OK, so I laid the groundwork:
My almost 14 year old, background
The heart of CC and the heart of my goals for my high schooler
Homeschool High School options,
How it all fits together.
First, I'll say that our family has really liked the College Plus option. At any point in the high school career, if it makes sense, if our daughter is ready, if it seems to be time...we will eventually go the College Plus route. Why? She can study at her own pace, set educational goals, have a personal college and career counselor, and she can earn her bachelor's degree in as little or as long a time as makes sense for her. I've heard College Plus reps speak on several occasions, and it really seems to meet with our homeschool plans from the very beginning. I believe the only recommended academic requirements for College Plus is a completion of Algebra I and Biology. And of course, they'd probably want to see a self-starting young lady, able to communicate well, set goals, work hard, and follow through.
Now, for the Classical Conversations end of it...
I'm not sure how far we'll go into the CC middle school/high school program. I love the philosophy behind it, and every time I hear about Challenge, and how they are building precept upon precept, then I want to take my daughter through a complete 6 years of CC: Challenge A, B, I, II, III, and IV. I can only imagine how bright, motivated, well prepared, and well rounded a student is when they graduate from Ch IV. Heck, I want to go through all 6 Challenge levels! It's important to understand that Challenge is more than just that booklist and stack of curriculum that you find in their catalog. There is so much more behind it, that really makes that stack of books pale in comparison. The books are OK, but anyone could do that. The method? Breathtakingly beautiful!
How does Challenge A meet with some of my own ideas for high school credits?
In Challenge A, the students study Geography.
Michigan's Social Studies requirement includes 1 U.S. History and Geography, and 1 World History and Geography. In Challenge A, students learn to draw the world map by heart. They memorize states, capitals, countries, and landmarks (rivers, mountains, etc.) They spend 2 weeks on Canada, 2 weeks on U.S., and continue on with the rest of the world for an entire year. At the end of the year, they are given a blank sheet of paper and have to fill it in with a hand drawn map, labeled. They are scored based upon how many of the locations they named, and named accurately. If this doesn't count as the "Geography" part of U.S. History and World History, then I don't know what does. I don't think I will ever meet a public school high school graduate with as great a knowledge of Geography as a Challenge A student, unless that public school student was driven to study Geography independently. For credits, I would pull out "Geography" and count that, leaving the history portions for something that we work on separately. Actually, as a family, we tend to bring history into a lot of things, naturally. We memorize the CC timeline and history sentences. We watch history documentaries and have in depth discussions. We study history events, write essays on history events, and visit museums that tie in with things we've researched and studied. I actually think a U.S. History and World History credit might be easy to add up.
In Challenge A, the students memorize math laws, define math terms, and analyze different ways of solving problems. They use Saxon 8/7 (review of math plus some pre-algebra). Students are able to use their own math level and/or math program at home. My dd will probably continue her Algebra I study using Math U See at home, while reviewing math concepts, filling in gaps in knowledge, and learning the laws and how they apply to real problems. I can count her Algebra I study at home as 1 - 9th grade math credit; the Saxon 8/7 classwork will help her understanding of math.
In Challenge A, the students spend the first half of the year learning about natural sciences and research. The second half is on the body systems. There is 1 dissection of the tutor's choice. In both semesters, students must research and write, sketch and label, and memorize. I will count her time spent studying, her ability to sketch, name, and label parts from memory towards a Biology credit. I won't give her a full credit for this, but will probably round it out with some textbook reading over the summer (probably that Apologia Biology text I have sitting on my shelf). I will not use Biology as her Lab Science, however; she gets easily grossed out and I decided long ago to not press the "dissection" issue. There are other ways to get a Lab Science.
In Challenge A, the students learn to write the Persuasive Essay. In Essentials (4th - 6th gr), they use IEW to imitate good writing; they use someone else's writing to pull key words and rewrite it. Challenge A is the next step. Students read easy literature, and then form their own ideas regarding the actions of a character. Based on those ideas, they write a thesis, with supporting arguments, with the purpose of persuading their readers. The literature selections are too simple to count toward an English credit; so I would need to supplement the reading over the summer. The writing takes the student step-by-step to the next level; preparing them to write persuasively in college.
In Challenge A, the students study Latin using Henle's Latin. They do not complete the book, but repeat it in Challenge B, and repeat it again in Challenge I. If I wanted to count this as a full year foreign language credit, we could finish the Henle book on our own. Or, I will count our study time toward our credits, taking into account the workload, and the proficiency in comparison to other foreign language programs. At the very least, the study of Latin helps in oh, so many different ways. Romance languages are easier. Understanding the parts of speech (grammar) and how words change depending on the grammatical use in a sentence is a difficult idea to grasp (declensions, conjugations, feminine/masculine/neuter) carries over into other languages. I may just count the amount of study time she studies Latin and have her earn credits by credit hours, rather than books completed.
In Challenge A, the students learn highlighting, outlining, notetaking, and other skills that apply towards Rhetoric. I believe this might fit in with a high school or college prep class - "how to study". The students also learn introductory Logic and debating skills. They use Fallacy Detective, Don't Check Your Brains at the Door, and a catechism to memorize. Having glanced at the catechism, I am reminded of Foundations memory work, but aimed at an older, more mature audience. Somehow I imagined the catechism was just Christian doctrinal beliefs that they were memorizing; but this is not so. Science facts, theories, and scientists are included in the catechism. It is all facts that relate toward geology, archaeology, and theories about the creation of the world (evolutionary included), but the facts from the catechism are stated in an unbiased way. It is all helpful facts to know whether you are pro-evolutionary-big-bang theory, swing all the way to the opposite spectrum with young earth, or fall somewhere in the middle. I don't know how I would count it towards a high school credit, but I do think the skills gained are worthwhile.
Another noteworthy skill that students gain is presentation and public speaking.
I'm not 100% sure how I will count credits (if I do count credits), but I think this is a glimmer of how credits might be counted. I hope to impress the idea that high school is really an extension of the lifelong learning we began at the start of our homeschool journey. To obsess and worry about meeting checklists to the point where your own homeschool values are abandoned is NOT education. It is fear. I encourage you to examine your homeschool values and goals. Any number of High School Options will get you from Point A to Point B. Which one fits with YOUR own values?
Also, remember that tons of homeschoolers with different styles of education - unschooling, relaxed schooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical, any mix or match of Eclectic, Robinson, Thomas Jefferson Ed, Unit Studies - have produced students that have gone onward and thrived in college and the world at large! You aren't ruining your child for life, you are equipping them for life.
Missed a post in this series?
The High School Plan:
Part 1 Background & Our Plan for Next Year
Part 2 The Heart of Our Goals & Why CC Fits
Part 3 A (ongoing) List of High School Options, for everyone
Part 4 How We Might Count Some Credits with ChA & Looking Ahead (College Plus?)