9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
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The High School years have descended upon us. Was anyone else terrified at the thought of homeschooling high school? I have to admit it was and still is a daunting thought. Luckily there is a plethora of great curriculum out there to help us through these trying times! We have completed freshman year so I am going to share with you what curriculum we chose to use and what we thought about each one. We are pretty eclectic with our homeschool curriculum, so every subject comes from a different place. I’m not going to lie; I was really dreading Geometry and Spanish. While we have survived, we both still dread Geometry every day. Spanish isn’t easy, but it isn’t horrible either.
Here’s the overview of everything we used this year:
· Math – Teaching Textbooks Geometry
· Science – Apologia Biology
· Social Studies – Master Books World History
· English I – This was a hodgepodge of Literature to go along with World History, ACE English workbooks, and IEW High School Essay Intensive
· Consumers Ed – Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance
· Spanish I – BJU Press Spanish I
Teaching Textbooks is basically 2 steps: watch the lesson then complete the problems. It was originally designed as a disc-based program but has moved to online delivery. The newest version, 4.0 was designed to work on mobile devices as well. We started using TT for Pre-algebra and we plan to use it through Pre-Calculus. We have only used the disc-based program because our rural internet didn’t support the online format so my description is based on the discs only. They do offer a Free Trial on their website so you can see how the program is set up.
The lesson is generally about 15-20 minutes and some of the lessons will prompt the student to answer questions throughout to make sure they are understanding concepts. After the lecture, there is the option to do practice problems or dive right into the assignment which is usually 20-25 problems. Many of the problems will have a hint available to reiterate concepts that were introduced in the lesson and any problem that isn’t multiple choice will allow a second attempt at the answer. Every problem offers an explanation of the solution which is helpful for the ones that are missed. TT was designed for independent learning but I watch the lesson with Connor so I can help him when needed. It’s been a few years since I’ve been in school so I’m hoping I will remember how to do math if I watch the lectures too.
I’m not going to lie, Geometry is my most-dreaded subject of the day and I still don’t understand the need to do proofs but I do feel Teaching Textbooks has been a good program for us. There is some debate about if TT is challenging enough but I feel that at least through Geometry, it has done an adequate job.
Apologia has been our go-to curriculum for science since we started homeschooling. I feel it has consistently been a well-written, comprehensive curriculum that is rigorous enough for college-bound students. Apologia is a Christian curriculum and every module incorporates God as the Creator into the lesson, so if you are looking for a secular curriculum, Apologia is not it. The curriculum includes a textbook, student workbook, a test booklet and answer key for study guides, summaries and tests. The textbook consists of 16 modules and contains the answers to on your own questions and in the back has a list of needed supplies for experiments organized by chapter. The student notebook includes a lesson plan for the textbook and has a place for notes, on your own questions, study guides, module summaries and a section for lab notes.
The textbook is written to be read independently by your student but I read the lessons so it is more like a lecture. Most of the experiments utilize supplies that are generally found at home or are easily accessible at the supermarket. Biology also requires a specimen kit for dissection labs which is available at the Apologia website and christianbook.com and the use of a microscope and prepared slides.
We started out thinking we were going to use Notgrass Exploring World History this year. We bought the entire bundle, including the literature pack to use for an English Credit. After only a few units, we decided that the curriculum focused more on Bible history than we wanted. I looked at a few options online and we landed on Master Books World History. I’ll be honest, I’m not thrilled with this curriculum either. It feels like it takes a much more philosophical approach to history and it seems like it just sort of scratches the surface of important events and eras.
The curriculum came with a teacher manual and a student text. There are 4 lessons per unit, with assignments for each lesson and a test for every unit. All of the assignments and tests are essay style and like I mentioned, very philosophical in nature. I think if I were going to teach World History again, I would get on amazon and order a good, old fashioned, public school textbook. We did incorporate some of the books we had ordered for Notgrass into this curriculum to assist with our English credit. I also went on the internet and found worksheets to go along with the chapters to use in place of the assignments and tests.
I always struggle with picking an English curriculum. If someone would come up with an all in 1 English curriculum, I would be sold. It’s always a mish mash of different curriculum to come up with what I feel is a comprehensive language arts class. I would love a one stop shop that covers literature, grammar and writing! Since I haven’t found that yet, I continue to cobble different things together.
