The title of today's post was the theme of my Sunday School lesson for the Senior High teen girls this past Sunday. The lesson itself was on Nehemiah. His desire was to see his homeland rebuilt. He prayed, devised a plan, and then persevered through all kinds of hardship to see it through. I absolutely love the book of Nehemiah - it is very inspirational. The people are so real. I love when they are working with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other, having to defend themselves while working. They persevered through fear, fatigue, and criticism, and in the end, stuck it out and built themselves a WALL!
In Sunday School, I applied those principles to some of the 'giant tasks' that the girls might be facing - especially those who are in their senior year and looking to graduate. In this next year, they will be making some huge, life changing decisions, and my prayer was to inspire them to first pray
and commit their lives and future to God, then plan
for success, and persevere
through till the end, finally being able to graduate and move on to whatever God has for them.
So what does all that have to do with this blog post? Glad you asked!!! I would like to write a little about some things that I have learned along the way while homeschooling through high school. These same three principles certainly can apply to the high school homeschooling journey. To me, that's when it really counts. You start to see all those years of child training begin to pay off some big dividends, as your children grow into young people and discover their own faith and walk with God. By their early teen years, they should be well on the way, with your guidance, to establishing their faith, determining their standards and convictions, understanding why they believe what they do, and living it out in their daily life!
I love teenagers. I enjoy watching them work through their questions and doubts, and I enjoy seeing them "turn into" a person with interests and passions for various causes.
There is a whole lot on my heart to write about concerning the high school homeschooling experience, but for this post, I would like to focus specifically on one area: preparing for the future.
I truly believe that if you begin developing a relationship early on, that the teen years will be much smoother. This plot thickens, of course, when you are homeschooling, and must be everything to those young people: parent, teacher, principal, coach, referee, nurse, cafeteria help, guidance counselor....etc. The list goes on. It takes a great deal of surrender to the Lord, prayer, and dedication, to be good at any of these things on the list, let alone being prosperous across the board!
In random order, here are a few thoughts to make the whole "high school/future prep" journey a little bit less complicated. There are many different avenues a young person can take as they prepare for life beyond high school. Not every young person will (or should) go to college. Some might go directly into learning a trade. Others might work in a family business, or even start their own business! The biggest thing is to use your high school homeschooling years to equip them for the future, and not let their high school years be a hindrance to whatever the Lord may lead them into doing. Many people will fail to prepare, which truthfully just sets them up for preparing to fail.
Decide early on (8th grade at the latest) on a "tentative" path of studies for high school. You can easily set up a plan on an Excel spreadsheet, with what subjects your high schooler will be studying in which years. Find out what the requirements are for your state, and pencil them in to your plan. The student should be a part of this planning, as their interests will help guide the choices. Are they interested in a certain career path? Will that career path require more years of science and math? Should those courses be more intense? Do they enjoy writing or hate it? What foreign language interests them?
Once you have a tentative plan in place, with a healthy dose of electives that really pique the student's interests and excite them, then you can start your research to see what the best method would be of fulfilling that "learning wish list". Look for local opportunities to take classes. Talk to people in those fields to see what they recommend, and what they would have done differently to get to the place they are at now. The more experiences you can give your student in a controlled setting as a teenager, the better and easier it will be for them to make a decision as to what interests them.
Perhaps they thought they would always love to work on an ambulance, but when they are able to take a first aid course, they find their stomach turns at the video demonstrations. Better to find out ahead of time that blood is just "not their thing" then for them to waste time getting into formal training, and then find out!
Also, take as much "formal testing" as possible. Borrow books from the library that coach for the SAT, ACT, or SAT subject tests. Have the student take these tests. All of them can be taken more than once. Sign up for coaching. It is an investment that is well worth it, especially when colleges base much of their scholarship funding on the results of those tests! When your student does well on these tests, it validates the grades you have given them.
Keep organized and detailed records! You should constantly be adding to and updating your student's high school transcript. If you keep it on your computer as an Excel file, you can make it look very professional and access it at any time.
Be on the lookout for programs and opportunities that fit your student's range of interests. If those are college programs, be on top of what the requirements are for home schoolers so you can easily meet them. I have found that most colleges and programs are willing to work with a home schooler who is organized. It's the unorganized ones with the missing paperwork that turn them off. So be the homeschool family that really jumps out and shines, and this will distinguish your student to the faculty making decisions about college entry.
If you are submitting applications to college, trade school, or a certificate program, have all your paperwork in order before submitting. Make sure your student has worked under the authority of other people, so that they will have sources to write reference letters or letters of recommendation for them.
Last, but probably most important, build memories and have fun with your high school students at home. In only a few short years, all the stress and hard work of high school will be just a memory, and they will have moved on to greater exploits. Take the time to develop a relationship that will allow your influence and guidance as they navigate the waters off life after high school. Afford them the opportunity to look back on their high school years with no regrets and fond memories. You can do this - remember, you set the tone for future success.
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