication application class. Have you heard of this?

I have heard of that at the college level, but I would suggest to you that she may be over-thinking it.

One time, I met with a family and we talked about taking a computer science class. The dad said that I can’t call that computer science on the transcript since he’s a computer science major and he claims to know what it is. I told him that he’s not teaching it at a college level, but just at a high school level.

Usually, English Speech is considered an English class; I would put it under an elective. To call it a communication application class is unnecessary, so you can call it anything you want. If it’s in a co-op and it’s not with a school, you have all sorts of flexibility.

So what about when co-op classes are disguised? What about when the credit content seems illusive? Here’s a situation from a homeschool family who were going through that very dilemma.
My son took an AP Physics class from someone who has a PhD but the school  doesn't really have acronym to accompany it, how should I document that?

In that situation, that is like a homeschool class. It is simply a homeschool co-op class that happen to be online and the parent that taught that homeschool co-op class was a person that happen to have a PhD.

If they give you grades, you can take that under advisement, you might want defer to their judgment and use that grade, but you don’t have to submit those scores for the colleges where you apply because it’s not a school – it was just a homeschool class.

What is your experience with homeschool co-op classes and their documentation?

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Ideas for Volunteer Leadership and Community Service

Ideas for Volunteer Leadership and Community Service

My Facebook Friends helped me create this great list!

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How Many Electives Should My College-Bound Homeschooler Have?

How Many Electives Should My College-Bound Homeschooler Have?
How many credits approximately should a college-bound homeschooler have in electives?


Dear Kitty,
Thanks for the question!  There are two answers to that:

1. College bound students should have as many electives credits as it takes to add up to 24 or more total high school credits when combined with their core classes.


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What Are "Social Sciences?"

What Are "Social Sciences?"

Have you ever wondered what the "Social Sciences" really are?  What does it even mean?  Most of the time students will take US History, World History, Economics, and American Government.  But there is a whole world of other social sciences you can explore!

My brother in law is a teacher at a public high school.  He taught "The History of Baseball" as a social studies class.  (He also taught "Sport Communications" as an English course.)  When I was in public high school, I took a social science class called "Polynesian History."  My teacher loved going to Hawaii, so he developed a course about Hawaii and Polynesia.  

Some of the social sciences that I have seen include all the different kinds of history:

  • World History

  • US History

  • Russian History

  • (Any other country or people History)

All kinds of government courses:

  • Comparative Government

  • US Government

  • Civics

All the different kinds of Economics courses:

  • Economics (the regular stuff) 

  • Microeconomics

  • Macroeconomics

  • Marketing

  • Business Economics


  • Political Geography

  • Physical Geography

Human behavior courses including:

  • Psychology

  • Sociology

  • Women's Studies

  • Comparative Cultures

  • Anthropology

With social sciences that are a bit "off the beaten track" you can also put them in the electives category.  You don't have to list specialized classes in their major topic, you can call them electives instead.  That makes it easier if you don't know exactly what category a course should be under.


Do you have a homeschooling high school question?  Send me an email!
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More School in Less Time!

More School in Less Time!
Audrey asks:
How do you balance what you feel they need to know and do with what they feel they want to know and do? There are not enough hours in the day!

This question is actually TWO questions!

Q1: How can you get more hours in your day?

To some extent, homeschoolers will ALWAYS feel like there aren't enough hours in the day!  It's part of parenting, and even more a part of homeschooling.  There are some things that can help.  I read the book "Managers of Their Homes" and it really helped me.  It is a book about scheduling your homeschool, so that you do the most important things FIRST.  Determine what your priorities are, and then start with priority #1.  The less important things may need to be less frequent.

A schedule will sometimes tell you what is going wrong.  Sometimes parents will tell me what they are "trying" to do each day.  When I add it up, they are trying to do too much!  I remember one mother I met with was doing nine and a half hours a DAY doing academic subjects with her 9th grader.  Maybe you are simply trying to do too much!  So prioritize, and make sure you aren't attempting too much.

It can also help to cut back on some of the things you do outside the home: co-op classes, sports teams, and music lessons, volunteering, employments, Boy Scouts, and church.  Sometimes it's all just too much!  Again, try to decide what you really need and what's important to you.  Scale back your activities if you can.  I encourage you to have your teen be part of the conversation, though.  Their interests should carry a LOT of weight.

Q2: What do they need to know?

It's important, as you say, to balance what they need to know, with what THEY want to do.  If you can focus on just the basic, core classes, with limited fluff, then even in high school you can still get their schoolwork done in a reasonable amount of time.  Math does take a long time each day, and it's important because it builds on itself, so you can't quickly regain math skills if you don't keep up with it.  Other things can be handled a bit more quickly, and with less stress.

Core subjects means one hour (not more) on English, social studies, science and math.  Add some foreign language or PE or fine arts or electives.  But focus on the core classes, and let the other things be more delight-directed, so that the child hardly even realizes they are doing school.  Fine arts could be knitting and crochet.  Foreign language may be successfully learned in 15-30 minutes per day.  PE can be what they do for fun; dancing or sports.

Electives are the things you don't assign - the things they just want to do!  Maybe that's animal husbandry or interior design - let them decide as much as possible.  What do they need?  Core classes, and the freedom to choose the supplemental classes that will encourage their love of learning.

I hope that helps!

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Must Do, May Do and Can't Stop Doing!

Must Do, May Do and Can't Stop Doing!
At this time of the year, friends are discussing their curriculum choices for next year. I have been asked by several people what we used during the high school years. Every child is unique, of course, but here is a snapshot of our freshman year:

These are the things I made them do:

  • American Literature & Composition (Sonlight 100)

  • American History (Sonlight 100)

  • Biology with Lab (Apologia)

  • Algebra 1 (Jacob's Algebra)

  • Fine Arts 1: American Art (art books and Draw Today)

  • Bible: Christian Manhood

These are the things they WANTED to do (by the way, I thought they were crazy to do two foreign languages, but I let them):

  • Latin 3 (Latin Road to English Grammar)

  • French 2 (Power Glide)

  • Music: Piano

  • PE 1

And these are the things I couldn't stop my youngest son from doing.  (He asked for the American Government curriculum for Christmas, and we simply couldn't keep him away from economics, no matter how much it annoyed us):

  • American Government 1

  • Economics 1

What are you and your family thinking about for next year?

Looking for some good homeschooling resources for next year. Check out they new page on my website on homeschooling resources. Click on the selections to take you directly to Amazon to purchase!
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Supplementing Foreign Languages

Supplementing Foreign Languages

Whatever you end up using for a foreign language curriculum, supplement with some fun activities. About once a week we would watch movies in a foreign language. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and others, all come with Spanish and French language, both spoken and in subtitles.

You don't have to understand everything they say on the movie, just understand what's happening and listen to the spoken words. My kids loved that! You can also find ways to interact with the Spanish speaking public. We work in a clothing bank which serves a large Hispanic population. In many communities there are Spanish-speaking church services, radio broadcasts, and television.

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