Choosing curricula for high school can be stressful. There are so many factors to consider:
- What are your teen's interests?
- What are your state's or umbrella school's requirements?
- How do you determine a credit?
And that's just the top three questions. The list only grows from there as you begin researching what your child needs to take in high school. One of the subjects required is history, but it may be open-ended, or your state may require specific courses in world history and your country's history. Some may even require state history.
With all of these stressors, how do you know which homeschool history curriculum you should choose for high school?
What Courses are Required?
The first step in choosing a history curriculum is to find out what your state or umbrella school requires. These are often specific in topic, but you have a considerable amount of room in what makes up the course your student will be taking.
In our state, students are required to take a course on U.S. History with Geography and a course on World History with Geography. However, our umbrella school takes this a step further and requires a second year of World History.
How Do You Determine What is a credit?
A credit for high school can be determined in a variety of ways. Again, start with your state and check for any specifics regarding allocating high school credit. Then, choose one of the most common ways to determine if your student has earned a credit.
Method One: Text-Based Method
The first method is to give credit based on the completion of a text. For a history credit, that may mean that the student has completed reading a history textbook, or several history texts.
The text may have quizzes, tests, discussion questions or other methods to help determine if the student has mastered the material. I find that narration is a very effective tool for evaluating what a student has learned in history courses.
Method Two: Time-Based Method
Another method for determining credit is to use a time-based approach. In this method, the student would record the amount of time they spent reading, writing, and working on projects for a history course.
No one is in complete agreement as to what constitutes a full-year credit, but it lies somewhere between the Carnegie unit of 120 hours and the mandatory state requirements for attendance.
The Carnegie method assumes students receive one hour of instruction, five days a week for 24 weeks. The most common state requirement for attendance is 180 days. When that is multiplied by the average high school class time of 45 minutes, you get 135 hours.
Neither of these is definitive, but they give you a good starting point in using a time-based approach.
What are the Essentials of a High School Homeschool History Curriculum?
Finding a history course that fits into these requirements isn't terribly difficult. But finding one that has the essentials of a quality history curriculum requires a bit more research. In general, a homeschool history curriculum for high schoolers should include the following:
- Unbiased representation of topics representing the history of the world (or country) - This is up for much debate of late. Still, history should be taught unbiasedly, giving the student the chance to create their own opinions and views on the subject. Sometimes this will cause distress in the student. Having an emotional reaction to points in history is not only acceptable but encouraged. Students should learn from history and not just memorize facts and dates.
- Open-ended critical thinking questions - Facts and dates are important. Who doesn't know that "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492?" But, those are just facts. Students should be required to analyze the events and determine if moments in time should be immortalized in history for good or be held in infamy.
- Living history books - As a relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I believe that living history books help students connect to the story and, thus, the historical importance and context of an event.
- Integrated geography of the places studied - It's hard to understand the significance of many historical events until you see where those places lie on a map. Many wars were initiated based on the dispute of borders alone!
- Discussion of the specific cultural beliefs and traditions of the countries studied - It's impossible to learn the history of a country or area without exploring the culture of the people who lived there. Religion, tradition, and other cultural beliefs can significantly sway a country's history.
- General knowledge of civics and the types of governments represented in the countries studied - Whether your student is studying their own country or those of others, understanding the structure of their governments can help them to understand significant historical events.
How I am Teaching High School History this Year
Taking all these essentials into account, I went on a search for an excellent world history curriculum this year. Last year, we dug deep into World Literature for our language arts, and we wanted to continue that with a world history course.
I found one that fit all of mine and my umbrella school's requirements. Then I made sure that the living books were some of the best, and I have to say that I was happy to see they were.
So, not to hold you in more suspense, the answer to our World History High School Curriculum this year is BookShark Reading with History.
What is BookShark Reading with History?
BookShark Reading with History is a complete history curriculum for high school history. It includes:
- A full instructor's guide with a 4-day a week lesson plan, vocabulary, questions for discussion, and detailed instruction so you don't have to plan and use your precious time to get everything ready each week,
- Markable maps for your student to use to find the places they are reading about and how their geographical location influenced their history,
- Twenty-four readers which are living books that make learning history much more interactive. The student can empathize with the characters and feel like a part of the history,
- Two poetry books that encourage students to make connections to history by reading the beautiful words of people at the time,
- A Story of the World spine to lead the way through history!
Why am I Choosing BookShark Reading with History for our High School History Curriculum?
Because it's Student Approved
There are many reasons we chose to use BookShark Reading with History this year, but the number one reason is that my high schooler loves it.
It's important when our children reach the high school years to give them ownership of their education. Starting in middle school, I introduce my kids to the idea of choosing their own curriculum by giving them options and letting them pick the one they will use. By high school, my teens know what a good curriculum looks like and if they will enjoy it or not.
The youngest is starting high school this year, and she chooses her curricula for the year. During the summer break, we sat down and discussed what she wanted her freshman year to look like. We studied the requirements of our umbrella school, and she decided on the subjects. Then she took a look at the best curricula available for those subjects. By giving her this freedom, she takes ownership of her education and gets excited to learn.
We have always used living books for history, and BookShark Reading with History greatly appealed to her. Once she saw the books involved, she was sold. Just last week she told me how much she was enjoying the books she was reading.
Because it has a virtual component
A new component of the BookShark curriculum is the BookShark Virtual seat. We've used BookShark's programs before, but this was before the online platform was created. So, I was curious how I would feel about using it.
I'll be honest. At first, I was hesitant to use it. It seemed like a lot to understand, and I was afraid my daughter would balk at this new virtual option. But, all that worry was for nothing. After the first day, she felt comfortable using the program and even insisted we keep using it when I gave her the option to quit.
BookShark Virtual encourages the independence I mentioned earlier. Your teen can log in, see their assignments, take assessments, and view maps. As the parent, you can follow their progress, grade open-ended questions, and make adjustments as needed.
Because it fits our Homeschool Atmosphere
We're relaxed Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, which basically means that we follow Charlotte Mason's principles in a way that best works for our family. We're not purists by any means. We take the parts of the philosophy that we feel are most conducive to a positive homeschool atmosphere and remove those that we don't enjoy.
BookShark Reading with History is based on the philosophy that there is...
“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books. The best is not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough." ~ Charlotte Mason
And I must agree. There is no such thing as having too many good books. And with all these awesome books to choose from, we're on our way to a full and rich history study this year!
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…