The Important Word to Remember as You Homeschool High School

“Homeschooling through high school”- just speaking those words out loud can strike fear and trembling in the most seasoned homeschooling parent. It all seemed so simple when you were teaching phonics and math and doing science experiments in the back yard. Time flies by and all of a sudden you are there (or almost there), and you wonder:

      “How can I do this? - Can I do this? - How do I do this?”

Over the past 6 years I have had the amazing privilege of helping families navigate homeschooling through the high school years. As we have given our “Help for Homeschooling High School” seminar there is one word that has become very important as we help people think about homeschooling through high school. If you had to think of a word to describe homeschooling in high school, words like “credit,” ”transcript,” “portfolio” and “admissions” might come to mind. While they are all good high school words, they are not the word that I think is most important. 

  The most important word, in my mind, is the word “proactive”. In a nutshell I think being proactive in many areas can help ensure success as you navigate
high school at home.

Dictionary.com provided me with the following definition of proactive:

"Adjective, serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one; anticipatory."

This is exactly what we need to do as we plan and prepare for high school and the years beyond. We need to plan, prepare, and anticipate where things might go awry so we can be ready for what is to come. Today we want to examine several areas of homeschooling high school where being proactive can make all the difference.

Firstly, I think it is best to start investigating high school when your student is in Grade 7, or at the very latest, in the Grade 8 year. This can give you time as a parent to look at the options for doing high school (because there are many!) and see what might best fit your student and your family. This is also a time to begin to engage your student in the planning process. You can discuss hopes, dreams, different approaches and then explore this together. It gives time for you to learn what a good program would include and how you can meet the goals of your student. It can also be a time to prepare for a change in how you do things. In the elementary years record keeping can be minimal; in high school that often changes. Grade 7 and 8 can be a training time for you and your student as you learn to keep more records, develop study skills, and possibly work towards more independent study. This is so much better than waiting until mid-August before school starts and panicking about how you will put a plan together.

Secondly, it is wise to be proactive when considering what courses your student should take. Is your student very academic? Do they have aspirations to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer etc.? If so, then it is important to make sure from the beginning that you have academically challenging courses that will be good preparation for university study. Perhaps you have a hands-on student or someone who will find their career path through college or apprenticeship. In this case you may not need to keep the academics as challenging. If academic study is not their bent, then choosing courses that will meet college requirements will make your student’s high school years more enjoyable and not overwhelming. Often, when students start high school they have no idea what they want to do in the future. That is fine. Just keep them as academic as is reasonable and wait patiently till God reveals the path they are to take. 

Thirdly, we want to be proactive in planning for post-secondary admissions. Colleges and universities often have very specific requirements in order to enter a certain course.

As soon as your student knows what they would like to do after high school you should start contacting prospective
post-secondary schools.

Pre-requisites are often found simply by looking on the college/university website. That is the first step. The second step is to get in touch with the institution of interest and ask what they require of a homeschooled student for entrance. This is particularly important if your student will not have a government issued high school diploma. Each school has its own way of doing things. One school may want a transcript and a portfolio and another may ask for SAT marks.  Looking ahead and working to meet requirements can go a long way in avoiding disappointment and lost time. An added benefit to this is that, as you ask questions, you actually get to know admissions counsellors and other staff. This relationship allows your student to become more than a name and number on a form. Taking time to visit and discuss the process with the school is a great way to take this to the next level. Often, once a counsellor meets our children they see great individuals who would be an asset to their school. This means that they will have a higher interest in seeing that your students actually make it into their college/university.

The last area where we need to be proactive is after your application has been made. As mentioned earlier, you may need to submit SAT marks or other documents to be put with your application. If you have to write a special entrance exam it is crucial that these documents get put with your file. In a perfect world this would just happen. However, over and over I have heard that this does not always happen automatically. In most cases the school will not let you know when they are missing something. They just assume it was not sent in. I have personally known people who did not get into 
a certain school because their documents were lost. It is important to call regularly to make sure that everything that is required and has been submitted and is actually in your student’s file for review.

While this can seem a little daunting it is really just a matter of looking ahead and not assuming anything. Always remember, you do your best and leave the rest to the Lord. He has a plan for your student. Things may not go exactly as planned, but as long as they are in line with His plan, all is well. Having your students at home during the high school years is such a blessing, both for the student and the parent. Don’t get lost in all the books and miss the joy of time together. Take some time to smell the roses and live, love, and laugh together.

  God bless you as you homeschool through high school.

Louise and her teaching partner Cori Dean plan to offer their Help for Homeschool High School Course in the fall of 2019. This is geared for families who live in Ontario, Canada. Please feel free to post in the comments or send an email to info@learninghouse.ca if you would like to be put on a notification list. 


Homeschool Blessings

"For many the homeschool year is starting to wind down..."

