Being able to customize a student's academic plan is one of the advantages of home education, so most home educated students take all their courses a la carte, often from a variety of sources. The sequences of a la carte courses we describe are suggestions and recommendations only, and the core and elective courses we list here are available individually, so your student can take any or all of them to suit individual core course needs or to round out an existing program.
Most students do not have a solid biblical worldview before they go to college, and many do not gain it there either. The current Christian "worldview" seminars and curriculums are not serving well a generation that has direct access (information and social networking) to other worldviews and to the people that hold them. The traditional Christian approach to "worldviews" has generally been limited to evidential and logical apologetics discussions where Christians engage one another in hearty agreement without really understanding and engaging the other views. Though this approach is reassuring at the time, it is false assurance in the real world, where many Christian kids end up unable to apply their faith to their own lives, let alone offer it to others and defend it against sincere rational attack. Failing to engage other views accurately and respectfully leaves students ill-prepared for when they inevitably encounter the "real thing" outside the Christian classroom or discussion group.
TPS offers Worldview courses designed to meet a variety of needs at every level. For many, taking select courses one at a time will work best, and we list them below. For those who want a thorough curriculum that integrates history, literature, philosophy, and culture into a coherent curriculum, we would first like to draw your attention to two programs.
TPS Classical is a coherent four-year program (we consider some late entries) that integrates history, literature, philosophy, culture, Bible and worldview, in an integrated multi-credit approach. The program thoroughly covers Genesis through the Present, with an added emphasis on U.S. history and literature. Students study events, great works, and culture (art, music, and other cultural expression of the times), and analyze philosophy and worldviews from a biblical perspective. TPS Classical also includes TPS Starting Points, TPS Bible Survey, TPS Theology Matters, and TPS Worldviews and Issues, though these can also be taken without TPS Classical. This approach helps students understand the relationships between the different aspects, as well as follow the overall flow of thought, events and culture throughout history. This approach also keeps the student workload down to fewer total assignments on integrated topics. More information on TPS Classical...
Belhaven High Scholars is a two-year curriculum taught by Belhaven University that provides a seamless integration of history, literature, and Bible with a Christian worldview emphasis. This program is a thorough study of western civilization and worldviews, fulfilling 24 transferable college credits in history, literature, composition, philosophy, culture, and worldview. The program resources include media and resources developed by Belhaven's expert professors and staff. Students sharpen their biblical worldview as they study and critique the belief system of each culture while addressing inherent philosophical, political, and ethical issues. This unique approach teaches students the value of a Christian worldview for shaping a prosperous and healthy society, and helps students mature their own personal worldview based on the Bible. More information on Belhaven High Scholars...
Suggested Worldview courses or integrated programs This sequence allows a student to take all of the courses before graduation. Suggested grade levels and prior courses are generally not prerequisites, except for TPS Classical and Belhaven High Scholars.
The Potter's School has a coherent and comprehensive Grammar, Literature and Writing program. We will take your student from elementary grammar and writing, through literature analysis and essay writing in all genres and all levels, to polished top university level writing. Homeschool writing curriculums are plentiful, but even the best of them cover only the lower two-thirds of the TPS English program. To gain true excellence in writing, most students need a variety of gifted experienced live teachers to provide individual instruction and feedback. TPS offers you the best curriculum taught by experts at every level.
TPS Literature is not just book discussions and essays. We offer Literature at every level, and integrate significant Composition (essay writing) instruction into every Literature course. Furthemore, our Literature courses analyze not just books, but media of all types, including novels, movies, blogs, videos, and more.
For advanced students, we offer AP Literature and Composition (which is also our World Literature course), AP Language and Composition, Contemporary Literature, and Philosophy Literature, all taught at the early college level.
For the student entering high school who needs a one-year on-ramp of Grammar, Composition and Literature, we offer High School English Foundations.
For the high school student who needs an intensive year of Grammar and Composition to get ready for college, we offer Grammar Review and Research Essay Writing.
For the international student who has good conversational English but needs to learn to write well at an academic level, we offer the world's only Academic English as Foreign Language (AEFL) series.
Besides our core English track options that run from grades 5 through 12, we offer other great specialty courses like Creative Writing, Science Fiction Literature, Fantasy Literature, Poetry Through Lyrics, and others. Of course, all of these courses include deliberate top-notch writing instruction and evaluation too.
Academic English as Foreign Language. Often students whose first language is not English desire to prepare for a national English exam, the TOEFL, or a high school or college program taught in English (e.g., a U.S. university, or an international university program, or even high school diploma from an English-speaking school). The Potter's School offers an English as a Foreign Language series of courses, taught by culturally sensitive teachers experienced with both EFL and academic English instruction. These courses are designed to take a student from conversational English to whatever goal he sets: national English exam, TOEFL, or even academic English proficiency sufficient to participate in mainstream academic courses (math, science, social studies, etc.) taught in English. More information...
TPS teaches real math: conceptual math with plenty of practical application problems.
Why is this important, and how is it different?
