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High School Survival Secrets

ORGANIZED UNDER: Learning to Reason // Quick Start

How to Thrive in the High School Years

So, homeschooler, you’ve reached the high school years! Or maybe you’ve only recently decided to homeschool your high schooler. Whatever the case, you suddenly feel such pressing responsibility. As a mom of several homeschool graduates, I am well acquainted with the voice of doubt that dwells squarely in my own head:

“Will my child get into college?”

“How do I know if I’m doing enough?”

“What if I screw my kid up??”

And never mind transcripts and tests and electives . . . oh my!

But never fear! I’ve found the high school years to be some of the most fruitful and enjoyable ones with my children. And thankfully, there are many homeschoolers who have blazed the high school trail — so you don’t have to figure this out alone. Learn from our successes . . . and our mistakes!

Tips for Thriving in High School

I won’t go into counting credits or planning a course of study in this short space but instead, offer you a few quick tips in hopes to help you not only survive, but thrive during the high school years!

Farm It Out!

There are so many resources available these days — online schooling, free tutorials, distance learning, and independent study courses. If you find yourself swamped with attempting to keep up with your high schooler while juggling your own busy schedule or homeschooling younger children, consider this permission to let someone else take some of the teaching load! One plus side of this is that you can pawn off difficult courses like pre-calculus (and take yourself out of the role of the bad guy enforcing due dates!).

Keep Track as You Go

Do yourself a favor and log courses on a regular basis (a basic list of course titles and supplements will do). This may seem obvious, but I’ve know many families attempting to cobble together a transcript for the previous four years at the end of a student’s senior year. I find that taking a few moments each month to jot notes of important happenings is my best bet, as I can come back to them later when I’m building the formal transcript. If you put it off, it can be difficult to remember important things like which year your student took biology, standardized test score results, or the week they volunteered at a soup kitchen.

My friend Rebecca the Well Planned Gal has created e-books with basic information and high school forms to help make this process even easier! Be sure to list any volunteering, internships, awards, or work experience. Colleges look for those extras! Another tip for record-keeping? Let your student help with logging courses and hours (if that’s what your state requires). They will have more ownership that way.

Make Time for Fun

It’s easy to become weighed down by the seriousness of homeschooling high school. Every minute must count for something! There came a point with one of my children that I realized I was causing undue stress. When he wasn’t doing schoolwork, I nagged reminded him of chores. When he wasn’t doing chores, I pushed him to read good literature or practice his musical instrument. I am thankful that I listened to the Lord’s chiding that this child needed some down time to just be. He — or any of the rest of my children — did not need me to fill every minute of his day.

It’s also important to make time for non-school related memories with each of your children during these last years at home (oh, it goes by so quickly!). I am much more mindful of that now, and I hope that you will make time for movie days, bike riding, or shopping with your teen!

Keep Your Sense of Humor

Homeschool mom, you’ve planned your course of study, kept good records, made time for fun and yet . . . the chemistry experiment didn’t look anything like your lab book promised, your teen is face down on her math book declaring to anyone within earshot that she will never understand algebra, and why does she need to know this anyway, and you’re quite positive that your youngest is never going to read because you can’t seem to finish more than two phonics lessons a week.

Laugh! Remember that this, too, shall pass, and your life won’t always be this. I promise. And as Steve Lambert of Five in a Row recently told me, “The worst day of homeschooling is still probably better than the school down the road.”

Hang in there, homeschool parent. You’ve got this!

Jen McDonald is an experienced editor and writer who’s been featured in several books and numerous national publications, including Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Military Spouse Magazine. She’s the author of You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse, a book for military spouses born from nearly three decades of experience. She’s currently the Content Editor for MilitaryByOwner Advertising.

Jen and her amazing Air Force husband have lived all over the world and are the parents of four grown children who were all homeschooled, including one who is serving in the military. They’re also brand new grandparents! Find her at her site Jen McDonald: You Are Not Alone, on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram as @jenmcdonald88.

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