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Upcoming Speaking Engagements
We hope to meet you
August 6, 2016: HSLDA You Can Homeschool Symposium—Purcellville, VA (Carol)
September 17, 2016: CHEC High School and Beyond Seminar—Parker, CO (Carol)
January 28, 2017: Home Educators of Grove—Richmond, VA (Diane)
Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? Purchase a recording of HSLDA’s High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality event and watch sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and more—with lots of encouragement!
Develop a Plan for High School is the first in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers how to choose courses, assign high school credits, evaluate coursework, and improve time management for you and your high school student.
Ready or Not: High School is Coming!
|Dear Friends,||August 4, 2016|
This edition of the newsletter is written especially for families that have not yet begun their high school at home adventure. You may want to forward this newsletter to families you know that may be considering high school in the future!
Most homeschooling parents agree that the high school years have a way of sneaking up on you. You’re teaching long division to your child one day, and before you take the next breath, you’re on quadratic equations. Preparation for the high school years makes for a smooth transition—to confidently approach this time with anticipation rather than trepidation. Here are some steps you can take to better equip yourself and your teen for this grand adventure.Know Why You’ve Chosen to Homeschool
The reasons for homeschooling through the teen years are as varied as the families who take on this responsibility. It helps if you can clarify your specific reasons for homeschooling to steady you for those times you may feel disoriented during the high school years. Some reasons people give for teaching teens at home include:
- The ability to customize a high school program that best fits students’ skills and meets their future goals.
- The opportunity to impart important values, build on a foundation of faith, or cultivate a love of learning while teaching various subjects.
- Flexibility to determine students’ school calendar, curriculum choices, and pace of learning.
- Developing and maintaining close family bonds.
- The pleasure of spending time with your teen.
There are many more reasons to teach high-school age students at home. We encourage you to make your own list and refer to it often. Keep your goals in the forefront to remain clear headed and sane on those tough days when you may ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”
Next, discuss with your teen your reasons for homeschooling through high school. These constructive conversations remind your teen that you have clear goals and objectives for the high school years, and this gives you the opportunity to communicate a vision for the future and the positive advantages of your educational decision.Review Fundamental Skills
A college chemistry professor once told a homeschooling mom that if she sent him a graduate who could read well, write intelligently, and do foundational math skills, the professor could teach the student any specific subject matter. Spend time during the junior-high years reinforcing these skills.
Today’s fast-paced books fascinate readers with plot developments. Readers can quickly become accustomed to value entertainment, suspense, intrigue, and surprise twists at the expense of discussions over more significant concepts such as evaluation of the choices offered a character in a particular situation, the apparent consequences for the decision a character made, and the protagonist’s means of redemption. All of this unveils the author’s implied morality (right versus wrong). Begin to encourage your student to read for comprehension of ideas. Ask lots of why questions to help students see the bigger picture and not focus solely on the storyline. Generally, good readers have a head start to be good writers. It may help to give your junior-high age students incentives to read a variety of genres, such as classic literature (novels and plays), nonfiction (biographies, history, and science), historical fiction, science fiction, short stories, poems, mysteries, and the like.
Concentrate on building good writing skills. Students need to hear the language spoken well and with elegance because their listening skills strongly influence their writing skills. Unfortunately, most entertainment media do not demonstrate patterns of expression worth emulating. We encourage you to read good books out loud or borrow audiobooks from the library. Hearing the expression and cadence of good prose read well helps students develop a good writing voice. Often students pass over unfamiliar vocabulary and skip long sentences when they read silently. It helps to hear vocabulary pronounced and used correctly.
Find a writing curriculum that begins at your student’s current skill level, and then builds from there. If writing is an area you would rather not teach, enlist the help of another homeschooling parent or tutor—or start a literature and writing co-op! You can also enroll your student in an online writing program or take advantage of Patrick Henry College’s writing mentor program.