U.S. high school math scores are in the bottom third of developed nations. Homeschoolers don't improve on this, with many doing less rigorous math than students in public schools, because conceptual math is hard for many students to do on their own, and hard to teach well. Most homeschoolers change math curriculums one or more times, usually seeking an easier one.
Why is study of conceptual math important even for those who don't intend to pursue math, science, or advanced engineering fields? Studying conceptual mathematics develops solid logic and critical thinking skills. It trains the mind in important thinking processes for problem-solving and decision-making, both of which affect performance in other areas. Also, the SAT test includes problem-solving oriented math (rather than application of formulas, which is where most homeschool math focuses) through Algebra 2 (Advanced Algebra), and standardized test scores are the most heavily weighted single factor in college admission. Until relatively recently, study of conceptual math has historically been a staple of a good education, including even a "classical" Humanities education, in part because of its role in teaching logical analysis and thinking skills.
Why is a foundation in conceptual math essential for those who might pursue fields like math or science that are based on Calculus and higher math? Formula-based math does not prepare students well for Pre-Calculus and beyond, where the math becomes almost entirely conceptual. This is why math curriculums designed specifically for homeschoolers -- which are all formula-based, so they are easier to study at home -- can't effectively include Pre-Calculus and higher as part of the curriculum.
What makes conceptual math hard to learn and teach well? One major reason is that real math requires both inductive thinking (coming up with how to solve the problem) and deductive thinking (coming up with the right answer from the approach you have chosen). Many math curriculums, including many that are popular for being easier for students to learn and teachers to teach, start with math formulas and focus on how to use them to get answers for specific types of problems. This approach deemphasizes the inductive side, and limits the deductive side to a specific set of recognizable problem types, making "math" easier to learn, but also skipping much of what makes math effective for developing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. (It also misses one of the primary aspects of the math portion of the SAT test.)
TPS teaches math in two tracks: A solid conceptual track geared for those students who are planning to pursue Social Science or Liberal Arts degrees or careers, and an Honors track for those who are considering a Science, Math, Engineering, or Technology (STEM) degree or career.
The tracks are the same through Pre-algebra. Classes lay a solid foundation and move at a pace that all the students can manage, and students of varying abilities are each brought to their full potential by offering extra challenge to those who are ready for it sooner.
In Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2 the tracks split, so students who don't need to prepare for Calculus can focus on developing a strong foundation, and Calculus-bound students can work on more difficult conceptual problem-solving (the two-track Geometry and Algebra 2 courses are coming in 2016-17).
The Honors track offers classes in a one-day-per-week or a two-day-per-week format. The non-Honors track is a two-day-per-week format.
Switching between tracks is possible.
Students who are not in the Honors track can take either Statistics (ideal for Social Science majors) or College Math (ideal for Liberal Arts majors) after Algebra 2.
For students coming into TPS Math from other programs, or for those students who want a stronger foundation for their next TPS Math course, we have summer math courses to prepare for each of our full-year math courses. We have also found that many students need strengthening in Algebra skills, prior to taking Geometry, Algebra 2, or Chemistry, so we offer a TPS Summer Algebra Review that is ideal for this.
We make real math attainable for homeschooled students, by offering it in the ways that your student needs it, where you pay only for the instruction you need.
Here is a diagram showing suggested math tracks for (1) students preparing for a math or science degree; (2) students preparing for a Social Science degree (Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Business, Nursing, etc.); (3) students preparing for a Humanities or Liberal Arts degree.
All of our math courses are available in a dedicated two-day format. We also offer a one-day-per-week option for some of our upper level math classes.
What do you need to consider when planning your science curriculum and choosing your science courses? What do colleges expect?
Most college admission processes require at least two years of a laboratory science in high school. Since Biology has no prerequisite, most students take Biology as one required science. Beyond that comes Chemistry (which requires a solid Algebra foundation), and then possibly Physics (which requires knowledge at least through basic Trig functions). General Science and Physical Science are both great courses that help prepare junior high students for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
Traditional homeschool science curriculums are a good start, but are not generally considered thorough or rigorous, especially as preparation for a college science or engineering major. We offer Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses that combine thorough academic rigor and uncompromising biblical worldview.
Content. We bring you a more complete course, using other texts and materials to supplement the basic text. We stand firmly on a biblical worldview, but we include content to cover various perspectives thoroughly enough that students won't be surprised when they encounter knowledgeable and persuasive adherents of other perspectives and worldviews.
Life Science. We offer two options, both from a thoroughly biblical worldview. One is a solid Apologia-based General Science course. The other is a step up to a Shepherd Science-based Life Science that is suitable as a prerequisite for TPS Pre-AP Biology and is recommended for students who want to be ready for a college major that requires significant science.
Physical Science. We offer two options, both from a thoroughly biblical worldview. One is a solid Apologia-based Physical Science course. The other is a step up to a Novare Science-based Physical Science that is suitable as a prerequisite for TPS Pre-AP Chemistry and is recommended for students who want to be ready for a college major that requires significant science.
Biology. We offer two options, both from a thoroughly biblical worldview. One is a solid Apologia-based Biology course that supplements the basic text with stronger content, dedicated lab report training, and more rigorous exams. The other is a step up to a Shepherd Science-based course that is suitable as a prerequisite for AP Biology or for students who want to be ready for a college major that requires significant science.
