Eight Steps to Homeschooling Highschool Success
Congratulations! You have a student entering high school, and the next four years will be very important to your child’s success after graduation. As daunting as that seems, be encouraged because with intention, planning, and prayer the next four years can prepare your student for college, career, and a successful life! Below are eight suggestions to ensure a successful high school experience.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH. Understand that every state has recommended guidelines regarding which subjects to include in high school in order to graduate. These are guidelines, not laws. Usually the expectation is to have classes in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and foreign language in addition to electives. Some states tie their college grants to specific expectations for homeschooled students so research your state’s educational grants as well as the homeschool qualifications for the grants. Whether the grants are tied to a student’s GPA, test scores, or an additional qualification requirement, you will want to prepare your students accordingly.
- DISCOVER YOUR STUDENT’S INTERESTS. In order to make the most of the high school years, help your students narrow down choices for future careers and callings. Yes, their passions may change (frequently), but being intentional about discovering potential interests will enable you to help them better prepare for their future.
- PURPOSEFULLY CHOOSE CLASSES. Feel free to be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to the subjects you want to include in high school. Depending on your student’s interests and talents, each student may end up with very different subjects on his transcript. If your student is interested in STEM, then many classes will be in the math and science fields. If your student loves music, photography, or theater, then find classes that further that interest. If your student is an athlete who plans to play NCAA division 1 and 2 sports in college, then find out early on transcript expectations. There is a Facebook page dedicated to helping homeschooled student athletes with this and it is here.
- PREPARE YOUR STUDENTS FOR LIFE. Be sure they have an understanding of sound financial principles. Teach them (or have someone else teach them) how to do basic activities like changing a tire or changing the oil in a car, mow the grass, do the laundry, clean the house, shop with a budget, prepare meals, and take care of babies. Include classes on entrepreneurship and help set them up in business while they are still in high school when possible.
- STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF DISCIPLINE. With the flexibility that homeschooling allows, parents are often challenged by students who would prefer to play video games, text friends, sleep late, or watch tv/movies. Talking to your teen about the necessity of being responsible, establishing a routine, and creating healthy habits is vital to succeeding after high school whether that includes college, career, and/or marriage. While you are still in charge of your teen, it is vital that you hold them to certain expectations. Taking away devices and restricting driving privileges often provide adequate motivation for changed behavior.
- PREPARE YOUR STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE. Even if your student is convinced he won’t need to go to college, it is best to prepare him for college. If he ends up being correct, then no harm, no foul. However, when a student who is unprepared for college decides to go to college (after having graduated high school), he may very well find that he has lost opportunities and that can be quite costly. Have your students begin taking standardized tests in 9th grade (or before). Research shows that students’ scores improve when tests are repeated. The highest college scholarships are often tied to these test scores (ACT, SAT, CLT). A student will do much better if these tests are taken while they are in high school, particularly the math portion. Unless one uses mathematic formulas routinely, students are apt to forget much of the math they learned.
- BEGIN SEARCHING FOR COLLEGES. Finding a match for your student that fits with his intended major and that works financially can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable. Do not rule out private colleges because oftentimes there will be opportunities for scholarship that greatly reduces the price. Here’s an article that provides advice on choosing a college. Visit the colleges before making a final decision. Be sure to narrow down your top choices by the senior year because there are often additional opportunities for scholarship offered to seniors, but these opportunities may be time sensitive and you will not want to miss out by waiting until it’s too late. It is acceptable to have your student apply to more than one college. Colleges often offer fee waivers for application fees. Check with the admissions counselor at the college to see if they offer codes to waive fees.
- RAISE MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD. Building character and nurturing a healthy spiritual life is as important (if not more important) than academic success. Who wants to be the parent of a brilliant brain surgeon if he’s calloused, rude, stingy, and arrogant? Find opportunities for your students to volunteer in the community, to be involved in ministry opportunities, and to attend workshops and conferences that challenge and nurture their spiritual growth. I often told my children that I didn’t care where they lived, who they married, or what career they pursued as long as I knew their hearts were right with the Lord. It isn’t easy to raise children to know and love God, but it is a goal worth setting. Be careful about being unreasonable, tyrannical, or hypocritical. Unfortunately, such traits often turn children away from Christianity.
My last piece of advice is to have a conversation with your student and go over each item in this article, one by one. Pray together for a unified vision and work together to come up with a plan for success. The next four years may go by faster than you could imagine, but with intention, planning, and prayer the results at the end will be well worth celebrating.
Pat Wesolowski is an author, speaker, and homeschooling mother of 9 who is now the Homeschool Specialist at Bryan College in Dayton, TN. After homeschooling her 9 children for the past 32 years, she is finally finished! Pat has a heart for helping parents find joy in their homeschooling experience and, for that reason, loves teaching workshops in order to encourage and equip parents for a fun and successful homeschool experience. Pat is the host of a podcast entitled “Homeschooling Co-op Style,” writes a blog, and has authored numerous unit studies for homeschooled students. Pat has also written a free eResource to help parents plan for a successful high school experience. It is available to download at this link: www.bryan.edu/ebook.