I have discovered, while researching homeschool ideas that will work for my family, an idea called homeschool co-ops, opportunities for families to supplement their children’s studies with gatherings for playdates, music lessons, field trips, etc. based on location, children’s ages, etc. One such site, Lake (Fl) Local Homeschool Support Groups, lists the Central Florida meetups for kids in my area. I am particularly interested in learning more about the resources available for the teenage group, since my children fall into that category, so I have joined the teenage homeschool group on this site. In my search for homeschool opportunities that will work for our soon-to-be high schoolers, I have been able to develop a plan to meet their needs using a combination of homeschool and unschool ideas. Keep reading for my course list that will take my kids through graduation. Use or adapt as you see fit.
Unschooling is a concept I only discovered after searching for alternatives to a traditional education for our children during the period of time we will spend sailing. Unfortunately, I was left with more questions than answers. Unschooling involves letting your children decide what they want to learn and what resources they’d like to use. As a trained educator, I embrace the idea of letting children have the freedom to learn measurement and chemistry, for example, while cooking, or life science through a combination of visits to zoos/nature centers and library/internet resources. Just the benefit of engagement could make this transition worthwhile. *Continue reading to see our course list below.
What about subjects kids don’t want to learn or have no interest in?
How does unschooling cover topics kids don’t like? Since I could not find an answer, I have come up with my own solution. If unschooling allows kids the freedom to learn in their own way, I will recommend to my own children to find the best way “for themselves” to learn, what for me would be, non-negotiables. The “how” would still be their choice. Our biggest challenge will be living on a sailboat, often without internet access. Science and social studies curriculums will focus on activities in the environments where we stop. I imagine them keeping science logs detailing wildlife, weather patterns, geology, etc. and social studies logs filled with culture and customs.
Unschooling math for teenagers… I have no idea! For elementary-aged kids, no problem. We could add, subtract, and measure any number of items on our journey. Maybe you have some suggestions…
Adapting Current Education Course Curriculums
I decided to do what I do best- research! So, I turned to one of my favorite resources when planning the materials I will use with my students (in Florida)- CPALMS. On this site, you can find the course numbers, descriptions, and instructional practices for each class.
After creating my overarching list of classes for my children’s high school schedules, I went to CPALMS to verify the number of credits for each class and to discover what the “best practices” were, according to the state of Florida. This was my “eureka” moment! I can easily adapt many of the classes to the unschooling philosophy! For example, the instructional practices for Astronomy suggests “ensuring wide reading from complex text that varies in length” and “making close reading and rereading of texts central to lessons.” For courses with these guidelines, my kids can select the reading material that appeals to them for the appropriate subject areas. Additionally, the majority, if not all, of the courses require writing and answering higher level questions using evidence from the text to support their responses. Again, any texts can be used as evidence for writing responses.
Honestly, my biggest problem was not knowing where to start! Putting together a list of required classes, as well as those that meet my children’s interests, will give them choice in creating their final schedules for their 9th-12th grade years. This framework is fluid; they can substitute classes on the master schedule as their interests change. For example, the class mentioned above, Astronomy, falls into the Earth/Space subject area category. If they did not want to take the Earth/Space science course, Astronomy could become a substitution.
Our Class List
Although we still have a year before we set off, here is our tentative list of classes for grades 9–12:
***Keep in mind, some of my selections are specifically suited to sailing so they should complement our experiences at sea or in port.***
Math: Since they will enter high school having taken Algebra 1
- Algebra 2
- Marine Science
- American History
- World History
Foreign Language (selected from the primary languages of the countries we’ll visit)
- Spanish 1–4
- French 1–4
Visual Arts (they will pick from these)
- Drawing 1–2
- Digital Art Imaging
- Digital Video Production
- Creative Photography
Music (based on their current instruments)
- Swimming 1–2
- Outdoor Education
I will create a more specific blog post detailing the resources we will use to meet the requirements for each of their classes, including the CPALMS instructional practices, coming up soon. I will also add a downloadable freebie to keep track of your courses. Please signup for our mailing list to be the first to get our educational resources as they are created.
I would love to hear about any books you have used for your homeschooled/unschooled high schooler’s curriculum. I totally believe that it takes a village to raise a child, so by sharing our best resources, all of our children benefit.