Wednesday, February 24

Homeschooling High School With Living Books

Homeschooling parents who start their homeschooling journey with the delight of discovery through living books and real-life learning will be happy to know that you can still homeschool with living books in high school.

From the beginning, I have centered my homeschool around living books. We read well-written, beautifully illustrated picture books when the children were little. As they grew older, we found the original Winnie-the-Pooh books in used bookstores, as well as Thorton Burgess books and Beatrix Potter books. We devoured those and other living books.

Our unit studies focused on living books too. A study on London might center around reading Mary Poppins aloud chapter by chapter each day. We used biographies and historical fiction to make history come alive.

For more on homeschooling with living books, read my blog post 5Ways to Homeschool with Living Books.

There is a plethora of living books for elementary and middle school, but what about high school? Don't you have to pull out the textbooks for high school? Well, you can do that, but there are living books for high school too.

Living Books In High School

When Katie Beth hit eighth grade, I designed her high school courses. I centered them around living books. For Bible classes, she read the Scriptures (THE LIVING BOOK of all living books) along with a few fiction and non-fiction books to make them come alive. For character/life skills classes, we read inspirational books and Bible studies.

But what would I do about economics, history, and science?

Would it be possible?

We used living books for Human Anatomy class and delved into Economics with a bunch of great books on economics that were a lot more interesting than a dull, dreary textbook.

For history, we found some audios, living textbooks, biographies, historical fiction, and other exciting books! We read original documents and books written in the time we were studying:

  • Constitution
  • Log of Christopher Columbus
  • Adventures of Marco Polo
  • Plutarch’s Lives
  • Plimoth Plantation
  • Diary of David Brainerd.

High School Courses with Living Books

What I did was to choose books that taught the subject well, covering the topics I wanted to cover in an interesting, easy-to-remember or insightful way. I looked to the classics as well as modern books. Then I created courses around those books.

Let me give you an example with my economics course.

Living Books Course Example: Economics

I wanted to teach economics without fear. Most people hear the word economics and get frightened away, too scared to ever really understand it.

I decided to have my teens read two classics: Wealth of the Nations by Adam Smith and The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. These two works have greatly influenced how we look at the economy in America. Wealth of the Nations was published the same year our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Yet in the 21st Century, many Americans want to put into practice the teachings of Karl Marx. I wanted my children to read this communist classic themselves and understand his ultimate goals so they are not deceived by smooth talk.

I also found an easy-to-understand series, the Uncle Eric books from Bluestocking Press. Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury helped me and then my teens understand inflation clearly. No more confusion! We read several of his books that year. We also discovered a free-market classic, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt. This book is amazing! In fact, my engineer son just thanked me in our Christmas chatting last month for having him read that book!

I didn’t want to stop there! I also wanted to teach my teens to manage money for their future households one day and to plan and start a business. I dug out some books that had really helped my husband and I in the early years of our marriage learn to budget, save, and manage money effectively. There was even Business by the Book by Larry Burkett to start us off on our own entrepreneurial adventure.

We added all kinds of practical assignments that were easy and fun like the Apartment Project and making a logo for your business. Read more about this in my blog post OurMost Popular Economics Assignment: The Apartment Project.

Beyond my own children, I have taught my economics courses to many teens, as well as those who have purchased my book to use in their home school. Hands-down it is my most popular course!

What? With all that reading.

Well, all the reading is practical and applicable to real life. Students come back to me years later thanking me for teaching them economics. Of course, I can’t take the credit. It was Adam Smith, Larry Burkett, and Richard Maybury who really taught them.

Economics, Finances, and Business by Meredith Curtis
Learning economics is more fun with living books!

Life Prep Courses

In my own life, women like Elisabeth Eliot, Edith Schaeffer, and Emilie Barnes have befriended me through their books. They taught me to put God first and to love the people in my life in practical ways that make them feel valuable.

Classic authors like Andrew Murray, St. Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Derek Prince, and John Piper have left their mark on my heart. Reading inspirational books doesn’t replace Bible study, but it brings encouragement and delight.

My teens would not stay teens forever. They would grow up, enjoy careers, get married, have children, and maybe homeschool. I wanted to prepare them for the future with some life skills courses that, of course, were focused on living books.

