A Sane Approach to College-Prep Homeschooling

A Sane Approach to College-Prep Homeschooling

College Prep

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I am frequently asked about college-prep homeschooling. When some moms consider the high school years as preparation for college, they freak out. I get it. I was worried about high school too. But I shouldn’t have been. This May I will graduate my third high school student and will have my first college graduate. I don’t have all the answers, but my perspective has changed and I want to share my experiences that should calm your fears.

[Listen to Secrets to College Admission with Lee Binz]

Homeschool Graduates

Is it harder to teach college-prep homeschool?

A common question I have received is whether it is harder to homeschool high school, especially when you’re preparing a student for college. I know that question comes out of the idea that the subject matter is more complex and requires a more knowledgeable teacher. My answer to that question is in most cases it is easier to homeschool high school. Your students should be able to read and complete assignments with very little help from you. If your child is self-directed, you may only need to meet with your student to review work, administer tests, and grade papers. If the content is not something you are well-versed in, you can have your student use self-directed curriculum, getting help from other homeschooling parents as needed, have your child take a Learning Center class, or enroll your child in an AP or dual enrollment course. If you have a friend who is skilled in the subject that is weaker for you, trade responsibilities. As I’ve often mentioned, I have a friend who does my kids’ Apologia labs and grades and administers tests while I teach her kids literature and composition. You can do this!

What type of courses should be taught in a college-prep homeschool?

Another question I am often asked is about the types of courses high school students who want to attend college should be taking. Visit HSLDA.org to get a list of college-prep high school courses. Next, look at the requirements of a college your child may want to attend. My oldest had a large list of potential universities and he applied to many of them. He ended up choosing a state school. We were thrilled that he has been close to home and he has said that he is very happy with his choice. Our second two sons are also attending state schools and for financial and family reasons, we plan to send the rest of the kids to state schools. If you make a similar choice for your family, reviewing college course requirements becomes a lot simpler. I will say that you can take your high school student on college visits early on, but a lot of maturity happens in the junior and senior years that may have your student changing his mind.

Apologia science co-op

These are the course choices we have made in our college-prep homeschooling. We have included English studies every year of high school. I have like to alternate literature and composition courses every year and we have done these as part of our home based co-op. I find that my high school students enjoy literature and writing a lot more when they are able to discuss and share their writing with friends.

They have also done four years of math, though the levels of math have varied in the senior year depending on math ability. For science my students have used Apologia and have studied biology, chemistry, physics, and advanced chemistry. Science labs have been completed also in our home based co-op.

My high school students have taken a variety of other courses in high school including world history, American history, government, logic, health, Spanish, theology/worldviews, music, practical skills, and physical education. American history or government is a requirement for one college in our state.

[Read Teaching Pratical Skills in Your Homeschool]

How rigorous should college-prep homeschool courses be?

I am frequently asked about how rigorous high school courses should be. High school classes should be graded so those grades can be included on a high school transcript. I use assignments, participation, grading rubrics for papers, and tests that are included with curriculum in order to give my students an accurate grade. I find that some homeschool curricula requires more work (especially writing) than courses traditional schools require. I don’t like to require a paper a week for every subject, for example, because even college courses don’t require that much writing. On the other hand, to prepare your students for college, there should be increased expectations for evidence of your child’s learning. If there are no tests available with a curriculum you’re using, require your students to write a paper or create a project that demonstrates what your child has learned. Then you grade it.

How do I create a high school transcript?

That leads me to another question I frequently receive: how to create a transcript. There are free editable forms available for you to complete by adding the course name, the number of credits, and the grade. You will want to determine how course credits are typically calculated in your state. In mine, a full-year course is 1 credit. A semester course is .5 credits. You’ll want to choose a grading scale and use it consistently. I do not grade with A-‘s and B+’s, so I use 4 points for an A, 3 for a B, and so on. Keep the names of the courses simple like English Comp I or Spanish II so colleges can compare your child’s coursework to other students’. If you have higher expectations for a course or add enrichment activities to it such as the science lectures we had our students attend in addition to their Apologia coursework, you can label a course as Honors on a transcript (e.g., Spanish I Honors). Keep a record apart from the transcript of textbook used, course instructor’s name (if the class was completed at a learning center or online), and example work/tests should you be asked to present proof of course content.

Should I have my student take CLEP tests, AP courses, or dual enroll?

