Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Homeschooling High School - Getting Stuff Done (On Time!)

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Homeschooling High School - Getting Stuff Done (On Time!) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ #homeschool #highschool

So this edition of the Homeschooling High School Blog Hop totally snuck up on me, which has been making me laugh because that's often the way homeschooling through high school works! And really, the way homeschooling often turns out around this time of year too. We find ourselves with our long To-Do List and realize that the time is limited. How do we fit all it all in?

This is, without a doubt, the most frustrating aspect of homeschooling during the high school years for me. Finding that elusive sweet spot where my kids are well on the way to independence, and my level of involvement in their schoolwork is mostly advisory. It's tempting to continue to manage their time for them, or to be constantly nagging them about what they need to do.  But as graduation looms ever nearer, they will need to be able to manage their own time and take charge of their own preparation for the career they choose.

When it comes to schoolwork, it's pretty obvious that high schoolers will likely do better when they are interested and engaged in their coursework. We all tend to be more motivated to work on the things we like and want to spend time on, and to procrastinate or avoid the things we find difficult or unappealing. Teens are no different, and if they excel in a subject area and want to pursue a career in it, they will probably study that subject and pour themselves into it. By the same token, they may hope that mom doesn't notice that they haven't really worked on that subject that they don't like and wish they didn't have to do. 

This year I've got a junior that plans to graduate in June. He has a slightly heavier course load, and he is going to have to apply himself if he wants to cover it all. It's his choice to graduate early - not something I pushed for - so it's his responsibility to make sure it happens. My responsibility? Encourage, facilitate, and coach. Practically speaking, that means I helped him figure out exactly which courses he had to take this year and worked with him to come up with a timeline for getting the work done. Also, I am still grading his work and keeping records, so I establish deadlines for assignments and check regularly to make sure he is actually getting the stuff done. If he is falling behind, I have to prod him to get a move on without micro-managing. If he runs into trouble with a subject, I have to help him figure it out without doing it for him or giving him a grade he hasn't earned.

I have a freshman who loves music and likes to read, but who avoids math like the plague. She gets caught up in hunting down the chords for her favorite songs that she wants to play on the ukulele, or distracted by imagining scenarios for a fanfic she wants to write; and suddenly the school day is almost over and she hasn't touched the Science lesson she was supposed to have completed. Her challenge is to learn to manage her time and apply herself to the subjects she doesn't like as much. My challenge? Encourage, guide, and mentor. That means I check on her often and ask what she is working on. I am still struggling with how closely I need to keep an eye on her to make sure she's working on all her subjects. I need to do some stuff with her to help her stay focused, and to make sure she understands those concepts that aren't coming as easily. And I need to set an example for good time management - and boy, is that a challenge for me!

How can homeschooled high schoolers get all the required coursework done on time? How can they learn to be effective managers of their time? How can they take responsibility and ownership of their own education? They need to have the reins handed to them; they need to practice being in charge; and they may even need to experience a setback or failure. 
  • Decide what's most important and prioritize. (That extra PE credit she could earn if she plays a full season of basketball is great, but she's already got enough credits, and do you all really have the time to run to all those practices and games and still get Geometry done?)
  • Follow your student's lead and interests in choosing a course of study as much as is practical. (He plans to be an engineer so he wants to study lots of science and math, but US History is still a required credit and can't be ignored.)  
  • Allow your student as much input into choosing curriculum as is practical. (Look for curriculum or learning opportunities that work with your student's learning style, personality, and needs.)
  • Have your student develop their own schedule. (What time of day are they at their best? How many breaks do they need during the day? How much time per subject per day works best for them? Let them figure that out.)
  • Let them figure out when, where, and how they can the work done. (She prefers to do all her required reading lying on her bed. Fine, as long as it's getting done. He prefers to have his music playing while he studies. Fine, as long as it's getting done.)
  • Set clear expectations for assignment deadlines and standards of work, and have appropriate consequences if the expectations aren't met. (Even though they should be managing their own time, they do have to work to certain parameters. When they are in college, papers will be due by a certain date and there will be consequences if they're not turned in. The same should happen at home. When they are in the workforce, they will need to complete tasks to their supervisor's specifications and time frame, or they may find themselves unemployed. They need to work within specific guidelines at home too.)
  • Guide them in finding the most efficient way to get to their career goal. (Not every student will be headed for college straight from graduation. Help them as they consider what they want to pursue and be open to possibilities that may be outside the box, such as a focused trade school or an apprenticeship, or to a timeline that includes a gap year or two while they travel or just decide what they want to do.)
Some related posts here on the Homeschool Coffee Break:

How Do I Even Teach That?? (Homeschooling High School Blog Hop) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Read more on How to Fit it ALL in while educating in the high school years:

This post is also linked to the 5 Days of Homeschool 101 - Planning link-up.

5 Days of Homeschool 101

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