High School Wisdom from Debra Bell

Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Apologia Live retreat in Atlanta, Georgia. One of my favorite homeschool authors and speakers, Deb Bell, spoke on high school planning. Even though our first child graduates in a few days, I was excited to learn more from this homeschool veteran.

Here are just a few of the things I learned from Deb during her session.

Helping kids learn how to plan/ prioritize is most important.

For many families high school is the end of the road in regards to their home education. While learning advanced math and science is important what is most important is that your child learns how to plan and prioritize their life.

Whether they go to college, into the workforce, or get married, if they don’t have the skills needed to plan they will probably fail. Make these skills a priority in your homeschool high school.

Teenagers need to sleep.

They are growing, changing, and hormones are going crazy. Teenagers need their sleep, and many of the don’t “wake up” until the afternoon. Get in tune with your child’s rhythm’s and let them schedule their days accordingly.

This is not to say that your child should be lazy  sleeping all day and staying up all night on the phone or playing xBox. Just allow them a little more flexibility with their school schedule than they had when they were ten.

Distribute the coursework.

Last week we discussed starting your high schooler’s homeschool curriculum plan in the eighth grade. Planning out the high school years before they start will help keep their senior schedule balanced. If you wait until they are a senior to start “making up” all the classes needed to transition to a career or college it will be very difficult on your child.

Plan for a lighter senior year so they can take advantage of opportunities available (like apprenticeship, dual enrollment, work opportunities, travel, etc).

Set up weekly meetings.

This is a great way to keep in touch with your high schooler and give them an opportunity to share their struggles, successes and goals with you. These meetings are less about academics and more about their hearts.

Be their parent and their friend.

Never forget that you are always in charge and just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean your child has to do it too. But… I’m always surprised at how many parents don’t even take the time to “hang out” with their teenagers.

Take them out to lunch, listen to a song they like, watch a movie of their choosing, attend their sporting events. Be present in their lives. If a friend told you about a song they were listening to all the time you’d probably listen to it too. Why not do the same for your kids?

For many teens it seems like the whole world is against them, remember you are on the same team. Together you can make the high school years some of the best years of their lives.

The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects.

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Homeschool and Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are a great way to earn high school credits, round out their education, and improve their college application. Even if your child isn’t interested in going to college, extracurricular activities can teach life skills. (think babysitting training, sewing classes, etc…)

Homeschoolers have a huge advantage when it comes to extracurricular activities. They aren’t hampered by school schedules and since you can incorporate activities into the curriculum, kids that are serious about a sport or activity to have extra time to dedicate to their activities.

Just remember, most kids don’t become professional soccer players, musicians, or ice skaters… so everything in moderation, right?

Public School

Depending on your state, your child might be able to participate in sports and activities at the public school. Now if you homeschool because you want to avoid public school influences this is probably not the best option. But if your child has a chance at a college/professional career in a certain activity this might work for your family.

County Sponsored Activities

My kids have always played sports in city or county leagues. Not only do cities and counties have sports teams, often they have choir, art classes, and tech classes. Usually county leagues are inexpensive and a great way to you to connect with your community while your kids play soccer or sing.

Private Lessons

Private lessons are the most expensive option for many extracurricular activities but also provide the most flexibility. Instructors will sometimes give discounts for siblings or for scheduling lessons during off hours. Consider bartering for a discount or free lessons to help keep extracurricular activities from busting the budget.

For the homeschooler, extracurricular activities can easily be integrated into their curriculum. My daughter’s piano lessons earned her a fine art credit, and my son’s soccer has given him two PE credits in high school already.

Summer programs and camps are also a great way to round out their education and earn high school credits. Both of my high schoolers have participated in TeenPact and benefitted greatly from the experience.

Don’t overlook the importance of extracurricular activities to help balance your child’s education. Even if they don’t end up the next Tim Tebow, these activities can help teach teamwork, sportsmanship, and allow them to interact with people from all walks of life.

The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects.

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Dual Enrollment

Did you know that many homeschoolers graduate from high school with their Associates degree? Dual Enrollment is a great way for your child to get a head start in their college career as well as save money on their college education.

Benefits of Dual Enrollment

Free College Credits

In many states dual enrollment is free! This means your child can earn college credits at no cost. If they plan on attending a state school after graduation all these credits will transfer, therefore reducing the cost of their college education.

Preparation for College

Dual enrollment is a great way to ease your child into college. Community colleges are usually smaller and more laid back than a university. Your child can “try out” college before leaving home.

Relieves Teaching Responsibilities

If you don’t think you are cut out for teaching high school, dual enrollment classes can do it for you. Most colleges accept students at age 15 or 16 depending on their test scores. If teaching high school scares you, dual enrollment can help.

Preparing for Dual Enrollment

Raise an Independent Learner

If you think your child will be taking college classes in high school, start preparing them in the eighth grade. Let them take ownership of their education and see if they are up to the challenge. A child who needs constant daily prodding to finish their work in the tenth grade probably isn’t ready for college classes.

Let them Drive

For the first two months of dual enrollment I drove my daughter to college and back twice a week. If you don’t want to spend your school day in the car, make sure your child has their driver’s license before they start classes.  This will free you up to teach your younger children.

Prep for Tests

Most colleges require ACT/ SAT or college placement scores from homeschoolers in order to sign up for classes. Make sure your child is prepared for the standardized tests well in advance. The college placement test is free and is administered by the college.

Dual Enrollment isn’t for Everyone

Not every child is cut out for dual enrollment. If you aren’t comfortable with your child sitting in a classroom with thirty people they don’t know, ages 17-50 then consider online classes or waiting until your child is older.

The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects.

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Don’t Think Your Child Won’t Cheat

The following is a post from Linda.

A mom approaches the homeschool director with fear and trepidation. “My son has been cheating,” she says. The director smiles and says, “It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.”

Yet as moms we somehow think that our kids won’t cheat. We don’t expect them to be perfect people, but homeschoolers are not supposed to cheat! At least, that’s what I thought.

You’ve probably guessed. One of my high school kids did cheat. And it wasn’t the kid who I might have suspected. He had never shown a tendency towards being dishonest.

How You Can Avoid Cheating

1. Never say, “This kid would never cheat.” Assume that any of your children could be tempted in this way.

2. Oversee test taking, and daily work if necessary. If a test is in the same book as the answers, be sure to copy the test. Then have the kid take the test in the same room with you. If daily cheating is a problem, then all work should be done that way.

3. Tell your kid that in high school, you don’t always get A’s or even B’s. My son did not cheat because he was failing. He cheated because in grade school math, I didn’t move on until he learned a new concept. As a result, he always got A’s, and he thought he should always get A’s in high school.

4.  Help your child have realistic expectations.  Similar to point three, kids can expect too much of themselves because they think all homeschool kids should be geniuses.  When they start coming up short, they might be tempted to cheat.  Let them know you want them to do their best, but that won’t necessarily mean straight A’s.

5. Talk to your kids about this temptation. Help them work through it. Little did we know that the guilt he was carrying was the issue behind his challenging teen behavior. Once he confessed, he was a different person! How I wish we had brought up the topic of cheating  and given him opportunities to talk about it sooner.

The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects.

Linda has three boys and has been homeschooling for over 15 years.  Her oldest is now in college, the second graduates this spring, and her youngest is in 10th grade.  She blogs about food at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.