Homeschool High School Science Curriculum Choices

One of the most troubling things for many homeschooling parents is figuring out what they will use for their homeschool high school science curriculum.  Many parents are convinced that they cannot teach high school science, and look for ways to “farm out” those courses.  Before considering that option, let’s look at what the course of study is for high school science, and options for providing the appropriate curriculum. You can also view homeschool high school science curriculum providers in our directory.

A general course of study for homeschool high school science curriculum is either a life science, or physical science for ninth grade, biology for tenth grade, chemistry for eleventh grade, and physics as the senior course.  An alternate course of study, which would be more along the lines of a college preparatory course of study for science, would be to slide the biology to ninth grade, chemistry to tenth grade, physics to eleventh grade, and another science, such as astronomy, anatomy, or perhaps health as the twelfth grade course.

In addition to the primary courses for high school science, the student should have at least two lab courses, preferably biology and chemistry.  A third lab course would be a preferred bonus.  Each lab course should be twenty to thirty hours of hands on science.  The student should record those hours either in a log book, writing lab reports chronicling the lab experiments, or both.  The lab report has the bonus of being added to the student’s portfolio.

Homeschool High School Science Curriculum Sources

Once the parent has determined the course of study for the student’s high school science curriculum then it is time to figure out where to locate the actual educational materials.  There are several choices depending on the type of instructional materials the student requires or prefers.  These are not necessarily in any particular order.

  1. Community Colleges/Dual Credit:  Many community colleges offer courses to high school students in which the student will get both high school and college credit for the course.  Additionally, many homeschool students find that the cost of community college courses are often offered at reduced cost.  This can also be a great way to get the lab courses since the student will not be required to buy a lot of expensive lab equipment.
  2. Local Science and Technology Schools:  In some communities there are nursing schools or other medical field related vocational schools that offer basic sciences like biology and chemistry, as well as anatomy and health science courses.  Like community colleges, sometimes these courses will be dual credit, and each course will be priced separately.
  3. Correspondence Courses:  Several home education schools offer science course work.  Usually the parent purchases the textbook or educational DVDs, a student book, a lab manual, and the science kit.  The science kit can contain some or all of the materials necessary to complete the hands on part of the course.  Bob Jones University and Apologia are two examples of this type of homeschool high school science curriculum.
  4. Textbooks:  If the parents are comfortable teaching science then there is no reason not to purchase textbooks, the accompanying teacher manual, and the lab manual from an online sources, or school book supply store.  A possible drawback here is that some sources may require proof of a school to purchase the teacher manuals.  If your state does not require that you register your homeschool as a private school or you do not operate your homeschool under a cover school you might experience difficulty here, but there are ways to work around this small issue, after all, you are legally homeschooling.
  5. Co-ops:  Quite a number of local homeschool groups and cover schools sponsor co-ops in which a group of parents get together and cooperatively teach a group of students.  The parents may teach a whole course, such as biology, or life science.  Another option is for each parent to choose a lab subject and teach the basic science and lab portion.  After each parent has chosen and taught a section in the science course, they start over again.

Homeschool High School Science Curriculum-Additional Thoughts

It is possible, if the student is very scientifically inclined, to teach from a variety of sources, including online resources like Khan Academy.   Parents can often find open courseware from leading universities, which are free and can be completed online.  The good news is that it doesn’t really matter the source of the course work, a student can often either test for college credit (as well as high school credit) or take AP tests.  Online can be a great resource not only for science curriculum but also for other subjects.

When looking at options for homeschool high school science curriculum for the main course work and the lab, it is important to consider the lab costs.  If the labs can be conducted with common, household items, or items easily obtainable from local sources then the cost of the labs will be considerably less than labs requiring specialized or high cost lab kits.  Consider the possibility of trying to rent a microscope and balance to keep costs low, instead of purchasing those pieces of equipment.  Costs can also be contained if the parents join with other parents to purchase bulk supplies.