Homeschooling Thru High School
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Join us at our upcoming speaking engagements:

January 13, 2018: Family Homeschool Connections (Richmond, VA)—Diane Kummer

January 13, 2018: CHEC High School and Beyond (Castle Rock, CO)—Carol Becker

January 27, 2018: Forsyth Home Educators (Winston-Salem, NC)—Carol Becker

April 12-14, 2018: MACHE (Rochester, MN)—Diane Kummer

April 19-21, 2018: CAPE (Albuquerque, NM)—Diane Kummer

April 27-28, 2018: NCHEA (NE)—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.


Recorded events

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.

Teaching Teens Time Management Skills

Dear Friends, October 5, 2017

Does the phrase time management conjure up images of copious lists, endless scheduling, and needless paperwork? We each have just 24 hours a day to provide for our families, meet the needs of others, and care for ourselves. Using time effectively requires effort, practice, and balance.

High school is an opportune time to teach time management skills. Graduates will use these important life skills when they enter the workforce, attend community college, train at a trade school, apply for an apprenticeship program, or study at a four-year college or university.

Time management skills equip students to handle the demands of high school academic courses and thrive in extracurricular activities. Students benefit when they learn how to construct and use a master schedule, set goals for self-reliance, and address time-wasting tendencies.

Construct a master schedule

Every student should develop a workable schedule. To help students understand the personal time available to them, consider constructing a master weekly schedule for the semester or school year. Begin with a plan that lists hours of study for each academic subject: math, English, social studies, science, foreign language, and electives.

Some may think that devising a schedule seems too “institutionalized.” After all, many families appreciate homeschooling because it grants them flexibility and greater opportunity to do things their way. The purpose of the schedule isn’t to constrain but rather to help teens use their time productively. Without a schedule, teens can fall into the stressful trap of crisis management, where they seem to be continually scrambling to meet deadlines.

Devise a master schedule that suits your teen and family. He or she can start studying academics at noon or perhaps 5:00 a.m. If your teen wants to work on academics intensely four days a week and use the fifth weekday for nonacademic activities, then customize the schedule, because it is a guideline to help your teen use time effectively and purposefully.

For some subjects, teens may prefer extended periods of time once or twice per week to complete their work. For other subjects, students may prefer shorter daily periods of study. Work out a subject schedule that makes the best sense for your teen. By employing a different color for each subject area on the master schedule, students can easily determine what to focus on next. You can view a sample master schedule and download a blank master schedule form. Notice that the sample master schedule includes two study hall periods for when teens require more time to finish assignments, work on projects, or review subject material.

When students enroll in online, dual-enrollment, or co-op classes, include class time and any transportation time on the master schedule. These outside classes require that students schedule additional time to complete assignments, review material, study for tests, or write assigned papers. For example, a student taking a three-credit dual-enrollment course at a local community college is generally expected to work an additional six hours every week outside of class to stay abreast of the course. Adding preparation time to the master schedule is crucial for success.

Add extracurricular activities and relaxation time to the weekly master schedule, so teens can see how afternoon and evening interests affect their schedules. When completed, print the master schedule for students to display on a wall and within a three-ring notebook for easy reference. A visual reminder of the master schedule gives teens a structured plan to follow.

You now have a full picture of your teen’s academic and extracurricular load. If the weekly plan looks too full, discuss which activities, academics, or electives need to be simplified or deleted during this school year. Ordering academics and activities to fit within a master schedule is an important life skill. Therefore, working with your teen to formulate and adjust the master schedule should be a priority. Teens learn these skills by going through the process with committed adults.

Use and adjust the master schedule

In the evening or early morning, ask your teen to prepare a daily to-do list for the subjects on the master schedule. Keep track of this list on paper or electronically to help your teen stay focused. Your teen should prioritize each entry to determine the order in which to work. Break up larger assignments (such as research papers or projects) into smaller, more manageable tasks, and set a day and time to complete each one.

Over the next couple of weeks, ask your teen to fill in a weekly form to show how much time he or she actually spends in each subject area. In states that require parents to track instruction hours, this weekly form can be the means to do so. Periodically compare the master schedule with your teen’s weekly chart to determine where the master schedule needs adjustment. If certain subjects consistently take far less time than planned, parents can add additional work to course loads or decrease the time needed for the subject on the master calendar. For example, some teens may need an hour each day to complete their math lessons, while others can finish the work in 30 minutes. In areas where students consistently take more time than expected, troubleshoot the problem with your teen.

Set goals for each year

Each year of high school, set some time management goals to help teens develop independence and self-direction. Some personalities have a greater proclivity for time management, but everyone benefits from practice.

Begin with modest goals, such as setting weekly deadlines for each subject area. Then put the goals into practice. For example, you might enforce subject deadlines with a 10% grade deduction for late work. Another way to implement weekly deadlines would be to begin the school year with periodic deadline reminders for a set timeframe. Afterwards, transfer the responsibility of meeting deadlines to your teen. Streamline your grading procedures because this helps you track whether your teen is flourishing or floundering with increased responsibilities.

For parents who give teens daily lesson plans, consider giving a week’s worth of assignments in one subject area at the beginning of the week and monitoring the result at the end of the week. Most families find that science, English, and history are the easiest types of courses to organize into weekly lesson plans. Over a two-week trial period, observe how your teen responds to the increased responsibility. Discuss your teen’s strengths at the end of this trial period. Use observed areas of weakness as your list of skills to teach this school year.

Address time-wasting habits

Troubleshooting determines where students waste time, what new skills students require, and how to adjust for strengths and weaknesses. When you notice that a certain subject takes far more time than expected, this could indicate skill deficiencies, procrastination, or not prioritizing. It could also be caused by perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive behavior, special needs, or other issues requiring some professional help and direction.

High school curricula and outside course providers assume that students have certain skills. These higher expectations often take 9th-grade students by surprise. Consider surveying your curriculum to determine the prerequisite skills it presumes students possess. If the list doesn’t describe your teen’s abilities, then begin to modify lesson plans to teach new skills in a systematic way.

A list of fundamental high school skills includes:

If you observe your teen procrastinating or using time counterproductively, this may indicate that he or she hasn’t learned or isn’t practicing methods to break up larger assignments into a series of simpler tasks. What seems obvious to you may be a new skill for your teen. Because these skills are important, be deliberate in teaching them and honing them with practice. Examples of this process include:

  • Steps to write a paragraph or paper: brainstorming, discussing, outlining, and reasoning before writing the rough draft; evaluating and editing before writing the final copy
  • Steps to study for a test: outlining chapters, summarizing main points, practicing vocabulary, recalling information, memorizing formulas, sequencing ideas, and reviewing frequently

Teaching these important skills is well worth the time and effort required, even if that means revising lesson plans to give students more time to complete a course than previously expected. Over time, the acquisition of essential skills will help students become more efficient.

Additional resources

Teens preparing to take online or dual-enrollment courses or attend a four-year college will benefit from the following free online resources:

Stewardship of time is a powerful tool, and your example reinforces its importance. Model time management in your homeschool by ordering your day, breaking larger tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, setting priorities for tasks, and reassessing unmet goals.

Join us next month as we discuss the major components of high school English courses.

Thankful for our time together,

Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants