Want some homeschool help for basic college skills that your homeschool high schooler can learn now? I’ll tell you!
Four of my homeschool graduates have already finished college and are off in the working world. All of them graduated college with honors. These are 4 of the most important college skills they learned in high school.
4 College Skills to Learn in Homeschool High School
1. Public speaking
College admissions officers are often impressed with homeschoolers who participate in rhetoric leagues, public speaking courses, or debate teams. It shows that they have drive, courage, and willingness to learn tough skills. Our local homeschool support group has Rhetoric League. While my high schoolers have never said it was their FAVORITE thing about high school, they ALL say it was one of the most important things they did.
My kids also use public speaking in many of their classes with presentations and projects. My oldest son earned extra scholarship money speaking as a college ambassador. Once, my daughter was asked by a professor to speak to the board about the effectiveness of their department- spontaneously, no prep time. It went well because she was already comfortable with public speaking. You never know when you’ll need to speak!
2. Leveled-up courses in their major area
High schoolers should invest in higher levels of learning in their specialty areas. For instance, one son wanted to be a history major in college, so his history courses included challenging learning opportunities. My daughter wanted to be a photographer- I couldn't teach her high level photography, so in her junior year she started taking photography courses at the community college. College-level courses look powerful on a transcript. Learning to work intensely on special subjects is an important skill.
3. Writing- LOTS of it
Usually in high school, writing is not a stand-alone course. (It is part of the language arts credit.) However, homeschool high schoolers who do lots of writing are better equipped for college. The more they write (both numbers of papers and types of papers), the better they will transition into the rigor and fast pace of the college classroom.
In high school my teens write research papers (MLA and APA style), essays, short stories, poetry, and specialty writing (resumes, lyric writing, sermon writing, script writing). The point is to write so much and so varied that they are desensitized to the stress. They use the 7 Sisters writing curriculum because my kids can't stand busy work or pretentious textbooks.
4. Social skills
This also is not a stand-alone course. (We include social skills in health.) In high school, we review the 10 basic skills they learned as children. The confidence they renew as they practice these skills helps them at college interviews (and job interviews), as well as making new friends and meeting new professors. The cool thing is: if your teen knows social skills, he/she can practice them in any situation!
Help your homeschooler prepare for college early by practicing these 4 skills!
Don't forget...pre-order Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective for 50% off during our 3-day Pre-Black-Friday special offer beginning Monday 11/24/14!
Here's my vlog on The Perfect Homeschool Transcript.
4 College Skills to Learn in Homeschool High School
What's that quote from Corrie ten Boom?
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength."
It is truly amazing how easy it is to worry.
Most of us don't even limit ourselves to SIMPLY worrying. We catalog our worries.
We spend time mentally organizing them into groups related to a common theme. We make chains of worries, one trouble likely to lead to another and so on. We replay tough situations from the past and worry about how to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.
Human beings are really good at worrying!
I am working hard on leaving worrying behind me. I don't want it to be a part of my life. I don't want it taking the strength out of my days. But I've discovered that I am NO GOOD at simply ceasing to worry.
Instead, I am finding success as I replace my worries with gratitude. I need to truly, literally count my blessings.
It's like a little game I play with myself. If I feel anxious about something and catch my mind beginning to churn away about it, I give myself permission to think about it AFTER I've given thanks for at least three blessings in my life right here and now. No falling back on lame-o, vague, generic blessings; I have to be specific and current in my thanksgiving. If, after I've sincerely recognized three blessings in front of me right now and given thanks for them, IF I still want to give energy to cataloging my worries, then I will allow myself to do so.
You know what? I never want to!
After I have stopped to count my blessings (really, truly, give thanks for at least three), I find the need for a worry-filled brain-churn has dissipated.
Not until I give thanks for our freedom to homeschool, for the friends and community God's created to support us in our homeschooling endeavors, for the precious conversation I just had with my son in the kitchen that might never have happened if he had been attending a traditional school today.
