After carefully determing your child's high school plan, and adding up all the required subjects and credits, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed at how all of this education is going to take place in just four short years! Perhaps you have a reluctant or slower learner, which adds more time into the mix. Then you are also trying to customize your high schooler's plan with subjects that interest them or things they want to pursue. Throw in a few extras such as sports, music, and volunteering, and it starts to get hectic pretty quick.
Here are a few ideas I have found that have worked for us, when trying to complete a high school education and prepare your teen for post-high school life, while homeschooling.
Keep the "Main Thing" the main thing!
It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many choices and directions in which a high schooler can go to study and prepare. Remember why you started this journey in the first place, and keep your goals in front of you. Let decisions be made in light of those goals and priorities. If your high schooler is on a college prep journey and is attempting to get accepted into a competitive program, then there will be things they have to learn to say 'no' to, just because they will need to focus on their academics. Often, choices boil down to what is good versus what is better. Help your teen learn how to make the better choices for themselves, which means at times needing to say no to good things.
Focus on Time Management and Study Habits
These are the two most crucial habits that your teen will need to develop in order to be successful in finishing high school, and in their post high school years, whether it be college, military, or vocational training. It is absolutely critical that they learn their most effective study methods. A great program to identify their learning style is Victus Study Skills System. Once they learn how to study, they will be able to tackle anything! If you can help them learn good time management, it will be a valuable gift in whatever they attempt to do on their own. I have sat through two college orientations now, and those two things are brought up most often as the greatest hindrances to incoming freshman.
More on Developing Time Management Skills
Several of my children have had struggles with managing their time and completing their work in a timely manner. While I wish to encourage their interest in further study of the current subject matter, I also want to teach them the proper sequence of completing assignments first. It has happened where current assignments do not get completed because something 'caught their attention' and they wanted to pursue it until satisfied. Of course, this IS a main goal of homeschooling, so it is a delicate balance of cultivating a love for learning and independent study, while building the character to complete work on time. One thing we have done is allot a certain amount of time each day for the required assignments. If they can do their extra studying during that time allotment, then it is encouraged. If not, then the requirements must be met first, and the 'knowledge chase' must be temporarily put off until the end of the day. I have also had the children record in their planners the time spent on each subject. By this method, we could easily identify where the trouble spots were when work was not being completed. As hard as it may be, home school moms MUST make their children accountable for work not completed on time, or they will have a very difficult time with this adjustment when in a college setting.
We have tried to start as many high school credit classes as we can in eighth grade, of course based on the student's ability and readiness to do so. We have found that starting in on earning credits in eighth grade greatly alleviates the heavy high school load. It is often easiest to take history, science, and electives early. Electives that may be appropriate for eighth grade are typing/keyboarding, computers, foreign language, art or music theory, health/nutrition, or home economics.
Another aspect of starting early is to make the ninth and tenth grade loads the heaviest. This is the time we try to cover as much ground as possible, which frees up eleventh and twelfth grades to allow the student to branch out and specialize some of their studies. Once the student starts driving, typically in those later years, they may wish to get more involved in outside activities or volunteer work. Having the majority of their credits already earned, their schedule may be a little more open and conducive to taking part in more outside opportunities.
Plan In Time For Test Preparation
Once the student hits eleventh grade, they will have to take on regular test preparation studies for their SAT, ACT, and any other tests they will be taking. It is important to factor that needed time in when determining high school schedules. This is another reason why it is best to really work hard in ninth and tenth grades.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
The single most important thing a parent can do during the high school years is to build a strong and stable relationship with their high schooler. Rules without relationship breeds rebellion. Take the time to talk to your kids and make sure you are both continually on the same page as far as their high school plan goes. You want to be sure you are giving them the very best opportunity to fulfill their goals and dreams. Sometimes it is wise to choose your battles, and focus on those areas that will be the best relationship builders. If you see your student is struggling, help them out! It may be that a shifting of subjects or activities is needed, but you will only know that if you work it out together.
It is absolutely possible to "fit it all in" and give your high school student a great homeschooling experience. It may be a lot of work, but it is so satisfying to know that in the end, they are prepared for life as a result of all your efforts!
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