The Adventure Continues: Homeschooling High School
Whether you have been homeschooling all along or are just making the switch to homeschooling high school, these years are intimidating. The elementary and middle school years are often full of wonder and discovery as little children grow into young teens and parents develop into confident teachers comfortable in their roles. Then something odd happens. Our sweet little learners now wear size 12 Converse All-Stars and are fighting pimples and reaching for razors. Homeschooling high school has arrived. For many parents what has been comfortable now feels like foreign territory as parents realize that now, homeschooling the high school years is serious business. This is what intimidation feels like.
Build Your Network
Work with a mentor mom that has successfully homeschooled high schoolers and ask them for advice about curriculum, relationships with teens, and can help you find helpful resources. Stay in touch with your mentor mom, don’t disengage. The high school years can be like a roller coaster, and it is very helpful if you have someone you can count on, to help you weather the storm.
Work with Your Teen to Identify Goals
Is your teen college bound? Does your teen like to work with her hands to make things? Are they interested in a certain skill or craft? Discuss their dreams and goals to decide the best use of these high school years.
Consider Adding a Little Structure
Unschooling families and those on a purely delight-directed path may wish to be more intentional during the high school years. If you’ve been lax about record keeping, tighten your belt now so that your student is prepared to show a potential employer or college what she/he did during her/his last years of school.
Look Beyond Your Walls
Learn what resources are available for online and local classes at both high schools and colleges. Many older teens are ready to spread their wings by attending classes, and this will give you a break from having to teach every difficult high school subject. Can’t find a history, literature, or chemistry class that you like? Hire a local expert to teach your teen and a few of their friends.
Skills to develop: Shore up Reading skills. Wherever your student is at in reading, help them learn to enjoy it, reaching Literary levels and beyond. Classics are a good choice, but if your student is a reluctant reader, start with books they enjoy. Extent their reading and comfort level, challenging them with books of greater difficulty. One of the best things you can do for your child is to inspire in them a love for reading and books. Let your students see you reading books and enjoying them! You can even have a special book time in the day. Make it memorable, with tea and maybe classical music, a special time to look forward to. Be sure that you are reading a book too, not doing dishes or laundry, or they will learn that reading is something adults make kids do but grow out of when they reach adulthood. Since the goal is life-long learning, we need to demonstrate that we are life-long learners too.
Skills to develop: Writing progresses to referenced research projects and essays, APA style and MLA style. Students need to understand that if they quote something from another person’s work, they need to properly reference it. Mistakes made in this area can be especially serious once they are in college. Plagiarism comes with serious consequences. In high school, the editing and rewriting process is critical. This is the time to teach your students how to perfect an essay. Careful editing can make a difference when they start to write essays in college. Early experience in this area can help them to be better prepared.
Skills to Develop: Shore up Arithmetic Operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, numeration, large quantities, and word problems. Ensure that students are comfortable with fractions, decimals, percentages, geometry, the metric system, ratios, roots and powers, and order of operations. Some students have gaps in their learning, and it is important to find the gaps and correct them. If Algebra I was completed in middle school, move on to Geometry or Algebra II. If Pre-Algebra was completed, move on the Algebra I. The typical order is Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II. Then you can do Statistics, Pre-Calculus, and if Algebra I was completed in middle school, Calculus for their senior year (Calculus is important for some math and science fields. Statistics is important for a wide variety of majors). Don’t feel like you need to know everything in order to help your students excel at math. You can learn alongside them and research mathematical topics together. There are only a certain number of basic things to learn in math and they can be mastered much more quickly than you can imagine. Have fun with math and let your kids see you enjoying it too.
Look Beyond Classes
During the high school years, kids benefit from apprenticeships and job-shadowing. They can also develop leadership skills by teaching younger children or even starting
a small business. Of course, keep in mind local regulations applying to minors working. All of these opportunities enrich your teen’s high school years.
Respect Your Teen as a Partner in Educational Choices
When your teen was a younger student, you made all the educational decisions for them, but now you will benefit from working with your teen. Together, craft a unique and personalized high school path. Sit down often with your teen to evaluate your homeschooling path and make corrections if needed.
Incorporate Life Skills
Teens need to know how to budget, balance their bank account, do laundry, cook, interview for a job, maintain a car and home, and stay healthy. Check out the lifeskill checklist for ideas on what they should know before they graduate.
Rejoice in your teen’s strengths and gifts and thank God that your high schooler is unique and wonderfully made. When you catch yourself comparing your teen to someone else’s kid, choose instead to compare your teen to where they were a year ago, five years ago, or when you first started homeschooling them. Celebrate their accomplishments and rejoice in their individuality.
You Are Free
Enjoy the freedom that homeschooling offers. Take breaks when you or your teen is overwhelmed. Accelerate or slow down a class if it is not at a comfortable pace. Don’t be afraid to use a book designed for older or younger students. Complete high school in three years… or five. Throw off the chains that bind you to the rules and customs of other schools and do what is right for your teens.
One Foot in Childhood
Your teen is physically maturing at an incredible rate but can still get easily frustrated or act silly now and then. Enjoy these last glimmers of childhood knowing that soon childish ways will be totally abandoned.
Keep an Eye Beyond Graduation
High school years are the perfect time for college visits, job shadowing, and exploring options for beyond high school. While some of these visits are terrific one-on-one time with your child, bring along little siblings on some trips, as they will be high schoolers soon, too!
Students interested in attending a competitive college should learn strategies for taking the SAT, ACT, CLT, NMSQT, and the ASVAB. The two tests most widely used by college admissions offices are the SAT and the ACT. You may not have previously prepared your children for any standardized tests. Now is the time to dedicate time to learn how to get top scores on these tests. Work with your teen to identify how to set aside time to prepare for these tests. Consider checking out library books for test preparation before deciding to pay for expensive courses. If your student prefers books that can be written in, check thrift stores for test prep books that cost only a few dollars. Do practice tests. There are free practice tests available on the SAT and ACT official websites as well as number2.com and Khan Academy. Consider doing the PSAT for practice. Scoring well on tests is the secret to scholarships and entering your programs of choice in many colleges. You can also retake tests for a better score. Use what is available to you.
Ready, Set, HOMESCHOOL!
Once you’ve sketched out a high school plan for your student, you are ready to start on this wonderful adventure.
Finishing high school is an immense accomplishment. Work with your teen to plan and carry out an amazing graduation ceremony, big or small, to celebrate the end of their homeschooling and to wish them well in the next stage of life, for which they are well prepared.