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Take the Summer To Prepare for High School and College PDF Print E-mail

Many homeschooling families take the summer to plan for the upcoming year. Those teaching high school students really need to plan. Here are some tips to plan classes for your junior high and high school students.

High School Courses
Subjects are not mandated for homeschoolers in Alabama. Your child can take any subject you feel he needs and in which he's interested. However, it's always best to include typical high school courses so your child will be prepared for college and/or a satisfying career.

If your high school student plans for college, try to find out the admission requirements for the institutions he is considering. Contact their admissions departments or check their Web sites. Then use the high school years to meet those requirements.

If your child does not know what college he may attend, or is not even sure that he will attend college, you can still prepare him for college or career by following the recommendations of the College Board. According to the College Board, most institutions require:

* Four years of English (literature, composition, speech, grammar, vocabulary)
* Three years of history/social studies (U.S. History, World History, Government or Civics, Economics, Geography)
* Three years of math, not including pre-Algebra (Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Calculus, Statistics)
* Three years of science and one lab, not including general science (biology, chemistry, earth/space sciences, advanced biology, advanced chemistry, physics)
* Two years of a foreign language (most do not include sign language, but check with the college to make sure)
* Three years of additional credits (computer applications, art, drama, P.E., etc.)

These are the minimum requirements for colleges and universities, so most homeschoolers do more than the minimum, as do their college-bound private and public school counterparts. For example, have your student take four years of each major subject, not just English, and a lab for every science course. You want your child to be competitive for college, so his transcript should show a rigorous college-prep regimen.

Go to http://apply4admissions.com/CDetails/Cinfo/Main/ANSWSUBS/SELECT.HTM for an overview into individual college requirements for high school seniors applying for admission.

College Admission Tests
The high school years are also the time to prepare and take the college admissions tests, such as the ACT or SAT. Most students begin taking the college entrance tests in the 10th or 11th grade after they have had Algebra I and Geometry. Students may take the test more than once to improve their score because colleges will take the highest score. Using practice tests and taking ACT or SAT preparatory courses are highly recommended. Even if your child is not interested in going to college right now, have him take the ACT or SAT just in case.

For more information or to register for the ACT, go to http://www.actstudent.org For the SAT, go to http://sat.collegeboard.org

Dual Enrollment
Students in 10th grade and above may also dual enroll in a local college to earn both high school and college credits at the same time. The tuition fees are usually extremely reduced for dual enrollment classes, and they will give your teenager a jump start on college. Click here for more information about dual enrollment.

College Credit Equivalency Exams
Additionally, many homeschoolers earn college credit or even completely test out of lower-level college coursework by taking college credit equivalency exams like AP (Advanced Placement) or CLEP (College Level Examination Program). This will save both valuable time and money. Go to CollegeBoard.com/testing/ for more information on testing, registration, local testing locations, and preparation materials and resources. Before taking either exam, however, check to make sure the college of your child's choice will award credit for that exam because each college sets its own rules and requirements.

High School Exit Exam and GED
The Alabama High School Exit Exam and the GED are not required by homeschoolers. Indeed, the GED can actually carry a stigma of a drop-out, since it implies that the student did not finish high school, which significantly lessens the value of an otherwise excellent academic record. As a result, Outlook Academy and Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) do not recommend that homeschoolers take the GED. When your child finishes his or her high school years, he or she deserves all the credits earned.

Homeschool Diploma
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a homeschool diploma issued by parents is just as valid as a diploma issued by a private or public school; homeschoolers “self-certify” the completion of their high school program just as public and private schooled graduates self-certify that they have received a diploma. Additionally, homeschooled graduates are also eligible for federal financial aid and scholarships.

For details on all these topics, go to the high school section of our FAQs.

Junior High School (Grades 7-8)
To prepare for high school, find "Introductory" classes to the above classes. For example:

* Introduction to literature and composition, creative writing, journalism
* U.S. History, World History, Geography
* Pre-Algebra
* General Science or Physical Science

Some colleges and universities will accept high school credits in 8th grade, but you need to check in advance. Even those that do, most only accept one or two credits maximum. If your child takes a high school credit course in 8th grade, such as Physical Science, you want to be sure that the credit will be accepted by the college of his choice.

Curricula and Co-ops
You will be able to find all these courses mentioned in all homeschool curriculum companies and on the Internet in the form of free lesson plans. In addition, many co-ops offer these classes as a supplement to your home education. As a matter of fact, Academy Days is a weekly co-op in Millbrook that offers many of these classes as well as classes for elementary and preschool students so that the entire family may participate and study the same subjects together, but at each child's level.

High school is often the time when your teen will be inclined to want to go to school, mainly for the socialization aspect. However, you can meet your teen's social needs just as well, if not better, through homeschool clubs, co-ops, sports, part-time jobs, internships, extracurricular activities, and church activities. It is important for your teenager to have friends and to expand beyond his or her family in safe environments, so do not neglect this apect of your child's education.

Homeschoolers do have proms, sports and clubs of all types. Go to Extracurricular Activities page for clubs, sports and other activities in the tri-county area. Get involved in your church. Seek possible internships and apprenticeships, whether paid or unpaid, in the fields in which your child is interested for him to get practical experience. Even a part-time job not necessarily in a field in which he's interested will teach valuable lessons about teamwork, responsibility, money management, and time management.

From part-time jobs to dual enrollment, your high schooler has a number of opportunities that his peers confined to a classroom cannot experience. Take adantage of these opportunities to tailor your child's education to his goals and prepare him for a bright future.