In my daughters’ Homemaking course, we used The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer enjoying it chapter by chapter while we had a blast with cooking, sewing, needlecraft, cake decorating, and more!

In my son’s Leadership course, he read many books including some very practical ones by John Maxwell. These books, along with opportunities to put what he was reading into practice, impacted his life!

Literature Courses

For literature, we read entire books and talked about them, instead of reading excerpts. I focused on letting my children enjoy timeless classics rather than analyzing them to death.

For some literature courses, I’ve given my children a list of authors and asked them to read at least one book from each author and as many books as they’d like from authors they enjoy.

One of my daughters became quite the Jane Austen fan and another really enjoyed C.S. Lewis as a result of their British Literature course. They still read these authors today as grown women who live busy lives.

I was so excited when I got to take my British Literature fans to London. :) :)

A Writing Classic

Early on in my homeschool journey, I heard an older mom recommend a tiny book by the author of Stuart Little. Elements of Style by E.B. White is packed with great writing advice. Each year I had my teens read this book at the beginning of the school year and I have to pass this gem on to you!

For more about what I cover in English courses, read my blog post WhatStudents Learn in My 1-Credit High School English Courses.

Where to Go From Here

Okay, I have bombarded you with books! Where do you go from here?

If your teens are avid readers, just put good books in their hands. You are ready to go!

If they are not avid readers, then wean them away from TV and video games with reading classic literature aloud. Start with easy-to-understand classics written for children like Swiss Family Robinson, Little Women, and Robin Hood. Assign them childhood classic they haven’t read yet and some biographies that will engage them. The Landmark series is a great introduction to living books that teach history.

Start slowly. You might just add historical fiction to history class. Or a novel set in a foreign country for geography.

No one is ever too old to discover the magical enchantment of living books. Even teens!

God bless you on your wonderful adventure of homeschooling high school!

Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!


Meredith Curtis

Reading ListsFREEBIE!!  Be sure to grab my Freebie, Reading List Collection for Teens!  

Enter to win all the giveaways on the Homeschooling Upper Grades landing page!

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Meredith Curtis, pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom of 5 amazing children, and doting grandmother, has been married to her college sweetheart for over 35 years. She loves Jesus, leads worship, teaches, writes, leads a homeschool co-op, mentors ladies, and sometimes even cooks dinner! She is the author of Unlocking the Mystery of Homeschooling High SchoolWho Dun It (1-credit high school English course), American Literature & Research, and God’s Girls 105: Homemaking. Meredith wants to encourage homeschooling families to be joyful and successful in their homeschool adventures, all the way to high school graduation. You can find Meredith at PowerlineProdFacebookPinterestFinish Well Podcast, and Instagram.

Tuesday, February 23

Using SchoolhouseTeachers with BlueTooth - Teaching Family Style!

SchoolhouseTeachers has a vast array of classes that covers just about every subject and teaches to every modality.  In the past, we've talked about how to convert text-based assignments into Google Classroom for your students, but what about image or video-based courses?

You can teach family-style easily by using bluetooth!  With multiple ages, you can still teach science, geography, history, foreign language, and electives as a family, leaving math and language arts (which require building blocks to be done in a certain order) for individual work.

If needed, you can print the questions and worksheets to accompany videos, and give each student their own slim notebook.  Then, connect your computer to the television using bluetooth so that it projects the image and audio onto the larger screen.  This gives everyone a better view of the video, image, or demonstration.

Connection Options

Smart TV

Not nearly as expensive as a few years ago, the Smart TV is now an affordable option for many families.  It allows you to stream from a variety of websites, including streaming services, but also lets you access the internet browser.  You can log into your SchoolhouseTeachers account, access bookmarked classes, and then stream from there.  Also, if you'd rather, you can simply mirror your computer or tablet on the smart tv.

We started with the Smart TV because it's one of the best options, especially if you're already in the market for a new tv.  It allows you to either stream or cast; you can make a YouTube playlist and access it right there on the screen; and you can browse the internet right from the same device.  There is a lot of flexibility in use here, and the prices have come down considerably in the past few years.

