In today's blog entry I thought I would focus on the decisions you must make about which courses your students will take in high school.
When do you begin thinking about college? When do you begin thinking about what course of study your student should follow in high school? ...As early as you can.
When my older two students were in high school (starting in 1999), I was just hanging on by the seat of my pants just to get them through high school at all. I never took Biology myself, and now it is mandatory for graduation. My oldest studied Latin, my second studied Spanish, but I was not prepared to teach either. I was blessed to find situations for them to study various subject matter under teachers who knew the material.
When your student begins to show an interest or a strength that you believe to be the direction his education will go/should go, that is the time to pursue it and brainstorm about high school courses and college majors.
One of my students wanted to major in something we could not manage financially. One of my students majored in something that has not panned out into a career in a field supported by her degree. These are serious issues to work through.
Student #3 is interested in a career in a direction that requires heavy math and science in his high school years. When #1 and #2 were in high school, their curriculum was very classical, leaning towards Bachelor of Arts type degrees. Their courses were heavy in literature and writing assignments and history. Science and Math were the minimum we could get away with -- they didn't seem very interested, and at the time I wasn't very able to do more. #3 is very heavy into Math and Science, and at a time when I am able to focus on it, teach it, and accommodate him. As a result of his interests, we are focusing on Science and Math more, and History and Literature less. (We're not neglecting it, but you have no idea how much we did with #1 and #2!)
So, what I am saying in all this is that to plan for college, to plan for high school, you and your student(s) need to determine his/her direction: humanities, or science/math/technology. From there you determine probable/possible college major(s). You need to look at the college admissions requirements (or talk to a counselor) to determine what high school courses the college wants the student to have taken. Then you launch from there and create your plan for the four year course study I mentioned in the first High School Planning post.
Once you determine whether your focus is humanities of sciences, you build your plan around that, never forgetting state graduation requirements and courses the college will be looking for. Season that with courses of personal interest to your student, as they come up, and call these courses "electives".
For my son, the high school course plan centers around science and math. The other subjects will fall into line around the spine we are setting in science and math: Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, pre-Calculus; Biology, Marine Biology, Chemistry and Physics. In history and literature we like to stay in the same era. 9th grade was Middle Ages, Rennaisance, Reformation, Early America. Literature assignments were largely in the same time period. 10th grade will be 1800's, 11th grade will be 1900's to present and 12th grade will be Ancient Civilizations. Did I mention we'll be using IEW for Grammar and Composition?
So, what's your plan?