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Speed Your Kids Through High School

By Joyce Swann
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #9, 1995.

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Joyce Swann

For all ten of our children we used the college preparatory high school course from the American School in Chicago, a correspondence school.

This course requires a total of 16 units for graduation—13 broken down into grade levels or semesters.

The student works in two subjects at a time with new subjects being automatically sent out by the school when the student nears completion of a subject in which he is working. Thus, the student does not lose time while waiting for new materials to arrive.

The required subjects are as follows:

The American School provides a wide range of subjects from which the three elective units may be selected including additional courses in English, foreign languages, advanced mathematics, science, chemistry, oceanography, automotive, building, commercial business, electronics, drafting, art, photography, child care, gardening and landscaping, home repair and maintenance, and many more.

Because I wanted my children to develop specific skills during high school, I chose their electives for them:

The American School offers several benefits which earn it an A+ from me. First, the school is highly respected among educators and is recognized by colleges and universities. Second, it is accredited by both the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (the largest accrediting agency in the nation) and the National Home Study Council. In addition, it is accredited by the State of Illinois as a private secondary school. Third, the individual lessons are laid out complete with self-check tests so that the home teacher spends zero time preparing lesson plans. Fourth, all exams are mailed to the school where they are graded and returned to the student (the school does all the record keeping).

Even these obvious benefits, however, are not sufficient to have persuaded me to use the American School ten times. I wanted the structure, I wanted the accreditation, I wanted the lesson plans, but I also wanted a course of study that would be challenging and interesting for my students. Fortunately, the American School provided a quality of education that made my children’s high school experience one they remember with great affection.

Among the best of the courses is the literature. The American and English literature courses divide the selections into literary periods. The study of each literary period is preceded by a discussion of the social, political, religious, and economic forces which shaped the thinking of the society in which the literature was created. A number of full-page color reproductions of the art of each period, along with information about the artists, also help the student put the literature into a proper perspective. The first time I opened the American literature book and saw that the selections included the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, Washington’s Farewell Address, and photographs of early colonial art, I knew we were on the right track.

Another of my favorite courses is the elective speech course, How to Talk More Effectively. The student learns, among other things, how to widen his interests, the do’s and don’ts of public speaking, and how to prepare and deliver a speech. Especially interesting are the written and taped excerpts from speeches by Mohandas Gandhi, David Crockett, Simon Bolivar, Napoleon, John Kennedy, Frederick Douglass, Winston Churchill, FDR, and others. It is so much easier to understand what makes a speech effective when one is presented with examples of exceptional speeches along with a discussion of the techniques utilized.

I must admit that not every subject required by the American School is fascinating. Math is seldom exciting, and I do not remember any of my students being thrilled with the social civics lesson in which they learned how a bill becomes a law. I do know, however, that everything they learned during their high school years was necessary to prepare them for the university.

In the final analysis, it is precisely that which made the American School the ideal high school program for my family—the curriculum ensured that there would be no “gaps” in their educational foundation.

Just how well the American School had prepared them became evident when they were enrolled in their university courses and found that they were well prepared to meet the challenges of higher education.

American School, 850 East Fifty-Eighth St., Chicago, IL 60637. (800) 228-5600 (orders). (312) 947-3300 (inquiries).

editor’s note:
Although the American School has worked well for the Swanns, we have heard that some high schools will not accept American School credits. Check that the college or high school of your choice will accept these credits BEFORE enrolling.

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