Home Education: Transitioning to Highshchool at Home
Something that will be on many of the minds of those of you who have been home educating for some time is that of transitioning your child to the highschool years at home. It can be easy to feel daunted all over again, as you may have experienced when you first started out. It may not be as strong as when you were faced with teaching your child to read, because now you have proof that this homeschooling thing works and you can do it. Your child can read and do a heap of other things. Some of it you planned, some of it you didn't. The highschool years are an exciting time, and so is planning for those years. You can leave behind all the fundamentals and begin to utilise them to interact with your child on an increasingly adult level.
The maxim for transitioning to highshool is to plan and 'just do the next thing'. Plans are meant to be flexible and you will tweak them as you go - it's a good sign that you are thinking about your child's changing abilities and how they modify pace as they grow. Good planning always starts by having a final goal in sight, and then work backwards to see what you need to do to get there. You will need to consider the options of university or straight into the workforce for your child, but either way, a good solid high-end education is a life-long gift you will give them. Don't be tempted to skimp because your child is heading for a trade.
It's a myth to think that you have to do a heap more work and have to know whole lot of stuff in order to teach in the highschool years. You will have noticed that your child is beginning to be more independent and this should be encouraged. By about age 14 they should be able to be set a task and go and do it. Setting the task is where your help and skill comes in, and clear instructions need to be given.
Here are some things to consider before mapping out your plans for highschool:
- Revisit your reasons for home educating in the first place. Remember the 'why' always makes the 'what' more clear and doable.
- Consider your child's gifts and abilities. This is something that you have always done and catered for, however the transition stage is the time to hone in on those if possible. Many children do not have obvious giftings or know what they want to do in the future, but most will have a leaning to either humanities or science. Allow plenty of time for your child to develop the things he/she loves.
- Choose curriculum that has good teacher/parent support. Sift through these - just because the teacher's guide is bulky doesn't mean it is better. Some curriculum teacher guides are full of 'teacher fluff'. You want a curriculum that is concise and to the point without jargon.
- Plan for lots of discussion times. This is where your child will need you. These can be fun and sometimes intense, but so much learning takes place during these times as the child processes information as he/she interacts with it with another real person. Remember to mark these down in your education records using appropriate jargon and outcomes based language.
- Plan for a 4 year highschool stage. Work out how you can get your child up to year 12 level by age 16 and then you will have spare time to deal with any lag or preparations for the final year or two.
- Give your child more responsibility in both things they like and things they don't like. If there's one character trait that is needful during the highschool years it is learning that we have to do things we don't like to do. Of course, you have probably already worked on this to some degree, but this is the time to do it in earnest as your child becomes capable. If you have several younger children, you could assign this child to do some teaching, be it drilling phonograms or number facts, supervising baking, or teaching the younger children a chore that he will graduate from (only to go on to something he's more capable of now, of course). Having your child help his younger siblings is a good encouragement to him that you think he is capable, dependable and needed.
- Conculst your child in your curriulum choice and see them get enthused about some new study options. Research together and you may just stumble onsomething they never thougth of before that interests them.
Some curriulum choices to consider for approximately year 7:
Singapore maths programs are generally 6-12 months ahead of the Australian National Curriulum, so if your child is still doing year 6, then there is no need to be concerned. New Syllabus Secondary Maths is designed to lead straight on from any Singapore primary maths program. New Syllabus maths is a progressive course and will suit a child who learns reasonably quickly. Any course of study can be slowed down, but this one will get your child up to speed quicker than New Maths Counts. To give you an idea, NSSM Book 3 (Singapore year 9) covers material taught in year 10 in Australian schools. NSSM has good teacher support materials and whether you as a parent are math-savvy or not, we recommend having the Teacher's Resource Book which has the worked solutions for the texbook problems.
New Maths Counts is also designed to lead on after any Singapore maths program grade 6. It moves at an average pace and completes the child to Singapore year 10 over five textbooks. Instruction in each program is easy to follow however there are no teacher's guides for NMC.
Spelling need not continue formally, but can be done if and as the need arises using words from the subjects he is currently doing, e.g. science terms or vocabulary words from literature, or just as misspelled words are discovered. Keep a spelling notebook and test when needed.
If you are looking ahead to the highschool years with fear and dread, please don't!. Continue to do all the things you are already doing: enjoying your chldren, having fun, going on excursions and family outings. Consult with your child about curriculum choices, and just do the next thing! We'll be following on from this article with a more detailed description of 'doing highschool at home'.