Not until I've taken a moment to truly look at the "roof over our heads" and give thanks for our home, to think back over the countless times God has met a specific need (like the grocery gift cards that got anonymously dropped at my apartment that time, or...), to smile at my reflection in a great outfit I picked up for peanuts off a clearance rack in an outlet for less than $10 head to toe.
Not until I thank my Heavenly Father for being such a perfect parent who loves my kids much better than I love them, until I savor that unsolicited hug that I actually got from my teenager (yup, it happens once in awhile!) yesterday afternoon, until I meditate with a sigh of relief on the verses in the Bible that say that God's got 'em and His plans for each kid can be trusted to be truly good.
Maybe when I'm finished counting blessings, I will still have to take a deep breath and do something hard. Maybe I have to tackle a homeschool subject with my kid that is frustrating both of us tremendously. Maybe I have to go through a pile of bills and decide which ones to handle today because there simply isn't money to pay every single one of them until the next paycheck arrives. Maybe I have to sit a kid down for a tough conversation that will end with me in tears. Life can be hard, and no fake happy-thoughts will change that reality.
But having replaced my worries with gratitude, I will find I have the STRENGTH to do the hard thing before me.
Becoming consistently aware of God's loving fingerprints in my life makes it possible to count my blessings instead of cataloging my worries, and leaves me with strength for today.
What often-overlooked blessings can you give thanks for today?
How do you combat the urge to catalog your worries?
Do you, or does someone you love, suffer with chronic illness? Lisa's devotional "God Meets Me Here" will encourage and equip you to keep counting blessings in the sick times.
For practical, encouraging posts from some of our favorite bloggers on the "worry categories" listed above, check these out:
Dear Homeschool Mom Who's Worried About Finishing the School Year by Wendy at Hip Homeschool Moms
I Can't Homeschool Because My Kids are in Middle School by Megan at Education Possible
How To Negotiate with Credit Card Companies by Penny at Meet Penny
Parents, Pick Your Battles by Tara at This Sweet Life of Mine
Peaceful Communication in Your Family by Misty at MistyLeask.com
You know those kids -- things are very sharply defined for them. They like the concrete...the concise...the literal.
For literal thinkers in high school, Literature is often a stretch because there's way too much room for personal interpretation. They just want to figure out what the "right" answer is, put it on their homework, and move on.
Literal Thinkers in High School
How can we help kids like these explore literature in our homeschools?
Give them the "WHY?" --
Help them recognize that many other people in the world are wired to read things in a different way than they naturally do, and you can equip them to respect differences among individuals and attempt to meet others on their homefield. Explain that thinking in a different way about the book they're reading will make it possible to engage in conversation with other readers who think much more figuratively and with greater inference. If necessary, make it very practical -- "Entering into that conversation is necessary to get full credit on your transcript for literature this year."
Give them the "HOW?" --
Concrete thinkers are NOT being intentionally difficult when they say, "I don't see any of that when I read it." They need specific guidance to read beyond the literal comprehension level. Ask questions like, "Did that character SAY anything to someone else shortly before he boarded the train that might explain WHY he was leaving town?" or "The author seems to give an awful lot of attention to the tree growing in the courtyard. Can you think of any way the author might have thought that a description of that particular tree could help the reader understand the main character in this story? Are there any ways the tree and the protagonist are similar?" Asking leading questions is not only okay, it's really wise when you are working with literal thinkers, especially early in their high school literature careers. You are helping them train their brains to function in a way that is awkward for them naturally, and they need lots of non-threatening practice.
Don't give them "NO" as feedback --
If they try to think in a way that feels unnatural to them anyway, and you respond by looking at them funny and saying, "No, that's not what it means at all," you have just sunk the ship before it's even left the dock. Instead, find ways to answer, "Yes, that's a piece of it. Can we take that a step further? What if I ALSO asked you....?" Or even, "Wow, that's different than what I was thinking myself, but I can totally see your point. I guess what I was getting at from my perspective was..."
Literal thinkers can rapidly grow discouraged in high school literature classes.
What techniques have you found to help literal thinkers in high school succeed?
Our British Literature, World Literature, and Great Christian Writers Literature Study Guides are designed to be adaptable to various learning styles, for use with literal, concrete thinkers as well as poetic souls.
