Homeschooling a child with different needs can be overwhelming, especially during the junior high years. Then when you get to eighth grade, you and your child have to start thinking about high school. I have already been through this once with my oldest son and am ready to start this journey with my oldest daughter next year. Both children are different and unique learners. My oldest son is a very traditional learner with anxiety. You can give him a computer program or a textbook and guide him; however, my oldest daughter is a very non-traditional learner. She has ADHD, anxiety, an undiagnosed learning disability, and scoliosis. Even though each child is different, there are many things you can do to make the journey of crossing the bridge into the high school years easier.
Bridges are Unique
It is important to remember each child is different. Each child has his/her strengths, weaknesses, and different learning preferences. It is important to identify these and not compare your child to each other. This has been a struggle for me. I have to keep reminding myself that my daughter will follow her own path during her high school years. She might take a different path to follow her postsecondary goals than her big brother, and that’s okay.
Bridges Lead to Different Places
Ask your child what they are interested in. They don’t have to be 100% certain at the end of his/her eighth-grade year, but it is important for your child to have an idea of what he/she is interested in. This information will also provide as a guide of which jobs your child might be interested in. When you have discussed this with your child, it is important to provide opportunities during ninth grade to explore those careers and possibly do some prevocational job visits. At these job visits your child would have the opportunity to find out what is required for each job, what type of postsecondary education is needed, and whether or not the job is truly a great fit. If you have any family or friends that work in those interested career fields, your child could interview them too. The more information and knowledge that you provide your child will help him/her make a better-educated decision about what he/she wants to do after high school.
Bridges Designed Well, Last
It is important to sit down with your child to create a plan of which classes to take for ninth grade. These classes should include the basic subjects (English, math, science, social studies, etc.), especially if your child is planning to attend a two or four-year college. Electives (classes that allow children to explore different interests and life skills) are just as important as the basic subjects. For example, my oldest daughter that will be a ninth grader next year will be taking the following classes: English I, pre-algebra, Biology I, World History, Spanish I, Concert Band, Pep Band, Career Exploration, Introduction to Art, Computer Skills, and P.E. It is important to note that homeschooling secondary children with special needs will not take the exact classes that my daughter is taking. At this point, she is interested in becoming a makeup artist, which might require a two-year degree and/or apprenticeship. Many children will change their mind several times during high school in what they want to do for a career. My oldest son, who will be a senior next school year, has changed his mind many times and now has narrowed it down to two different careers that he is interested in. Remember that nothing is set in stone.
Bridges Take Time to Build
I would also suggest you purchase a four-year planner and a grade book (unless you choose to use a portfolio where you keep samples of your child’s paperwork, projects, etc.). During high school, as a homeschooling parent, you will need to make sure to record grade for a transcript, find a curriculum, compile books read, organize volunteer activities, find extracurricular activities (church, scouts, 4-H, band, choir, sports, etc.), record awards earned, and help your child apply for part-time jobs. For my oldest son, I shared the four-year planner with him since I used it to inform him what his assignments were. My oldest daughter I am planning on purchasing a 4-year planner for my records as well as a yearly student planner for her. This will help her learn time management and scheduling skills.
Bridges Transport from One Place to Another
Finally, it is important as a parent of a soon-to-be high schooler to remember to take a deep breath. Everything will work out. Remember you are there to help your child work towards his/her postsecondary goals (after high school education and career). At the end of your student’s high school journey, you will be amazed how your child has changed over the past four years. It goes by too quickly.
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