Begin Plans for Homeschool High School in the 4th-Grade

One day in the “Mom’s Room” at Homeschool Co-op, the topic of high school came up. A couple of the women had children who’d reached that educational plateau.  Honestly, since my children were in the elementary level, I hardly gave the topic a second thought. I had other pressing things to think about … like what to fix for dinner.

On the way home from co-op I realized the truth, one day, my children would be entering high school. I began to think about it. I tried to imagine what it would be like. The mere thought of teaching those more challenging subjects, where grades mattered, was intimidating.

Intuitively, I knew it would be wise to plan ahead. To wait until their 8th-grade year had the potential to be disastrous and stressful. The challenges my “Mom’s Room” friends shared began circling in my thoughts. From them I gleaned …

… Parents are more an advisor, and less of a teacher.  A high schooler should be able to read a chapter in a text and follow through with the assigned work. Rarely did they (the mom) spend time sitting next her child while they worked on their studies.

… Students are responsible for making and keeping their own schedule.

… Students can correct their own math problems. That sounded good to me.

…  High schooler’s should be allowed to choose their course of study. Parental guidance is needed to help her understand established graduation requirements, whether set by the parents or the state.

… Dates for completing assignments should be assigned and graded accordingly if turned in late or incomplete.

… Keep good records of their work even if you believe college is not in their future.  The truth is, it is their life to live, and one day they may decide to pursue a degree.  At the end of the school year store their work in a sturdy box. When they leave home, they get to take the box with them.

… Begin looking for curriculum materials a year or more before the start of high school.

… A fancy piece of paper with the word High School Diploma on it, is important to your child. It is a formal way to acknowledge their accomplishment. And for them to honestly answer, yes, to the question on an employment form asking if they have a high school diploma.

More was probably shared, but that was enough to get me thinking, or at least stewing on the back burner of my mind. In the process, I began making observations of our school day, especially my interaction with my children; how I taught.

I discovered I hovered. I was always by their side, or so it seemed. Intuitively I knew I needed to begin weaning them of this habit. If my children could spend hours playing away from my side, they were capable of completing a reading or math assignment without me sitting next to them the entire time.

The very next day I began the weaning project. Once I finished explaining a math concept, I asked my child to repeat the assignment back to me. I lingered for a moment while she hunkered down to the business of “doing” her math for the day. As I stood up, she said, “Hey, where are you going? Aren’t you going to watch me?” Ahhh, she confirmed that I am inclined to hover!

Over the course of a month, I spent less and less time next to my older (fourth-grade and up) children as they worked on their individual assignments; all “on-their-own”. I suddenly had a moment pop a load of laundry in the washer. Or take a brisk twenty-minute walk. I’d check to see if there were any questions or if it was time to move on to something else.

I noticed she began to change in regarding her attitude toward school. She started owning her work, like it actually mattered. This attitude change was not present all of the time, but it was beginning to bud.

By my child’s 8th-grade year she was able to work independently on most of her school subjects. I was still close, still helping her stay on track. With the start of her high school year looming, we both had an inkling of the challenge that lay ahead, but we were ready because …

Home, is Where Wholesome Schooling Begins

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