The next question I am often asked is about CLEP, AP courses, and dual enrollment. My oldest son took online AP courses through Pennsylvania Homeschoolers. He then took the AP exams for those courses and did well in them. Depending on the score received, most colleges will accept those courses for college credit. When he later attended high school, he took enough AP courses with qualifying scores to become an AP Scholar. He had two years’ of college credit by the time he graduated from high school.

My second son took CLEP tests through College Prep Plus. He passed the tests, but when we decided he would attend college rather than complete the College Prep program, we learned that the tests he took would not qualify for credit at the state schools he wanted to attend. That is not to say that the CLEP tests wouldn’t have been valuable for a degree through College Plus. My son had an incredible experience working with a mentor through College Prep Plus and was motivated to attend college and set and complete goals because of the program.

Rather than AP or CLEP tests, my second and third sons took dual enrollment classes at our local community college. Getting college credit that way as opposed to the AP course and exam fee has been much less expensive for us and has been excellent college preparation. I have liked them taking the courses while I am still here to provide support. My fourth son will be taking courses at community college next year. My kids have taken American history, psychology, sociology, Spanish, and math.

I have been asked which option colleges prefer. Colleges aren’t as likely to accept CLEP exams for college credit. So do your research if you plan for your student to attent a traditional college. AP courses are excellent for students who want a competitive scholarship, but they aren’t required for the most common academic scholarships. Even though my oldest son had two years’ of college credits, he was admitted as a freshman and was given scholarships as though he were a freshman. College credits can reduce the amount you have to spend while your student is enrolled, but degree and scholarship requirements may limit the savings. My oldest is graduating in four years, for example.

How can I maximize my student’s chances of college admission and scholarships?

Now I want to answer questions I get on admissions and scholarships. Your student can earn free tuition from many universities with a high GPA and test score alone. Check the schools you are interested in for the requirements. You’ll be offered these scholarships automatically, regardless of your family’s income. You won’t need an impressive list of accomplishments and activities to get them. In fact, the admission form for our state schools doesn’t ask for this information. Their transcript and test scores were all that were required for admission and scholarships. If your student will apply for a competitive scholarship, that is when that list of accomplishments comes into play. If your student’s test scores aren’t high enough for admission, you may be able to use that list to gain admission as well. However, if your student doesn’t do well on tests but does well in the classroom, consider dual enrollment or full-time enrollment in a community college after high school. Your child can then transfer to a four-year college on GPA alone. There are fewer transfer scholarships, but there are some available.

Because the biggest scholarships are based on test scores, it’s important that your student do their very best on the ACT or SAT. Two of my students used workbooks exclusively to prepare for their exams because they’re visual learners.  Two of my sons have used Magoosh to prepare and I highly recommend it. It has short teaching videos and test questions that can be accessed from their phones any time they want to get a short practice session in.  I am considering enrolling my high school student in an ACT course as well because he’s an auditory learner. One strategy my kids have used that is excellent is to emulate the testing format during practice tests as closely as possible. So block out four hours of the day and take the exam in the same way that you will be on testing day. Have your students start studying early. If your student has learning challenges, arrange for testing accommodations. Contact your local homeschool support group for information about how to arrange that.

If you want more information about helping your child secure scholarships, listen to the podcast episode I did with Lee Binz. Investigate other scholarships that are available through the college or university that your child would consider attending. Many that are not based on GPA and test scores require leadership experience. Plan now for opportunities for your child to exercise leadership or gain the types of experience that the scholarship requires. Look for local, private scholarships as well. My dentist’s office offers a college scholarship, for example. Many smaller scholarships require letters of recommendation and if your child has someone who could write an excellent letter on his or her behalf, your child may have a good chance at earning the scholarship. Many smaller scholarships offered by colleges and universities require essays. If your child is a strong writer, you may be able to increase education funding by applying for those smaller scholarships. Of course, there are scholarships for sports ability and other extracurricular skills you should look into as well. Depending on your family’s income, you may qualify for grants to help defray the costs. One significant source of college funding that I had not considered before my second son attended college is serving as a resident assistant. My son was a resident assistant this year and will be next year as well. That position includes free room, board, books, and a small salary. That is a huge help to our family. Becoming a resident assistant does require good grades in college and good communication skills, but it is something to aim for to make college more affordable.

