Sunday, June 30, 2013

The 5-Year High School Plan

My youngest son will turn 15 this summer. He technically just completed 9th grade, but will actually do 9th grade again this year; or maybe he'll be in 10th grade and eventually he'll do 12th grade twice. Or we'll add on a grade 13, but that is harder to explain when people ask what grade you are in. You see, we have decided to do a 5-year plan for high school, which is a little on the unconventional side.
However, it really makes a lot of sense for us.

J has a late August birthday, putting him on the young end of his "grade-level".   Boys, especially, often are slower to launch into academic areas like reading and writing, so being young in a grade can be a developmental disadvantage. For some kids,like my son, readig and writing continue to challenge and cause struggles.  It hasn't been an issue up til now,  since as homeschoolers we have been free to adjust and individualize and adapt everything we did. But we utilize more outside classes in high school, and the work load increases greatly.  A 5-year plan allows us to spread the high school work out a little more, giving him more time on reading assignments and more time to develop his writing skills to the level he needs to be at before college.   For instance, we use Tapestry of Grace for history and literature, and it is a very reading-intensive program.  The curriculum is arranged by the week, but the amount of reading per week is compatible with a strong, fast reader.  Since J is a slow reader who needs time to digest, we will spend two weeks on every week of the TOG curriculum.  There is still plenty of content to fulfill a whole credit - we'll just have the chance really cover the material rather than skim it.

I just have to guard against my impulse to pack even more into high school, since we have that "extra year". Kind of defeats the purpose of spreading the work out.  But an extra year does give the opportunity to include additional things that you might not have time for otherwise.  hmmm,
 I just need to be a little creative....

Also, J is an athlete, and an extra year in high school will allow him even more time to build his skills and work on strength and conditioning.  He doesn't know right now if he wants to play at a college level, but he loves his high school athletic experience, and we can let him get as much out of that as he can.

So, in a nutshell, a 5-year high school plan gives the following advantages
  • time to build up weak academic areas
  • opportunity to include other areas of study that we might not have had time to include in 4 years
  • more time to devote to developing talents and interests, like athletics, music, dance, etc.
  • ability to spread academic work out to accommodate a job or travel
  • time to mature and grow in knowledge of our faith before leaving home
As homeschoolers here in NC, we have great freedom and flexibility in deciding our own curriculum and school plan, and setting our own graduation requirements and timeline.  We are not limited to following the same path as everyone else, and are free to think "outside the box". I love that. 
One down, four to go.



Anonymous said...

Hi Beth! I just read your post and was wondering if I could ask you about transcripts? Yes, every homeschoolers nemesis! We too are considering a 5 year high school plan, but I haven't quite figured out how to create the transcript for college without it looking as if she was held back? We also live near Raleigh. There is an admissions based public school in our area that has a 5 year track, at the end of which students have an associates degree. I figure that if they do this, we can certainly do it as well. :-) I'd be grateful for any insight you could offer! Thanks!

NCLighthousekeeper said...

I create a transcript that is organized by subject rather than year. So it lists all the English courses, then math courses, science, history, foreign language, electives.. and does not include dates or year. This is how I did the transcripts for my older children as well, and they were accepted just fine at all the colleges and universities they applied to.

K said...

In the process of planning out high school, we've recently decided on a five year plan for my son, who is currently finishing up 8th grade. He is academically gifted and somewhere along the line we skipped a grade with him so he just turned 13. We decided on a five year plan so that he can be better prepared (more time to immerse in a biblical worldview and grow up before being thrust into university, and to hopefully squeeze in college credits (ex: via AP exams). I really appreciate this blog post as I wasn't sure how to handle this idea of a 5 year plan (wondering if I needed to hold him back to do "8th grade" again with high school level classes and just leave them off the transcript) and I didn't know it could actually be done. Your transcript input is a tremendous help with that! I am wondering now how to handle the whole end of the year standardized testing. Do you have any thoughts on that (which year to repeat)? sidenote: we also are in NC and use TOG :)