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We are speaking at conferences around the country! See us at:
August 5, 2017: Christian Homeschooling Association—Springfield, IL (Carol Becker)
Don’t miss our informative new eBooks, now available from the HSLDA store!
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.
Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript is the second in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts.
Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? HSLDA’s recorded event High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality features sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and more—with lots of encouragement! Purchase it at the HSLDA store.
Awards and Honors: Showcase Your Teens’ Specialties!
|Dear Friends,||February 2, 2017|
All homeschool teens have this in common—each one is unique, significant, and worthy of respect! Your teens have talents, gifts, and strengths, and they have demonstrated varied interests and passions. How you showcase these qualities and accomplishments is important. So let’s examine ways to give college admissions officers, future employers, military recruiters, selection committees, and others a complete picture of your teen’s accomplishments.
Although any discussion about why their children are exceptional can make some parents anxious, please resist the comparison trap. Developing good sportsmanship helps teens celebrate when one teen wins first place in an oratorical contest, and applauds a teen visibly shaken while presenting a speech to the immediate family. Not everyone enjoys public speaking. In fact, public speaking is still rated the number one phobia in America by a group of psychologists, and the oratorical champion most likely will not win a blue ribbon at the county fair for junior sheep showmanship.
As we present ideas to showcase where teens may shine, keep in mind that no one shines at everything. Encourage your teens to try a variety of activities so they can demonstrate their distinctive strengths and areas of specialized abilities.
The high school years provide time for your teens to engage in a wide variety of activities, learn from innumerable experiences, and benefit from opportunities that may have the added advantage of helping others. Let’s take a look at areas you may want your teen to consider.
Academic Awards and Honors
If your teen is gifted academically, there are several honor societies that recognize these accomplishments. College applications typically include a section for students to list honors and awards, so membership in an honor society is beneficial.
Although the National Honor Society does not permit homeschoolers to join, the following honors organizations welcome homeschool applicants:
- Eta Sigma Alpha National Home School
Honor Society: Founded in 1999 by Joanne E. Juren, M.Ed., Executive Director of
the Home Education Partnership of Texas Inc., this was the first national honor
society specifically for homeschoolers. Students in grades 9–12th are eligible
for membership through a local chapter or through the national Omega Chapter.
Eligibility requirements include certain minimums for CLT, SAT, or ACT scores, and
local chapters may include other
requirements such as minimum grade point average, written essay, letters of
recommendation, and service/attendance obligations.
- Mu Eta Sigma National Math Honor
Society: Established in 2009 by Sheri Gervais B.S.I.E., M.Ed. and Susan Hare
B.B.A., this society recognizes qualified homeschool students based on minimum SAT,
ACT, PSAT, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or Stanford Achievement math
test scores. Students must be in 9–12th grade to be eligible for
- The National Society of High School Scholars: Founded by the famous Nobel family, this society recognizes a student’s pursuit of academic excellence. Homeschool students apply for membership based on grade point average or minimum scores on the SAT, PSAT, or ACT. NSHSS members can compete for various scholarships, apply for leadership development programs, and attend events that connect students with college admissions officers.
For students academically gifted on Advanced Placement (AP®) test scores, the College Board offers a series of awards that students can highlight on both college applications and extracurricular activity sheets.
Extracurricular Awards and Honors
Some teens may want to join community organizations that provide opportunities to compete for awards, earn honors, win trophies, participate in tournaments, or hold leadership positions. In 9th and 10th grades, you can identify their areas of interest, then explore local opportunities through the following organizations:
- 4-H Clubs: Local chapters provide opportunities for
hands-on projects in health, science, agriculture, and citizenship. Leaders of the
group act as mentors, who encourage teens to hone leadership skills by taking on
- American Heritage Girls:
Local clubs offer girls ages 14-18 the opportunity to earn badges, service stars, and
honors; girls can earn the Patriot level award and the Stars
& Stripes Award.
