Written by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
We graduated our first homeschooled student in 2014.
While homeschooling high school wasn’t a bad experience for us the first time around, there are things I wish I had known because I would have done them a bit differently.
They would have made our good experience an even better one:
1. One-on-one time is often needed all the way through graduation.
With my oldest, I wish I’d been more cognizant of the fact that many, if not most, kids are going to require one-on-one time all the way through graduation. That doesn’t mean that they’re going to need a parent sitting over them all day, every day.
It does mean that they will probably need a one-on-one meeting time once a day – or at least once a week.
When my oldest was in high school, I made the mistake of thinking that, with the DVD instruction and the student book, she could work her way through algebra on her own. That caused way more stress and frustration than it ever should have because, if I had given it some thought, even as a college student, I couldn’t work my way through algebra without going to the math lab a couple of times a week to get help on difficult concepts.
Most students are going to have some concepts – or even entire subjects – that will require one-on-one explanation, whether that’s with a parent or a tutor. Don’t make the mistake of setting your high school student adrift on his own. Most independent learners will still benefit from regular parental involvement.
2. Some colleges count ASL as a foreign language.
Yes, this is pretty specific to my family, but I wish I’d known that some colleges – including those in our area that we would have considered – count American Sign Language as a foreign language. My oldest was fascinated by ASL and learned a great deal on her own through YouTube videos and television shows.
Don’t get caught up in what you think should be on your student’s high school transcript to the exclusion of things in which they have a high interest or for which they have a high aptitude.
So most kids take French or Spanish. So what! Most colleges require two years of a foreign language. If your teen has a strong interest in a particular language, check to see if the colleges you’re considering will count that in their requirements. If so, learn that one!
3. Study skills need to be taught.
Parents and teachers are frequently telling kids to study harder. However, study skills don’t come naturally to most people. Teach your student how to take notes, summarize, and study.
Read up on a variety of study skills and techniques and find out which ones appeal to your student’s personality and learning style. Practice those skills and model how to put them into practice in your homeschool. Encourage your student to take notes during church, outside classes, or while watching a documentary.
4. It’s important to effectively capitalize on interests.
In addition to all the academics that colleges expect to see on transcripts, the high school years are the prime time for students to discover their passions.
It’s when they should be exploring as much of what interests them as possible because you never know what might turn into a career field. Even if something isn’t a career option, your student may discover hobbies that he will enjoy throughout his adult life.
Photo by antos777
Most of your students’ interests can probably be listed as electives on their transcripts–colleges like students with diverse interests.
I wish I had known how much my oldest enjoyed singing and had known where to find voice lessons at the time. I wish she’d followed up on the cake decorating class she mentioned a time or two. Both of those could have easily been added to her high school transcript.
Now please don’t think that I spent my daughter’s high school years being a slave to her transcript. I didn’t. I just like to point out to parents just approaching the high school years that following as many of your teens’ interests as you are financially able to can be a win-win situation.
Doing so allows your student to explore his passions before he has adult responsibilities and, if he opts to attend college, they can look great on a transcript.
5. Modeling writing is a good idea.
Writing was another area in which I expected too much of my oldest without providing her a solid foundation. It is okay to model good writing for your student. It is okay to sit down with her and flesh out her ideas. It’s okay to give her examples of good topic sentences – and let her use one of your examples until she gets the hang of coming up with her own.
It’s okay to take her ideas and pull her along until the techniques of good writing start to come more easily to her.
So often we feel like we’re giving our kids the answers, but sometimes they just need some good solid examples and need to see the writing process worked through a few times before they’re ready to strike out on their own.
Each of these are truths that I’ll take into account with my 8th- and 10th-graders.
My poor, guinea pig oldest had a good high school experience, but if I had known then what I know now, it would have been even better with far less frustration.
Have you homeschooled high school yet? What truths do you wish you’d known when you started?