Literal Thinkers in High School
We are getting so excited about the coming-soon release of Sara Hibbard Hayes' high school curriculum Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective (due for release in the ebookstore Jan. 31, 2015!).
Financial Literacy High School Curriculum
In fact, we plan to send a FREE sample worksheet from the etext to everyone on our mailing list later this week, so sign up in the upper left corner of our homepage if you aren't sure you're on the list. (We will NEVER spam you, btw!)
The worksheets in Sara's etext are editable and use links to internet resources for most of the activities, so the interactive nature of the work keeps teens engaged.
In addition, we are getting ready to offer everyone the chance to pre-order Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective in a pre-Black-Friday event Monday, 11/24 - Wednesday 11/26/14 at a substantial 50% discount.
Want to learn more about this money-saving offer?
Beginning at 12:01 EST a.m. Monday morning (that's the middle of "Sunday night," to those of you who are time-challenged), you can visit the ebookstore and purchase a pre-order copy of Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective at 50% off the regular price!
When Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective is made available to everyone Jan. 31, 2015, it will sell for $34.99 - a tremendous value when you consider that many financial literacy curricula cost over $100.00!
But pre-orders during our pre-Black-Friday special can pay just half that - $17.50 - and then expect their .pdf ebook file to be personally sent to them via email attachment Jan. 31, 2015.
We are rewarding you for being wise stewards of your homeschool dollars by offering this pre-order special. Planning for curriculum you will need in the future and pre-ordering it at half-price now is smart shopping!
Here's what you do:
- First, sign up for our email list. We will not spam you, but we will send you occasional special offers (about twice a month). Go to the top left corner of the homepage to sign up.
- Second, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact list in your email program. That way our special offers won't get dumped into your Spam folder by accident.
- Third, watch your email inbox for a FREE editable, interactive .pdf worksheet sample from Sara's ebook before the week is over!
- Fourth, mark your calendar to take advantage of our pre-order special offer of $17.50 - that's 50% off - for Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective between 12:01 a.m. Monday 11/24 and midnight Wednesday 11/26/14.
After midnight Wednesday, the half-price pre-order offer goes away!
Here are links to some of our most popular posts about Financial Literacy and homeschooling. If you aren't already convinced that pre-ordering Sara's book is brilliant, read on and get excited!
Financial Literacy High School Curriculum
Mom is the hub of the homeschool family's wheel in most cases. What happens when Mom has a chronic illness? Can homeschool continue and be successful?
Chronic Illness and Homeschooling
Lisa Schea with her husband and youngest son
Our local community is blessed with another homeschool "sister," Lisa Schea. She has been a long time friend and homeschooling colleague to all of us at 7SistersHomeschool.com. Her chronic illnesses have not prevented her from successfully homeschooling her sons and being active in the community. We are delighted to have Lisa's encouraging prayer/poetry ebook as a 7Sisters publication (consider downloading this for $2.49 for a friend you know who is battling chronic illness...it might really make a difference in her life!).
We interviewed Lisa during her youngest son's final years of homeschooling high school (he graduated this past June and is flourishing in college now).
Here's what she had to say about handling chronic illness and homeschooling:
Why did you decide to homeschool?
Our first two sons were square pegs that didn't fit into anyone's round holes, for a variety of reasons. I was not a mom that started out thinking it was a good idea; it was born more of desperation. Once we started, i realized what a blessing it was, and have continued ever since.
How long have you been homeschooling?
We've been homeschooling since the oldest entered 3rd grade in 1987, with a 'sabbatical' after ten years when I went through an especially rough time health-wise.
Will you tell us about your chronic illness, please?
Physically, I have COPD, which is a chronic, progressive lung disease that limits my ability to use oxygen. I was diagnosed 10 years ago, and have been on supplemental oxygen full-time for the past 4 years. I get out of breath easily, and have less energy for everything. There is a great essay using spoons as an analogy that sums it up pretty well: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.
com/articles/written-by- christine/the-spoon-theory/ There is no cure for now, short of a lung transplant at some point in the future. Emotionally, I've been diagnosed with an alphabet soup of mental illnesses, but chronic depression, mood disorders and PTSD are the ones that keep life fascinating. There are other issues, like diabetes, that have less of an impact on my daily life but are still always there. I really hate having to fill out health questionnaires...
