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Big Ideas for Parents in the Trenches of Homeschooling High School

Excerpts are taken from The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas: 55 Moms Share Their Expertise on 103 Topics, a book that goes beyond the basics of academics and delves into the practical, but delightful ideas that you need in your life. The 55 experienced homeschool moms who contributed to this book don’t hold back from sharing their best advice.

Read on for fourteen big ideas for homeschooling high schoolers and grab a copy of the book for only $3.99. 

Master organizer to overseer

As our children progress into their middle-school years, it is a good time to begin building in them the character traits and skills needed to become independent learners. During the middle-school years there is a sort of transfer of power and responsibility from us, the parents, to our children. We move from being the master organizer and puppeteer to the overseer and guidance-giver. This process will not happen overnight. In fact, you might want to consider a plan that spans a period of years. In order to become independent learners your children will have to gradually mature – an increase in responsibility will naturally follow. There is a very good chance you have already started this process without even knowing it, or at least labeling it as such.

from the chapter Making Tweens and Teens More Independent Learners by Heidi Ciravola

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Include them in the decisions

Allow your student to be a part of the decision-making process. Maybe they prefer to do a specific subject at a different time than you would have placed it. Maybe they liked one curriculum path over another. Have a conversation about how to lay out their learning plan for the year. Even though you are giving them a chance to have input into their schedule, there might be things you need to stick to your guns on because you are their parent and might know better than they do.

from the chapter Making Tweens and Teens More Independent Learners by Heidi Ciravola

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Help them create a schedule

While creating a schedule that works, you can help them to learn to set deadlines for their schoolwork. Help them figure out how many days each week they need to do a subject to finish the number of lessons they need to complete. Help them learn to break down larger tasks and assignments into manageable-sized pieces. Within their schedule, help them build in a routine. Building in a routine will help your tween/teen establish a rhythm to the schedule and their days. It helps them to know what is coming next and what is expected each day.

from the chapter Making Tweens and Teens More Independent Learners by Heidi Ciravola

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Homeschooling teenage girls

Although I was a staunch believer in feminism throughout my college years, I quickly observed the many and varied differences between my boys and my girls. Raising daughters has been such a natural process. My girls are just naturally like me and enjoy the same things as me. Enter the teen years. Suddenly emotional and up one minute, down the next. Although I was thankful my girls and I had a good relationship, the unpredictability of my first round of the teen years kind of threw me for a loop.

from the chapter Homeschooling Teenage Girls by Marianne Sunderland

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Encouraging interests before the teen years

We did this for all of our kids, boys and girls alike. The importance of encouraging interests is that once our kids reach their tween and teen years, they become self-conscious and even self-doubting. We have found that if our kids have an established interest or talent, these years of angst are made easier. They have something at which they excel (and often a group of friends with the same interests) which helps tremendously to boost their confidence.

from the chapter Homeschooling Teenage Girls by Marianne Sunderland

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Keep the lines of communication open during the teen years

Endeavor to be an active listener. I clearly remember overhearing my daughter describe to a friend one of our conversations as a “lecture” even though I felt certain it wasn’t anything of the sort! To her, because I was talking more than I was listening, our conversation came off as a lecture. Be careful to allow your teen girls time and opportunity to share their hearts and minds.

from the chapter Homeschooling Teenage Girls by Marianne Sunderland

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Casting vision -performance vs. motivational learning

Be certain that your teen boy has clear motivational learning opportunities and not just opportunities to perform. Performance and rewards have their place, but the closer we edge toward adulthood, the more motivated we must strive to become. Learning for the sake of learning should eventually be its own reward.

from the chapter Homeschooling Teenage Boys by Heather Mac

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The importance of the “physical”

Some teen boys are naturally rough-and-tumble and some have personalities that tend indoors. Either way, a teenage boy needs physical excursion in order to stay fit and healthy – both physically and mentally – and releasing healthy endorphins into the body. Ensure your son is getting enough exercise by helping him set some motivational fitness goals. Respect his areas of interest and don’t point him to sports he does not enjoy (just because they are sports you enjoy). Instead, encourage him to follow his natural athletic abilities or interests.

from the chapter Homeschooling Teenage Boys by Heather Mac

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Something worth fighting for

Encourage your son to channel his passions or talents into a cause worth fighting for. This could mean writing letters to a member of Congress, helping elderly neighbors with housework or companionship, petitioning for better facilities at a local park, supporting mission work, etc.

from the chapter Homeschooling Teenage Boys by Heather Mac

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4 major benefits of taking a CLEP, DSST or AP exam

  • $100 to complete an exam versus $800+ for a college course
  • Easier to fund higher education without incurring debt
  • Shorten time in college, allowing for other opportunities like volunteering, job shadowing and traveling
  • Take each course once instead of repeating general courses, taking it once in high school and again in college

from the chapter Getting Started with Credit-by-Exam by Shannen Espelien

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Is my child even ready for credit-by-exam?

Even if you approach the subject later, they might not be interested, and that’s fine. Some kids see a challenge and love the idea of tackling it while others shy away from such things. Some kids might not be interested in shortening their time in college, or be interested in a college degree. It shouldn’t be forced. On the other hand, if there is a small spark of interest, then give it a try and see what happens!

from the chapter Getting Started with Credit-by-Exam by Shannen Espelien

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Level of education for a CLEP or DSST

Good reading comprehension, ability to sit for an hour or two, and ability to study on their own (though it’s normal for mom to nag from time to time about time management). Really, if they are able to read higher than an eighth-grade level – which most college textbooks are written at anyway – they can give it a shot. You might be thinking there has to be more. In reality, your child does NOT need to be gifted, self-motivated, or someone who loves test-taking. Obviously these qualities may make it easier to take the exam and pass, but they aren’t necessary for success.

from the chapter Getting Started with Credit-by-Exam by Shannen Espelien

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College professors wish freshmen had better writing skills

Our local homeschooling support group sponsored a panel discussion that provided some of the most valuable information that college-bound high school students will ever receive. Our four panelists – two biology professors (Drs. M and S), a psychology instructor (Ms. B), and the head of a private college’s English department (Dr. O) – agreed unequivocally: Across disciplines – no matter the major – students need to be able to express themselves clearly in writing. Having a good grammar reference book is essential.

from the chapter What College Professors Wish Freshmen Knew by Sarah Small

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College professors wish freshmen would read the syllabus

The syllabus isn’t just a stack of papers that a professor is required to give students; the syllabus is a necessary tool, a road map for the class. Students who stick it in the back of a notebook and forget about it are driving without a GPS. A syllabus contains basically everything a student needs to know about the class.

from the chapter What College Professors Wish Freshmen Knew by Sarah Small

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