Having lived here less than one year I didn't have a realistic view yet of the homeschooling opportunities available back when I signed my older son up to take chem last year. From what I could tell the co-op with that good teacher rotated every other year: biology then chemistry, then repeat the cycle. My son had not finished bio yet due to procrastination plus time off for medical appointments. I felt rushed and that I had to jump on the chem bandwagon and put him into the class in grade ten.
The teacher said they had to have finished Algebra 2 or at least be taking it concurrrently. My son had begun it. Check.
The chem course was hard and it was made harder when the tutor we hired for extra help realized that all the content on the SAT Subject Test was not being covered in class and was in fact absent from the text the co-op chose to use (A Beka). So I paid an hourly fee for my son to work with the private tutor on over 30 hours of one on one instruction on new material plus going over some mistakes in his understanding of foundational topics. He also had extra readings in the new text which added more hours to his study of the topic. She used a Pre-AP textbook because she said what was on the College Board's test was not level class material. In addition he did test practice prep for the subject tet.
My son also did a two day chem lab intensive with Landry Academy in May. I am glad he did that because it seemed to me the labs in that class were light. I see lab reports for just five labs in his notebook.
My son also found the math challenging in chem.
Near the end of the year when the next year's course offerings were publicized I saw that the teacher was going to offer both bio and chem this school year. Point being: I rushed my son into chem for nothing. He should have spent last year finishing bio and finishing geometry and algebra 2 which he was working on concurrently. Or he should have just done geometry in grade 10 then save Algebra 2 for grade 11. He wound up so confused by it all that we put Algebra 2 on hold and went back to Algebra 1 for a more thorough study. I put geometry on the back burner last year after he did 1/4 of the course.
The sophomore year was one in which I learned that truly doing a college prep academic courseload is hard work and that five or six subjects represent a lot of work. It's a lot of time and not everything is enjoyable or easy either.
Forcing a homeschooled teen boy going through puberty and the typical developmental changes such as desiring independence, testing limits, and exploring new things such as having a first girlfriend add to the strain of the year. Friends and extra-curriculars such as sports which my son wanted take up time and energy too. They need the space for that.
In hindsight I regret feeling strained by feeling he had to do chem last year lest it not be offered the following year. I did not realize that there will be other opportunitites. I wish that a year ago I let go of the fear that there would not be access to what he needed when he needed it. I learned that lesson and I have now released that fear.
Now that my son has begun community college as a dual credit student and now that I understand the local offereings and know our state CC rules, I realize that my son has more opportunities than ever before. He no longer must rely on mom taught courses or online homeschool classes or co-ops with their rigid long schedules or seldom offered courses. Now he can take 16 week semester long courses or even three week mini-mesters which qualify for one full high school credit and 3 college credits. With CC my son can actually do more in less time and can make up for any gaps or do catch-up if he needs it.
My advice to anyone homesschooling grade nine or ten would be to go gentle yet take it seriously. Do not overload the coursework. Look at what is typicsally done in school, kids often take just five or six acdemic courses. That is enough. It will be harder than you think for your teen to learn all that should be covered in a true college prep high school class with a minimum of 120 hours of study (and homeschoolers often go over 200). Look at your schedule and you will see that it is hard to literally fit the hours in for study, commute to class time, sports, other extra-curriculars, social time with friends, eating, sleeping, and a bit of time for some downtime to recharge and rest (TV, video games, or whatever).
Homeschoolers do not need to to 1.5 or 2 times the typical courseload of a private or public school student, in fact, it may be looked upon unfavorably by colleges as they may not trust mommy classes or mommy grades or co-op classes, so having 1.5 to double the number of high school credits than the rest of the applicant pool is a red flag for transcript padding (exaggerating).
Typically colleges and the NCAA look to the junior and senior year as the best indicator of what college performance will be. They know that freshmen and sophomores are young and more immature. They expect an easier courseload in grade 9 and 10 and the heaviest year will be the junior year, with senior year having to also represent rigor and not a senior slide time. Colleges want to see that the older teen who will be on their campus is ready and willing to work that year, not that they were an eager beaver in grades 8-10 then relaxed back or burned out by grade 11 or 12.
Although a trend to push more AP and to take AP tests in grade 10, 9, or even 8 is growing among homeschoolers you need to know that the colleges still prefer to see the grades for those tests occur in grade 11 and 12. It does not make sense to me but everyone says it is true; to me the brilliant 8th grader who can take an AP course and get a high score will still be intelligent and working hard in grade 12. Going by their logic, there is no need to push college coursework (AP) down to an 8th grader and there is no need to give a 9th grader a junior year's typical heavy courseload.
Do not overload your young teen such that you risk burning your teen out or making them resent learning for the first time in their life. That's what I did to my son, I burned him out and he felt resentful toward me, toward homeschooling, and toward college for the first time. I hope you don't make the same mistake I did. I created a problem and now I've had to backtrack to spend time repairing the damage I created. Slow and steady wins the race. Pushing and overloading creates new problems that then take time, energy and emotional involvement to repair. That is what I have been busy dealing with as both parent and homeschool teacher.