If your student struggles in math, it’s worth spending time to make sure he or she has a strong grasp of basic arithmetic operations because these form a foundation for high school math. Sometimes this necessitates lightening up in another subject area, but time spent honing math skills in pre-algebra will equip your student for Algebra 1.Learn the Fundamentals
There’s no need to start from scratch when you teach your teens at home. High school resources abound, so take advantage of the information and research we have compiled at hslda.org/highschool. Here are some useful, informative links to keep handy:
- Develop a High School Plan—The first in a series of three e-books designed especially for parents teaching their high school students at home.
- Ten short high school videos covering transcripts, recordkeeping, tests, evaluation of credit, grading, and more!
- Recording of HSLDA’s high school symposium featuring an overview of high school at home.
Before the high school years arrive, we encourage you to consider a high school plan, explore extracurricular opportunities, and investigate requirements for future goals. The information you gather takes the mystery out of high school at home, and this gives you more direction to help prepare for your graduate’s future.Explore High School Plans
Although it’s unnecessary to nail down the specific courses and number of credits your student will complete prior to graduation, it relieves some pressure to have an idea of the type of high school plan your teen will follow. A Guide to Homeschooling through High School provides recommendations for three different high school plans. Remember that these sample plans provide recommendations not requirements. As you build your student’s high school plan, make sure to include any required subjects stipulated by your state homeschool law.
The process to think through a four-year high school plan before 9th grade does not mean you have an unalterable blueprint and must stick with it no matter what! View this as a work in progress. This valuable tool provides the general route to your destination, but it doesn’t predetermine the exact roads you’ll take to get there. Be ready to make adjustments or corrections as your student continues to discern his or her future goals and career direction.Investigate Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities are another aspect of high school that require some early decisions and planning. Begin in the junior-high years to investigate possibilities in your student’s spheres of interest, such as sports, music, community service, part-time and summer employment, hobbies, clubs, and more. There may be established homeschool groups that offer opportunities in these areas that your student can conveniently join. For example, Generation Joshua has clubs all around the country. In these clubs, teens meet regularly with other students to learn about civic duties and responsibilities. They also have opportunities to participate in civic activities. GenJ provides support for parents and students who want to form clubs, and students benefit from experiences that promote good citizenship.
For sports-minded teens, there may be local homeschool support organizations that offer team sports, and private schools may allow homeschool students to participate on teams. In equal access states, homeschool students can even try out to earn a coveted spot on public-school sports teams.
So where can you find these local groups and activities? HSLDA maintains a database of local groups by state and county. If your group isn’t listed, let us know! Often local homeschool support groups offer a variety of activities such as bands, orchestras, co-op classes, theater, debate clubs, and much more. If you have an idea for an activity not currently offered in your area, then you might be the catalyst and creative force behind the formation of a new group! One homeschooling mom we know was disappointed by the lack of theater opportunities for her homeschool teens. She started slowly and built a homeschool thespian group that now involves hundreds of homeschool students, and they present numerous homeschool theater productions each year.Look Beyond High School
What does your teen want to do after high school? Whether your teen plans to attend college, enlist in the military, get a job, enter a technical school, or establish a business, each of these career paths necessitates planning. Involve your student in researching the training, education, and experience essential to various occupations of interest. This builds motivation for acquiring the academic skills and subject knowledge gained in high school courses. During high school, make time for job shadowing, interviewing people currently in the career field, speaking with college admissions officers, and acquiring entrepreneurial skills.Get Encouraged!
When you view the high school years with faith, not fear, you’ll focus on opportunities rather than obstacles. Meet with other homeschoolers who have successfully graduated their teens and draw encouragement from the knowledge and experience of various families. You’ll enjoy hearing about their struggles, their successes, and what they would do differently.
If you are an HSLDA member, remember that your benefits include the opportunity to talk with us, your high school consultants. We are here to answer your questions via email or phone, and we want to hear about your teen’s interests and answer specific questions you may have. Not yet a member? Consider joining HSLDA today, so you can take advantage of our personalized advice on subjects such as curriculum choices, recordkeeping, transcripts, and teaching tips, as well as the many other resources and helps we offer.Next month, we will offer some ideas on high school lesson planning. We pray that you are refreshed this summer and prepared to enter the next school year with hope and joy!
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants