Tips to Homeschool in Highschool, Part 2
Currently, our family has two high school students, a freshman and a junior. Another one just graduated and one is starting junior high this year (and that’s just the older half!) Since we’ve begun homeschooling in the older grades, we have discovered that in order to make it work and prepare your teen for college and beyond, we must teach solid study skills and instill productive habit patterns.
This is the second of a four-part post series designed to show that homeschooling your high school student is enlightening, rewarding, and totally doable. Read part one about developing an independent learner here.
Instill Strong Study Skills and Habits
Early in my own homeschooling journey, I decided that if I could pass on to my children a love of learning and a love of reading, they would be able to teach themselves anything they ever wanted or needed to know.
I still believe that’s true, but I have also figured out that more advanced students need a few additional skills in order to maximize their learning potential.
I developed that concept when all my children were still quite young. As students enter into the high school years, they also need to add effective study skills and habits. They must master skills like
- reading for content and not just for pleasure
- note taking
- finding a knowledgeable mentor
- communicating with others to find out what they need to know
- honing memorization techniques
- practicing computer skills
- identifying and utilizing helpful online resources
A healthy curiosity and an eagerness to learn sweeten all of these skills and soften the drudgery. If your teen struggles in any of these areas, have her practice on topics that naturally fascinate her. Sometimes finding the motivation to learn is half the battle.
This is how most adults learn, and a critical task of our job as parent-teachers is to enable them to function as responsible adults.
When I decided to start a blog, I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. I found articles and training online. I read and studied. I checked out many examples. I started up conversations with people who had been blogging for a while and knew what they were doing. Then I said a prayer and jumped right in. I have been doing on-the-job training ever since. I’ve learned a ton of new information and skills and I didn’t have a teacher or a syllabus to guide me. I just figured out what I need to learn and then I figured out how to learn it. I continue to practice to improve and grow. That’s what we want our students to be able to do well by the time they graduate, if not before then.
Allow him to set his own schedule.
It’s important to let your student take over the scheduling of schoolwork for himself at some point. This will enable him to learn how to:
- Break big projects down into smaller chunks
- Estimate the time required for each part
- Decide on the best order to complete each task
- Revise the plan when life throws a curveball
- Meet deadlines
No matter what the eventual vocation, becoming a successful adult necessitates refining these critical skills. Why wait until your student is away at college? Develop these scheduling muscles now while the consequences are small and parental help and guidance is close at hand.
In junior high, our oldest son started scheduling his own work. He was given what needed to be accomplished for that week, but it was up to him to break it down into day-by-day and hour-by-hour study periods. His preference was to do one subject each day and complete the entire week’s worth of homework in a day.
That wasn’t the way I would have divided up his work. Doing an entire week’s worth of math in one day would make my eyes glaze over and my head hurt, but I stepped out of the way and let him try it. It worked for him.
Some students work better in big chunks of uninterrupted time. Others need frequent breaks. Some need to do the hard stuff first thing in the morning while their brain is fresh. Others have more energy and enthusiasm later at night. Some need variety to stay interested. Others like to dig deep on one subject at a time.
Allowing your teen to make his own schedule gives him the opportunity to find out how he works best. It also teaches him the necessary skill of dividing big projects into manageable bites and spacing them in a way that prevents procrastination. Believe me, this particular skill takes time to master! Even many adults are prone to underestimate the time it will take to complete a big project—like, for instance, a blog post that is due next week.
Grant him freedom to fly.
You can take that concept even further. Give your teen choices about what to study, when and how. Let him choose (or at least have input) into which curriculum you use. When they’re little, we try to figure out the way they learn best. Now that they are older, we can stop figuring and just ask! It’s SO much easier once you get the hang of it.
Learn how to learn.
These study skills and habits really boil down to learning how to learn, which is an important part of becoming an independent learner. Anyone who wants to go to college or get a job or raise a family well needs to master the ability to learn. Make sure you equip your teen with these critical skills and habits. Don’t let her leave home without them!