Amazon Fire Stick

The Fire Stick allows you to plug into an HDMI port on your television, and then access a menu that lets you connect to your streaming channels.  This is not a good option for streaming directly from SchoolhouseTeachers, as it doesn't work that well with visiting websites, but it is good for streaming video from YouTube, Amazon Prime, or other educational video channels.

HDMI cable

If you don't have the ability to bluetooth, you can still connect via an HDMI cable, by connecting one end of the cable to your PC and one end to your TV.  This allows the TV to display as a computer monitor. It’s pretty fail safe since equipment is hard-wired, but since it's hard-wired in, you’ll need to have your computer right next to the TV.

You can also use bluetooth to stream audiobooks for the entire family when car-schooling!

Classic Wireless Speaker

This JAM speaker is tiny, so it won't be the focal point of your living room, plus it produces a great-quality sound.  You will need to be within 30 feet of the speaker, but that should be more than enough for most homes.  This is a good option for audio-only material.

How to Use Audible:

You can easily buy audiobooks through Audible on your Amazon account (no, you don't have to sign up for the subscription). When you buy an audiobook, it will appear in your 'library.' To listen, you just need to download the FREE Audible app to your chosen device. Tap to download the book, so that you can take it anywhere, even offline.

Finding Audible books:

Though not as easy as finding FREE Kindle Books, it is possible to find Audible deals, particularly if you are interested in classic literature.  You can try a subscription for thirty days, absolutely free, and get two free titles to keep (even if you cancel your subscription).  Some of my kids' favorites include The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Rick Riordan series.

Connecting your computer to a television is not that complicated, but it can be intimidating to the new user.  No matter what device you choose, it should include instructions and tutorials to walk you through the setup process.  And if it doesn't, you can almost always find a tutorial on YouTube.  😏 You've got this, mama!!

Monday, February 22

Cultivating Independence in Homeschoolers

When I was a single woman living on my own in Kitchener I lived in an apartment building.  It was a lower-income building and I got to know many of the families living there.  Many were young single moms with children from babies through teens. I got to know them and their children. Over time those children would get comfortable with me, as would their parents. I wouldn't hurt a fly and their parents understood that. Anyways, it gave me the opportunity to observe something... parents waiting on their children, getting them drinks, and snacks, and finding them things to do.  It intrigued me since I was not raised that way.  

I asked some of the moms why they did that and the answers varied from "It's just easier if I do it" to "I can't stand the mess" or "What... I shouldn't help my kids?"  I have to admit to being a bit flabbergasted.  It made for some interesting conversations.  :) 

Anyways, they'd come over to my apartment and expect the same thing, so I'd take the time to teach them how to safely use a knife, or get a drink out of the fridge. I wanted to spend time with them playing games and what not, not "fetching stuff" for them. I raised my lad the same way. Do stuff for yourself that you can do for yourself.   As he matured, I included his schooling and other life skills in that mix. 

Why does it matter about letting our kids do for themselves?  Why is it so important to be cultivating independence in our children?

It's important for a number of reasons.  

The top three reasons to cultivate independence

  1. Job: Train up a child in the way he should go. Our children need to function as independent adults.  They can't stay in our homes forever being helpless children. 
  2. Time: Our time can't be spent doing just caring for our children or even just for one child.
  3. Ourselves: We need time for ourselves. 

Cultivating Independence in our Children

Working to develop independence in our children is admittedly easier in some children than others.  :)   Some children it seems are built with a firm independent streak and all they need is guidance.  Others need a more step by step approach building up their confidence. Ergo, how you help them achieve their goals will vary with the children involved.

