The following post is from Shannen of Middle Way Mom
This school year is my, and my daughter’s, first year homeschooling high school. The anticipation and fear was much greater than the reality of it all, but I do wish there were a few things I would have done her 8th grade year to prepare! If you’re heading toward the high school years, here’s my advice to do the year before you start high school.
Start a gradebook
If you see college as a possibility for your student, then giving them a transcript with grades is virtually a necessity. Finding a gradebook you like, and getting in the routine of keeping it updated is up to you, and you alone. Check out various grading systems and find what works with your family.
My favorite free gradebook, and what we use at home is Gradebook Plus, found on FiveJs.com. Previously, I was pretty lax with exact grades. Basically, if she got 80%, or it looked well done, my daughter moved to the next thing. Turning in work formally, and then carving out time to grade her work was a huge learning curve for both of us.
Start a system for turning in work
Are you better with digital systems? Do you prefer things printed out and handed in to a folder? Sometimes it’s hard to know before you try. While I still love pen and paper for many things, I know if I keep something digitally, I’m not going to spill coffee on it, accidentally throw it away, or have a kid rip it up. We have a system right now that’s “hybrid” of turning in paper and turning work into Dropbox. We actually keep the gradebook on Dropbox so my daughter can input her test scores for classes where she can grade things herself (i.e. Math and multiple choice tests in History).
If you still nag your student to complete their work, it’s time to stop. It’s time to start feeling the consequences of their actions. Really, this approach emulates the working world, and is a benefit to your child in the long run. Now, I do allow some wiggle room. We are homeschooling after all, and I want to have some flexibility. I do remind her to complete work and help her work on timely goals, but if something isn’t done in a reasonable amount of time, then there are consequences. I won’t nag about it anymore.
For example, she was assigned to read Moby Dick. I said for a full month before it was assigned that she needed to set aside extra time to finish the book in the month she was given. The book is huge, and I gave her lots of warning.
One week before it was supposed to be complete, she was only 20% done. Did I nag about it getting done? Nope. I said she has one week to finish it, otherwise she can’t go to fencing, her favorite activity in the week. Was it finished in the week? Yep! Just like the working world, if you’re not done with your work, you stay late. You might miss a social activity or your favorite hobby. It happens, and it isn’t the end of the world.
My daughter loves her spiral bound high school planner. It’s fun, it has check boxes for my checkbox-loving student, and it’s lightweight (rather than using a binder). She’s learned to write the exact lesson she plans to do on the day she plans to do it rather than writing “Science reading” or “History test” because those things don’t indicate whether she’s a week behind, or right on target. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, I thought I did that!” and we turn out to be three weeks behind. She’s now in the habit of writing her plan a week ahead of time, and referencing it throughout the day. What a great habit for adulthood, too!
This year hasn’t been bad, but I imagine next year will go much smoother now that we have these things under our belt. What else would you include to get ready for your first year of high school?
|Shannen homeschools her teen daughter, focusing on earning college credit while in high school, and is getting ready to start the homeschool cycle again with two little ones. You can find her blogging about how they homeschool high school and everything that goes along with it, plus meet up with her on Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.|
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