Homeschooling Highschool~Part 2

I don’t want to give the impression that the things we chose to do or use were perfect or sacred. They weren’t. But the Lord was so wonderfully faithful to direct our steps, and reveal His plan for us, along the way. He may lead you in a different direction, depending on His plans for your family or your growing child. So the heart of my message would be… be faithful to our calling to home disciple our children, all the way through, and the Lord will be faithful to us and will direct our paths as He completes His work in us and our kids. : )

I have many friends and acquaintances who also homeschooled their children through graduation, and I am often so impressed by how the Lord directed their steps, and tailored their education to suit their specific family needs. It didn’t always look just like our homeschool course, but it was the right fit for each family. He is just so awesome.

I am always happy to share what we used and what worked well for us, knowing that I am not suggesting it is the only way, but maybe it will give others some direction, as they seek the Lord.

I mentioned some of my favorite resources for high school in my previous post. A few things I left out, were World Magazine and watching FOX News with your older teen. Regarding FOX news, I found that we had to be somewhat guarded, because occasionally FOX will report on some inappropriate “hollywood” behavior or story. But for the most part, Hannity, Glenn Beck, Greta Van Sustren, Special Report… these news programs are often a history lesson from a Christian perspective, and for sure they provide an opportunity to dialog with your teen on current political events, and to impart your views and concerns and worldview on political and social issues. For us, it was a time of exposure to some of the issues of life that we avoid in entertainment (movies, tv, etc.), yet we decided to deal with these issues as they arise in the news. And World magazine is a little expensive, but we found it to be a great resource as well.

The Book Club idea was formed with a friend. We wanted to do something together with our high schoolers, and we both had some concerns about many of the popular book lists. We both had reluctant readers, and found they just weren’t getting through the reading list we were assigning them in our homes. We felt that a bi-weekly Book Club would give accountability to them and us, and would help accomplish our reading goals. So we met for lunch with pens and notebooks, and came up with a plan. We made a list of our own favorite books and ones we wanted our high schoolers to read ( we mainly used the SAT Prep for Christian Schools, by James Stobaugh, and Sonlight catalolg as our reference book).

At the time, the choices felt a little random, but in hindsight, we saw how the Lord had orchestrated each book choice, in order to provide very worthy exploration and discussion with our kids, as well as get some good reading in! : )

We had 2 other families participate, and we had a total of 6 kids and 4 moms. The 2 extra moms attended, but my friend and I planned and led the meetings. We met every other week at the library. ( Most libraries will let you reserve a meeting or conference room, or you could meet at a home or church.) We decided that it was for high schoolers only, since even though we were careful in our book selections, still some had mature themes (revenge, betrayal, suffering, etc.). We, the moms, also read the assigned book, so we were prepared for discussion. And we would take notes throughout our reading, of points we wanted to discuss or topics that we felt needed to be explored, etc. In addition, we went to and printed off activities for most of the books ( discussion questions, comprehension questions, vocab lists, and any other resource that seemed interesting. Finally, we would do a little research on the internet on anything related, that seemed interesting to us. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. With the internet, the prep work went pretty quickly. Some moms bought the books, but I either had them on my shelf, or checked them out from the library.

Here is the list of books we tackled in our last year…

~ The Hiding Place – We examined the subject of suffering and explored some of the history surrounding the Holocaust, with a focus on Forgiveness.) This was a sobering yet wonderful book.

~ The Count of Monte Cristo – I’ll be honest… this was one of my favorite books as a college student, so I wanted to read this. We chose the unabridged, 1200 page version, and we took an entire month to read it, instead of just the 2 weeks. As a parent, I saw the story somewhat differently than I did as a romantic 19 year old college student. It is a sad story really, yet still I would consider it a favorite, and so did many of the kids. It has action, and suspense… a complicated story line. It is well written, and leaves no loose strings in the end. But as Christians, we were very aware of the theme of revenge running through the story. What a contrast to Corrie Ten Boom’s reaction to persecution in The Hiding Place… and the only difference was Jesus. Well, I can’t begin to tell you of the deep discussions we had on forgivenss, resentment, happiness, etc. It was just what we needed to read, after reading our first selection, but we didn’t even fully realize that going into it. But the Lord knew. : ) We watched the movie afterwards ( both the 1970’s version {which I bought for $2 on, and the newer version, which we rented.

~ Farenheit 451 – This was my friend’s pick. I am not too keen on science fiction. But this book turned out to be a great read. There is a little mild language ( I think… can’t remember for sure). The book was written in the mid 1950’s, and it was prophetic in many ways… eerie actually. For our discussion time, we did some questions on the general plot, etc. like we always did, and then we talked about where the title came from ( the degrees at which paper burns, if I remember correctly). And then we talked about censorship and government and… well as always, the Lord directed our conversation, and we all grew from this read.

~ The Screwtape Letters – We agreed that we wanted to read something from C.S. Lewis, so this was our pick. I had always been creeped out by this book, but this time around, I found it interesting and it was a good source of discussion on the Christian’s life.

~ Twelfth Night – We also wanted to read Shakespeare, so we chose this because it is short and a comedy. We checked out the book from the library that had the original Shakespeare language on one side, and a modern passage on the opposite page. This made it so much easier to follow the story. We spent a little time discussing Shakespeare himself, and then we rented the movie ( made in the 1990’s, I think), and it was very funny and we enjoyed it a lot. And I think all the kids felt somewhat accomplished that they had read and studied a little Shakespeare! : ) (Note: Shakespeare could also be studied in much more depth, in a separte english lit. course).

~ The Cross and the Switchblade – We were going to read West Side Story, and then watch the movie. But since neither of us had previously read the book ( which was a requirement that we had agreed to… part of that gatekeeper mentality), we started reading it ahead of assigning it. Well, we were so glad we did that, because unlike the rather innocent movie version of the 1960’s, the book had inappropriate material within the first few chapters. As we decided to scrap that title, I thought about this book, that also explored gang life, but from the perspective of a Christian testimony. This book has mature content, and deals with the reality of life on the streets as a drug addict and gang member. It is the true story of David Wilkerson, and how God led him into a ministry for street gangs, and follows his relationship with Niki Cruz, who receives Christ and had his life changed. For most of our kids, they will never know of the suffering and pain that these street kids endured. This story gave them a glimpse into some of the horrific situations that God saves people out of, and really drove home the message of “he who is forgiven much, loves much”.

~ Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Another great book. This book allows the reader to feel the injustice of racism and slavery, and fosters a compassion for what the African-American people endured during those times. Again, the Lord used this topic to open deep discussions with our kids, and it was a very worthy read.

Finally, a few other books that we did as a family, but would have done with our Book Club if we had the time, deal with worldview, and apologetics: More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell, Know Why You Believe, Know What you Believe, both by Paul Little, and Do Hard Things by the Harris twins.
And these titles we didn’t want to do in a mixed group, due to the personal content, but they are good sources for family discussion: I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and Passion & Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot.

Sonlight catalog, CBD, Veritas Press… these and many other catalogs are a great resource for choosing books. Read through them, deciding by the synopsis which sound the most worthy or appealing to you or your students, and make a list. The time is short, and I don’t think we will ever feel that our kids read every book we intended them to finish. There are lots of good stories, but ask the Lord to lead you to titles that will leave His mark on the heart of your children.

~ Lynn : )

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