Beginning High School at Home:
Freshman Year

If beginning high school at home makes you a little nervous, you're not alone. I believe most homeschool parents experience that brief moment of panic at the thought of teaching 9th grade and beyond.

Not to mention all of the other responsibilities that go along with it:

  • Preparing for the PSAT/SAT/ACT tests.
  • Registering for the above tests on schedule.
  • Driving to sports activities, club meetings, classes.
  • Searching for colleges.
  • Visiting colleges.
  • Searching and applying for scholarships and other financial aid.

Don't worry. You don't have to do everything in the first year. If you take it one step at a time, you'll gradually get acclimated to your new role as high school counselor.

I've discovered a positive side effect of being a super busy homeschool teacher/counselor. I focus so much of my time on researching colleges, scholarships, testing, school, and activities that I can't dwell on the fact that my oldest daughter will be going away to college next year. But I guess we all have to deal with that when the time comes.

If you're ready to teach high school at home, use the following guidelines to help you get organized. Knowing what colleges and universities are looking for in a prospective student will make planning high school a little easier.

Here are great tips from a 20-year math educator about what math topics to study to be prepared for the
SAT math.

High School Freshman Checklist

  • Discuss college plans and career possibilities.

  • Find out which courses those particular colleges require you to take in high school (a.k.a. college admission requirements for freshmen).

  • Schedule challenging classes such as Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, Chemistry, and Foreign Language.

  • Schedule electives that colleges want to see in their potential students such as those in visual and performing arts. Check with the schools of your choice for their recommendations.

  • As you become more comfortable with your high school at home, start preparing for the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) exam. There are books, computer software, and web sites to help you.

  • Start a calendar with important dates for standardized tests and college admissions, and financial aid deadlines.

  • Make a list of colleges and universities that your student may want to attend. Research the pros and cons of each so you can narrow it down to a few top choices.

  • Start visiting college campuses, if possible.

  • Continue to update your portfolio. Remember to include report cards, awards/honors, church and community activities, volunteer and paid work with descriptions of what you do.

  • Continue to encourage study skills! Colleges start looking at grades from the 9th grade.

TIP: It's better to have decent grades
in challenging classes than to have a
perfect 4.0 GPA with easy classes.
  • In the Spring, plan the sophomore year. Your high school plan is not written in stone. If you need to make changes because you've decided to add an apprenticeship, feel free to do so.

    You might realize that your original schedule for 10th grade has too many difficult or time-consuming classes. Take this opportunity to make it more balanced. We change our high school plan at least once a year.

    Just be sure you look at the entire plan when you do this. If you drop a core class one year you need to add it somewhere else. Also double-check to make sure you have all of the classes required for graduation.

  • Plan summer activities. Consider volunteering, summer enrichment programs, apprenticeships, jobs, and internships.


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