[Listen to Lessons Learned from Homeschooling High School]

Conclusion

Homeschooling high school can be a rewarding time in your relationship with your teen. While preparing your child for college can create anxiety, we can learn how to choose courses, prepare our kids for college entrance exams, and earn scholarship money. We can also trust God to help our kids do what is required to fulfill the plan He has for them. College-prep homeschooling has been much easier than I thought it would be. I hope I’ve reassured you!

Do you have any questions about college-prep homeschooling that I haven’t answered? Comment below.

College Prep Homeschooling

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Keeping Homeschoolers Happy in High School

Keeping Homeschoolers Happy in High School

When your homeschooled child enters or will soon enter high school, their happiness becomes critical to ensuring the success of your homeschooling. Obviously, we can’t base all our choices on what will make our kids happy. But doing what we can to make the high school years enjoyable is an important way of expressing love for our children. Here are my top tips.

How to Keep Your Homeschooled High Schooler Happy

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#1 Teach your child to experiment.

I don’t mean to do science; I mean to teach your child to have an experimental attitude about their education. Many older homeschoolers are ready to give up homeschooling because they’re dissatisfied with some aspect of the home education. It’s possible that going to school is the right choice for them. if you wonder, listen to the episode of The Homeschool Sanity Show on this topic. But it’s also possible that some experimenting is in order.

Would a different schedule help? Try it and have your student record their findings. How does the new schedule affect their mood, productivity, and feelings about homeschooling? My kids have a later rise time as a result of this experiment and I’m constantly pointing out that they would be getting up at 6 if they went to school.

Another experiment to try is a new format for learning. Have your student try independent study, learning along with you, online learning, a co-op, or outside classes. Last year my son did an online course that went very well for him. My boys have enjoyed taking dual enrollment classes, especially doing so with a homeschooled friend the same age. Next year we are going to use more independent study and we’ll try outside classes through a new homeschool co-op.

Experiment with new activities. Consider youth group, a homeschool sport/activity, a non-homeschool sport or activity, or a part-time job. One son began attending youth group and another started a part-time job last year and both have made them happier in their homeschooling. Though she is not in high school, my daughter enjoyed playing volleyball with junior high and high school homeschooled girls last year. This summer she will be on a local swim team.

Finally, experiment with studying new subjects. Choose an elective of interest, for example. The 7 Sisters Human Development course will be of great interest to my daughter and would be perfect to do with a group. I taught developmental psychology at the university and it was a packed course. (For a limited time, use code SANITY to take 20% off your purchase. Comment on or share this Facebook Live review for a chance to win a 7 Sisters course until June 6th, 2017.)

Choose an elective course in the area of your child’s talent. Listen to the podcast episode I did on talent education and read the post Vicki Tillman wrote on high school electives.

If you’re stuck for ideas, review a high school or college course catalog. Ask your student what he thinks sounds interesting and pursue a course on the topic.

The key to experimenting is to give the experiment a decent trial period. One or two days of curricula, class, or an activity isn’t a fair trial. Attitudes can change. I insist on a semester for most things. Even if my student is right that she hates a curriculum and that doesn’t change, we help our students develop character in the process. Relationships, jobs, and new endeavors often get off to a rocky start, but turn out to be a blessing. Students will also learn how to adjust to less than desirable circumstances. They can choose a positive attitude and learn to focus on what they like and ignore what they don’t. They can learn to make friends who make the experience more pleasant. They can learn to push themselves to a new level of achievement, despite not liking the instructor (hopefully that instructor isn’t you!). They can learn how to deal effectively with difficult people. They can learn to entertain themselves when bored.

Teaching your child to experiment with all of these variables in their homeschooling because it’s a critical life skill.

#2 Give appropriate freedom and responsibility

The second approach for keeping high schoolers happy is to give appropriate freedom and responsibility. Kids aren’t happy when they’re hemmed in too closely. As long as your child isn’t violating your trust with poor choices, you shouldn’t use your fear as an excuse to limit your child. One reason we’re afraid to give freedom is because we know what we did as teeens or what our spouse or friends did at this age. But your child isn’t you or your friends. He or she has had the benefit of being homeschooled by you. If your child has earned the right to attend a well-chaperoned party or dance, to take a dual-enrollment class, or to get a part-time job, let your child have the experience.

