Starting High School at Thirteen

I can not believe my 13 year old started high school this month! Now that she has completed eighth grade in one semester, she has begun her next quest—to complete a year’s worth of high school before summer arrives.

Here is a quick peek at what she is studying this semester.


English has been a tricky subject for my daughter. Grammar has always challenged her, and I was concerned when she had to complete remedial work from fifth and sixth grades in the fall. Would her learning gaps prevent her from starting high school like she planned? After completing those gap PACEs, she tested out of most of seventh grade English. Since that level provides a full review of all grammar concepts, I am confident she will be ready for high school English.

She now has just one more middle school PACE to finish before she starts in on the ACE English I course next week. As a freshman, she will continue to study grammar while reading and analyzing great works of literature like The Hiding Place; she will also have opportunities to develop her writing skills. English will certainly challenge her, but with her determination, I am sure she will do great.


Throughout the fall, pre-algebra was a struggle. But my determined daughter pressed on, passed every test and was determined to tackle Algebra. Because neither of us liked LifePacs, we decided to switch to Saxon, which she has used in the past, and her older brother is still using.

Her Saxon placement test suggested Algebra 1/2 would be the best fit for her because there were a few concepts she had not yet mastered. I was on the fence about allowing her to go right into Algebra 1. At her insistence, I am allowing her to attempt the more difficult course with the understanding that she may have to drop back a level if it proves to be too challenging. Saxon’s incremental approach incorporates plenty of review to help her master the material. In order to complete Algebra 1 before summer, she completes six lessons each week.

She started the semester with the older second edition of Algebra 1, but after using it for a week and doing some research, I have decided the third edition would be more helpful. Concepts are introduced in a similar order, but explanations are updated in the newer edition. Problems in the practice set are indexed to the lesson they were introduced in, making it easier to refer back to the explanation whenever necessary. In addition, I was able to order tests to accompany the third edition, but none were available for the second.


Last week my daughter began learning high school Biology using ACE PACEs. When I compared ACE’s self-paced course to Apologia, the PACEs were more visually appealing, and the content seemed more relevant. Both courses provide a solid overview of biology from a biblical creationist perspective, but we prefer the easy to implement workbook format of ACE.

Instead of complicated hands-on labs, the course includes a DVD with all the labs on it. Before completing each unit, my daughter watches the appropriate segment and responds to questions about it in her PACE.

My two older students completed this course successfully a few years ago and are available if she or I have any questions along the way.

Social Studies

My daughter loves history, so Social Studies fascinates her. After learning all about U.S. History in the fall, she is moving on to World History using ACE PACEs. Typically, ACE recommends Geography for ninth grade, but I know from experience that their World History is far easier. Given the difficulty of my daughter’s other subjects, I opted for the easier course, even though it is usually covered in tenth grade.

Is that all?

Because my daughter is completing an entire year’s worth of academic material in just a semester, I am not having her complete any formal electives in ninth grade. However, she will keep track of hours spent pursuing her personal interests of music and photography so she can receive elective credit in those areas.

It will certainly be a challenging semester, and my daughter will have to work very hard to complete it by summer. At the end of her second week, she is right on track!