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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Planning Ahead for High School

I wrote a blog last week on why I tell my kids they do not have to go to college.You can read the here if you are interested.  Now even though I feel college is not a must in some cases I also believe it is up to the child on what their path will be. My daughter who is only in 4th grade has said for years now she wants to go to college and she wants to study animals. Even though I know this may change I as her parent and the person taking responsibility for her education must then say ok what is it going to take to help her reach this goal. Having one child graduating this year from homeschool who had no desire to attend college is totally different ball game than one who's goal is to attend college. For the most part my older son has taught me a good bit about what courses we may or may not use for her. I have spent countless hrs researching the different programs and options available for someone who might want to go the college route.

One thing I have learned about are called Dantes and CLEP test. You can find information on CLEP test here and Dantes Exams here These are test that correlate to a course that you use in high school years but you not only get high school credit you can get 3-6 college credits. Upside to this option are that the child doesn't have to spend as much time taking their basic lower level college course because the CLEP counts toward those. College also will cost way less and the time spent in college will be more focused on their major. The downside is that some colleges will not except these test and each test cost around $100. More on CLEP testing here

Another option I ran across was the which you can find here This is a free online resources. How it works is you create an account you can take either high school or college level courses. When you pass the course exam you get a credit that can be transferred to thousands of colleges. All the courses are video lesson course which are great for visual learners like my daughter. They offer a clear path to college credit. Our courses are paired with credit-granting exams to help students earn transferable college credit by testing out of their general education requirements.  Courses have an intended sequence of lessons, but students can easily skip lessons and move around the courses as they desire. Each lesson stands alone, and the courses are completely self navigable. Each lesson includes a quiz. Incorrect answers link the student back to the exact point of the video where the question was covered. This may very well be a great option for my daughter especially if we lack funds at the time she reaches high school.

Now what I really want to use if funds are available at the time of high school is the Global Student Network found here This option is for all levels K-12th and has multiple different program options to choose from. They even have an option that follows are more Christian Educational path. That is not the option we would choose because we are secular homeschoolers . They offer demo lessons for all their options so that you can find the one that fits your child's need best. Here are the different options they offer.
A+ Courseware-$450 a year
Christian Curriculum-$550 a year
Gradpoint Courseware- $675 a year
Apex Learning Curriculum- $550 a year
Plato Courseware- $395 a year
Odyssey Curriculum- $550 a year
 Honors Curriculum- $ 550
ACT/SAT Prep- $95
Study Island- $39-$69 depending on if you pick one or two subject areas
Rosetta Stone-$200
GED Program-$99


Benefit to Students:

  • Designed to teach required subjects for graduation
  • Student’s learning experience is enhanced via flexible approaches to learning, teaching, and assessment, developed to meet the needs of students.
  • View progress at anytime
  • Tailored to fit all learning styles, interests, and needs of students and families
  • Lessons enhanced by graphics and multimedia pictures
  • Virtual courses allow students to study at a time and location that suits them.
  • GSN's Courseware have shown improvement in student motivation and engagement, development of higher learning styles, and increased independent learning skills.
  • Responsibility for learning placed with the student – essential ingredient for lifelong learning.
  • Integrated feedback tools provide increased learning opportunities, build learning skills, and enhance student’s ability to think critically.
  • Our programs provide opportunity for students who may have fallen behind.
  • Individualized element of Virtual Learning ensures students do not fall through the cracks amidst a crowd of students.
  • Students have more control over how and when they work
  • Students find the work “easier and quicker to do,” despite the fact it is the same work they previously did with pen and paper.
  • Students like the fact that they cannot forget to bring their work in, or lose it.
  • User-friendly, comprehensive, and equitable access to high-quality Virtual Curriculum for students who need it most
  • GSN's programs benefit students who cannot spend their days on campus when most classes are offered

Benefit to Parents:

  • Parents can customize curriculum to meet student’s needs
  • Parents can easily monitor their student’s progress in real-time.
  • No textbooks to carry around
  • 90% of work scored by computer
  • Parents can view all assessment results
  • Printable detailed student progress reports
  • Access to online content supports homework studies out of school hours.
As a homeschool parent I love that they have the resources to help me fill out a high school transcript. I am able to easily make a homeschool portfolio. They not only have a clear and defined course description for every course that you can add to your child's portfolio they also have  Course Academic Achievement that you can print out and add to their portfolio. Schools can better award credits when they understand the academic equivalency of courses completed using GSN’s Online Homeschool Curriculum . They have everything that you need to easily set up your child's  portfolio which is one thing that tends to scare many homeschoolers into putting their children back in public school for those high school years. Some other benefits I really like are that they offer academic counseling and you can use the program any time of day.

My plan it to use the Global Student Network program for her core classes and we will use others for her electives and volunteer organizations to build a very well rounded high school portfolio. First let me talk her volunteer plans. Since working with animals is her passion I have looked into options near us here in Ga. I contacted veterinarians I know from my years of pet grooming and they have offered her to start volunteering on Sat. and Sun. once she is 13. She is already a member of 4H and will be taking their courses on Veterinarian Science. She will start raising chickens this spring. There is a local Nature Center called Cochran Mill Nature Center found here where she can start volunteering at 12 and will also attend there week long day camp this summer. The Atlanta Zoo has a teen volunteer program that starts at the age of 14 and we are hoping at that time she will be excepted into that program as well. Once she reaches 18 she can volunteer as well at the animal rehabilitation center called Noah's Ark here in Georgia. That would give her 4-6 animal related organizations/programs to add to her transcripts. Outside of animal related programs she plans to volunteer 2-3 days a week after hrs helping to clean up the senior center here in Newnan , GA and she will volunteer at the local library. Any other options that come along we will see what can fit into her schedule and she can make a decision at that time on whether it is a good option for her or not.  As for electives at this point we know of a view she has shown interest in but I will keep in mind these may change over the next few years and that they are options.

Alternative History Theories - this will be pieced together using the work of authors such as Graham Handcock
Culinary arts- there are many online options and local cooking classes she could take
Photography- many online options and classes locally
Performing Arts- there is a local performing arts studio in our town that offers classes
World Religions- many free online options to choose from
Metaphysical Science- she can earn a B.A. from home through the University of Sedona
Veterinarian Science- there is a study from home course through Stratford Career Institute found here  another option is a train at home vet tech program through Pennfoster found here
Early Childhood Education- many online options to choose from
Art- Local classes

I think I have come up with a decent plan of action if her interest stay somewhat in the same area but knowing that as children grow these interest can change I will address those as the develop.

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