What are the steps to insure a great course of study in the high school years?
Have you been wondering how to plot your teen’s path for an excellent college preparatory education?
Many homeschooling Mama’s start to ponder these questions beginning in the middle school years. Some, maybe even before, especially if they have already graduated a homeschooler.
If you are contemplating the idea of homeschooling through the high school years, now is the time to begin your planning process and chart a course.
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So what’s the best way to plan a course of study for the college bound?
First off, you need to have the big picture plan of what four years of college preparatory classes are going to look like for your teen.
Here is a general breakdown from Freshman to Senior year:
Now we have something to work from and plan accordingly.
It’s clear that your student will be taking English, Math and Science for all four years of high school if they are to be eligible for top level universities and colleges, especially if they are going to major in any of these fields.
*Of Note: Be aware that Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors classes may or may not be applicable for your student’s major depending on the university as they will most likely require a placement exam regardless of these higher level classes taken in the high school years.
History, Foreign Language and Fine Arts will be easy to incorporate throughout the high school years and will probably cross-over into the elective categories if your teen is heavy in the Humanities.
Here is an example of a Humanities rich curriculum from Emma’s High School days:
So how does this equate to a college prep plan?
Let’s break it down into easy workable chunks.
1. Plan all four years of high school out like a road map – You need to be able to see where your teen is headed to be able to plan the courses along the way. Refer to the suggested courses in the first table above.
2. What are your student’s goals for high school? – Are they already inclined towards a particular subject area with which you can capitalize for an accelerated studies. Consider using these extras courses for Electives or Scholarship opportunities. You really only need about 4-5 elective courses for the entire four years of high school, so be judicious in your selections for the required areas and the rest counts as freebies 😉
3. Does your student have a passion? – Encourage your child’s interests as they may expand into a full-blown child-led course for high school credit. Interest-led subjects go a long way towards fulfilling high school credits, especially if they are to be counted towards electives.
- Begin to build your student’s “curriculum vitae” by collaborating on subjects for high school together.*
- What do they want their high school experience to represent?
- How will this translate to college prep courses and ultimately give them a leg up when applying to their colleges of choice.
*My friend and colleague Dr. Jennifer Bernstein of Get Yourself Into College® works closely with her students to help them flesh out their “CV” for college and beyond. Please visit her site for more information.
Some other things to consider:
High school prep starts with middle school – what are your child’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s good to determine the strong points now before you realize they don’t know how to do something when they get to high school, such as outlining a paper or creating a hypothesis.
- Begin assigning independent work in 7th & 8th grade
- 8th grade can be considered a high school preparatory year
- Will you need to alter or refine your homeschooling method for the high school years?
How well does your teen focus on schoolwork? – Can they concentrate on a subject for more than 15 – 30 minutes at a time. High school coursework is going to take the student much longer to get through, for obvious reasons, as the rigor requires more in depth study habits and attention. This is something to work towards as you near the high school years.
- Begin giving longer assignments in the Core subjects to ensure prolonged focus and intent to finish assignments
- Ask your student to read for 30 minutes and then relate the reading material back to you
- Work on a current events project of interest together and discuss ways to delve deeper and discover more
Keep a Binder or File for Projects and Goals for High School
- Begin a high school wish list – include book lists, activities, elective courses, goals and dreams
- Encourage your teen to seek out volunteer work if you state requires “occupational credits” for graduation
- Make sure that you are including all these courses and potential opportunities on your student’s transcript
What if your student is advanced and has taken several High School level courses in Middle School?
Something to note about what should not be included in your High School course planning:
It is not highly recommended that you include accelerated math classes from junior high on the high school transcript. The transcript should really only reflect the four years of high school. So like in our case, where my son Benjamin took Algebra 1 in 7th grade, Geometry in 8th and began his High School math with Algebra 2, we will make a note of those classes in the comments at the end of the transcript, but it will be evident that he completed those courses previous to taking Algebra 2.
One final note: Consider using Dual Enrollment, Running Start or CLEP Exams to bolster your teen’s College Preparatory coursework. There are many options available both locally and online for your High Schooler and it is definitely something to consider these days with the high cost of getting a four year degree. Keep your options open and pursue all avenues that work best for you and your student!
I’d love to hear how you like to Chart your Teen’s Courses from High School to College. Please share in the comments below what has worked well for your teen!
Are you currently homeschooling a high school student? Are you planning on homeschooling through the High School years?
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