What things are most difficult about homeschooling?
For me, consistency. We functioned for many years without any outside accountability [such as umbrella schools or state guidelines] and it took a lot of energy to stay accountable to every child on a regular, day in and day out basis.
What helps you balance homeschooling and managing your health?
Pacing myself. I have learned to 'work a little, rest a little.' Some days I rest a lot, but on days when I have more energy I take advantage of it. I've also gotten over my pride about pretending i have it all together with my kids. if we do math lessons while I'm in bed, so be it. I've also worked very hard to teach the boys to be independent learners, using weekly contracts and other tools. My husband is a huge part of why we can still homeschool. As my limitations increase, he has picked up more of the household stuff so I could focus on educating our sons.
How has your relationship with God helped and/or grown since your illness was diagnosed?
I couldn't imagine facing this alone. Knowing that God loves me and has a plan in all of this even when I don't get it makes all the difference in my attitude. I know He is at work IN me and THROUGH me to accomplish His purposes. I am just along for the ride. When i first went on oxygen I felt very fearful and vulnerable, but over time He brought reassurance and peace. I definitely pray more now, and spend more time in the Word than I did when I could be more physically active.
How has your homeschool and Christian community been part of your life?
I am not close to my family of origin, so my brothers and sisters in Christ have always been my family, in both homeschool and church communities. Connecting with other believers on a regular basis is an important part of maintaining my emotional balance. I'm actually an introvert and find time around people tiring, but it is absolutely essential for me to make that investment. Serving others brings me joy, and its impossible to do that if I live as a hermit.
What advice would you give other homeschooling parents who are experiencing chronic illness?
Don't try to be a lone ranger. Admit you can't do it all alone and ask for help, first in prayer to your heavenly Father who provides ALL you need, and also to those around you. Give your kids the chance to be independent, and to help you. I used to feel guilty that I wasn't cooking, but guess what? My son loves to do that now that I got out of the way! The blessings can be missed if you focus on the loss. Acknowledge the loss of health, freedom, whatever it is for you, but then move on. if you're still here, God has work for you to do! It won't be the same as what you would have done if you were healthy, but it still matters. A hard thing for me is managing expectations. I tend to think I should be able to do more than I actually can, and then I beat myself up. Learning to accept my limitations without feeling defeated is a conscious choice I have to make each day.
What do you hope will happen for people who read your prayer journal?
I hope they will be encouraged, that they will know they still have much to be grateful for and to celebrate. I pray they will find hope for their own future, and increase their trust in God to lead them each day. Living with a chronic illness is hard, but is not too hard for God, and He has promised not to abandon us if we truly seek Him.
You can download a copy of Lisa's prayer journal, God Meets Me Here, for $2.49.
If you are dealing with chronic illnesses, how have they affected your homeschooling? What helps?
Not all students, even homeschooled students, love to read. Maybe one (or more) even lives at your house!
We've encountered lots of reluctant readers in our own 7Sisters' homeschools and in our local homeschooling community. With some encouragement from others and some resources for reluctant readers, you can keep this reality from becoming a tragedy in your homeschool.
Resources for Reluctant Readers
Below are links to some of our most popular posts, those offering resources for helping reluctant readers become GOOD readers even if they aren't natural bookworms.
Scroll down to the bottom of the post, too, to read suggestions for building on a great book (like Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol) for lots of rich learning in a variety of subject areas.
Have you had success helping a reluctant reader? Leave a comment and share your ideas!
For teens and tweens:
For younger students:
Unit Studies are fun for the younger homeschool grades, but what can you do to bring various subjects together in high school?
Many homeschool parents would agree that it's tougher to take a unit study approach in high school because of the depth of subject matter that needs to be covered or mastered for a high school transcript credit. But giving our high school students special mini-units of learning can be a great break from their regular school routines, and can also pack a LOT of education into a short period of time.
