2015-07-16 10.23.53My son is in eleventh grade.


Did I really just say that?  Could that adorable little boy who used to run around the block to watch the garbage truck every Thursday really be a junior in high school? Oh, where has the time gone?

Well at least planning a junior year in high school was easier the second time around.  I've already been through it once with my daughter who is a junior in college this year.  (Don't get me started on those tears again!) I learned from a few more years experience, more research, and yes, from the mistakes I made the first time.

So what exactly are we doing this year in our homeschool for his junior year? Thanks for asking!

In Pennsylvania, the following credits are mandatory for graduation:

  • English -  4 credits
  • Math - 3 credits
  • Science - 3 credits
  • Social Studies -3 credits
  • Arts & Humanities- 2 credits

For English, this year, I decided to focus completely on Literature and a Research Paper.  My son is on the local school district's football team and, as I learned last year, there's a lot of time in his schedule devoted to football so I determined to wait on the research paper until the Spring semester.  He'll be taking an online course - probably here. For the literature aspect, I decided to give him some more of his own leadership this year - which is not easy for me - but I'm thinking it may be beneficial.  Basically, he needs to read about  15-20 books (depending on length; some longer works may count as two books).  I have only made three specific titles mandatory this year:  All Quiet on the Western Front, All Creatures Great and Small and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Yep- that's it. He has to decide the rest for himself - with some guidance of course!  All the books that he chooses must be sound quality literature and NOT considered TWADDLE (he may pick ONE book that I would consider twaddle just for fun if he chooses but one is the limit!).  A minimum of 2 books that he chooses MUST be considered 'classics' by at least one reliable source as deemed by myself. He will be giving both oral and written narrations of all the books he reads (including a few that we will use as read alouds).

For Consumer Math & Finance, we are using a combination of the Abeka Consumer Math curriculum and Dave Ramsey's homeschool curriculum titled Foundations in Personal Finance as well as taking part in the monthly budget meetings held by my husband and myself.

Science this year will be an Anatomy & Physiology class taken with the local homeschool group. I wasn't thrilled about taking part of this since it would take up our Tuesday afternoons and affects my ability to get my youngest son to swimming lessons but as my older son thinks a science major may be in his future, I felt it important enough to find a class with a teacher that knows more about this subject than me!

One credit will also be given for Home Economics.  I have devised the course myself and have a set number of mandatory hours (120+ total) in a variety of subcategories including cooking, home maintenance, automotive, nutrition, sewing and laundry.  Most of the requirements is hands on participation but some will involve reading articles and other reference materials.  I love the fact that we have recently found a new handyman that would be a great resource to use to teach my son a few things that my husband and are not capable of teaching. I just hope that eventually my son will be here when the handyman is! So far the football season has interfered with that quite a bit!

He will also have two half credit courses this year.  One such course is Economics.  He will be using the well known source Whatever Happened to Penny Candy as well as the Bluestocking Guide Economics and The Money Mystery to complete the course.  All of these books are pictured above with Amazon links!

The other half credit course that I created for my son is Introduction to Christianity.  He will be using the book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick as well as The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Bishop Wares book has actually been used in college Introduction to Christianity classes).  We will be using a Charlotte Mason approach with this class in that he will be giving both oral and written narrations for these book selections in addition to related articles that we find through the year.

Finally, my son will be taking a Study Skills course which I have assigned a full credit as he is using several sources to complete the course and give him a firm foundation in skills essential to success in his college career.  For this course, I have selected College Study: The essential ingredients by Sally A. Lipsky, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as well as the other text used by the same university, How to Study in College by Pauk and Owens.  He will also be watching a very old video course that my husband thrived on, Where There's a Will, There's an A.

So there it is!  The plan for the eleventh grade year.  I think it will work well.  But only time will tell!  I’ll keep you posted in other posts this year as well as my monthly updates!




Homeschooling is flexible in many ways but there are requirements that must be fulfilled.  Graduation requirements, of course, are important to understand and follow - but also allow for flexibility.