When I began homeschooling, the thought was we wanted to limit our teens’ exposure to these things, but I think that teaching was misguided. I think it’s important to have our kids try and potentially fail while we are still there to guide them. This is what leads to success in college and life. That doesn’t mean we don’t have discernment in choosing the freedoms and responsibilities we give. We should choose those opportunities that will encourage our child in his faith walk and expose him to people who share his values while also allowing him to meet those who don’t.

Provide plenty of coaching before giving more freedom and responsibility. Ask your daughter how she will respond if she witnesses underage drinking or drug use. What will she do if she makes a poor choice in this area? Does she know that you will not punish her if she calls you to come get her? It’s critical to communicate this. If she reports underage drinking, she has to know that you won’t keep her from attending all functions in the future. She has to know that if she does drink that you will come get her immediately to keep her safe. Of course, these discussions should also include the many natural consequences of poor choices. The more real-world examples you can provide, the better.

Talk with your child about the kinds of people he will meet in the workplace. Share your own experience. Talk about temptations. Discuss what you believe about dating. If your son or daughter is interested in dating, what will you say? What situations do you want your child to avoid and why? As you talk, affirm your child and your confidence in his ability to make good choices. Remind him of examples of his good decision making in the past.

But what if your child hasn’t earned freedom and responsibility because of poor choices? If your child has ADD, listen to the podcast episode on that topic. If your child is oppositional or defiant, listen to the episode on the #1 question homeschoolers ask me. Then read The Defiant Child by Dr. Douglas Riley. This is one of the best parenting books when it comes to managing misbehavior, even if your child doesn’t have an oppositional-defiant diagnosis.

#3 Assess your child’s mental health.

To keep your homeschooler happy, teach them to experiment with their homeschooling and activities, give them freedom and responsibility within a coaching framework, and assess your child’s mental health. Does your high schooler seem happy most of the time? If not, talk with your child about what they think is influencing their mood. Always consider hormones as a factor. Next, consider social skills. Students who social skills are lacking may suffer from loneliness and develop too much of a desire to play video games.

If you think your child may be depressed because they’re sleeping too much (or have insomnia), eating too much (or not enough), are unusually sad or irritable, or express hopelessness or significant negative self-esteem, seek a professional’s help. If you’re worried about attitudes toward your homeschooling, listen to the episode on working with professionals as a homeschooler. Even if you’re nervous, you owe it to your child to get help.

#4 Invest in the relationship.

Finally, to keep your high schooler happy, invest in the relationship. As your children get older, you will find you can spend less time actually teaching. You may find that you have even more time to yourself because your child is gone more. But this is not the time to let the realationship wither. Plan time to do a devotion together, enjoy a hobby together, or get coffee together. Let your child choose the activity. Chat with your high schooler the way you would with a good friend. Ask them how things are going, what they’re learning, what they’re interested in. Then reciprocate. Just as you know less about their lives, they know less about yours. You are building the foundation for a good relationship with your children when they are in college and adults living away from home.

Affirm your child. Praise her for the maturity you see. Envision a positive future for her. Tell her you can see that she’ll be a great mother, a caring teacher, or whatever will mean the most to her.

Make it clear that you are there to help your child overcome challenges. Explain that you will be there to help them deal with the dyslexia in college, to deal with difficult relationships, to manage money — whatever is a struggle for your child.

Pray for your child. Pray with him. Tell your children you’re praying for them. Ask for specific prayer requests. Give them a Scripture that applies to their circumstances. Of course, if you’re married, it’s important for both you and your spouse to invest in the relationship with your homeschooled high schooler.

It is possible to keep your homeschooler happy in high school. Even if you and your child decide that enrolling in high school is the best choice, many of these tips will be helpful.

Do you have other tips for keeping homeschoolers happy? Comment here or on Facebook.

 

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ACT Math Boot Camp from Mr. D Math: A Review

ACT Math Boot Camp from Mr. D Math: A Review

I was given access to this course for free and was compensated for my time. I was not required to give a positive review. 

After training our children in the faith and teaching them to love learning, preparing our children to do well on the ACT is a top priority for me and my husband. We have six children to put through college and a high ACT score opens the door to significant scholarship money. (For more on preparing your child for college scholarships, be sure to listen to my interview with Lee Binz on The Homeschool Sanity Show).

Our third son will be taking the ACT for the first time this summer, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to enroll him in the six-week ACT Math Boot Camp from Mr. D Math.

