Half way…

The Christmas holidays have disappeared and we are half way through our school year.   In a way we are also half way through our homeschool adventure with our oldest.  There is a lot of things to think about for the new year coming up.  Particularly that of ‘High School’.

The last few years have been pretty smooth going when it comes to curriculums and what to learn with the kids.  However with High School on the horizon it has made me re-evaluate what and how we are doing things.    

What we have been using for the past few years worked really well for our oldest, and we are so happy with all of her progress.  Heading into high school curriculum should be pretty easy for her.  However, Our youngest has battled through that same curriculum with, admittedly, some tears.  Through every homeschool journey, there comes a time to do some replanning.    I am at that stage now.   

We believe that Homeschooling is not about ‘school’ so much as it is about instilling a love of learning into our children, so that they become life long learners.    And tears is definitely not a sign of loving to learn.   Thankfully the youngest is still interested in a lot of things, and when using the right style of learning, she will flourish.   (Is there any curriculum that teaches while dancing?) 

The next thing to figure out is a schedule.   Here in Ontario the standard requirements for high school is 110 hrs (as per web site:    http://www.psbnet.ca/eng/schools/sjw/secondary_program.html )  

Credits and Courses Offered

A credit is granted to a student who has successfully completed a course that has been scheduled for a minimum of 110 hours. Most courses at our school are offered at different levels of instruction to enable the individual student to work at his or her own level. Each level of instruction has different approaches and varying degrees of intensity.

However, these hours are based on the instruction and time it takes a teacher to teach an entire class of 20-30 students the subject at hand.    When it comes to homeschooling, a child gets one-on-one lessons, and can grasp the information usually pretty quickly; therefore requiring much less hours.     So to stress out and try to plan 110 hours for a subject makes no sense at all.   

I have been researching, and attended several seminars given by moms who have been through the battlefield called homeschool high school, and one thing that really interested me was NARHS.  (http://www.narhs.org/)    North Atlantic Regional High School.   There are many accredited facilities that provide education online these days, that it no longer matters where you live.  NARHS is one of these organizations.  It is located in Maine, USA. If we were to use this avenue for high school, our daughter would receive a transcript issued in the states.   At first I thought what everyone else asks me – “but she lives in Ontario, doesn’t she need an Ontario transcript to go to an Canadian college?”   

Let me ask you this.  Can a student from China apply to a Canadian school?  Or a student from Canada apply to an American school?   YES.   It doesn’t matter where you are from, or where you get your transcript, as long as you meet the requirements for that particular school.

So then I looked further at NARHS and compared the requirements for a transcript.  In the state of Maine, a student requires 17 credits to graduate and receive a transcript.  Compare that to Ontario in which a student needs a required 18 mandatory credits and 12 compulsory credits for a total of 30 credits.    That is a big difference.   It works out to 4.25 credits a year in Maine, and 7.5 credits a year in Ontario.  Most students have 4 classes a term, 8 classes a year in Ontario.   With NARHS, we can focus in depth on 4 subjects a year.  

Next I compared those mandatory credits.  (Information from the Ontario ministry of education site and from NARHS site)   

I have lined up the credits as they correspond to each other.  As you can see there isn’t really much difference.   (NARHS actually only has 12.5 mandatory credits, 4.5 electives) And with NARHS we wouldn’t have to stick with just the requirements.   One mom told me that her son competed high school with 54 credits using NARHS.   54 CREDITS!   Way more than needed.    

The other thing I really like about NARHS, we can use everyday lessons to convert into credits.  So things the girls actually need to learn about life.   

Next – required time to complete courses. This I compared with utilizing the public school systems online high school courses.  There are two in Ontario, that are funded through the education system, so there are no costs (other than registration). They are ILC (http://www.ilc.org) and VLC ( http://virtuallearning.ca). 

One of these is setup predominantly with online courses, while the other offers text book offline learning.   Some courses must be completed same as though you were sitting in the classroom – in one term.  Some courses allow you the full 10 months of the school year to complete.   The other benefit of utilizing these is that someone else teaches your child and marks the work, and keeps track of grades for you. 

In comparison, NARHS runs from Sept 1- Aug 31, giving the student 12 months to complete as many courses/credits as they can or want to.   NARHS also provides the service of evaluating past courses completed to have converted into credits.  So we could utilize some of the courses from any other organization and still have it added to the NARHS transcript. 

Now for cost comparison.  For some, just using the provincial courses with their registration fees per course (approx $40 per course) and letting someone else do all the work would be best for their family.    However the fee is per course, and the student will have to ensure they are keeping up with the class.  

With NARHS, the cost is once per year, no matter how many courses they complete and submit for credit review.   The fee is approx $500 per year (check web site for exact amounts as they may have been updated since writing this post)  – BUT your student could complete 12 credits or more in that one year, and almost be done their transcript requirements.   (Do you have a Doogy Howser for a student?) 

Of course, there are always cons with each approach.   

  • With provincial programs, if your student fails, they will have to do the complete course again.   
  • With NARHS you have to keep track of everything (grades, assignments, field trips) to create and submit a portfolio
  • If your student had difficulty in the school system (for those that pulled their kids out of the system), then the provincial programs may not work either.  They are still the same program as any high school, they are just doing it from home.
  • With NARHS the annual fee may be too much to afford (especially with the current exchange rate) 

With all this said, there are so MANY other options too.  Abeka offers complete accredited courses, as well as Alpha Omega Publishing (Monarch, Switched on school house, Lifepac, and more).   Plus many more that I probably haven’t found yet.  Each family will need different requirements.  Do what is best for your family. 

Do your research BEFORE your student gets to grade 9.  There are other links available by clicking on my “Helpful links” page, then clicking on High School.  

As always, happy Home Schooling. 

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