Some basic steps to take.
  1. Offer specific assistance.   "mom, how to you spell ______" Tell them how to spell it, and then if knowing how to spell continues to be an issue, teach them how to learn to sound out a word, some of the spelling rules, and how to use a dictionary.  
  2. Teach specific skills.  This is how you figure out how much work you need to do each week to complete the course in the alloted time.  These are sites or places to get additional help when you don't understand a concept you are learning.  Here are different methods of doing a research paper.  
  3. Go away.  This is really important in the beginning stages.  Your child is busy working and you need to slip away to make supper, attend another child etc.  Just encourage them to work until they have the page finished.  You start with five minutes and then gradually increase your time away.  If you use a schedule that can help, or if you are family that just does the next thing make sure they know what the next thing is.  
  4. Take a step back.  I needed to do this with my lad.  I love math, so does he.  :)  BUT he takes a completely different approach to math than I do.  I needed to distance myself from him so that he could be successful. It's okay for our students to find success in their own way, I provided him with needed tools, and then simply backed away. I needed to accept him for who he was when it came to math. 
  5. Involvement in what to study.  Talk with your students about various options, let them test out sample products, and involve them in the products they will use for studying. Not everything will work for all members of your household. Help them discover the pros and cons for each option and to figure out what would work best for them (and the family budget).  
  6. Follow interests.  Other than math, my son has an affinity for history.  For grade 8 he wanted to study world war 1.  I found him a spine to use, a number of good books to read, and a list of research projects to put together.  Some of these projects were specific, others more open-ended but I gave him the freedom to learn as he would.  He needed to track his hours and regularly report in on what he was learning.  
  7. Allow for creative expression. I was talking with a homeschool mom about this the other day and she asked "but what do you do if they want to do it wrong?  What if they want to make a frog purple and blue?  I asked "Well, if they know that normal colours of frogs and just feel like being creative, does it really matter?"  That's what you need to ask.  Does it really matter if they want to show knowledge of a concept but do so in a somewhat different manner?  Let them own their own creations. 
  8. Help your children, your students learn how to make good choices. Learning how to make a decision and then to stick by it, or how to change your mind or live with the consequences, how to weigh out the pros and cons to a decision you make, and realizing that as you say yes to one thing you are saying no to something else. 

The end result of Cultivating Independence: 

Your goal is a person who knows they don't live in isolation, but don't have to rely on others for what they can do for themself.  This will be shown in 
  1. Confidence. Once you know you can do one thing, it gives you the confidence to do another.  EVEN IF sometimes it's scary and hard. 
  2. Practice in needed skills. The realization that once they know how to learn or how to develp a new skill, then they know how to practice those skills until they become part of who they are.
  3. Ability to teach others. If you know how to do something you can spread that knowledge to others. 
  4.  Self-awareness.  Knowledge of how they think and learn, what they can and can not do.  How to get the help they need.  
Independence in learning, in personal decisons, and in life skills can be learned by every student to a greater or lesser degree.  Our job is help them gain skills needed so they can do for themselves as much as possible which gives confidence in asking for help in the areas they do need help in.  Let them make mistakes at home where they have a built in support system to recover from bad decisions. 

Let's work ourselves out of a job! Though we will never ever truly do that, after all a mom or a dad will always be a mom or dad!  The end goal should always be to create functional adults as much as we can.  

Freebie!  Download the How to Build Independence packet.

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Annette blogs at A Net in Time where she writes poetry, blogs about homeschooling and matters of faith.  She also reviews books from kindergarten through middle school.  A reader and reviewer who loves to walk and care for critters, she raises bunnies and fancy mice.  Of all the things in her life, her faith in God and her love for her family overrule all other considerations.  You can find her on PinterestMeWeInstagramTwitter and Facebook

Wednesday, February 17

Preparing Your Teen to be a Successful Adult {GIVEAWAY}

If you’ve been homeschooling long enough, you’ve probably heard the term “Well adjusted.” I distinctly remember a relative asking how I would make sure my kids were “well-adjusted” when I was homeschooling them. It took every bit of self-control not to answer back: “Considering the potential traumas associated with the traditional schools, how did you make sure your kids were well-adjusted?”

Instead, I explained how homeschooled children typically graduate college in higher numbers than those from public or private schools. I referred to adults who had once been homeschooled who were not only “well-adjusted” but successful, too. When chatting with an employer, he explained how several of his interns were homeschooled students, and he was impressed by their ability to interact with staff members of various ages. 

Don’t get me wrong though, regardless of someone’s educational experience, this is no guarantee that they will become well-adjusted adults. Everyone has a different family dynamic and there are plenty of students from traditional-schools who are entering college or the workforce ready for the world. Just as we see some homeschooled students who aren’t prepared. 

I realize that as a parent, it is my responsibility to develop my children into functioning adults--ones capable of contributing to society in meaningful ways. 

