After years of confident homeschooling, hitting those high school years can create doubt and a bit of panic in even the most seasoned homeschooolers. As teens, and parents, enter this new and final phase of homeschooling, questions can arise. What does the teen want to do after completing school? If they want to go to college, what should they do to prepare? There are local homeschool high school programs, online homeschool high school programs and more to choose from. Weeding through all the info can be overwhelming.
Jen Mackinnon, the hardworking homeschool mom behind Practical, By Default, narrowed down five main points to consider when planning to homeschool for high school.
Talk to Your Kids
1. In order to best guide and support your child, you need to have some idea of where they want to go. It might surprise you that they have already given high school a lot of thought. Especially if they know where they are going in life and how they want to get there. Ask questions such as:
What are you interested in?
What do you want to learn?
What do you NOT want to learn about?
What format did you find the easiest to understand? Videos? Audio? Written? A mix?
What goals do you want to reach for this year?
What dreams do you have?
You’ll get advice to plan all 4 years at once. Others will say to plan each semester at a time. My advice? Do what works for you.
2. Now listen carefully. Try not to interrupt and do not belittle their ideas even if they seem farfetched. Work with them to create a plan on how to reach their high school goals, whatever they may be. Make a list of courses and credits they need in order to reach that goal. And, let’s be honest, your child may say “I don’t know,” and that is perfectly okay! When I was that age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do either. In fact, most days I still don’t know!
Even if the answer to every question above is “I don’t know,” you still need some sort of homeschooling plan. You’ll want this plan to be flexible enough for changes in life and choices. Make sure the high school plan suits your family and your lifestyle. I’m a working mom. I don’t have the luxury of sitting by my kids each step of the way. We choose to do projects and hands-on learning on my days off. The kids do independent learning while I am at work. You’ll get advice to plan all 4 years at once. Others will say to plan each semester at a time. My advice? Do what works for you.
Consider Learning Styles
3. Use what works with their learning style. There are many different types of ways to learn but here are 3 basic types:
Bonus tip: If you are uncertain of your child’s learning style, watch them teach themselves something. They will naturally teach themselves in the way they learn best.
Do what works, until it doesn’t. At that point, sit down and find out what isn’t working and try something new. Step back and have fun.
4. You need to make sure your program/curriculum choices take the type of learner your child is into consideration. Let them have input! Show your kids new programs, ideas, books, projects…whatever. You NEVER know what they might say “Yes!” to trying out. Or what might just catch their eye! Talking to your kids about high school is vital but don’t be afraid to introduce them to out of the box ideas.
Plan to Change
5. Make a plan, and then be willing to throw it out the window. We plan one year at a time by choosing the subjects — both core and electives — and where we want to be at the end of the year. After that, I leave it up to them how much work they need to do each week. Don’t be afraid to change it up! Do what works, until it doesn’t. At that point, sit down and find out what isn’t working and try something new. Step back and have fun.
You only have a few years left, try to enjoy it! Add in fun activities and invite your kids to join you. I know I’ve mentioned it a lot but spending time with your teens is vital. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours. Find 15 minutes here and there. Make memories that you will both cherish. High school at home can be an opportunity to build a stronger relationship between you and your teen.