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10 Skills to Teach before High School

It was hard for me to believe it, but my time had come. I officially had a high school student!

I still miss my little pig-tailed tooth-loser, but I have to admit that I am enjoying the young lady she is quickly becoming. I still remember approaching those first days of high school and telling her how different it would be.

Making the Transition

Before we started high school, I thought through some ways to make it easier for her to transition into high school course work. Here are some of the things we did:

Time management

We regularly met to discuss questions and make sure she was on track, but I also gave her a list of assignments with due dates that were days to weeks out. I taught her how to divide assignments and projects into smaller sections, and to make sure she was done on time.


Along with teaching her how to manage her time, I also worked on allowing her more freedom in setting her own schedule. Except for our meeting time (which had to be scheduled around her little brother’s school schedule and my work schedule), she was allowed to decide which subject and activities to do when.


Over the past two years my daughter has worked through two different writing programs, learning how to write an essay and a short research paper. I also taught her how to write several types of speeches. These are skills we will continue to improve upon in high school.


Not everyone chooses to use traditional grades in high school, but to make completing a transcript easier, we did. I started grading some subjects in eighth grade to get her used to how it worked.

Making choices

We have always believed in allowing children to make choices when appropriate, but as our daughter has gotten older, we have been allowing her choices in more important areas. For one example, we allowed her the choice of homeschooling full time or going to our local high school part time so she could participate in sports (something that is required in our state). Our daughter chose to stay at home full time for her freshman year and take each subsequent year one step at a time.

Relationship with the Lord

During these middle school years, we have been guiding her into developing a relationship with God that is independent of ours. It has been delightful to see her grow in this area, including asking to go to the adult Bible study.

Keyboarding and word processing

As she heads into high school, our daughter will need to be able to type her own reports and papers. This year she worked on how to use a word processing program and spent some time using keyboarding software.


The style of homeschooling we used in elementary school did not include taking traditional tests. I assessed my daughter’s learning on the go and kept lists of what she needed to work on. Last year, along with the grading, I occasionally started giving tests. While I am still not convinced that traditional tests give us the best information about what a student knows, she will have to take them eventually. Tests made her nervous, so I was glad we started working on test-taking skills early.

Library skills

Finding a book, using dictionaries and encyclopedias, internet safety and use, research skills. All of these are important for a successful high school student to know. Several of my daughter’s assignments over the past year included a library skills component.

Taking notes

Because we used less traditional methods in our homeschool for the elementary years, listening to lectures and taking notes was a skill my daughter didn’t really need. Last year, I taught note-taking procedures so she will be prepared for outside high school or college courses. She was able to practice these skills by taking notes during our pastor’s sermons and at Bible study.

While it would be impossible to cover every single skill that my daughter might need, the previous skills have helped her be more successful in during her high school years.

At age eight, Stephenie McBride developed a life-long interest in teaching others. She taught English as a Second Language and Kindergarten in a public school for six years. Stephenie and her husband, Ben, adopted their two children from Kolkata, India, in 2000 and 2004. She has been an at-home parent and home educator since 2001. They use an eclectic mix of materials and approaches, with a strong emphasis on Charlotte Mason. Stephenie is the Assistant Editor of Publications for Home Educating Family Magazine. She also created and writes for Crestview Heights Academy Homeschool Curriculum. You can read more about Stephenie and her eclectic homeschooling adventures at

  • Lorna

    Would you be able to share what writing and note taking programs you used?

    Thank you for sharing this it is very helpful.

    September 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm Reply
  • Homeschool Daddy

    Great list! Thanks for sharing. A few of these we’ve already got working, but definitely need to firm up in some other areas as well.

    September 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    A student can learn all of these from one single activity: Competitive Debate!! You can also add critical thinking and the ability to communicate and your student is in demand!

    November 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm Reply
  • Holly

    I’m not sure these all have to be taught BEFORE high school so much as during.

    May 17, 2015 at 9:53 pm Reply
    • Christin

      If your child will be transitioning from a homeschool environment to a public or private high school, starting these skills in middle school will serve them well. Entering high school without these skills will start them off at a disadvantage. Especially the note taking and use of technology.

      May 18, 2015 at 10:10 am Reply
      • Anne Campbell

        Note taking is a biggie. I remember feeling lost in college, Christin! My high school teachers used to read us “notes” word-for-word.

        May 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm Reply

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