Yet, our time is short, and reality starts to hit home when the kids reach their teenage years. Suddenly, the years you thought you had are gone, and your children will be off in the blink of an eye. The anxiety begins to dawn, and you wonder if all your work will pay off.

For this short time you have left with them, here are a few life-skills that will help them thrive in the adult world.

1.    Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is imperative, especially for teenagers. If teenagers could be financially literate before they leave home, they will have insight into taking out a student loan or not. They will know how to best use their money, regardless of the size of their paycheck. They will understand what it means to live within a budget so they can grow their net-worth rather than debt.

Financial literacy gives you one of the keys to success in the adult world, and there are many sources to teach your teenager this vital skill. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, or Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan are essential reads. Even the tasks available in Skill Trek can help lay the foundation in your teenager.

When you have a teenager ready to leave home in a few short years, nothing is more important than a focus on financial literacy.

2.            Healthy Relationships

Being in a toxic relationship can wreak havoc on your young adults. A young person can have all the potential in the world, yet could lose it all due to the surrounding influences.

Success in adulthood is more than monetary gain; healthy relationships are just as meaningful. An unhealthy relationship can harm their lives, whether it be to their mental health or future opportunities. Without good relations, real succes is nearly impossible.

Healthy relationship skills involve active listening, appropriate boundaries, self-care, assertiveness, and effective communication. Peter and Geri Scazzero’s eight-week course titled Emotionally Healthy Relationships is an excellent course that will teach your teen skills to last them a lifetime. Skill Trek encourages these healthy relationships with tasks that involve communication, respecting others, and respecting yourself.

3.            Time Management

Whether your teenager will be heading to college or straight into the workforce, learning time management is essential. 

Too many young adults lose time watching TV or playing video games, not enough on home management, studies, or taking care of themselves. You cannot make choices for your teen when they leave the nest, but you can teach them the skill they’ll need to make the best decisions.

Teaching your teenager how to command their time-management can be tricky because it involves balancing their time and allowing them to make mistakes. With the proper guidance and limited freedom, you can help your teens learn to manage how they spend their time. Consider looking over your teen’s goals for themselves, whether it’s sports, talent, physical fitness, finances, or education. Ask them what they aspire to be.

From there, task them to track how they spend their time over the week. When the seven days have passed, evaluate your teen’s journal and compare it to their goals and dreams. Have them think about the time spent and whether it is an obstacle or helping them achieve their objectives.

Many more skills can benefit your teenager into adulthood, but these are a list of what adults have told us they wish they had mastered sooner. When you only have a few years left with your kids at home, you think about the skills they will need most.

Giveaway!  If you’re looking for a comprehensive life-skills curriculum to use with your teens, we are giving away a $25 coupon code off of our annual membership. Our software gives you access to all 12 levels, including the 500+ skills for your family.

Enter to win all the giveaways on the Homeschooling Upper Grades landing page!  

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Skill Trek is a comprehensive life-skills curriculum that prepares children and teens for the playground, the workplace and everything in between. Parenting both typically developing and special needs children, the creators of Skill Trek designed the curriculum to be customizable and flexible, meeting each child where he or she is developmentally.

Tuesday, February 16

High School Chemistry - Apologia vs. Berean Builders

Choosing a high school chemistry course was one of the most important decisions we made for our juniors.  One of them knew he wanted to go into a scientific field....and we knew that we (the parents) were not chemistry-minded!  The other one just wanted to get through the required course.  After talking to parents, poking through curriculum at conventions, and trying out a few, we finally settled on these two.  We're usually all about saving why would we spend money on two different curricula?

About the Courses

Apologia - Exploring Creation with Chemistry
This college-prep course is designed to give your student an excellent foundation. The accompanying high-quality spiral-bound notebook is essential for successful independent study. A daily schedule is included in the student workbook to keep students on track. Additionally, lab report pages enable students to document their lab work in a manner that prepares them for college labs.

Textbook & Solutions Manual
Student Notebook
Instructional DVD (optional)
Audiobook (optional)

Berean Builders - Discovering Design with Chemistry
This independent-study, college-prep course covers fundamental aspects of chemistry. Weaving together concepts and their mathematical applications, the course teaches students how to think as a chemist so they can analyze the major changes that occur in matter.  The accompanying student workbook helps students document their studies.

