Are you homeschooling a teen who’s anxious to get on with life, and maybe a little impatient with the boundaries of homeschooling? One of the things we’ve done with all of our high school kids is to allow them to take a class or two outside the home during high school.
Driver’s ed has been the first out-of-home class for most of our teens. Yes, we could do some kind of online driver’s ed, or just teach them ourselves. But we feel like the in-class instruction time offered by a driver’s ed class is an easy way for our home-schooled kids to experience a typical classroom setting, and get their first experience dealing with deadlines and assignments given by a teacher other than mom. Most kids are pretty motivated to pass driver’s ed too, which makes it likely they’ll give it their best effort and have good success.
A common first college class for our high school kids has been Spanish. We always do some introductory language learning at home with a computer program such as Fluenz, and then (usually in their senior year of high school) we sign them up for Spanish at the local community college. Most colleges have a dual enrollment program for high school students, which allows kids to get college credits for half the cost that it will be after high school. So far our kids have been well able to handle an introductory Spanish class at the college level. In fact, one of my 15 year old sons with a strong interest in languages is currently excelling in a college Spanish class.
If your teen wants to attend a college where lab science from an accredited institution is required for college admission– University of Washington is one such school– consider having him or her take biology or chemistry at your local community college rather than at your local high school. This allows your teen to meet the college’s admission requirements AND earn college credits at the same time. Do be sure that your teen has a good base in algebra before attempting college chemistry, however. It can be a challenging class.
Another great way for kids to get a jump on college while still at home is to take CLEP tests to earn college credits. Basically you study up in a specific area, such as psychology, algebra, or literature interpretation, then pay $80 to take a test. Pass the subject area test and you earn the credit you would have earned by sitting in the class for a whole semester. One of our sons passed the psych CLEP and earned 3 credits before college, which along with his 8 Spanish credits, and 3 English credits (earned via SAT scores) meant that he hit his first semester of college with 14 college credits already under his belt. We have a second son who is studying to take the psych CLEP soon. Some teens have earned the equivalent of several years of college simply by taking CLEP tests, for much less expense than two years of normal college.
Know your teen; some can take on projects like these with very little supervision, and others may need help breaking down the work into manageable portions and organizing their time to fit in adequate study. But however little or much guidance your teen needs, I believe that experience like this before college leads to a better organized and better prepared student during college. And it’s a huge morale boost for teens to be taking such tangible steps toward an independent future.
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