ACT Math Boot Camp from MrD Math: a Review

Math makes up a significant portion of the ACT score. Mr. D. of Mr. D Math claims that he can raise your child’s ACT Math score 5 points. That’s significant! That’s taking the math score from average to above average, for example.

I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think of this online interactive course. My first two sons had only prepared for the test using ACT prep books. I am also very picky about teaching style.

MrD Math ACT Boot Camp

What the Mr. D Math ACT Boot Camp Includes

The boot camp is an online course taught live by Mr. D. himself. It is scheduled for Monday evenings in our time zone, which is challenging for my son because he has drum lessons at that time. Attending live allows students to ask and answer questions. However, replays are available, allowing viewers to hear Mr. D’s responses to questions. The interactive course includes teaching of test-taking strategies, help converting word problems to equations, and review of math formulas needed for the ACT. Students look over problems prior to class that Mr. D. then solves with students in class. Students work to solve the same problems on their own between classes, promoting mastery.

The online course is not the only part of the boot camp, however. The course fee also includes the Test Prep Portal. Inside the portal are numerous videos teaching skills such as how to use your calculator during the exam. There are also ACT practice questions for math, links to math games, and even practice questions for the other subjects comprising the ACT. My son characterizes it as “a ton of stuff.”

What We Think of the Mr. D Math ACT Boot Camp

I wasn’t sure if my son would like the boot camp. He is very picky, too! But he was quite complimentary of Mr. D’s teaching style. “He makes things very easy to understand,” he said.

He does indeed! I am very impressed. He has a very warm, patient, positive teaching style. I now understand why his approach to teaching and testing transformed a poor-performing school in Hawaii.

My son is strong in math, but even he can benefit from this boot camp. I think students who are weaker in math would absolutely love this, as would students who learn best through audio and hands-on teaching.

My son hasn’t yet taken the ACT, but I do believe Mr. D.’s claim that he can raise my child’s math score by 5 points. Since 5 points can be the difference between a scholarship and no scholarship, the cost for this boot camp ($197) is a real bargain in my opinion. It’s like having a top-notch math tutor in your home.

How to Get Started With the MrD Math ACT Boot Camp

If you’d like to enroll your child in the boot camp to prepare him or her for the June ACT, go to the Mr. D Math site today. The session just started this week, so your child can still fully participate in this boot camp. Click the same link to enroll in future boot camps. You should also follow Mr. D Math on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, especially if your child isn’t quite ready for the ACT. Then you won’t forgot this amazing resource for ACT preparation!

 

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Homeschool vs. Public School for High School [VIDEO]

Homeschool vs. Public School for High School [VIDEO]

Homeschool vs Public School

Moriah hysterically illustrates the differences between homeschool and public school for high school.

If you have a previously homeschooled child who will be attending public high school, you should have them watch. Every homeschooled teen will probably get a kick out of it though.

While the differences Moriah portrays are exaggerated, she does tap into the pros and cons you will want to address if you are considering whether or not to send your child to public high school.

I sent my oldest son to high school, and while every child and situation is different, you may enjoy reading what I learned about sending my homeschooled son to public high school. Several homeschool moms shared with me on Facebook that reading about my experience was a relief to them. I’m so glad!

Homeschooling isn’t about teaching your child at home as much as it is about the freedom to educate your child in the way you believe is best.

I’m very thankful for the freedom we have to homeschool. Enjoy the video!

Courtesy of Moriah Elizabeth on YouTube

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What I Learned Sending My Homeschooled Child to Public School

What I Learned Sending My Homeschooled Child to Public School

What I learned sending my homeschooled child to public school.

wrote about sending my son, who had been homeschooled his whole life, to high school as a junior. It’s hard to believe that was three school years ago.

I know there are many homeschooling parents who have wondered if they should send their children to school, particularly when it comes to high school. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer that question for you. I don’t know you, your child, or your school district. Even if I did, I could give you bad advice. What I can do is tell you what I learned from the process and tell you where to go for help in making the decision: God. He knows what is best for your child. He has proven Himself trustworthy to us.  I believe He will for you, too.

I share what I’ve learned in case it will be helpful to you.

Public school isn’t always the enemy.

I had heard horror stories and I was terrified. Our local high school’s website said that homeschoolers would have to be interviewed by department heads to determine what grades they would be given for previous coursework. When we met with the guidance counselor, I was prepared for a fight. If the school planned on giving my child anything less than the grades he had earned, I wasn’t willing to enroll him!