Student Workbook
Digital Labs (optional)
Audiobook (optional)

Comparing the Courses

  • Berean Builders has comprehension questions built right into the text, so that the student can easily reference the region of the chapter if they have difficulty.  These answers can be found at the end of each chapter.
  • Apologia has two full pages of comprehension questions at the end of each chapter, along with the answers (not on the same page).  This makes it more difficult to find the answer if there is a struggle.

  • Berean Builders has a student notebook with comprehension questions.  This is a new addition to the course, and we have been using a separate notebook for taking notes, doing lab reports, and answering questions.
  • Apologia has a student notebook with a course schedule, comprehension questions, two sets of practice problems, note-taking pages, and lab pages for every experiment from the text.

  • Berean Builders is considerably more visual when it comes to illustrating concepts.  If you have a visual learner, this is a huge factor to consider.
  • Apologia has a lot of text and more text description of concepts, but is not nearly as visual.

  • Berean Builders has recorded instruction overview and labs that are available to stream with vimeo.
  • Apologia has a DVD of instruction that covers exactly what is in the text and the experiments.

  • Berean Builders has the tests built into the test book (you can make a copy of them for your student), along with review solutions and test solutions.
  • Apologia  has a separate test booklet for students, with practice problem and test solutions in the answer key.

  • Berean Builders is done at a slightly slower pace, and the concepts are broken down more.  It is still rigorous and college-prep, but could be a better fit for the student that needs more explanation or struggles with math.
  • Apologia is very fast-paced and math-based, plus it includes more stoichiometry.

  • Both courses should be completed once the student has completed Algebra I.
  • Both require an additional lab kit to perform experiments.
  • Both have extra 'helps' on their respective publisher websites.

Peek Inside & Conclusion


Berean Builders

Either of these chemistry courses will prepare your student to upper level studies, but which one works best is going to depend on your child's learning style and strengths.  If you have a visual learner or one that needs more assistance, Berean Builders is probably a better fit.  If you have one that loves math and learns through text, Apologia is probably a better fit.  We have one child that falls into each category, and for this particular course - though it is highly unusual for us! - we sprung for different course materials for this reason.

**We didn't receive any compensation for this post.  It just took us forever to find a good fit and we're hoping to help other families do it in a fraction of the time!**

Enroll your student in the teacher-led co-op class, using Berean Builders Chemistry, through Sparks Academy!  (There is also a self-paced option.)

This one year course will introduce students to the concepts of chemistry. This is a high school chemistry course designed for students who have completed Algebra I. This independent-study, college-preparatory course covers fundamental aspects of chemistry such as the classification of matter, atomic structure, spectroscopy, chemical bonding, molecular geometry, physical change, chemical change, stoichiometry, solutions, ideal gases, acid/base chemistry, reduction/oxidation reactions, thermochemistry, thermodynamics, kinetics, and chemical equilibrium. Weaving together concepts and their mathematical applications, the course teaches students how to think as a chemist so they can analyze the major changes that occur in matter.

Classes will include teacher-led instruction, facilitated discussions, demonstrated labs, and an overview of the coming week’s lessons.  Students will also have the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, discuss the class material, and ask questions.  Additional activities may be suggested to help reinforce the learning, but are not required.  Course lessons are pre-recorded, with weekly, facilitated interaction occurring through a private discussion feed.  Students will be able to digitally show off lab results as well.

Sparks Academy does provide an official grade for students.  This covers feedback on discussions, the lab report, and online unit quizzes. You may enroll up to two kids from the same household in same class at same time.  The second student is deeply discounted through the Second Student option.

You can learn more about how the course will work, and other available courses, at Sparks Academy.


Monday, February 15

How to Get the Most Out of Virtual Museums & Field Trips for the Upper Grades

Virtual museums are such a fun tool to use in your homeschool. They are perfect through the winter months or anytime your homeschool family wants to enjoy a world-class museum without the crowds, or overwhelm that in-person museum field trips may cause.

As students transition from the elementary grades into middle and high school. Virtual museums fill a much needed academic requirement for labs, research reports, and ‘hands-on’ learning from home. With the right resources, virtual museums can inspire your homeschool family to use the world as your classroom for exciting upper-grade learning options.

