Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Help! I Can't Fit It All In!

When you think of scheduling High School do you run around the house screaming AACK!, AAUGH! or something similar? Looking at a layout of High School classes for your student may not be what sends you running, but often we get tripped up by fitting those courses into our already full lives.

Here is a valuable tip ~ They won't do it all.

Seriously, they won't.

Even with all the well-meaning books, college-prep websites, and heart-felt blog posts telling you they can  ~ your student is just not going to have time to do everything.

That's why you need to make sure they know HOW to learn before they graduate. You also need to sit down as a family (Dad, Mom, soon-to-be-High-Schooler,) and talk about what are the MOST IMPORTANT things for your student to learn during their four or five years of High School.

Stop trying to be just like everybody else.

Please stop.

What does God want YOUR student to study? Then that is where you begin. Choose a path for success in life, not just to get into a certain college or to pad a transcript. If you and your student think they are going to be called into a field that requires college, by all means - make sure they have the necessary classes. Then look with care at what else they invest their time on during the High School years.

If it is necessary for your teen to have a job during High School, you'd better make sure they understand time management, or they'll never finish Algebra 2. If they want to play a musical instrument - same thing - time management. In fact, whatever your student wants to do - teach them time management!

Teach time management early and teach it often! If you yourself struggle with time management, now is the time to buckle down and learn to plan your own days better. Set an example, or learn alongside your student - either option works, but this is a skill that simply must be taught.

What if your student isn't planning on college? Talk about careers they might enjoy. Help them out by exposing them to a wide variety of people and places. If you live in a rural area, you'll have to be more creative to do this - but it CAN be done.

When you have some ideas about careers or interests, work on exploring those in the times around and between the core courses like math, science, and literature. Include time learning about the career and its necessary skills for electives in High School.

Think outside the box!

If service to others is important to your family, then you can incorporate that into their High School career as well. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, food pantry, local museum, or nursing home are all valid uses of your High Schooler's time.

Our daughters participate in a lot of what would traditionally be called extra-curricular activities. We have chosen to incorporate most of them into their High School experience, and many of them are included in their transcripts. You do need to be a little creative at times figuring out where to assign the credit, but it can be done. History that they learn and share with others is history they will not forget. Working on a community project for Civics class teaches them about group dynamics, and government in action.

How have we fit in what is important to us? By thinking outside the traditional 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. timeline. Our girls usually don't start their schoolwork until around 8:30 a.m. They work on each day's assignments until they're finished. That might be 2:30 or it might be 5. Bookwork and traditional classwork are assigned Monday- Thursday. 

Friday was always Field Trip day when they were little, so we've continued to leave it as our open day during High School. From April through October our girls volunteer at an outdoor living history museum. This usually occupies three Fridays a month, leaving us a Friday  each month for a Field Trip. We take more Saturday field trips now than we did when they were little, but we still fit them in.

Each week our girls usually have at least one or two afternoon or evening events to go to - either for school, or for fun. It might be Literature Class, a choir performance, a community project, a 4-H meeting, or park night with their friends. They understand that they cannot attend the extra events if their bookwork and housework aren't completed. Wanting to spend a couple hours at the park playing Ultimate Frisbee with your friends is a big motivator for a High Schooler to finish her algebra lessons!

It is important to us that our daughters learn how to complete their math and literature assignments, but it is MORE important that they learn to be doers of God's Word and not just hearers. They are learning about serving others, about sacrifice, about being a citizen that cares for others in their community. These goals require finding a balance. They require caring more about what God thinks than about what others think of them.

High School can be a time of quality growth, deep conversations, and family fun. Don't try to fit it all in. Choose carefully what needs to be included, and leave your High Schooler, and yourself, some time to enjoy High School!

Read more on How to Fit it ALL in while educating in the high school years:

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