For literature, we kept the books we had ordered for Notgrass World History and inserted some of them into the appropriate Master Books chapters. I figured out different activities to go along with the books: essay questions to go along with The Imitation of Christ, a documentary and worksheet for The Art of War, the movie Luther and a worksheet to go along with Here I Stand, and other books were just read independently or aloud (Julius Caesar). My student isn’t much of a reader so literature is somewhat of a challenge.
Our prime focus for English I was on IEW: High School Essay Intensive. This is a DVD based curriculum, featuring Andrew Pudewa. It includes 5 DVDs, student handouts, Portable Walls for the Essayist and online access to the teacher manual with lesson plans and answer key. It is divided out into four parts:
1a. Strategies for Essay Writing: Length and Structure
1b. General Strategies: Invention and Style
2. Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay
3. Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay
4. Strategies for the Personal Essay
I feel like the program did a really good job introducing the concepts in a clear, concise manner. We are planning to do SAT prep over the summer so I was excited about the time spent on the standardized essays. I recently found out SAT is discontinuing the essay portion of the test so I guess we can just look at that section as good practice annotating a text. Connor is just excited he doesn’t have to write an SAT essay.
To round out English I, we use ACE workbooks to address grammar. These were really used as filler when we weren’t working on Literature, before we started our Essay Intensive. ACE is a really easy to use workbook curriculum that allows practice of grammar, sentence structure, etc.
Foundations in Personal Finance
To satisfy our need for Consumer’s Ed, it was a no brainer to use Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance. We did Financial Peace University so we knew that Dave’s program would teach the financial skills that we want Connor to have now and moving forward.
The curriculum is DVD based and includes a teacher resources disc with lesson plans, answer keys, additional activities and chapter tests, a student workbook and DVDs with lessons delivered by Dave and his Foundations team. The curriculum is divided into 4 Units: Saving & Budgeting, Credit & Debt, Financial Planning & Insurance, and Income, Taxes & Giving. Dave does approach finance from a Christian perspective and scripture, mainly from Proverbs, is included in the workbook.
A lot of the information presented was review from watching the Financial Peace videos as a family but since he runs his own business and has his own income now, I think it was beneficial to go over the information again. I think it really reinforced managing his money and making sure it is working for him now and in the future. The videos are entertaining and I think it is probably our favorite subject.
Finding curriculum for Spanish was definitely a daunting task. I took French in high school and I was by no means fluent so the thought of teaching a foreign language was scary. After researching different programs online and looking at curriculum at our local homeschool convention, I decided BJU Press looked like the best option.
The entire package includes a Teacher Manual and activity workbook answer key, a student text and activity workbook, tests and answer key. The curriculum also utilizes afterschoolhelp.com with audio recordings for different activities that require reading, vocabulary, etc. in Spanish. The audio is used in both the textbook and activity workbook.
The Spanish I curriculum focuses on vocabulary and grammar as well as speaking and writing in Spanish. It also incorporates cultural lessons so students learn about Spanish speaking countries and cultures around the world. BJU press is a Christian curriculum that includes religious aspects in the lessons. The material is laid out really well and breaks down the lesson plan so there isn’t any pre-planning needed. We just open our books and get started.
Is it easy to teach Spanish? No, no, it is not. Are we learning Spanish? Um, that is debatable. We are able to figure things out and he is learning to conjugate verbs and can complete the activities. We can recognize some words when listening to Spanish speakers, but we aren’t going to engage in full-blown conversations any time soon. I do feel like he is getting a comparable Spanish education that my daughter received in public school though. This curriculum can be taught by someone who doesn’t know Spanish, but having some background in it would definitely be helpful.
That rounds out our 9th grade curriculum. It hasn’t necessarily been fun, but it wasn’t as hard as I first thought it would be. I can’t stress enough how many resources there are to help if you don’t feel equipped to homeschool high school. The important thing to remember is that you aren’t expected to just know everything. It is your job to come along side your teen and help them learn how to gain knowledge, not stand in front of them and hand it to them. Plans are underway for 10th grade so if you have any great curriculum I should look into, let me know!