Here's an example of how you might use Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol for several types of learning.
Log the hours you spend on the various activities and add them to the appropriate subject on your transcript as enrichment (for more on logging hours for Carnegie units of credit, click here).
Read the book.
It's not very long, so it's not overwhelming. It's a familiar story, so it won't frustrate reluctant readers. It's Dickens; it's a classic; it "counts" on a high school book list.
Watch one or more movie adaptations of the story.
There have been SO many movies made from this story! For a student interested in film (or one who needs fine arts hours), choose 3 or more movies and analyze the similarities and differences among them. Watch with family and friends. Make snacks. Make a night of it! But have lots of lively discussion about what worked well and what fell flat in each version.
Use our literature study guide to spark discussion.
Explore themes, characters, relationships, symbols and more. Write based on the ideas you discuss.
Look into the history of Scrooge's London.
"Are there no prisons?" he asked. "And the Union workhouses?" "The Treadmill and the Poor Law?" These ideas are offered by Scrooge as a solution for the poor. Study about the wretched conditions of the poor in London in the mid-1800's. Study about boarding schools. Learn how to play the many games mentioned in Stave III when Scrooge visits his nephew Fred's house. Play them with family or friends.
Check out the food described in the story.
If your student is interested in culinary arts, find recipes and cook up a Dickensian Christmas dish or two!
Study the author.
Charles Dickens had a fascinating life. Read about him. Watch a good biographical video like this one.
A shilling...a farthing...a half-crown. Huh? Here's a cool website that explains old English money.
Martha Cratchit worked for a milliner.
Do you have a student interested in fashion or sewing or design? Explore hat design, an important part of British fashion in the 1800's. Start with this Vintage Fashion Guild website.
Sing carols of the day.
Scrooge turns away carolers who sing "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." What other carols would have annoyed Ebenezer as he walked the streets of London? Sing 'em out! Dickens called his story A Christmas CAROL because he wanted it to be "sung again and again" to fan the Christmas spirit into flame.
Hone your public speaking skills.
Dickens gave readings of his famous work (something many felt was beneath him), and was known for being dramatic and altogether wonderful. Can your student take a stab at a dramatic reading of part of A Christmas Carol? Public speaking is a very important skill to cultivate during the high school years.
John Leech provided the original illustrations for A Christmas Carol, four woodcuts and four hand-colored etchings. Learn more about these kinds of illustration.
What ideas can you add to this list?
Love Dickens so much that you want to read more? Check out our literature study guide to accompany A Tale of Two Cities.
Resources for Reluctant Readers
Sometimes reading a "case study" about a homeschool facing a challenge similar to yours can be really empowering. Over the years we have created several of these types of posts to help homeschoolers
- be encouraged (It's not just you!)
- be equipped (There are lots of ways to tackle the challenge!)
- be successful (We've seen so many folks find an answer!)
Homeschool High School Examples
There are lots of ways to plot the plan for high school homeschool (this list from our local homeschool diploma program is a helpful reference), but when a chart seems too cold and impersonal, a real-life story can help.
Here are some of Vicki's best "case study" posts about high school homeschool challenges. All of these posts were inspired by REAL-LIFE encounters with people in our local homeschooling community or in our own families. (The identifying details have been changed to keep us from getting yelled at too much by our kids...)
Do you see your homeschool in one of these scenarios?
Do you have suggestions for ways to overcome the challenge?
And here are some posts that illustrate several ways you might combine credits for a customized fit for your student that doesn't waste his time and frustrate him with busywork, but still covers core subjects and provides rich electives:
If you need some advice or encouragement for homeschooling a specific subject area, the navigation bar at the top of the page offers Posts by Subject and Posts by Age Group under the Homeschool Blog tab. Just move your mouse pointer over the tab that says Homeschool Blog above!
Homeschool High School Examples
YouTube provides a great resource for homeschooling in high school. Here are some ideas for making good use of it.
Using YouTube Videos in High School Homeschool
- Search for videos on a subject, then create a playlist. (Here's a playlist I created for my son when we were studying U.S. Courts as a Social Studies elective.) Have your teen watch the videos on your playlist independently and create response-based writing or project work from them.