- Trail Life USA: This national
organization has local troops for 9th-12th grade boys that offer outdoor activities
(camping, hiking, etc.) to mentor relationships and develop leadership, problem
solving and conflict resolution skills through the Band of Brothers and elite
- Competitive Debate: NCFCA develops and
encourages communication and debate skills, and provides speech and debate
competitive activities and tournaments, a short film contest, and writing contest.
STOA offers speech and debate training, local
competitions, and emphasizes development of a biblical worldview.
- Generation Joshua: GenJ Clubs help equip
teens to become knowledgeable citizens and grow in their understanding of the
political process. GenJ’s Student Action
teams give teens hands-on opportunities to volunteer in House, Senate, and
- AWANA: The Journey Program helps teens
study God’s Word, develop a godly perspective, memorize scripture, and
cultivate a vibrant faith. The program helps students connect with colleges offering
- The National Bible Bee awards $270,000 in
prize money through local, national and televised competitions.
- The Civil Air
Patrol: Teens ages 12–19 learn about the science behind aerospace, develop
leadership skills, and get physically fit. CAP especially benefits teens
considering STEM, aviation, aerospace, and military (officer or enlistment)
- President’s Volunteer
Service Award: This program rewards teens for extensive volunteer service. Teens
can earn bronze, silver, gold and the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award
along with certificates, pins, medallions, and a letter from the President of the
- The Congressional Award: This award is open to ages 14–23. Participants earn awards for meeting goals in four areas: volunteer public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. Your teen chooses projects in areas he enjoys. There is no minimum grade point average required, and the program accommodates teens who may have special needs or learning challenges.
These are merely a few out of the thousands of clubs, organizations, and groups in which your teens can earn awards and honors. The above entities are well-established, and offer structured programs that are usually well-organized.
Start from Scratch Opportunities
Your teen isn’t limited to organizations or programs that are already established. Perhaps your teen would rather start from scratch and build where his skills can be recognized.
The projects teens can envision are limitless, as each idea rises from personal perspective and inner strengths. Although there may be no official award or honor to earn, college admission officers, employers, scholarship sponsors, and others actively seek out students who show initiative, use creativity, and serve others in the process.
As a personal example, Diane and her children each week visited a local nursing home whose residents suffered from Alzheimer’s. The activities director welcomed her children and encouraged them to engage the residents by working on crafts, reading aloud, playing the piano, singing songs, and playing trivia and board games. The residents enjoyed these visits, and Diane’s children learned to respond appropriately to sensitive situations, take charge of an activity or field trip, and sympathize with patient and family as Alzheimer’s progressed. The children developed friendships and learned much from the medical staff’s conduct toward residents. The activity director nominated Diane’s daughter for a volunteer service award, and she received a $1,000 award!
Your teen may want to head up a local food drive, volunteer as a tutor for underprivileged children, coordinate a group of teens to provide free computer/technical help to the elderly, volunteer childcare services to assist single moms, or collect gently used clothes and toys for a local foster care program. For example, read about this teen who collected backpacks and suitcases, so children in the local foster care no longer needed black garbage bags to transfer their personal items.
The Home School Foundation, HSLDA’s charitable arm, annually awards the HSLDA’s Servant Leadership Award to three commendable students who have selflessly served their communities. This $2,000 award is open to homeschooled teens ages 13-19 who have been nominated for their service. Check out the details and deadlines and spread the word to homeschool families. The website lists past winners and provides specifics of their service projects that may provide others with inspiration.
Encourage teens to think of areas where they want to get involved to build something new, meet a need, or transform someone’s life. There may not be an award, honor, or scholarship connected with a start from scratch opportunity. However, don’t let that omission stop your teen. Instead, celebrate with a special dinner in which parents take the opportunity to commend their teen’s character and courage. Then include details about your teen’s involvement in a college application essay, scholarship application, extracurricular sheet, or personal resume.
Join us next month as we provide details on teaching a foreign language during high school.
Celebrating your teen’s accomplishments,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants