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10 Days of Homeschool High School: Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed the 10 Days of Homeschooling High School series. In case you missed something, I’ve linked below to all the topics that have been covered.

(If you’re looking for the Weekly Wrap-Up, it will be posted around 5:00, so be sure to stop back by. Also, I’m posting over at Simple Homeschool today about why we don’t start school at 8 AM.)


I believe that it is completely possible to give a child a solid education, at home, through high school. There are a multitude of ways to accomplish this. We have used a wide variety of resources, including:

We’re currently using Switched on Schoolhouse, which Brianna really enjoys. It gives us a good mix of independence and accountability. The key is finding the best fit for your individual child. What works for my child may not work for yours. What works for Brianna may not work for her younger siblings.

What are some of your favorite homeschool high school resources? Do you have any questions that I didn’t cover? Leave them in the comments and maybe I’ll do a follow-up post sometime in the next few weeks.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th!


Homeschooling High School: Is Nature Study Relevant to High School Science?

Too often, we homeschooling parents think that, when high school hits, it’s time to put away more delight-led learning and hit the text books. One of the things that can get pushed aside is nature study, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Today’s guest post is from one of my favorite bloggers, Barb McCoy, from Handbook of Nature Study. Her passion for nature study ignited my own and countless other families’ excitement for the topic.

(Psst…If you’re looking for the Weekly Wrap-Up, come back this afternoon. It will be up around 5:00 EST.)


There is no argument that nature study for young children opens their minds to a sense of beauty and connects them with the world they live in by allowing time to explore the outdoors with a loving parent as their guide

Parents usually start with simple nature walks and allow time to observe things that interest the child as he goes about his outdoor activities. Early training to use their senses in the outdoors helps them become aware of the birds, wildflowers, trees, and animals that are to be discovered in their backyards and neighborhoods. As the child grows, he can learn many things by observing the world that surrounds him.

  • Does formal science take the place of learning about the natural world in your own backyard?
  • What nature study methods work with high school students?
  • Can nature study be introduced in high school successfully?


Formal Science vs. Nature Study – Using Nature Study to Supplement

Up until the high school years, nature study included whatever caught your child’s interest and preparing meant reading ahead of time about topics that might come up during your outdoor time. More often than not, the subjects came to you. Your child took an interest in the birds at the birdfeeder, they found some cones from a tree that they were curious about, or they noticed the dandelions growing in the lawn….you then took their interest and did some follow-up.

In high school you can be more systematic about your nature study and use it as a supplement to more formal science learning. Our family has enjoyed incorporating real investigation of natural objects as part of our biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, and marine biology studies in high school. Keeping a library of field guides has greatly encouraged my boys to dig deeper than their science courses. Science texts came alive and nature study became the complement to their science books.


Methods for Nature Study in High School

Some modern nature study ideas create a sense of sentimentalism and give the impression that it is not “real” science. Many people equate nature study with pretty nature journals and poetry and not real discovery. Our family uses nature study to support and enhance our academic learning. How do we do that?

Take it Outdoors with Field trips (Daily Walks and Vacations): High school age students can reach out and benefit from the opportunity to include real subjects along with their learning. Plan day trips or even longer trips to include a variety of locations: ocean, forest, desert, or botanical garden. Prepare ahead of time by gathering field guides and bring along notebooks to record your learning.

Look into various volunteering opportunities that could include working at a national park, helping at a local nature center, or being trained to do some sort of animal rescue.

The concept of taking a field trip is not new but have you ever planned a vacation to include a nature center, special habitat, or opportunity to participate in citizen science? The idea is to get outside to make a connection with the real world and balance out all that textbook work.

Adventure: Not to be overlooked in high school nature study is the aspect of stepping out of their comfort zone and learning in new ways. They can now physically try things that are more appropriate for high school students like ocean snorkeling, rock climbing, hiking in the wilderness, or mountain biking.

Natural extensions of these activities provide the connections between formal science and the real world. In our family our time outdoors has led to creative outlets like photography, gardening, and painting. I try not to limit our nature study to books and journals and I have found that just spending time outside with my sons builds between us a special bond.


Hone Scientific Observation Skills with Nature Notebooks (Journals or Pre-made Notebook Pages): Every high school student should keep a written record of their nature study. These become valuable references and tools when topics come up during science that they have already observed in real life. These are personal records, lists, sketches, photos, and/or impressions that they can document in a journal as a way to cement their experiences in nature.


New to Nature Study – Getting Started In High School

Is science meaningful in your family? Can you think of a way to spend time outdoors with your children that will enhance their appreciation of nature? Can you balance their text work with some active learning by giving them the opportunity to explore an area of nature study they enjoy?

Our family has greatly increased our knowledge by allowing time for nature study on a weekly basis. You can start in high school by allowing even 15 minutes outdoors each week to explore your own backyard.

We choose to use the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock to equip us with practical information on so many common subjects found right outside our door. I highly recommend this book as a reference and guide.

If you need additional help, I have written nature study challenges for over one hundred of the topics found in this book. You can access them on my blog: Handbook of Nature Study.

I have also started to include in the challenges suggestions for high school level “advanced study” along with companion notebook pages. These enhanced challenges are found in my new More Nature Study With The Outdoor Hour Challenge ebook and each challenge will be listed on the “autumn” tab at the top of my blog.

Finally, you may be interested in reading this Squidoo lense for ideas to enhance any biology text using nature study: Apologia Biology .

Nature Study continues to be a relevant part of high school science and is a valuable balance to academic learning. Get outside and give it a try!

Barb McCoy- Harmony Art Mom writes about their family’s outdoor adventures on her blog, Handbook of Nature Study. She also is the author and host for the Outdoor Hour Challenge and a series of ebooks helping families get started with simple nature study. Her home base is Northern California but she also writes about their continuing adventures in Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona. Barb also founded Harmony Fine Arts which helps homeschoolers with their art and music appreciation.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th! I love these ladies and we know you will too.

Works for Me Wednesday: NoteTab Light

A year or so ago, I downloaded NoteTab Light a freeware text and HTML editor, so that I could make an HTML email signature. Since then, I’ve found that it’s useful for lots of things. Not only was I easily able to make a simple email signature, but now I often use it for HTML code that I use regularly, such as my signature line for The Homeschool Classroom or my closing guidelines text for the Weekly Wrap-Up each Friday.

I also use it to store email addresses for groups that I don’t want to add to my permanent email address book (such as a given week’s participants in Homeschool Showcase) so that I can send out notification emails, or to store the HTML code for links I use regularly, or to back up my blog widgets.

I had no idea, when I first downloaded NoteTab Light, that it would become such a useful little tool for blogging and email. NoteTab Light works for me!

Visit Kristin at We Are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips.