Transitioning to High School
The Waldorf inspired curriculum at Christopherus is largely focused on grades 1-8, those years when a homeschooling parent is analogous to the class teacher in a Waldorf school. In high school, however, Waldorf schools focus on specialist teachers to work through the rich curriculum of grades 9-12. Christopherus does have some good high school recommendations for curriculum on the website and I highly recommend Donna’s Comedy and Tragedy unit which can easily be used in 9th or 10th grade. It parallels nicely the 9th grade main lesson of the same name taught in Waldorf high schools. The transition to high school for Waldorf inspired homeschoolers is one that requires careful consideration. During the 8th grade year, we as homeschoolers must carefully approach the issue of how we will transition our children into high school.
I believe it is essential to consider the viewpoint of your teen. Some teens will be very interested in attending a public high school or perhaps a local Waldorf high school. No later than the winter/early spring of 8th grade, sit down with your child and review all the options. Your child will want to explore how his/her interests and academic goals can best be explored in a high school setting. A few of the options include a portfolio approach (continuing to homeschool at home using your own Waldorf inspired curriculum); using some standard curriculum or Waldorf related curriculum like Oak Meadow; or using an umbrella school like Clonlara ( from the John Holt unschooling movement) that can serve as a complete distance curriculum or as a fairly flexible umbrella transcript provider. During this process, it is important to review your state’s requirements for high school graduation or the equivalent. In my state, certain Core 40 classes were essential to take in English, Science, Math, Foreign Languages, and Social Sciences in order to qualify for admission to a four year Indiana college. Our local community college is more flexible and will consider testing at the end of high school as a potential equivalent for entry. In my case, none of my children had the option of a local Waldorf high school, and each of them made quite different decisions. Their varied choices may be helpful in illustrating the decision making process for transitioning to high school.
My oldest son did not attend public school at all in high school, but took a journalism course at a local private school, homeschooled with me, did a coop class in English and one in Geology with specialist teachers, and took courses at Indiana University his junior and senior year. He chose to use Clonlara as an online umbrella school to transcript his classes and did a number of their walk-about programs, focusing on his interests in music. This was a good fit for him, as he needed hours to practice the piano at home each day. He did end up being admitted into Indiana University and eventually, the music school there.
One of my twin sons homeschooled with me and did some co-op science and English classes, took a number of courses at the local high school, and also used Clonlara as an umbrella school for his transcript. He pursued his interests in music (a drummer) and in volunteering. All of my children volunteered during high school but he ended up achieving the gold medal level of the Congressional Service Award, which took him four years to complete. He also enjoyed tennis and enrolled full time for a semester at the local high school his sophomore year in order to join the tennis team and earn a varsity letter. He too ended up at Indiana University. The other twin, an artistic type, also took co-op classes and homeschooled with me, took private art lessons locally, and took some courses in creative writing and art at the public high school. He used Clonlara as a transcript provider, took one of their online courses in computer science, and did a walk-about with them to learn to build his own computer with a tutor. He too attended Indiana University.
My two daughters have taken different approaches than the boys for high school. My oldest did an interview at High Mowing (a private boarding Waldorf high school) in 8th grade as a potential boarding student. The school was wonderful but she decided that she was not ready to leave home and board so far away. She ended up homeschooling part-time with me and attending public school part time for the first two years of high school. At the end of her sophomore year, the public school system changed their policy and would not accept part time students, so she went to high school full time because of her technical interests in engineering, architecture and graphic design. The school accepted all of my high school homeschooling coursework with her and she graduated with academic and technical honors this past spring and was nominated and accepted into a new program at our local community college with a full scholarship. This program, known as ASAP, enrolls a small group of about 20 students who are called a cohort. They study and work together, completing two years of core college work in 11 months. Her current plan is to transfer to an Indiana four year college of her choice next fall as a junior. The choice of full time public school ended up being a good fit for her based on the school’s ability to meet her technical and artistic interests.
My youngest daughter is now a homeschooled high school junior. In 8th grade she shadowed at her sister’s high school for a day and decided that public high school was not for her. In her first two years of high school homeschooling, she was a competitive gymnast that spent about four hours a day during the week in the gym and competed throughout the region on weekends. During these two years, we did co-op classes in Earth Space Science, Biology, English and United States History. We ended our co-op classes this past spring because she wanted to do her schoolwork on her own schedule. This past summer she decided to leave the gymnastics team and focus on her other area of interest, dance. She has been involved in dance for more than 10 years. She is now continuing her dance interests and teaching as an assistant at the studio four days a week. She is taking an online college English Composition class, doing American Literature and World History courses with me, SAT prep online through Kahn Academy (free), and Chemistry, Pre-Calculus/Trig,(Math U See) and Chinese (Rosetta Stone). Last year she earned the Gold level of the Presidential Service Award for volunteering at our local science museum. For her, full time homeschooling has been a good choice. She enjoys the flexibility of creating her own schedule at home. We are doing a complete portfolio approach and self-preparing her high school transcript. Right now her areas of possible college interest include Personal Fitness or Business (accounting). She will take the PSAT this fall and the SAT this spring.
The transition to high school is a very important step and will require good communication and frequent discussions between parents and teens. Research all the options that are open to your children and help them make decisions that will fit their unique interests and goals in high school. As they continue to grow, it is also important to help them give back to the local community through some form of volunteer service. Learning to develop their skills and interests, and giving back to the community, are key parts in a fulfilling high school experience for teens.
Blessings on your Journey,
former Christopherus Homeschool Consultant