For many the homeschool year is starting to wind down. Some of you may be done already and others are counting the days until the summer break begins. Whether this is the case for you or you plan to school through the summer, taking some time to reflect on your homeschool is always worthwhile. Recently, I had the great privilege of speaking with 3 families who are considering home education for their families. As I began to plan for that "kitchen meeting" I thought about some of the blessings of home schooling.  The more I thought the longer the list became. Here are five of the many, many that came to mind.

"Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to spend time with my children when they were at their best..."

1. I got to spend lot of time with my children. When our oldest went to school he often came home tired and frustrated after a long day and a long bus ride. I never felt I got him at his best. Homeschooling gave me the opportunity to spend time with my children when they were at their best. Of course since we were home all the time we also had those "other" times as well, but by and large it was so nice to be together and have both quantity and quality time.

Quality Family Time
 "Once school was over we were done for the day..."

2. We never did homework at night. I remember taking my children to community swimming lessons and hearing all the other moms talking about all the time they had to spend doing homework with their children in the evening. This blessing had never even crossed my mind until then. Once school was over we were done for the day. The only exception to this was on the rare occasion when someone had not been cooperative during the school day.  As a result they might get the opportunity to finish school with Dad after supper. That was generally an experience that you didn't want to repeat. Hence it was a real rarity.

3. Our struggling learners could do school at their level without ridicule or pressure from others. We had a good crop of struggling learners in our family. What a tremendous blessing to be able to teach them where they were at. They didn't have to leave the room and go to "resource" and get help. Most of the time they never knew how far behind they were. We just worked away at programs specifically tailored for them and their needs. There was no pressure to be in any particular grade at any particular time.

"...homeschool parents have the freedom to teach what they feel is appropriate for their children and their family philosophy."

4. As parents we controlled the content of what our children were being taught. In this day and age where certain agendas and curriculum are being pushed, homeschool parents have the freedom to teach what they feel is appropriate for their children and their family philosophy. This is as it should be.

share the truly important things
"...take the time to share the truly important things..."

5. Last but certainly not least, we could take the time to share the truly important things with our children. Christian principles were a part of every subject we taught. Whether we shared about the order of God's world in math, the wonders of creation in science, or "His Story" of the world through history our faith and beliefs could be a natural part of every lesson

This list could go on and on. In the future I may share some of the other blessings that came to my mind. What about you? What are the blessings that come to your mind as you consider your family and  homeschooling? Feel free to share with others in the comment section below. Sometimes just seeing something that someone else has thought of will bring blessings to mind for you.

God bless you as you homeschool.

"Unless the Lord Builds the house they labour in vain to build it"


Things to Remember if You Start to Homeschool Mid-Year

Recently I have spoken with a number of parents who find themselves starting to homeschool now. In most cases this was not the plan but circumstances have made it necessary to make a change in their child’s education. Often parents feel overwhelmed and frantic as they try and put together a plan. Here are a few quick tips if you find yourself in this position or if you are coming alongside a friend who needs help and encouragement.

Often parents who find themselves home educating suddenly, are doing so because of a crisis. This could be a bullying situation that could not be resolved, health issues of a child, or a myriad of other reasons. Regardless, making a change mid-year can be stressful. The first thing to remember is that this does not need to be sorted out in a day. You can take some time to figure out what you will do for teaching resources and an educational plan. If you have brought a child home as a result of a crisis the most important thing is to give them some down-time. Lots of reading together and some relaxing can go a long way to making your future homeschooling successful.

Since you are beginning to school mid-year it can be hard to know where to place a child. Should you move forward to the next grade or should you purchase the current grade level? Often parents may not even be sure at what grade level their child is really functioning. Compound this with the fact that many homeschooling programs are more advanced than those of public school and parents have a real conundrum.  Placement tests can be a real help in this situation. While not available for every program they are certainly available for many math programs. It is important to place a student correctly so that work is neither too easy or too hard. We have many of these posted on The Learning House website.  If a placement test is not available, looking at the Table of Contents for various programs can help you place a student based on the information you know they have mastered.

As we have said before, math and language arts are the core. Work to figure those subject areas out first. Then you can look after science, history and any other subjects you would like to add to your program. As you choose your materials you will most likely be purchasing a program that is for a full year of school. Keep in mind that it may not be possible to complete this by the end of June. That is just fine. It can simply carry over into the next year. Many tell me that they will just push through and do it over the summer. Personally, I feel that working through the summer is highly over-rated.  Some summer work is fine, but creating pressure to try and double up and do 10 month’s work in 4-5 will just create stress and rob everyone of their joy. 

Remember that homeschooling can be a wonderful adventure. However, adventures don’t happen all at once. They take place over time. Homeschooling is a process. It may take some time to adjust and get your rhythm.  That’s okay. Take the time you need to meet your children’s emotional needs as well as their academic needs. Given time, serious thought, and lots of prayer you will come up with a plan that fits your unique family.

Feel free to share your thoughts, experience, and comments below!

"Unless the Lord Builds the house they labour in vain to build it"