- Create a playlist of videos and watch them with your child. Discuss as you go. Being able to pause and talk makes for great discussions!
- Creat a playlist of videos and assemble a group of teens to watch together and discuss. Perhaps have them prepare a group project in response to what they watched and learned afterward.
- Look for dramatic performances of plays or books that you read for Literature. Add watching the video and evaluating the effectiveness of that adaptation (either in writing or just in discussion) to your reading of the book. My kids and I watched A Raisin in the Sun after we read it last year in American Lit.
- Look for news coverage of events you are studying in History or other subjects. For example, when my Literature students in homeschool co-op read Cry, the Beloved Country about apartheid in South Africa, I then had them watch news footage of Nelson Mandela's release from prison and we discussed the eventual demise of the apartheid system in that country.
- Find interviews with people who are responsible for some of the great scientific discoveries you learn about. Putting faces to names and theories and ideas helps some teens really cement the learning process.
Can you share ways you've found to use YouTube videos in your high school homeschool?
Using YouTube Videos in High School Homeschool
Words are so much fun. Words are powerful. Words create connections between people...or drive them apart. Words express truth...or propagate lies. There is so much power in a well-chosen word.
Helping our homeschoolers build strong vocabulary is important. Here are some fun ways to improve vocabulary.
1. Crossword Puzzles
One of my favorite ways to improve my own vocabulary is by working crossword puzzles. The clues given (even the "easy" puzzle books from the dollar store) challenge my brain to think about words differently than I automatically would. A familiar word described in a different way than I anticipated sharpens my brain's word wiring. Crossword puzzles are great for helping older kids grasp shades of meaning in words, idiomatic uses, and archaic definitions.
This is a great online tool! You start with easy words and as you get them right, the program quickly increases in difficulty until you hit a level that is challenging to you. The coolest feature: for each answer you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme to help end world hunger. The words get harder the more you get right. This is a fun, rewarding way to work on vocabulary and bless those in need. (There are also quizzes at FreeRice for many other subject areas.)
3. Literature Study Guides
Lists of words drawn from a work of classic literature for the student to research and learn while reading the book integrate vocabulary learning with reading. 7 Sisters has study guides with vocabulary lists for lots of wonderful books!
The exercises here work with words in context, and if you get the answer wrong, hints are available, and an in-depth explanation of the word is given. They boast that their program builds a model of your knowledge as you get answers right and wrong, and predicts words that you are unlikely to already know.
What are some effective ways you are improving vocabulary in your homeschool?
Bonus Idea to improve your vocabulary:
Read and write poetry!
With the holiday season rapidly moving in, we wanted to share with you our encouragement to be REAL this Thanksgiving and Christmas. Family life is not always neat and tidy. Holiday celebrations are sometimes hard. The blessings of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with loved ones are real...but so are the struggles that press down on us some years.
Your "sisters" here at 7SistersHomeschool.com have not led lives that came out of a Norman Rockwell painting. We've experienced struggles and imperfections and tragedies and disappointments, and we want to send some pre-holiday love your way and remind you that God is good, He loves you, and you will get through the struggles.
If this is a year of blessing and joy during the holidays, remember to pray for those who are hurting. Lower your expectations of a loved one who may not feel up to all the usual gatherings this year. Offer a kind word or a hug where appropriate.
Our 81-page Christmas book (currently available $2.99 for Kindle through Amazon, and also coming to our site as a .pdf download Thanksgiving week!) has ideas and personal stories that deal with the holiday season in a real way...the blessings and the struggles.
Here's a peek at the Table of Contents:
This is what one reader had to say:
I have heard lots of seminars about making the holidays fun and meaningful, but this book gave me even more ideas than I had before! But they also do it in a way that takes pressure off so that a mom doesn't feel like she has to do it all, or do it all by herself. I especially liked the ideas that are easy and the advice to get others involved with you to take up the slack when your Christmas spirit runs out or to help do things that you are not particularly good at or fond of. I highly recommend this book for moms who want to create memories with their children but are not really high energy or natural "Christmas people". - Penney