Thursday, October 28, 2010

Homeschooling High School

There just seems to be something bothering you. It has been a great day at homeschooling. Everyone is doing well. You are all enjoying being with each other and working together. What is that shadow you feel? Your oldest is in 8th grade, he enjoys learning. He loves to explain to his younger siblings what he has learned. The dinner table is full of conversation about Egypt, current events, and how a tree grows. Isn’t this the picture of the perfect home school family? Why then do you hesitate, why do you turn to look over your shoulder as though something were coming? You actually stop one day and turn. Today you know you will look behind you and catch that shadow. You turn and you gasp. Your eyes widen in fear. There it is… you know now what has brought that feeling of dread – it stands before you huge, daunting, confusing –it is High School!

Ever felt that way? Ever looked toward teaching your children high school and panicked? Don’t. You don’t have to. You CAN home school high school! Here are a few suggestions to help you on your way.

1st How do you know what subjects to teach in high school?

Texas has fairly broad rules governing home schools.  Check out the requirements at HSLDA.   As home schoolers, we do not have to use the public school’s curriculum or scope/sequence but that doesn’t mean we can’t use it to guide us or at least reassure us. The Texas Education Agency has a list of required course work to graduate . The site lists 3 graduation levels: minimum, recommended and distinguished achievement. These lists do not have to followed verbatim but they can give you the assurance that you are on the right track or answer that question you had about a certain subject.

You can also peruse websites for private Christian schools - many list their textbook requirements by grade level. Another great source are established home school curriculums such as ABeka. What are they teaching in high school? Again, let this be a guide not a mandatory list.

As home schoolers we have a great opportunity to add to the core academic curriculum. Does my son have an interest in welding? Is my daughter interested in art? (Stereotypical, I know, sorry.) We have a great opportunity to provide for our children’s growth in their area of interest.

2nd How can I teach all these subjects?

Find the curriculum that meets your needs. Add to the curriculum with outside helps.

Look within your home school community. Is someone offering to teach algebra or economics? What can you offer to teach?

Juniors and seniors can attend college under the dual-credit system. Contact the college and find out more. Ask what the requirements are for enrollment as a dual-credit student. Don’t forget to ask about scholarships. Some students take their full academic load at the college for these years. Others supplement their home school curriculum with higher maths or sciences. Still others take opportunity of the liberal arts: choir, art, drama.

3nd Lets make a family plan.

Begin with a 4-year plan. When will they take what subject at your Family Academy? What year will you add biology? What about SAT testing? Put it on the plan. Don’t forget Driver’s Education if you want them to have a permit at 15. Put it all on paper. Then realize you might have to change it. Remember to be flexible.

Think it through. Every child should be college ready. They may or may not choose to attend but you should prepare them to the best of their ability to be ready to attend. But let’s be realistic, some of our children will choose not to attend. What should be put in your plan to ready them for the work force, the military, or in the home?

4th Time to document – make a high school transcript.

When you begin high school, start tracking on a ledger or computer document what your student is doing each semester, including curriculum and grades earned, extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, achievements and awards.  This will make the creation of your formal transcript much simpler at the end of high school!

Google “high school transcript.” (I am sure that is a legal verb today.) You will find lots of samples. Choose one that fits your need. Colleges will want a notarized copy. This just means find a sample of a notary signature form and put at the bottom of the transcript. Again let Google do your work: “notary statement.” Make sure your transcript has a place for SAT and other test scores and total credits earned.

Don’t forget to include the extras , as well as the academics. Piano lessons, dance lessons (Cotillion), community theater, Taekwondo and other sports can all find a place on a transcript.

In addition to your formal academic transcript, it is helpful (and often required) to have a separate resume.  In this you can include a small photograph, a short, general description of the student (basic personality, educational goals, etc.), and include awards and activities not necessarily suited for an academic transcript.

5th College Bound

There are several things worth mentioning as you plan the way to college. When will you take the PSAT, SAT and/or THEA? Having your child study for these tests is worth the time. It is not necessarily a matter of studying content for the tests as learning how to take the test. The PSAT can be taken in 9th & 10th grade, but MUST be taken in fall of 11th grade to be officially counted.  It is not mandatory, but high scores on the PSAT can generate a "free ride" to college, so it is worth the effort and also works as practice for other standardized tests.  The SAT or ACT are the main tests used for submission to colleges and may be taken multiple times.  Many scholarships are based on these scores, so many feel it highly important to prepare for these tests.  (For detailed information and helpful study tips on the SAT, click HERE)  The study guide "Cracking the SAT" by Princeton Review is highly recommended.  Some home school students prefer the ACT test over the SAT. (Click HERE)  THEA is an exam used by your local college for admission, if a student's previous SAT/ACT scores are not available or high enough to exclude taking the THEA. 

Scholarships need to be checked into before the 12th grade. The junior year is a great fact-finding year. Make a list of scholarships you plan to apply for and their due dates. What will each scholarship look at: grades, community service, a writing sample. Some scholarships will want an essay and some will want a resume. Make your plan during your junior year so you are ready as that 12th grade year rolls around.

If your student does not have a particular college selected, it is extremely helpful to make college visits.  Colleges have designated high school visit days, but most will gladly accommodate you anytime.  Doing this before your senior year will make life incredibly simpler!

To Sum It All Up

I know, that seems like an overwhelming amount of information. But don’t panic. You CAN home school high school! Remember, planning is important. Remember, others have gone before you. Use them to talk you through it. Ask for advice!

So lets begin with a prayer, a plan and the right attitude:

I CAN, with God’s help, home school high school!


Lovingly written & contributed by Karen Leach & Claudia Fink

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