We had submitted my son’s transcript and PSAT scores prior to our meeting. The counselor handed us an official transcript with all his courses and grades on it, just as we had reported. I said, “You’re just going to accept his courses and grades?” She said yes. Not only that, but she asked if my son wanted to enter as a senior because he had so many credits. He declined because he wanted to build up an even stronger transcript for college.

I don’t know if my son’s PSAT scores were taken as validation of his coursework or if this is how any homeschooler would be treated. I have heard of other homeschoolers being forced to repeat high school years.

In our case, the public school was our ally, not our enemy.

Public school can be validating.

I have heard the story of poorly prepared homeschool students entering public school and failing socially and academically many times. It’s a popular tale among teachers commenting on homeschooling online. I was worried that teachers would use my son to confirm that narrative.

Instead, my son came home and said that one of his teachers had this conversation with him:

TEACHER: “You were homeschooled right?”

MY SON: “Yes.”

TEACHER: “Your parents have done something right. You’re an excellent student.”

I just wanted to hug the man. It isn’t that I didn’t know that my son is a good student. It’s that I’ve never had my teaching of him praised. It was nice to hear.

My public school stereotypes were wrong.

Even though I went to public school, my views of it have changed as a result of the media and warnings from the homeschool community. I honestly expected a completely out-of-control morass of immorality.

I agreed to help serve lunch to the theater group at the high school. When I walked into the lunch room and saw everyone sitting and talking quietly, I was astonished. When I served the teens lunch and they all thanked me, I was again surprised.

Because my son is extremely social, he has introduced us to dozens of young people he met in the various groups he was in. It’s been a joy to get to know them. Many of them share our faith, which was another surprise. While they have shaken my public school stereotypes, I believe we have given them a non-stereotypical view of homeschooling, too.

My son needed to experience public school.

My son had a much different set of stereotypes about public school than I did. In his mind, public school was filled with cool kids who loved to discuss what they were learning and teachers who all loved to teach. I did my best to relieve him of those stereotypes, but it wasn’t until he went to school that he had a better perspective. He later told me that there were just as many weird kids at public school as in homeschool groups (ha ha), that there were kids in advanced courses who would play video games instead of listen and discuss, and that some of his teachers were just plain awful.

His funniest realization (for me anyway) was this: “I could have learned in two weeks what it took them a whole semester to teach.” Ahem. I told you so.

His saddest realization is that unkindness exists everywhere. As a homeschooled kid at church, his experience was that his friends who weren’t homeschooled tended to ignore him in favor of their schoolmates. I think my son hoped that once he was in school that this wouldn’t happen anymore. It did, in various settings.

I’m so thankful that he was able to learn these lessons while living at home. We had plenty of discussions about what he was learning and experiencing and his dad and I were able to give him guidance. Everything he experienced has also served him well in college.

Conclusions

While I’m thankful for the lessons learned by sending my son to high school, I can’t recommend it to everyone. I still have reservations about sending young people who aren’t strong enough spiritually, academically, or socially to succeed. My next three oldest sons do not want to attend public high school at this time. But if they change their minds or my younger children want to go (and the Lord confirms that decision), I won’t be terrified.

Have you sent your child to public school after homeschooling or are you thinking about it? Let’s chat about it on Homeschool Sanity on Facebook.

Check out what the other iHomeschool Network bloggers learned from their kids.

What my child has taught me. Homeschooling.

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How to Teach to Your Child’s Talent

How to Teach to Your Child’s Talent

How to Teach to Your Child's Talent. Make the most of your child's strengths!Early in my homeschooling, I was blessed to hear Joyce Herzog say:

Our children are unlikely to be employed in their areas of weakness. Most likely they will be employed in their area of strength.

Yet we tend to focus an inordinate amount of teaching time on fixing weaknesses–not maximizing strengths.

But exactly how can we make a connection between our child’s strengths and future employment?

I had no idea until I met Jonathan Harris and read his book How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent. I loved the idea of putting all the pieces of my child’s life together (his strengths, his interests, our family’s interests, and the resources available) and seeing what picture appeared. I did work through the exercises in the book and had some vague ideas of what skills my two oldest boys still at home should be focusing on. I even wrote about it here. But frankly, I put it on the back burner. More pressing matters took precedence until Jonathan contacted me and offered to do a consultation. I’m so glad he did.

