3 Points for Homeschool Planning

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I just came from our monthly parent support night and, as usual, I feel energized. I have written here before about how great these meetings are. The family who shared with us graduated a daughter from high school last year and another daughter will graduate this year. Both daughters were accepted by multiple colleges on full scholarships.

The mom shared 12 points for homeschool success, but she said the three most important ones are:

1. Get involved in 4-H – the opportunities for growth and learning abound in 4-H. Just in case you are wondering, 4-H is no longer about raising pigs and chickens. It is public speaking, government, history and many other projects. The kids get to lead out for most projects, with adult counselors supervising.

And, to quote from the 4-H philosophy, there are no failures, only learning opportunities. Children learn to lose, not just to win, as they get involved in all these projects.

Which is great preparation for when they get overlooked for a promotion as adults, for instance. Or when they don’t get picked for a team. Or when they don’t get the girl. Learning to lose gracefully is just as important as learning to win.

2. Keep good records – the homeschooling mom who shared with us said this was THE most important point on her list. She said, “You can either plan well or you can keep good records. I was never good at planning, but I kept good records.” I think she has a valid point. If I had to choose between making lesson plans and keeping records of what we actually did, I would prefer the latter. It would be more useful, too.

She recommended a three-inch binder per child, per year, with a few notebook pages in the beginning: “Activities,” “Field Trips,” “Books,” and whatever other list you can think of. You need columns for the date, how many hours, the name of the activity and whether it was a solo or a group event.

Use sheet protectors for your museum brochures, tickets and show programs, so that you have a better idea of what you did that day. If you can, get a letter from the organizers that your child was there – this could be, for instance, if your child sang at a political rally, or cleaned a portion of a city street.

3. Take advantage of dual enrollment courses – graduating from high school with an associate degree or, at least, with many college credits, presents so many advantages. Financially, it makes a lot of sense.

Socially, the students get to experience college for one hour a day, then they come home. Then, they can discuss all the college stuff with their parents. They see kids dropping out, failing because of procrastination, relationships that mess up lives or alter the course of somebody’s future, they learn what it’s like to be in a classroom with others and so on.

Academically, they get challenged, but they also get helped. High school courses tend to be harder than college courses. It takes double the time to get an English high school credit than a college one – as crazy as that may seem. Also, just like with 4-H projects, your kids get to be accountable to somebody other than mommy.

The homeschool dad who shared with us summed it up like this: “It goes by fast, it does not last, so make it a blast.” He encouraged us to make it fun. So thankful for homeschooling parents who share their wisdom.