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Create Your Own High School Curriculum for this Year

by Beverley Paine

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 or distance education course to teach their children at home. If you are looking for an accredited distance education school, check out the list of those in The Educating Parent Resource Directory.

However, 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.

It's never been easier to source curriculum materials, online content, student workbooks, unit studies and lesson plans. The Resource Directory contains hundeds of links to education suppliers and providers.

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.

For my own teens I created a 'report card' recording system for home educators based on 'assignments'. Most of the time we filled this out retrospectively as we progressed through the year. As the kids were mostly learning naturally (unschooling) I found it easier to look back over the week, see if there were any themes to the kids' activities, which I'd then clump together as a 'unit study' or 'assignment' and drop a note under the most appropriate school subject heading in our records.

Alternatively, you or your teen could pick a topic (usually one of high interest or need) and create a unit study or assignment, perhaps making a list of objectives to be met by working through the suggested activities.

We'd record about ten of these for each subject area each year on our 'report card' and it was easy to see at a glance that we were covering the curriculum.

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 online educational provider catalogs (see Resource Directory).

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 teen 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 they will get a certificate that will add to their personal portfolio and stand them in good stead when they need 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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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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Let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

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