Hey Homeschool Moms, High School is coming and if you plan to teach your students at home, I know that you are thinking (I said thinking - not panicking) about the tools you will need in order to give your young person the best education that you are able.
One of the most valuable tools that you have is one that costs you nothing!
The single most effective tool is, very simply, to involve your student in making the plan for their high school years.
You do not have to be a radical “Unschooler” to do this and it doesn’t mean that you don’t take into consideration your State’s requirements or throw the textbooks out the window.
(Although in some cases, it might be a good idea to “open window: insert book!”)
Children are people and since they all have interests, talents, personalities, learning styles, likes and dislikes, one of the easiest ways to take those many things into consideration is by asking your student.
Families who are already involved in a style of learning at home that is “Delight Directed” or “Child-led” are nodding with me now and you may naturally tend to do this, but I will admit, it is sometimes difficult to remember when you are suddenly faced with the pressures of helping your student in the new role of “Guidance Counselor” and you take a look at college entrance requirements. I noticed when my first child reached 8th grade, I began to feel that I needed to comply with state given requirements in order to ensure my student’s entrance into college and avoid ruining her life!
Then I realized once again, I am their best guidance counselor, for the same reasons that I am their best guide for learning!
Now that I have given you my (oh-so valuable) opinion that we should begin High School planning by meeting with, and talking to our students about their desired high school learning experience, I guess I should tell you why I think this way.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Education (K-8), some short years of classroom teaching experience and twelve years of Homeschooling under my belt, but all of that only confirmed to me what I already knew after years of loving to learn, myself. I know what makes me “tick” and what gets me motivated in a project. My subsequent teaching experience has confirmed to me that including students in the planning process can truly help them to get motivated to accomplish difficult things.
Here are some reasons to include our student’s input in high school planning:
- They are more cooperative (very important in these teen years) and more invested when you include them in the planning for these final years in home education.
- Knowing what is expected of them will alleviate some of the stress of the unknown for them and enable them to better make personal goals.
- Planning with you helps them to see that they are truly responsible for their own learning which is just what you want them to learn BEFORE they go to an expensive college.
- Knowing that you respect them as a person goes a long way toward having your teen show you respect. This is valuable to every teen, but it will be of great importance for you to make note of it if you are a Homeschool mom who is teaching a teen boy (they get taller than you and they think they know more than you)!
- This approach enables them to continue to study the things they love and focus on areas where they can be successful without neglecting to work on areas where they need to improve.
- This type of high school planning doesn’t squelch their love of learning; it rewards it. It also motivates a student who really couldn’t care less about learning!
- Two heads are better than one. They may very well surprise you by thinking of things that you didn’t.
- Having an “official” meeting with your student will require you to get organized and decide what your school’s goals will be for the high school years.
What to consider in your Planning Meeting:
- Consider their interests. Students learn better when they love their subject matter.
- Consider their strengths & weaknesses. You have four years to help them overcome their weaknesses by using their strengths. You don’t have to use a government made time-table, you can establish your own with the help of this really amazing young person that you are going to have to let go soon!
- Consider their learning styles, temperament and talents when planning activities, core courses, curriculum choices and elective courses.
- Consider their career or future academic plans, if they have any, and strengthen or plan to seek opportunities for work, sports, special talents or community services that will help them to show a college who they really are. This will be very valuable when they are interviewing, completing job or college applications and applying for scholarships or grants.
- Consider networking to help them find mentors or temporary internships. Working in a particular field can help them decide if that type of work is a good fit for them in the future, or decide that it is not for them. The process of elimination is just as valuable as finding something that they love right away, particularly if you have a teen who has a lot of different interests and is having a difficult time narrowing down their career choices.
- Consider testing that might be needed in the future and build in to your high school plan time for them to study the tests they will need. Even students who will not be attending college will likely need to take a contractor’s exam or another type of licensing exam. Strong test-taking skills will be a valuable asset in this society that values “the test” so highly!
- Consider their study skills. Can you give them more independence, or do they need to read up on managing their time wisely? Some states even require a course on study skills during the high school years.
Wondering when to begin?
You can start this at anytime. Ideally, you will read this article and realizing how brilliant this idea is, you will begin to plan with them before they start 9th grade. However, it is never to late to try something new, especially if you have found yourself struggling to motivate a tired, bored, hormonal pre-teen or teenager. If what you are doing is not working, I encourage you to try something else.
Our family has planned together since we began Homeschooling our first child for Kindergarten. Each year during Elementary school, all the children had input into which Units we studied. Because of this, high school planning in the way I recommend above, is not a huge stretch for us. We just incorporated high school subjects into our plans and included courses on additional skills that they needed to strengthen.
I know that everything won’t work for everyone, and I would love to know what you think. Would or wouldn’t it work for your family? Why or why not?
If I had to do it again, (Oh wait, I do!) I would be more intentional with them in the planning stages. I tend to be a “casual” and fun-loving kind of person. Though I have learned to be more organized, (my kids would say a little on the OCD side!) I tend to be great with short-term projects, but I procrastinate when it comes to something that won’t be due for three whole years!
Because of this fault, my most recent challenge is to do a better job at keeping up with all the BORING documentation that colleges need to see. I am still learning!
Life is about learning. I delight in showing my kids that “learning” isn’t over at the end of the school day or after the test. I think that the more our children see learning as integral to life, the more productive and joyful they will be in the life they choose!
- Hints for Home Schoolers – Teenagers (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)
- Education: Home Schoolers: From Home to Harvard (time.com)
- Your Four-Year College Planning Calendar (education.com)
- Homeschooling through Highschool (coramdeoacademics.com)
- 50 Essential Homeschool Blogs for Every Grade Level (onlinecollege.org)
- High Schoolers Can Prep for College Exams with SATLadder Education App for iPhone (prweb.com)