When I first started homeschooling, I knew I wanted to make school part of our real life. I knew my children would be involved in more than just textbook learning. We were already spending so much time doing “non-traditional” learning like 4-H Clover Buds, service projects, field trips, plays, church choir, making meals for ourselves and others, and working on the farm. I never knew exactly what to call this type of learning until I ran across a wonderfully encouraging website called The Homeschool Oasis that taught me the term “Lifestyle of Learning“. Yes! That’s exactly the kind of school I wanted – a school where learning was our lifestyle and our life was learning!
Barb Shelton and her husband, Dave, are the very passionate owners of The Homeschool Oasis where they strive to support you on all levels in a mission to re-educate yourself about education. The website alone offers many, many articles that guide you along a journey of making your homeschool a lifestyle. As I settled into an eclectic Charlotte Mason style for our homeschool, I found Barb’s articles helped cement the idea that school should be a loving, natural atmosphere. Not that she claims to be a CMer – but her vision is usually not contrary to a CM style education.
Like many homeschoolers out there, as my daughter approaches high school, I’m beginning to get a little panicky thinking that the only way to make it through is a strict textbook curriculum. Even though I’m not totally against textbooks, a strict textbook curriculum goes against the lifestyle of learning style we’ve had in our home for the last eight years. As I was thinking about high school one day, I remembered Barb has authored several books and other products. Upon finding Senior High: A Home Designed Form+U+la on her website, I literally begged her for a review copy. I’m SO thankful she said yes!
This HUGE book, written in conversational style, contains eight sections with a couple of introduction chapters.
- Front Stuff includes a few messages about the book, acknowledgments and a very detailed table of contents.
- Jumpstart Plan gives you a brief overview or sneak preview of what you can expect from the book. This section gives you a feel for what you will be learning in the upcoming chapters and the outcomes you will produce.
- Section 1: Out of Fear and Into Freedom takes you through a re-education of sorts and challenges you to think of high school as a lifestyle of learning. A question and answer section greatly encourages you in some of the most frequent fears such as, “I truly want to enjoy being with my kids again, but I feel the pressure everywhere for doing grades, following scope-and-sequences, etc. And even at that, don’t feel I’m doing a good job…” This section is a great encouragement for setting goals for your children, with knowing God being #1.
- Section 2: Requirements, College, Promotion & Graduation answers several questions about graduation requirements, giving credits, figuring hours earned and making college plans. There’s even a very nice section about planning a meaningful graduation ceremony for your child.
- Section 3: Record Keeping System provides you with reproducible record keeping sheets, and directions and samples showing you how to use them. I think I counted 11 sheets that cover everything from overall plans to weekly plans to transcripts.
- Section 4: Potpourri of Curriculum Supplements teaches you how think about curriculum in terms of “non traditional” education. In other words, you’ll learn how to turn things like performances, cooking, home repair, and other activities that may not fit into a particular curriculum – but are definitely learning opportunities – and find a place for them on the transcript. Several worksheets are included in this section that will allow your high schooler to document activities as learning. There a A LOT of worksheets provided, but some topics include: a movie critique and analysis, occupational skills interview, healthful living planning, play critique, poet synopsis and much more. My favorite is the home report where the child reviews their learning opportunities from the previous month.
- Section 5: Grading and Portfolio Guidelines teaches you how to determine grades outside of the traditional curriculum and how to prepare a top-notch high school portfolio. A reproducible is included that helps you create a rubric (or scoring guide) for your child to let them know what is expected in order to receive certain grades.
- Section 6: Personalizing all this Stuff is the nitty-gritty chapter. It teaches you step-by-step, with lots of examples, HOW to design your high school framework AND how to design your classes. Barb knows that everyone (children and moms) have their own learning style, so she introduces you to varied approaches for designing the framework and classes so they meet the needs of both the child’s learning style and the mom’s organizational style. In this section, Barb even gives you ideas for how to organize yourself and your materials! Chapter 6 is so big and full of reproducibles and great information, Barb has split it into four distinct categories to make it easier to find what you need.
- Section 7: Lifestyle of Learning Applications brings it all together again encouraging you to make high school as natural and wonderful as the rest of the school years have been.
- Section 8: Resources, Reviews & Glossary is just what it says. You’ll find a list of other resources Barb suggests, as well as some reviews of the book and a glossary of terms that might be unfamiliar to you as she uses them in the book.
I could keep writing my praises about this book, but this is quickly turning into one of the longest reviews I’ve written! Just know that I LOVE the information shared and feel so much better about continuing our lifestyle of learning homeschool on into high school. Thanks for the encouragement, Barb!
-Written by Cindy, an eclectically Charlotte Mason mom of three.