You have had some great questions lately and I can’t help but to ask you if I can share them with my other readers. Today the dynamic reader question: when your high schooler tests below grade level is one I feel some of you may also be wondering about.
Homeschool High School Teens
This is one of those questions that you may think that you are alone in asking, but you are not.
Check out Suzanne’s question:
Hi Tina. I just started this homeschooling adventure with my 16 yo/10th grade son…this week! My question is, his assessment says he’s at a 7/8th grade level in Language Arts! He’s feeling kind of bummed out about it. How do I get across to him that this is just the beginning, and he may breeze through this 8th grade work quickly as well as the next couple of levels to get him caught up with actual 10th grade work? I hate to say it, but I didn’t realize it was this bad and he had been “pushed through” these last few years! I’m very upset with our public school system here, and so glad to have this chance to help him. I just want to help him anyway I can.
Thanks for your advise!
First, thank you for asking me! I know this can be a sensitive subject because as the parent, we may have a tinge of guilt feelings.
But I am here to tell you that even if you rocked along happily homeschooling on grade level that life could throw you an unwelcoming event. When the Mr. had his heart attack, I found it more helpful to focus on what I could do to help Mr. Senior 2013 get caught up in high school and not focus on what we had lost.
Help Your Child to See Not All Goes As Planned. Your attitude in helping him to see that this was not all his fault will help him to not only cover language arts with more focus, but it teaches him that we have to roll with life’s punches.
View this as an opportunity to turn this into a lesson about more than language arts. How he deals with this set back is preparation for adulthood and high school.
He is old enough to appreciate that sometimes because of no fault of our own, we can get behind. This helps him to focus on a “fix” for the solution and keeps it positive.
Maintain Your Balance In Test Results. Without knowing what type of test he took, it is hard to assess it (no pun intended). Though a lot of research goes into standardized testing, there are some tests that are not worth taking. Remember to not be so quick to assign them validity.
Too, curriculum providers vary from grade level to grade level when it comes to language arts. For example, Rod and Staff, which is one of the most rigorous grammar programs that I have used has a student completing grammar by eighth grade.
It wasn’t until recently (say within the last 5 to 7 years) that they came out with a high school program.
Other providers, like Bob Jones High School prefer to use a spiral method of teaching some of the same concepts taught since 4th grade all the way to high school. Does he really need that much review?
Testing your son using various resources like both the online tests (free or otherwise) provided by language arts provider as well as standardized testing gives you a much more broader view of his capabilities and skills.
Language Arts Consist of 4 Skills. Then after having received a much more clear picture, it is important for you to understand that language arts consists of basically 4 different skills. This will help you to hone in on the one or two skills that need immediate help.
The 4 basic skills of language arts are Grammar, Reading, Writing(Composing), Spelling.
Others come into use too like vocabulary, which generally is best learned within a literature or reading program. Sharpen the skills that are more vital now.
For example, though grammar is important, it is a tool that helps us to navigate while composing thoughts. If a highschooler is behind in knowing how to master the basics of composition or how to communicate his thoughts effectively, then he will be hampered life-long. So what I am saying is that not all skills, even under language arts deserve the same amount of time at this age.
It does not mean that he should not work on them, but give the best or earliest part of his day to the most critical skills that he needs so that he is able to master them quicker. Spelling too can be learned right alongside what he is writing. For example, hold him accountable to spell each word correctly that he uses in his essays.
If you do this, (hold him accountable for each language art skills), you will see that on one essay, he will work on all 4 basic language arts skills more effectively. This is a feat to cover each week and he will make rapid progress.
In addition, an online course where a child can go his pace AND get credit is sometimes the solution. Look at this Online Homeschool High School Poetry (No Teaching Involved) course that one of my teens did.
Set A Limit. I found too in working with highschoolers that having clear cut guidelines as to when something needs to be completed by gives him the encouragement and hope to know that it’s not always going to be like this.
Most teens like to know clear cut guidelines and a stopping point. When a teen works with no clear cut goal, though we think we have a goal of catching them up, it’s not a finite goal to them. Most teens will work harder knowing that they will accomplish their first goal. Anybody works better knowing they have accomplishments.
If need be, cut the assignments in half and especially if he his quickly catching up.
Highschool Graduation “On Time” is VERY Possible. I learned a very valuable lesson with my first son that I am now practicing with my second highschooler and that is to have a backup plan.
With Mr. Senior 2013, I had planned all of his high school courses. Then when we got side swiped, I didn’t have a back up plan. We had to step rapidly to finish our set course by high school graduation.
With Mr. Awesome, I felt like I have had the best of both worlds, which is where I lesson planned 2 years of his high school and used part planned for the other 2 years.
Using an online school, I didn’t want Mr. Awesome to have the unnecessary stress that Mr. Senior 2013 did in that all his course planning came to a halt when I was at the ICU and taking care of the Mr. during Mr. Senior 2013’s high school years.
So what I am saying is that using a very basic high school program like Penn Foster or American School, where they review remedial skills can be a life saver when needed. Most easy high school programs like that take only two years to do.
Again, by using part of my courses I selected along with the ones the online school offered, I feel like Mr. Awesome still has a unique high school experience. It was the perfect compromise for my situation.
Finite goals by both the online school and your courses gives your teen a goal to look forward to and can help close any gaps in his learning.
Being behind is a very grown up and adult issue. It does not have to be a negative experience, but can be an experience for rapid growth and maturity in how to deal with what comes at us as adults.
Too, don’t forget learning doesn’t stop at high school graduation.
It has been my experience in helping hundreds and hundreds of homeschoolers that these kids are bright, caring and motivated when giving the right reason to be.
He is not studying language arts just for the sake of catching up, but he is studying language arts because he needs those coping skills as an adult.
And oh good grief, if I could only answer your questions without writing an online book then I would be happy. I hope this helps you.
Give your son a lot of praise, a great big hug and working hard never hurt anybody, but builds strength, character and determination.
You’ll love some of these other tips:
- A to Z List: Middle and High School Homeschool Electives
- Get It Over and Done: How Do Homeschoolers Graduate Early
- Homeschooling High School: Curriculum, Credits, and Courses
- 3 Beginner’s Tips: Homeschool High School Literature
Hugs and love ya,