I suspect that most homeschoolers are like I am–not overly concerned about our children’s future until it’s time to think about college or employment after graduation. And that’s a shame. We have so much more time to devote to developing our children’s talents than parents whose children are in traditional schools. I wasn’t taking advantage of the time and Jonathan motivated me.

Our Consultation

Jonathan and I spoke about both my sons–their strengths and their interests. Then I shared with him that our family has a passion for selling books. One of my sons had already helped my husband at a librarians’ conference and the next oldest would be doing so at the upcoming conference. I explained that my current passion was to write a language arts curriculum and start a homeschool publishing company that my kids could be a part of. Even as I spoke, I was starting to make some connections. And can I say what a joy it was to talk about my sons? What a rare opportunity it was to share with someone else the gifts I see in them and the hopes and dreams my husband and I have for their future. Jonathan gave me the assignment of completing the questions in his book again and determining what talent we might work on developing in the coming months.

Family Discussion

After finishing my homework, I talked with my husband and the boys. I originally thought that my younger son would love to help my husband in his business, but my husband didn’t feel he would have enough meaningful work to keep him busy. We decided that we wanted him to have a business education so we planned to have him work through Micro Business for Teens. I felt my older son, with a gift for grammar, would be well suited to helping me complete the curriculum I’m writing. We agreed to pay him a training wage while I was teaching him and then more as he was working independently.

I reported our plans to Jonathan, who thought we were on the right track. I thanked him profusely, because I hadn’t really thought how my son’s talent could be developed in a way that fit with our family goals, too.

Update

Jonathan asked me how things were going and I told him, but things have changed since my report.

I trained my older son to format the text I had written. Everything went well and he was meticulous, so I was pleased. But a problem came up. He began studying in earnest for the ACT and taking outside classes and doing more at church. I couldn’t get him to devote time to it, pay or no.

My younger son had a similar issue with new curriculum coming to my attention that I wanted him to use. The Micro Business books kept getting put on the back burner.

I still needed help formatting my books, so I started looking into hiring a foreign editor. The experience I’ve had hiring non-English speaking people for other work had me cringing at the thought of explaining what I wanted done. Then I realized that my younger son was completely capable of formatting text. I just hadn’t thought of him, because I was so focused on my older son’s English gift.

I sat down to train my younger son how to format the workbook material and he took to it immediately. Not only that, but he is much more motivated by money than his older brother (thus, we wanted him to learn about business). What I found is that my younger son’s enthusiasm motivated my older son. He is having to spend less ACT prep time, so will return to formatting the text for me. Meanwhile I am beyond thrilled with all the help. I will be able to publish the first volume sooner than I had expected. Meanwhile, I will be able to include my younger son in the business side of what I’m doing–invaluable hands-on learning. Our original plan is still intact (my younger son will work through Micro Business for Teens), but his experience helping me is the primary focus.

How You Can Teach to Your Child’s Talent

This experience isn’t just helpful if you have a family business. Jonathan’s personal story of how his son began selling drone photography services to businesses is fascinating! You can determine how to steer your child toward his strengths, too.

First, get your copy of How to Discover and Develop Your Child’s First 100 Hours of Talent. I am an affiliate because I believe in the process.

Second, contact Jonathan for a consultation. Yes, it’s a paid service, but it’s so worth it to get direction in helping to shape your child’s future. I appreciate so much that Jonathan shares my Christian values and recognizes the power of prayer in the process.

Third, engage your child and spouse in prayerful discussion. It’s exciting to grow beyond math and science and literature to life application. In this ever-changing economy, we have to do all we can to help our kids develop their talents in a way that makes them valuable employees or producers.

Fourth, begin training. You may not be the one who will teach your child the skills he needs to develop his talent, but you can arrange the teaching–whether that means purchasing materials or getting a tutor. If you are the primary teacher as I am, be sure to schedule time for training so it doesn’t get put on the back burner. (I’m speaking to myself here, too!)

Finally, keep evaluating how it’s going. My experience shows you that your first plan may not be the best one, but you will succeed with perseverance and prayer.

Be sure to follow my high school reviews board on Pinterest. High school reviews are hard to find! And if you want more ideas for teaching to your child’s strengths, Growing a Successread the “How to Grow Your Child” posts from iHomeschool Network.

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