In Pennsylvania, a total of 15 credits are required by law in a home education program:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of Mathematics
  • 3 years of Science
  • 3 years of Social Studies
  • 2 years of Arts and Humanities

When deciding on what subjects to teach to fulfill these requirements, one must also take into consideration the subjects that must, according to the law, be taught at the secondary level (grades 7-12):

  •  Language( grammar, vocabulary and spelling), literature, speech and composition are to be covered within the subject of English- though not necessarily each of these elements every year.
  • Science
  • Geography
  • Social Studies courses are to include, at some point, civics, world history, history of the United States, and history of Pennsylvania; but again, not all of these need to be incorporated into each year.
  • Mathematics should include general mathematics, algebra and geometry
  • Art
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Health
  • Safety Education, including regular(yearly) and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires.

Any subject meeting the above requirements taught in 7th or 8th grade does not need to be repeated during the high school years.  For example, my son took piano lessons in both 7th and 8th grades, fulfilling his music requirement.  Therefor, while he would not receive a credit in music for his transcript, he does not need to take music in his high school years if he would rather focus on another subject rather than music.

If your child is planning on attending college, you will want to obtain more than the 15 credits required by law.  A suggested amount would be 20 or more credits. This is because most colleges require course work beyond the basic coursework outlined above and look for students who have a rigorous high school curriculum.

I strongly recommend that you and your child sit down together and discuss his or her plans for the future (knowing that a middle school child or high schooler may have no idea what they really want to do yet and could change their minds repeatedly--- that's OKAY...It's NORMAL... don't let the pressures of society tell you different!!) and what coursework may be most beneficial for them to cover. For example,  If your child has strong interests in science, you'll know you need to plan for extra time and coursework in this subject area - more than what is required by law.  If they have no interest in science, then this helps you know you only need to fulfill the 3 credits with general courses with curriculum that is not as intense as others. Or if your child knows with all their heart they want to be a child therapist, you know you'll want to incorporate at least a psychology course and a child development course into their high school requirements.

Consideration For College Requirements

If your child is planning on attending college, you'll want to consider additional requirements that colleges ask for in addition to the Pennsylvania Law. Consider, for example, that most colleges require a lab be given along with a high school science.  If your child is not planning on college, a biology textbook may be all that's necessary for graduation but if college is even a future consideration, it would be wise to include a lab within your coursework.

Many colleges require 1-2 years of a single foreign language.  Some ask for more.  If you are considering college, it would be wise to do some research into what colleges your child might be interested in and see what their foreign language requirements are.  If your child is unsure, I would recommend 2 years of a single foreign language to be included in your plans for high school.

Most colleges require two years of Algebra and a geometry course.  Most high schoolers planning on attending college automatically take these courses because achieving well on the mathematics portion of the SATs are dependant on knowledge of this coursework.

How much time/work makes a credit?

In short, 120 hours is equivalent to one high school credit.  This can actually be determined in a variety of ways though without keeping track of every minute/hour spent in the course.  A basic guideline on ways to determine what constitutes a complete course is as follows:

  • complete 2/3 of a textbook
  • Log 120 entries or hours of study for the course
  • Complete a research paper or long-term project
  • complete a 3 credit or 1 semester college course
  • Pass an AP or CLEP test
  • work as an apprentice or do on the job training
  • a variety of other ways -  get together with other homeschool parents and find out what they did to make up a high school course for their children!

One further note that most don't know about - You do not need to begin or finish a course in accordance with the school year.  You may actually start a course early, finish early or you may carry a course through more than one year!

This was a very basic outline to get you started thinking about high school graduation requirements.  There is much more I could add here, but I believe it's enough for one post!!  I am sure to cover more material at a later date, but if you have specific questions or would like to share what you have done to cover course requirements for your high schooler, please feel free to ask or share!!  Have a wonderful day!

Additional Resources:

Donna Young - Homeschooling High School