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Homeschooling Teens:
Teaching and Record Keeping

Isabel Shaw  

What Subjects Do I Teach?

Homeschooling: The Teen Years by Cafi Cohen outlines how to set up and follow a high school curriculum. If your child plans to attend college, Cohen advises you to begin your studies with the following subjects:

  • Four years of language arts (English)
  • Three years of math (usually through Geometry or Algebra II)
  • Two to three years of science
  • Three to four years of social studies (History and Geography)
  • Two years of foreign language
  • Two years of electives (Music and Drama, for example)

    If college is not in your teen's future, or at least not in the immediate future, he or she has more freedom choosing a course of study. The following books can help your teen decide the future path that is right for him:

  • The Question Is College: On Finding and Doing Work You Love, by Herbert Kohl, provides thoughtful guidance, concrete examples, and useful tools to plot a course toward achieving your goals.
  • The Uncollege Alternative by Danielle Wood explains how to create a profitable, exciting, and creative future without a college degree.
  • Success Without College by Linda Lee has suggestions for achieving personal and career goals by either delaying college plans or finding a direct route to the working world.
  • The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn highlights the learning styles and accomplishments of teens who are learning all the time – but not in the traditional sense.

    Covering Difficult or Unfamiliar Subjects

    Covering difficult or unfamiliar subjects is not as hard as it seems. Parents can:
  • Purchase a curriculum from a homeschool curriculum provider.
  • Use a correspondence or online school.
  • Use educational video courses (check with your library).
  • Hire a tutor.
  • Take an online class.
  • Use educational computer software.
  • Take a class at a community college.
  • Learn the material along with your teen.

    Start Your Own Class

    Homeschoolers are often able to team up with other parents and create the classes their kids need. My girls wanted a French class, but private sessions were too costly. Group lessons (10 or more kids) were reasonable. I contacted homeschool support groups in my area and sent email messages to local homeschooling families to see if anyone was interested. In two days, I had 15 respondents, and eventually a waiting list!

    You can often find resources right in your community – all you have to do is ask. Several parents of teens persuaded a retired chemistry teacher to teach their kids. Another group enlisted the help of a former English teacher, now a full-time mom, who set up a homeschool writing club in her home. And little persuasion was needed to convince an enthusiastic chess coach to start an official chess club for homeschoolers.

    Record Keeping

    It's wise to keep track of your teen's activities. Loretta Heuer's The Homeschooler's Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts will show you how. You may need to maintain accurate records to comply with your state's statutes, or to submit them if your child must reenter high school. Independent study programs also require record keeping. For college-bound kids, remember: The records you keep today will be used tomorrow to create a portfolio for college admissions.

    Record keeping can be as simple as a daily journal, or filling in each activity on a large calendar. The level of detail shown in your records will depend on both your teen's goals and your homeschooling style.

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