We are about to head into the high school years and I am freaking out
We are about to head into the high school years and I am freaking out. What do I really need to know before we plan high school? What do I need to keep track of for colleges? I don’t want to get to senior year and realize there are things we should have done in 9th grade to make college planning and applications easier.
Homeschooling 6 years
Kids in 7th and 8th grade
My first advice for you is to stop freaking out. Of course, this is advice easily given, that I did not take myself. Along with a lit of others, I was also worried about homeschooling high school. It just feels like such a big deal if you don’t get “it” right. I call that the elusive it. For most of us that it is getting into college or getting a job.
As for other academic homeschoolers I know, I found colleges to be very homeschool friendly. There was no barrier to my son because he had been home schooling. I think knowing this helps a lot. It makes it easier to see how by being organized and methodical, you can get all the documentation in place for when your child applies to colleges.
The first thing to do if you are worried about homeschooling high school is to sit down and think about the learning skills your children need to be successful in high school, college, or a job. This should be done before you plan high school. Getting into college is only part of the process. Succeeding in college requires a set of learning, critical thinking, metacognitive, and executive functioning skills. Many students from all academic environments get to college without these skills. For example, do your children know how to take notes? Have they ever been given a book and asked to interact with the text via a highlighter and pencil? These are just two of the basic skills needed in college. Other skills are specific to certain disciplines. It benefits learners to know how to write lab reports for their science classes, and how to thoughtfully dissect, understand, and answer questions in their history courses. Most colleges today have rhetoric as a core component of freshmen writing. It can be very helpful for students to have some exposure to rhetorical devices and the art of argument before going to college. If your learners do not have much experience with test taking, make sure that they gain some experience before college. And finally, most colleges today have some components that are online. If your learner has never taken a course with an online component, it isn’t essential, but it is nice if they gain some with that before attending college. Is this list making you even more nervous? Are you getting where I’m going with all of this? Go subject by subject and very thoughtfully think of the core skills in those subjects. You have more than four years to work on these skills.
Most colleges today use the Common App for the application process. Many colleges will have slight differences in things that they want in addition to the common app, but the main part of the application uses the Common App. Even those that don’t use the Common App have applications like it. For help with what you need to keep track of for colleges, take the time before high school begins to look at the Common App and see what they’re asking for on it. Make a list of the colleges your learners want to apply to and see what the entry requirements are for those colleges.
No matter what application you use, your children will need a transcript with grades. Be organized and methodical over their high school career, keeping track of the classes that they take, teachers that they take them with, the course materials used for classes, and the grades that they get. Save work from core classes students take during high school in case you are asked to share a sample with a college.
One thing homeschool parents worry about are the grades that they give their learners. Be thoughtful and realistic about the grades you give, but if your children deserve As, give them As. If you are just beginning to give your children grades, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, I recommend a mastery approach to grading. Using a mastery approach, learners are given the opportunity to revisit work that they’ve submitted to have it reevaluated. No one learns everything the first time they are exposed to it. Students who take the time to go back to material, ensuring that they have some mastery of the subject is an indicator of the sort of work ethic that is important for success in college, work, and life.
Colleges want to know what type of service work learners have done. I think it’s important to make this service meaningful: not just to check a box so that students can get into college, but because teens who have done service that is meaningful to them bring things that they have learned from their service work into conversations and essays that they have written. In addition, meaningful service can have a profound benefit for young people as they begin to see themselves as an example of the change they want to see in the world. This comes through in everything they do, including their college applications.
Many colleges have moved to a test optional approach. If your learner wants to go to a competitive college that is hard to get into, you might want to have them begin studying and practicing for the SAT or ACT. A solid grade on either of those tests is an easy way to validate the grades on the transcript for a homeschooling student.
Recap: 5 Tips if you are worried about homeschooling high school
- Make sure your learner has the skills needed to succeed in high school and college. Ask yourself what learning, critical thinking, executive functioning, and metacognitive skills your learners need to work on.
- Look over the Common App to familiarize yourself with what’s on it. Put together a plan for how you’re going to ensure your students have everything they need for all parts of it. Make a list of the colleges your learners want to apply to and make sure they have completed all the entry requirements specific to that college.
- Be methodical and organized. Give grades as you keep a transcript throughout high school. Spend time thinking about how you want to evaluate your student in a way that scaffolds them in skill building.
- Have your high school students engage in service projects that are meaningful to them.
- Decide if your learners are going to take the ACT or SAT. Study for it if they will take it.
It is normal to be worried about homeschooling high school. By putting one foot in front of the other, and doing the 5 actions above, your child will be able to get into college and succeed there.
Good Luck, Blair!
Are you worried about homeschooling high school, too?
Want more on this topic? Check out Blair’s post, A Handcrafted Education: The High School Years, written just before she started homeschooling high school.
Excerpt: Oh No! The dreaded “H” word (and I don’t mean handcrafted)! If there is one thing that causes homeschooling parents to panic it is the thought of homeschooling through high school. What if we get it wrong? What if somehow we fail our children, and they cannot … cannot … cannot … wait, cannot what exactly? How is it that we as homeschoolers fall into this trap so common to traditional school parents?!? Why I sometimes wonder, even though I do it myself, did we all drink the Kool-Aid and continue to perpetuate the myth that there is one known path that will guarantee our children’s ability to be successful as adults. We only have to look around us to know that’s not true. We all know people who are very happy and well-adjusted who never spent one day in college. We all know people who are desperately unhappy who have advanced college degrees.
Don’t get me wrong. I value education a lot actually. My husband would tell you I value it more… READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE
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