An Alternative Plan for Middle and High School Science

As I solidify plans for this community, a couple of big goals come to mind:

  1. Teach students with Charlotte Mason’s methods, or as close to her methods as possible.
  2. Keep whole families studying as many subjects as possible together.
  3. Help kids who struggle with Math & Science to succeed in this community.

As you can imagine, I have poured over every resource available to me to determine the very best curriculum to suggest at STAR Homeschool Community. I chose Apologia’s science curriculum (see the Curriculum page) for science because that is what my three boys did for science, and it was a good program. The struggle I am having is:

The whole family cannot study together. The younger students will be studying science that aligns with the Claritas Publishing memory work. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we can somehow line up at least some of the middle and high school reading with what their younger siblings are learning. (Of course, at a more difficult level, but the same basic concepts).

In my research, I recently found Sabbath Mood Homeschool. Have you heard of it? I recommend checking it out! Middle and high school students would study multiple science topics in one school year, instead of simply Biology or Physical Science. I like this for our community, because:

  1. It’s a Charlotte Mason approach.
  2. Older students could be studying the same subject as younger siblings a lot of the time (though not always).
  3. If a student struggles with Biology, for example, they may be stronger in Chemistry or Earth Science, and eventually they will hit that topic. In our community, they would only have to study the difficult subject for 7 weeks at a time, and then they would move on to another topic.

This also works better for students who come into the community mid-high school or mid-middle school, who have already taken some science. They would not be repeating a subject for a whole year. If at all, they would only be repeating the subject for 7 weeks.

The cons I see are:

  1. The necessity to purchase more than one book for the school year. Apologia Biology costs $79 for the main textbook and $42 for the notebook, for a total of $121 for the school year. The Sabbath Mood science books are $15 for the digital download, and a student would need four or five per year. That’s $60 to $75 per year plus printing costs. If we go with Apologia, students would need another text and notebook the next year (another $121 or so). If we go with Sabbath Mood, students would re-use some of the same books purchased in year one and then purchase two to three more ($30 to $45). In the long run, Sabbath Mood is cheaper.
  2. The need to have different types of science supplies on hand. We would need these over the next few years anyways, so it’s just a matter of when to purchase them (now or later).
  3. The transcript. This is my biggest concern about Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science. I worry about writing in 1/4 credit for each subject studied over one year in high school. In the end, it would add up to 1/2, 3/4 or a full credit of each subject. Plus, these are all lab sciences, so they definitely fit college requirements. I guess it wouldn’t be too hard to add this kind of science to the transcript, but it would require a few more lines than I used on my boys’ transcripts (I got it all to fit on one page for them).

I am curious about your thoughts? Since I have already told you all we will be using Apologia, and I shared about this at a recent Information Meeting, I would like to get your input. Look at Sabbath Mood. What do you think about it? Do you like the idea of your high school students studying a topic around the same time as your younger kids, just at a higher level?

Let me know what you think!

About Author

Brenda has been a homeschool mama for many years! Three out of five of her kids have graduated and she has seen the pros and cons of many types of homeschool communities. Brenda has a B.A. from the University of Washington in Culture, Literature and the Arts. STAR Homeschool Community is birthed out of years of experience and a love of homeschooling.


  1. Cyndi says:

    As a CM mom who has done both Apologia and Sabbath Mood I will say I LOVE Sabbath mood. My two oldest did a mix of these and hands down loved Sabbath mood best. We used Apologia extensively in the younger years before Sabbath mood was available and then used some of Apologia in the high school years in a coop. The younger years of Apologia are very different/better then the older years. While upper level Apologia is good overall I find them poorly written, many times difficult for teacher and student, a bit too textbooky. Sabbath mood is simple, to the point and easy to use but completely thorough in the material while adding in living books. A huge plus in my opinion. My boys understood the subject easier with Sabbath mood. And the author is a delight to deal with if you have questions or any issues arise.
    As for transcripts. I ran into this problem with my oldest and was told by HSLDA and several experienced CM mom’s to just list it as a completed half or whole credit in the year you want to put it. It doesn’t matter what year they took it, just that they did and completed it.
    I also did not spread their science classes over all four years but did a two year rotation. 2 sciences for 2 years, then repeat. So there was no quarter credit. It was always a half credit.

    1. Cyndi, thank you so much for this comment! I received the Sabbath Mood books in the mail, as well as the accompanying books I had ordered. They look fabulous. I really like the idea of using this science instead of Apologia. I am so glad you have had experience with it and enjoyed it! Thank you!!

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