Tackling High School Science at Home

Tackling High School Science at HomeI love homeschooling, but I never wanted to conduct science at home. So far, I’ve been able to find outside resources through either a virtual school or a homeschooling co-op to take this role, but this year I was left with little choice. Care Bear’s science class was canceled for low enrollment.

No worries, I thought. We had a back up plan. The teacher that was going to teach the co-op class had an at-home option also. Well, it turns out that wasn’t as established as I thought, so we needed a Plan C, all less than a month before the start of the new school year. Enter panic.

Fortunately, another mom I know was already working through how to do the co-op class at home (she learned earlier that their at-home option was not established enough to count on). When I presented the idea to form a study group with her and one other mom, she jumped on it and we got started forming an at-home class with our three families. Here’s how we are working through it all.

Divide and conquer

Without splitting the work, the task of putting together an AP level Biology class would be daunting, to put it lightly. Each of us have specific strengths and it works out that they are in different areas so we are all taking a piece of the puzzle. K is taking the teaching and lecture portion, B is taking the lab portion, and I’m taking the assignment creation and grading portion. We are all able work within our comfort zone and it makes for a far less stressful week on all of us.

Don’t recreate the wheel

We are using the Miller and Levine Biology book that is apparently widely popular in the homeschool AP Biology circles, and two of us moms have the teacher’s manual. Since this type of class typically meets a few times a week, which we are not, it seems fitting to add some supplementary videos and websites (plus it gives them a break from reading a textbook). The publisher has a website that links relevant material, and the jackpot wasHippocampus and their textbook correlations tab. Find your chosen textbook, and Hippocampus links relevant videos by page number. Score!

Two heads (or five) are better than one

Between the three of us, we have five kids taking this at-home class and I believe this is a highlight of their week. They all have taken classes together at a homeschool co-op, so they are familiar with each other and the weekly study session is fun and lively. The hope is that the in-person discussion and labs will cement the lessons in their minds so they are more ready for the AP exam come May.

Get support when available

Although the entire course was not ready to use at home, like we originally thought, there are elements they have been able to provide us. We have gotten a list of labs, lab materials, and the teacher will grade the lab sheets for the kids. We will still be performing some labs from the book, but this definitely takes some weight off our shoulders, especially the lab reports because frankly, we aren’t science majors and a lab report would be correct far better from someone skilled in that field.

Besides the lab materials from the teacher, K has also gotten an AP exam study guide so we can cross reference with our textbook and make sure we are covering the important points along the way instead of being surprised at the end with questions on material we glazed over.

We are starting our fourth week with this study group, and so far it is going very well! We are enjoying the collaboration and the time with friends, and in sha Allah it makes all of us stronger.

Now, what are we going to do next year?

When the Great Recession left Shannen laid off from her IT Management career, she decided it was a good time to pull her then 9 year old out of public school and start homeschooling. She now homeschools her high schooler while chasing after two little ones and is passionate about gaining college credit through AP, CLEP or DSST exams. You can find her writing about homeschooling, faith, encouragement, parenting, and – – every once in a while – – green living, at Middle Way Mom.


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