The most important key to a virtual field trip is figuring out how to keep your student engaged in learning. Below are a few tips to help you transition into the upper grades using virtual museums and field trips as a companion learning tool in your homeschool.

Virtual Field Trips For Middle Schoolers

For your middle schoolers, think about how to keep the field trip engaging and a little bit more challenging than what you might do for younger kids. Keep your middle schoolers focused by asking guided questions. Below you will find a few to get you started. Additionally, give them an opportunity to think out loud and process what they are learning. More detailed scavenger hunts, such as animals in artwork (for an art museum tour) can keep middle school kids on their toes and really having fun.

Virtual Field Trips for Career or College Minded High Schoolers

When you are working with high school students, the goal should be to create virtual field trip opportunities that allow them to deep dive into a specific subject. Keep in mind that high schoolers may be very focused on a specific career or academic path. You will want to choose your virtual field trip destination based on their focus. Choose a topic that is specific to a vocation, academic goal, class, or will help them prepare for an important exam like an SAT or university entrance exam.

Virtual museums or field trips can help your high schooler in their research for a senior thesis or senior project. If your upper grades homeschooler is focusing more on a specific vocation, find virtual field trips that explore career paths or jobs that involve technical training. Pick specific activities that will allow your student to become more familiar with an area that interests them.

Take Time for Questions

With your middle and high school students you're going to want to take extra time for discussion. Talk about:

  • The results or outcomes of the field trip.
  • What did they know before they went on the field trip? What did they learn?
  • What new insights can they take from the experience and apply to daily life?
  • What connections can be made between anything at the field trip with other aspects or topics they're learning about?
  • What was the most interesting or fun? Why?
  • What else would they like to learn about this topic?

The beauty of virtual field trips is that you're able to stop and pause for a moment to answer questions and discuss a topic in more detail before you move on. That's not always the case during an in-person field trip where the tour guide may have a specific topic or time frame in which to get completed.

The Best Virtual Museums For Homeschoolers

There are definitely some amazing virtual field trips and museums out there. Online learning has revolutionized the ability to go anywhere digitally and have fun learning. However, there are some that are more conducive to learning as homeschoolers that want more than just browsing through digital galleries mindlessly.

The list of top museums around the world for homeschoolers continues to expand. Those that are well-suited for active learning from the comfort of home and offer a variety of resources that will make your virtual field trip exciting and memorable are the perfect ones on which to focus.

So what is the best way to get the most out of your next virtual field trip?

The key is to keep engagement high. Here are a few tips.

  1. Use resources that correspond with the museum tour such as unit studies of specific galleries or topical scavenger hunts or art studies.
  2. Engage in interactive learning and discussions by choosing topics that are fun for the age group or are specific to a class subject currently being studied.
  3. Use virtual museum notebooking and journaling pages to capture the activity and help create a routine of enjoying virtual field trips regularly.

Have fun adding virtual museums to your homeschool routine.

Planning a Virtual Field Trip for The Upper Grades

Before your virtual field trip, you will want to remind your homeschooler what they already know about the topic. Grab a learning resource used previously and discuss the concepts and principles of the subject. This will help trigger their brains to remember a few things about the topic.

During the virtual field trip. Take your time, stay on topic, and pause to answer questions along the way. The basic Who? What? When? Where? and Why? questions can be expanded on to initiate some really interesting discussions as you learn together. For more independent virtual field trips consider a virtual museum unit study for the topic or museum you are exploring.

After the field trip, take time to debrief. Step away from the computer, if possible, and engage in some type of response to the field trip. That may be an art project, an essay comparing or contrasting different aspects of the topic, or even a lab report, timeline, or research paper. These last few ideas are perfect for high schoolers doing virtual/simulated science labs, deep-diving into history, or creating a senior thesis or research project.

Having the right resources for your virtual field trip for middle & high school students is essential to making virtual learning fun and getting the most out of what virtual museums have to offer homeschooled tweens and teens.

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Shannan shares her passion for helping others use the world as their classroom at Captivating Compass. Her home base is in Scotland, where she home educates and learns on location throughout Europe as much as possible. She creates digital curricula that promote a broad worldview through creative learning and family travel experiences (in-person & virtually).