Homeschooling a high school aged student can be intimidating. The subject matter can be unfamiliar and difficult, and the fear of being inadequate as a teacher can undermine your confidence.
It doesn’t have to be so scary!
I want to suggest that if you are homeschooling elementary or junior high aged students, the time is now to begin preparing them for high school. Here are a few ideas to implement along the way.
- Teach them to be independent workers. Even a kindergarten or first grade child can do something independently. I usually use our handwriting assignments as our first subject to teach independent working. I explain to the child that every day, the first thing they work on when it is time for their schoolwork is their handwriting. It may take a couple of weeks or even months to teach the child this routine, but it is the first step to their working independently. As the child gets older, I require more and more assignments to be completed independently. After handwriting, I usually add journal writing, copywork, silent reading, daily grammar review, and any part of a math lesson that is review.
- Teach them to read and use a daily checklist. Once my children can read, understand, and use a checklist, I require them to do so. This is usually in the second grade. I use a table format with the days of the week across the top, and the subjects down the left side. I teach the child to check off each subject as he completes it. When I work with that child, I look over their checklist to see what they have completed so far, and then we check off the rest as we do it. This checklist facilitates independent working, because they know what to do.
- Teach them to read and use daily assignment sheets. For some subjects like math, handwriting, copywork, or grammar, I teach my child to simply complete the next lesson in the book. But for subjects like silent reading, science or creative writing, I make a daily assignment sheet for these subjects. A reading or science sheet will have the number of pages or chapters to read each day. A creative writing sheet may have specific writing assignments for each day. The child knows to consult the daily assignment sheet for his assignments for those subjects. When his daily work is complete, then he checks that square off on the daily checklist.
- Use student-directed curriculum. Both Teaching Textbooks math courses and Apologia science courses (grades 7-12) are student-directed. These courses speak and teach directly to the student with little parental involvement. The Teaching Textbooks courses include CDs with all of the math problems worked, and Apologia explains difficult concepts in language that the student can understand. The daily assignment sheets for science help the student work through the course at a reasonable pace. As my children move from lower elementary grades to junior high, I transition from courses that are heavily parent-dependent to ones that the student can work independently. This is a gradual transition.
I have found that laying the groundwork gradually, over many years, has really helped my oldest daughter make the transition from unit studies and literature based studies, both which were highly parent-dependent, to traditional textbook based studies, which she is completing almost 100% independently. I think that requiring her to complete her work independently in increasing amounts each school year has allowed the transition to be a smooth one.
Currently, my 8th grader is completing all of her work independently except for our Sonlight read-alouds, and my 6th grader is completing about 70% of his work alone, except for Sonlight. My 1st grader can do handwriting and her phonics pages independently, and I plan to have her begin the review part of her math lesson alone in January.
Think about how you want your high school homeschool to function now, while your children are younger. Then make a plan that will help them achieve your expectation, and begin working in that direction.
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