Starting to Homeschool: Academics

I was recently asked by a reader (Johnny) where he should curriculum wise with his 7th grader that he is going to start homeschooling. I don’t have a ton of experience homeschooling older kids but I do have some recommendations.

My number 1 recommendation is to involve the kid!!! By junior high they want and need some ownership in order to learn responsibility and to get excited about it!
Make a list of what subjects you want to cover as far as interest and as far as high school goals. One example: if you want to hit calculus you need to start algebra by 8th grade. I have a friend whose kid wants to be a missionary so I would recommend Biblical Hebrew. Or art maybe something they have a passion for so encourage that.
I would prepare for the fact that no matter how well you research curriculum that it may not work for your kid. It is ok to sell or trash something just because they don’t like it or it doesn’t work well for your student. That is why I recommend looking at a friend’s copy, download sample pages (CBD shows many inside pages for books), or buying it used!
I also recommend that you be real with yourself. Don’t start looking at curriculum based on where your kids “should” be but where they are. If you buy something to advanced remember that you can hold onto it for when they get there. Don’t freak and don’t pressure them. Learning is a journey not a destination (how corny is that;).
I would also use the junior high years as a time to start looking forward to high school. There will need to be more record keeping to get your kid into college so now is a good time to start thinking about it.
So now to the real question… curriculum. Since this reader told me they are in California and I can specifically recommend that they attend the CHEA conference, which is coming up quickly. CHEA gives a free day to all first time homeschoolers so use it! But I recommend conferences no matter where you are. They all have many curriculum booths so you can touch and look at everything.
I personally am a big Singapore math fan but I don’t know anyone who has used them with older kids. But I have heard great things about Teaching Textbook for older kids. One of the nice things is that you don’t have to actually do the teaching. They also have their own placement tests. I have also heard great things about Bob Jones satellite classes for older kids.
As far as history and social sciences go I recommend the real book mentality. Find a point, event or arena in history that interests you or your student and get books on it. You could go with something as broad as California history or specific things like Thomas Edison (that covers real science too;) or World Ward II. Then just have them do a project, paper, presentation or something on it. Depending on your kid they may want to do an art piece. I personally loved writing research papers (yes, I am a dork;). But something that shows they are getting it. You may just get them 1 book from the library and it may spark a year of study to find out more about it.
I also have the same mentality on reading. Pull up any reading list (from people you agree with versus nuts;) and start working through the books. You can also pair your literature with your history. Study Elizabeth I for history then read Shakespeare. Greek history and the Odessy.
The most important this is to enjoy the ride!!! So for those of you with experience in this age range: what specific curriculum do recommend for a junior high student?

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