Chemistry. We offer two options, both from a thoroughly biblical worldview. One is a solid Apologia-based Chemistry course that supplements the basic text with stronger content, lab videos, dedicated lab report training, and more rigorous exams. It includes a Problem Solving Supplement section for those who need it. The other is a step up to a course that is suitable as a prerequisite for AP Chemistry or for students who want to be ready for a college major that requires significant science. The Pre-AP Chemistry course includes labs with a lab kit, labs with a virtual lab program, and a more rigorous lab evaluation process.
Physics. We revised our Physics program to make it more rigorous and more dynamic, with demonstrations and more. We make Physics interesting and attainable for students, as a second lab science or even a third high school science course.
Anatomy and Physiology. A college level Anatomy and Physiology course, taught by a teacher with experience preparing college students for the national exam.
AP Biology. Coming in 2016-17.
AP Chemistry. Coming in 2015-16.
Labs and Lab Reports. One of the areas of science where homeschoolers are least prepared for college is experience with labs and formal lab reports. We design our courses to prepare a student for formal lab reports in college, through a progression of teaching and examples, evaluated drafts, and final reports that systematically increases student proficiency throughout the course.
Exams. Rather than exams that require students to simply restate facts from the book, our teachers build exams that require understanding and critical thought, and that prepare the student to be confidently ready to do well in college science classes.
Suggested Science Sequence Here is a diagram showing suggested science tracks for (1) students preparing for a Math/Science degree or medical degree or certification; (2) students preparing for a Humanities or Liberal Arts degree.
History, Government, Civics, Social Studies, and Social Sciences
The Potter's School teaches history from neither a secular revisionist nor a Christian revisionist approach. Rather, we study the people, events, ideologies, and movements as part of God's sovereign plan for individuals, peoples, and nations, worked through believers and unbelievers. We emphasize study of original source materials and often use rigorous secular texts, but we analyze all ideas, events and movements from a biblical worldview. Our History program is coherent and thorough, and a student who takes it start to finish will have unparalleled preparation for college and career. However, none of the courses are required as prerequisites for the others, and students can generally take them selectively and in any order.
TPS also has outstanding Government and Social Science options. We have excellent Geography courses -- one for junior high and one for high school -- that are strong foundations for the World and U.S. History courses. We offer the Government / Economics set that is required by many U.S. states, and the Government and Politics course recommended by the College Board and required by some states. We offer a top-notch Psychology course (with an AP option) that provides both a biblical understanding of Human Psychology and also analyzes the secular views from a thoroughly biblical perspective. We also feature excellent AP courses (all surpassing the AP standard and yet taught from a biblical worldview), including AP U.S. History, AP World History, AP Government and Politics, and AP Macroeconomics.
Suggested History, Government and Social Studies Sequence Suggested grade levels and prior courses are not prerequisites.
Most college admission processes require two years of a foreign language in high school. Some colleges require that the language be a living spoken language, and others do not have that restriction. You should check with colleges you may be interested in, to understand their specific requirements.
The Potter's School offers the most academically thorough on-line live interactive foreign language courses available anywhere, and we are continually adding to our offerings. TPS currently offers French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
Many of our language courses have optional Conversations Supplements, where your student can increase familiarity, fluency, and cultural awareness.
In many of our language courses (French, Spanish, German, Latin) we offer a Year 1A and Year 1B version, allowing the beginning student to take the first year of the language over two years, in a more relaxed pace to lay a more thorough foundation. Year 1A and Year 1B together fulfill the requirement for one year of a HS language, so students who take them can then go to Year 2 of that language. This is ideal for starting the language in grade 7, 8 or 9, because there is still plenty of time to complete Year 2 prior to college.
The Potter's School wants all its students to develop in their relationships with God, and in their academic and devotional Bible study skills. We offer our Bible courses at low cost and time requirements, to make them accessible to as many students as possible. It is our goal to help TPS students build, refine and apply Bible study skills throughout high school, in the midst of other studies.
Our Bible classes are academically and spiritually rich, and suitable for teens, parents or both. They include courses covering Bible background (history, culture), theology and doctrine, and biblical languages. They may generally be taken at any appropriate grade level, individually or in sequence. We have suggested some common sequences below.
We are also pleased to feature a new series of Logos Studies, each of which studies a particular book of the Bible while also teaching how to study the Bible, academically and devotionally. These courses are very low work over one semester for only $100, to make them accessible to busy students and families on a tight budget.
Suggested Bible Sequence This sequence allows a student to take all of the courses before graduation. Suggested grade levels and prior courses are generally not prerequisites.
Suggested Digital Graphics Art Sequence The Potter's School has a Digital Graphics Art program taught by a professional Graphics Artist for students who are pre-professional graphics artists or for talented enthusiastic hobbyists. Our art courses not only teach skills and help students build their portfolios, but they help students worship and reflect their Creator through creative Art.
TPS offers a solid (and growing) series of Music courses. These are all top-notch theory and practice courses, taught by talented experts. They may be taken in any sequence, and some are offered in alternating years.