I have four children that I have been homeschooling since birth. I have graduated one child, and have three more left to go! My second oldest will start highschool in our homeschool next year.
In our homeschooling community, I am what you would call a veteran homeschooler. WOW, that makes me feel old! Our local homeschooling facebook group has a panel of women that are available to help with homeschooling questions. Those that have been homeschooling for 10 plus years are considered the veteran homeschoolers. We receive many questions regarding homeschooling in high school. Most of these questions are about transcripts and classes, how to teach highschool level math and so forth.
Just the other day, I received a question that really resonated with me. It was so simple, yet so very important: “How do I keep my teen focused while I prepare him to graduate highschool?”
My oldest and only son graduated from our homeschool in May of 2017. That last year, his senior year, was such a whirlwind! He was dual enrolled at our local college taking English, Government and Computer Technology, while he completed a few other subjects on his own at home. He was involved in a large homeschool group class of seniors.
This group of students would walk together in a big, formal, homeschool graduation at the end of May. He had his senior events, college final exams, his own school work to complete, and big rehearsals for graduation day. We were also planning his graduation party, plus an end of the year trip for him and his dad to go to Washington D.C. at the same time.
Through all of the exciting and nerve wracking things happening in such a short period of time, it was important for me to help keep him focused on the end goal – graduating from high school! Here are a few things we did in our homeschool that helped to keep him focused.
Discuss a four year homeschool plan
I sat down with my son in the summer before the 9th grade. We discussed the things he was interested in learning and decided to tailor his education to what interested him. In our state there are no specific graduation requirements for homeschoolers, but I wanted a way to help keep both of us on track. I printed out the graduation requirements for the school system in our state so we could follow that. From looking at that, we could pick a track to work towards and I knew how many English, Science, Math, History and elective classes I wanted him to take.
Create the plan
Once we had an idea of what he wanted to do, we sketched out a rough draft plan for the next 4 years. This helped us decide what curriculum he wanted to use, what he wanted to study etc… Do not be afraid to think out of the box. Keeping it fun will help them to stay focused!
One year we used Movies as Literature for our entire year of English. That was a great memory for both of us. Since he knew he wanted to have a career in computers, he only took 2 science classes in our highschool co-op, and was able to receive a credit in computer science for all the online learning he did on his own computer classes and electives. Taking the bulk of the subjects you need in the first few years of highschool is a great way to free up the senior year.
Start formal testing
We have always done a teacher portfolio review or had a teacher proctor the Brigance Inventory of Basic Skills test for our yearly evaluations. It was low key, not stressful and a great fit for a homeschooler who may be at different levels in each subject. I knew that my son needed practice with standardized testing to prepare for highschool.
Your child will need to take lots tests before they apply for college, or when applying for dual enrollment in a local community college. I like to start this at the end of the 8th grade year, so they know what to expect and can get used to filling in the bubbles and taking a timed test.
Implement the plan and follow up each semester
To implement the plan and make sure that we follow through with everything that he needs to graduate, we needed a planner. Once we had a rough draft in place with what subject he needed to take and what he wanted to take, it was time to get it down on paper. I chose the Well Planned Day, High School 4 Year Plan. You can also purchase one year at a time, but I love having it all in one place. I believe this planner is a must have.
It is designed in such a way to take the stress out of planning and it keeps everything organized for you and your student. There are prompts with plenty of space to record notes, ideas and thoughts. It will teach your student to keep track of their subjects and what they need to do each day. There are sections to record grades each quarter, semester and final year grades, which is a huge help when it comes time to build that transcript. It includes a place to record books that have been read, community outreach and volunteer hours, colleges that they want to visit, college entrance exam suggestions, test taking tips, elective ideas and more!
Keeping a planner is a great way to prepare them for adulthood. It also helps them to “own” their education. When they have a hand in the decision making and planning for their school load, it gives them a responsibility to help them follow through with everything they need to get done. When you plan with your student and let them know what you expect from them, you can sit back and gently guide them through the process. It is a beautiful thing to watch them grow and be able to help steer them in the right direction when you see them stumbling, or struggling to follow through. If you sit down with them for a simple evaluation each semester, you can point them back to the plan that you created together to help keep them on the right track.
The last thing you need to help keep your child focused on graduating is to have FUN!
Many cities have homeschooling groups and resources for graduations at the end of the year. Talk to your student and see if they want to have a formal graduation or a small one at home with family. Find a group of kids in the same grade as yours, and begin to get involved with them early in highschool. They can grow together through the years and encourage each other as they prepare for graduation. Schedule in events like a grad night at a local amusement park, a craft night to decorate graduation caps, movie nights, bowling, laser tag etc… Having a monthly get together for seniors is a great way to take a load of stress off of them and let them enjoy themselves as they prepare for graduation.
Sarah is a wife, daughter of the King and Mama to 4 children (one who is a homeschool graduate!) She is a an eclectic,Charlotte Mason style homeschooler and has been homeschooling for over 16 years now. She is still trying to find the balance between work and keeping a home and says she can only do it by the Grace of God, and Coffee!
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