If you, a homeschooling mom, have teens, you need to become their guidance counsellor. Yes, really. Who else is going to guide them through the maze of questions about their future? Help them discover what they want to be? Tell them about jobs, apprenticeships, mentors, college, financial aid, scholarships, admission tests? No one. It’s up to you.
And that can be incredibly intimidating.
Not only must your raise your kids, educate them, and run your household, now you must do even more. But it is possible; many moms have done it and more resources are available each year. In fact, it can even be fun.
Here are some things you’ll want to consider:
Courses for high school: Most authorities recommend providing a rigorous basic education with ample opportunity for specialization. You’ll need to consider possibilities for the future and remember that most teens change their minds. You’ll also need to consider prerequisites and co-requisites and university requirements (which are different for each university). My favorite resources: course calendars from local high schools (you can just walk in and request them), university and college websites, and discussions with people who are doing what your teen wants to do.
Transcript and high school records: You’ll need to organize your teen’s work and grades. It is a good idea to prepare brief course outlines, record the texts and other resources used for each course, and explain how you determined each course mark. If you do this as you go along, it’s not too much work. My favorite resources: I love Lee Binz’s books and programs; other parents really love Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La.
Preparing a record of non-academic activities: Teens can do some of this themselves, like tracking their reading, volunteering, and paid jobs, but often they do not recognize the value of their own activities and achievements. My favorite resource: a reminder on your calendar to record these things weekly or monthly, starting in grade 9.
The big tests: Some universities require them and others don’t, but it’s always good to keep your options open. The SAT and ACT tests are the two main tests for high school students preparing for university. In Canada, it is relatively easy to find testing locations for both of these as well as for the SAT subject tests. AP, CLEP, and DANTE test locations are more difficult to find, and the PSAT is not relevant for Canadians. My favorite resources: The library or bookstore (search under SAT and ACT), actstudent.org, collegeboard.org.
Determine what your child wants to do: You can provide aptitude tests, expose your teens to many different options, and scour the library, but the most important is to observe what your teens love to do, what they do when they should be doing schoolwork, what gives them joy. My favorite resources: an observant parent, the library, the internet, and the whole world.
Choosing and applying to universities: Contact potential universities or colleges when your teen is in grade 10 or 11 to determine deadlines, procedures for homeschoolers, scholarship opportunities, and entrance requirements. In Ontario, you apply through OUAC. My favorite resources: the Internet, college visits, and a good dose of common sense.
High school work load: You want to challenge your teens but not overwhelm them. They need to prepare for post-secondary education if there’s even a tiny chance that they will want to go, but they also need enough time to discover their interests. What’s more, many homeschooled teens have less time to study in grades 11 and 12, so plan to work hard in grades 9 and 10. Thus there can be a fine line between challenging your teens and overwhelming them, and you’ll need to re-evaluate constantly. My favorite resources: your teen, your husband, and your own intuition.
Scholarship Applications: Of course, the best preparation for this is for your teen to learn a lot, volunteer, show character, and do well on the big tests. Be sure to check out the scholarships offered by the universities you’re applying to. Many resources are available to help you find and apply for scholarships, but I have not evaluated them
Of course, there’s still the big question: Can you do it? Yes. You can. Homeschooling parents everywhere do so successfully, and many resources are available to help you. Of course, all these things do take time, and there is a learning curve, but it is worth it. Just take it step by step, doing your best and trusting God and remember that God gave your kids YOU as their homeschooling mom.
A final, practical point: How can you possibly manage being a guidance counsellor on top of everything else you do? You may need to reprioritize things, let some things go, and get outside help, but it is possible. Try to get a head start on learning about homeschooling high school. My favorite resources: Other homeschooling moms who have already launched their children into the world. Also, Lee Binz of The HomeScholar is very encouraging and will provide personal hands-on help, although she does not know the Canadian scene. Terri Johnson has a less expensive Upper Level Homeschool course that is a wonderful introduction to the high school years.
God bless you as you continue to prepare your teen for a life of serving and loving him.
To learn more, read my other posts about becoming your teen’s guidance counsellor.