Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting Started with High School at Home

High school at home seems to put so much pressure on the kids as well as the parents. I know for me when we first started I was a nervous wreck. I knew that if my child chose to pursue college after high school, the competition was tough. So, this month I will be posting my series of tips for getting through high school with the least amount of anxiety. We are almost done, Petunia graduates next year. Of course, I have a little while before Little Britches will be graduating so these posts might be helpful to remind me of a few things in a few years. If you are just starting high school then this post will definitely be for you and if you have already started then it will be a good check off list for you. Blessings, Kat

1. Make your plan early. Check out what you need to cover and how much you need to cover to be considered a high school graduate. Some states are very specific and homeschoolers are held to the same standards as public and private school students. For instance in my state, 4 years of the core subjects are required...4 years of math, English and science. Know what you need to "graduate" and plan accordingly. High school years go by quickly.

2. Does your child plan on going to college? Technical school? Get your child to start thinking about what they might want to do with their life early. Parents...please realize that formal college is not for every student. Don't push your child in that direction if that is not suited to them. Plumbers/electricians/etc. make an excellent living at a respectable occupation without having a college degree.

3. If your child thinks they might be bound for college, then start looking at requirements early. It doesn't really matter if you have picked your colleges or not, most of them have similar requirements. Start working on meeting these requirements.

4. If you aren't prone to keep records, now is the time. I have a folder for each year of high school that has a good assortment of Petunia's work. She probably won't need it, but if she does it is there. Start a transcript now and put everything on it. If your child went on a mission trip with the youth group at church...put it on the transcript. Update the transcript regularly. Don't wait until your child's senior year to try and remember everything they have done and all those little extras that make a transcript stand out.

5. Start looking for scholarship money early...junior year at the least. There are many scholarship search sites online that will make a profile for your child with their graduation date and match them to potential scholarships. Competition for scholarship money is tough and gets even tougher the later you wait to start applying for them. Start early.

6. Don't ignore the small scholarships. Many people tend to see those large numbers on the big scholarships and only apply for those. So your child might be competing with 30,000 other students for that one scholarship. Those smaller scholarships can add up and can really come in handy. I once won a small 1500.00 scholarship which didn't seem like much but that one little scholarship paid for my books and lab fees for 4 semesters. So, in essence it was a lot of money because books are expensive and those lab fees add up, especially for science majors.

7. Start taking tests early. This is especially true if you don't live in a state that requires standardized testing. Homeschooled kids usually are not exposed to that type of test taking and it can be nerve wracking for some. Petunia was nervous when she went to take the ACT the first time and then the proctor was 2 hours late (yes 2 hours), so then she was mad. After all she had to give up a Saturday to go and take the test. So being nervous and then angry did not make for a good mindset and she didn't do very well. If you wait until the last minute to take these tests then you might not have another chance and it might affect your ability to get into college or at least put off your entry date.

8. If your child isn't going to take the college route then start thinking about internship/apprentice opportunities. Going back to the plumber/electrician or any other type of trade, summer jobs working in that field can be exceptionally helpful. You never know if they work for the same company year after year in high school then once they graduate trade school they might have a job position waiting for them or someone willing to recommend them for another job position for another company. Word of mouth and recommendations go much further in the trades fields than resumes.

9. Prepare your child for adult life. If you haven't already teach them to manage money, meet obligations/deadlines, etc. This is something they will have to do once they graduate even if they are in college or trade school. They will have to manage their scholarship money if it comes from sources outside the college. I knew kids in school that had won large amounts of scholarship money and blew through it partying instead of paying their college bills. When they were broke they either had to go home or rely on student loans to finish their education. Teach them to manage their money and time now. If your child is college bound then they will need to be able to meet deadlines. The professor will often issue a class syllabus at the beginning of the year and never mention due dates again. It is the students responsibility to use that syllabus and meet all due dates and prepare for scheduled tests.

10. If your child is college bound then prepare them academically. Don't choose the easiest courses and the minimum requirements to just meet high graduation requirements. Push them to write those hard papers, do the extra math, choose academically challenging courses, books etc. These are skills they will need to have to be prepared to enter a college classroom. It doesn't matter that the child is a math genius and plans on an engineering career. They will still have to get through those core classes in their freshman and sophomore years in which they will have to read literature or history books and write lots of papers or take essay type tests. If they fail those, then they will never get the chance to take those advance math and engineering courses to complete their degree. Everybody starts out having to take the same stuff, then you move into your chose field to finish up.

Well, hopefully these few tips will help many parents out there who just simply don't know what they should be doing. Happy high school!

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