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SUCCESS: My Daughter's Self-Directed Sophomore Year

Education can be so much more vibrant than what we all grew up with in public school. My daughter Alina is charting her own path through high school and it has been amazing to see how well this can work. Last Fall, I shared Alina's plan for her school year, so I'm looping back around to share how it went.



Alina's Independent Study Time and Contract

Alina and I work together on developing her Scholar Contract for each school year. This gives us a way to make sure we are on the same page as far as responsibilities and expectations. For her Sophomore year, Alina committed to 15 hours weekly of independent study time.


Rather than scheduling this time out for each week, Alina likes to leave it more freeform and spread it out throughout her days, evenings, and even weekends. She tracks her studies in a notebook. *Ideally* about once a week, we quickly review what she worked on, whether she accomplished her 15-hour goal, and whether her overall studies are looking balanced towards her goals for the year. I say *ideally* because I've been incredibly busy this year and have been pretty lax on making time for these weekly check-ins. 😜

Alina also built in a break from independent studies for late November through December to focus on sewing Christmas presents.



All-Together Schooling

Besides her self-directed Scholar Time, Alina still participates in our all-together school time for history and science. Over the last school year, we studied world history from 1500-1850, with a special focus on the American Revolution. Our science studies this year have been focused on Chemistry (which we will wrap up in the next few weeks).


Alina's Plan vs Adjusting to Reality

There are plans and then there is the reality! 😎 Alina's school year went pretty much as expected for the first semester. She read many books and spent many hours on her novel writing. She tended to skimp on the math work and never got around to writing an essay, but overall she did well at managing her time and studying hard.


For her second semester, we needed to make some big adjustments because Alina decided she wanted to apply to the Dual Credit program at the local university for Fall 2024. This was a big goal to take on, as it meant that Alina would have to be ready to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and score well enough to be accepted into the program.


We needed to drop some of Alina's original plans so she could re-focus her time to get prepared for the test. So, for her second semester, Alina didn't spend much time on writing her novels and she dropped the Danica McKellar Algebra book to instead use Khan Academy's SAT test prep for math.




Alina's Plan: 20 Books, Alina's Reality: 38 Books

Alina's original plan included reading 20 books, many of which were related to the American Revolution to complement our family history studies. She ended up reading many of the books on her list, dropped a few from her list, and followed her interests by adding in many other books spontaneously. She became quite interested in learning more about founding fathers and heroes of the American Revolution, so she added quite a few books to fuel that interest.


Overall, instead of reading just 20 books, Alina read 38 books over the last school year. This doesn't include the numerous fantasy novels Alina read over the last year in her spare time. This girl lives and breathes books. It's just how she's wired. 😁


For 5 of the books, Alina implemented Mentoring in the Classics (MIC) content for further engagement. I also read some of the books alongside her so we could discuss the books together.



Preparing for the SAT

Once Alina set her goal of getting into the Dual Credit program, she started prepping for the SAT. She used the College Board website and Bluebook app to take practice tests in advance of the SAT.


Our homeschooling is fairly eclectic and we don't use any tests or grading. Alina had only ever taken one other test in her life, which was her Driver's Education test. I was pretty curious to see how she would do on her practice SAT.


The results of Alina's first practice test were not surprising: she scored well on the English/Reading portion, but her Math score was low. That was to be expected since she has tended to skimp on her math studies.


Khan Academy has a free, integrated SAT test prep program that can help students work on the areas where they need improvement based on their practice test. Alina used this program and it was really valuable for her in improving her math proficiency. Over a few months, she worked through the Khan program and took a couple more practice tests. In this way, her math scores steadily increased over time and she stayed motivated to keep working on it.



Taking the SAT

Given a few more months of prep, I'm sure Alina's math score would have increased further, but it was time to take the test so Alina could apply for the Dual Credit program. She was a little nervous, but she did well!





Alina was Accepted Into Dual Credit Program at University

Alina's SAT score easily met the requirements for acceptance into the Dual Credit program.

I also got to learn how to make a transcript, haha! 🤣🤣🤣


No big surprise, but Alina's motivation for the Dual Credit program was to be able to take English and writing classes. The University doesn't usually let high school Juniors take the College Freshman English class in the Dual Credit program, so we had to prove that Alina is ready for this.


Between her extensive focus on reading and writing in homeschooling + her exceptional SAT score for Reading and Writing, Alina will be allowed to take the class. So she is now enrolled to take an English Composition course at New Mexico State University in Fall 2024.


Homeschooling is a Journey for Our Whole Family

It's such a blessing to be able to guide my kids down a different educational path in support of their own unique missions. With her taking a college class in the Fall, the end of Alina's homeschooling seems suddenly near. Meanwhile, her 14yo brother is gearing up to jump into his own self-directed high school journey this Fall, so more changes are coming soon.


I hope this helps you envision a beautiful education for your own kids through their high school years. There are so many different ways to homeschool, and there is no *right* path. What works for one child may not work for another, but if we are flexible we can find what will work well for each child.



Are you homeschooling your kids or grandkids? How old are they and how is it going?

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