Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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High School Homeschool Curriculum Recap- Foreign Language & the Arts

This is the last of a series of blog posts compiling the resources I used for my kids during the high school years.  This last installment covers foreign language and the Arts.

Foreign Language: Most states and colleges have a foreign language requirement for high school students. I have to say that this was the hardest subject for my family.  The reason is that I don't speak and foreign language, and couldn't even keep up with my kids' learning.  They ended up being on their own. Here is a brief accounting of what we used.

For my son:
Spanish 1a: My son took this in a classroom atmosphere using Bob Jones Curriculum and Rosetta Stone.  He was unhappy with his progress, so he insisted that I only award him a half credit for this class and the next year...
Spanish 1b.  He used Learner.org and Rosetta Stone again.  He did the first half of the learner.org program which is supposed to cover spanish I.  It's a pretty neat program.

Spanish 2a.  In keeping with the half credit per year theme, my son finished the learner.org program, and continued with Rosetta Stone.  Once again, he still felt uneasy with his skills, so....
Spanish 2B.  He reviewed the entire Rosetta Stone program from beginning to end. He also logged some hours speaking to Spanish speaking people.

For my daughter:
I attempted a similar approach with my daughter, but she rejected every bit of curriculum I put in front of her.  She hated learner.org.  She couldn't stand Rosetta Stone.  But we muddled through it all.  I also attempted the half year of study per year approach, but the accreditation person corrected me and awarded a full credit for each year, so here is what the final outcome looked like.  (She didn't necessarily do these in this order, this is just how credits were awarded)

Spanish 1.  Mi Vida Loca (BBC Website) & BYKI Spanish (Spanish Flashcard software) These were free online.
Spanish 2: 1/2 year with Public School At Home program online.  2nd half year doing Learner.org Destinos program in entirety
Spanish 3: Mango Languages software 
Chinese 1:  BYKI Chinese & Chinese Character workbooks (she plans to study Chinese for her foreign language requirement in college)

In the end, I was most happy with Rosetta Stone for my son and Mango Langauges for my daughter.  They are not cheap, but trying to find a cheaper approach just caused us more stress than it was worth.  Also, don't try to push a program on one child because it worked for another.  (no matter how expensive) If at all possible, I high recommend joining a Spanish(or other language) Club or class and pairing that with foreign language software for extra practice.  Keep in mind that colleges are most receptive to Spanish, French, and maybe German, or Mandarin Chinese.  Some colleges are happy with Sign language, which my family and I already knows a decent amount.  I never thought of calling that a foreign language on their transcripts though because I just didn't know better.


The Arts 

What we did: 
Considering the fact that I have a BA in Fine Arts, you would think that I would have taken teaching The Arts to my own kids.  Nope.  Because I understand the value, scope, and breadth of the arts,  I was actually too intimidated to face this arena on my own.  With that said, I took advantage of a local program (available in 4 or 5 states now) to help my kids with The Arts (and History).  It wasn't cheap, but once again, and as Artist, I understood the value and payed gladly.  As high school students, my son majored in film, and then changed to Fine Arts, and my daughter majored in Theater (with a lot of music).  In addition to the 5 courses they took from home each year, they took another 5-6 courses there 1-2 days a week, which were listed as a 1/2 credit for each class.  My kids got (get) a 2nd diploma for finishing this program, and a couple of colleges actually give extra scholarship money for completing this well-estemed program.

My son basically took:  Piano 1-3, photography1-2, film editing1-3, music theory1-4, chorus 3 year, arts 1-3, graphic design, Drama, drama club tech, and some writing courses.

My daughter took: Piano 1-2, Voice 4 years, music theory 1-2, Chorus 4 years, Drama Club 4 years, dance, Drama 1-4, musical theater 1-2, and more.

My kids also took some arts outside of this environment, to fill some holes we or they felt they needed... mostly instrument and voice lessons.

Suggestions:  Of course this is not available for everyone. Either cost and/ or availability can be a problem, but this doesn't mean your kid cannot be immersed in the arts, whatever that means to them.

You can look into: homeschool and community drama clubs, homeschool and community choruses, art museums have classes, homeschool art classes are pretty easy to find especially in a co-op situation.  Band and individual musical instrument lessons can be found in or near any major city and many churches have music programs.

Keep in mind that the arts can mean different things to different kids.  For some, the closest thing to art may be lego engineering clubs.  For others, they may need their own paint studio at home. Some will sing, some will dance, some will play instruments, some will not be able to put a camera down.  My best advice is to expose them to as much as possible when they are young,  so they can zero in on what they like in high school.

As far as colleges are concerned, they only need a handful of art courses for a complete high school experience, but a full arts experience, will show that they are well-rounded and cultured.  If arts are not for your kids, be sure to find another area (sports, mock trials, math olympics) in which they can immerse themselves, and have fun.

Other subjects: 
Language Arts



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