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The Undecided Student

The Undecided Student

What do you do with an undecided homeschool student?

Many use the terms work, job, career, and vocation interchangeably. While it’s true that each involves working and a wage, having a career and vocation means more than just a paycheck. They describe a type of work where your passion, purpose, skills, and the marketplace collide. In the words of theologian Frederick Buechner, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”

While some students seem destined for a particular vocation at an early age, it is common for today’s students to near high school graduation without a plan. Parents can encourage informed early-career-direction decisions. It starts with helping teens identify who God made them be, supporting them as they explore occupations, and finally, helping them develop goals and create an action plan. By partnering with and encouraging them in this important decision, they can graduate high school with a vision for their future.

Help an Undecided Student Build Identity

Nothing is more foundational than being rooted in Christ. Assisting teens in forging strong, positive identities is one way to help them form true convictions and stand firm in them regardless of what everyone else does. Google “Who I am in Christ.” Print and review as a family. Emphasize that work is part of God’s plan and that He designed them for a purpose.

Be generous with your praise, affirming skills, and natural abilities you have observed.

Ask questions that help identify likes and dislikes and what is important: What kinds of interactions energize you or drain ​​you? Do you like to work with facts and data, or prefer people-oriented activities? Are your decisions objective and logic-based, or are your decisions based on how they may impact others? Do you like to discuss your ideas, or do you prefer time alone to make decisions?

Encourage busy teens to enjoy downtime, strengthening their creativity and problem-solving skills. Schedule time to pursue hobbies and to invest in electives, sports, and other team activities that build skills and reveal interests.

Explore Career Options for the Undecided Homeschool Student

A better motto than “You can be anything you want to be” is “Be all you can be!

Researching careers online will help teens better understand occupational profiles that match their interests and personalities. Set a goal for how many careers to research. Information should include primary duties, the education or skills needed for working in that field, the work environment, and the median wage. Discuss the findings. Check out CareerOneStop.org.

Utilizing a career assessment tool at age 16 may further identify vocations that match God-given interests. Informal assessments are readily available on the web.

These are self-interpreted and can lack reliability, so they are best used to generate discussion. Fee-based or formal assessments are more comprehensive and statistically validated. A trained career counselor can interpret the results to identify best-fit careers and college options. Look for a comprehensive assessment that covers the four components of vocational design: personality, interests, skills and abilities, and values. Check out CareerDirect.org.

Good Career Planning

Good career planning includes building curiosity and excitement toward participating in the marketplace. Use your networks to introduce people in occupations that interest them and match their vocational design. Thinking about a career sector rather than a specific occupation will generate a bigger list of options that match their interests. Encourage them to prepare a list of questions by Googling “informational interview.” Practice interview skills to improve their confidence level.

Take advantage of the flexible schedule of homeschooling. Facilitate opportunities to learn outside of the classroom through part-time work, volunteering, and job shadowing. This will help confirm interests and build a resume with skills that employers value.

(Do you need more great career ideas? Check out our posts on Career Readiness & Career Exploration.)

Set Goals and Take Action with Your Undecided Student

By integrating the gathered information and identifying the education, training, and skills needed for the career sectors, plans and goals can be determined. Don’t worry about choosing one specific occupation at this stage. Goals can be categorized into five pathways: four-year STEM-related college degree; four-year liberal arts college degree; two-year vocational degree or certificate; apprenticeship training, military, or workforce; and gap year or travel.

Teens with a healthy and productive level of parental guidance and support have a much better chance of making good college and career choices. Here are some questions: Which post-secondary institutions offer the programs needed? What is the cost for completion? How will it be funded? Can affordable or free college credits be earned in high school? What are the prerequisites or admission requirements? What courses should be completed during high school? Besides education, what experiences or skills would be valued? Together, you can develop a plan for high school, aligning them to support post-graduation goals.

Many students are more motivated when they have a defined purpose and set personal goals. Those who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve them. Work to break down their goals into specific, manageable tasks with timelines for completion. Change is constant, so capitalize on preparations for success after high school, no matter their choice.

Need Additional Help?

Need help preparing your student for their career path?  Check out our Academic Advising Program at True North Homeschool Academy.

©2019 Cheri Frame

Cheri Frame is a homeschool parent of three graduates, a certified Career Direct® Consultant, and the author of Credits Before College: A Comprehensive High School to Graduation Guide. She advises parents and students on how to earn affordable college credits in high school, choose a career, and graduate college debt free. Cheri and her husband live in suburban Minneapolis.

Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?

Why Use Homeschool Academic Advising?

Why do you need homeschool academic advising?

As homeschooling parents, we are called upon to choose curriculum, teach the kids, keep track of credits and graduation requirements and guide our kids to a successful launch. We are the school board, administration, academic advisor, and teacher, all rolled into one.

It can be difficult to do all of that on one’s own. I’ve heard several times on homeschool forums and message boards kids state that their parents didn’t help them navigate college or career, and they came out just fine.

And while I do believe that resiliency and grit are often overlooked and possibly under-expected, I caution parents against leaving their kids to figure it out on their own for two compelling reasons.

Compelling Reasons to Use Homeschool Academic Advising

Time and Money

The average student in America is graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 6 years instead of 4 with $37,000 in debt. Couple that with the fact that only about half of all students who enter college complete it, and you could have a very expensive recipe for disaster.

Using Homeschool Academic Advising to Hack Homeschool Success

The savvy homeschooler will view homeschooling high school as the opportunity for two things:

  • Time to explore new opportunities and options
  • Time to prepare for a successful post-homeschool launch

I think about academics when I put together our homeschool for each school year. Including considering extra-curricular, camps, internships, sports, clubs, and other possibilities. I am thinking about how my kids develop and grow in unique areas (developing their “otherliness”). What about knowing how to develop their professionalism in specific areas of interest? What kind of personality skills or traits do they need shoring up on, or natural areas of ability that can be further developed?

Why Hire Someone When You Can DIY Homeschool Academic Advising?

So, what does this have to do with Homeschool Academic Advising? Many, if not most, homeschooling parents short-change the high school years. They under-credit what they have done. And they don’t know where to invest time and energy based on students’ interests or callings. Primarily because they are worried about what a transcript “should” look like.  They tend to forget to think about things like camps, awards, sports, roles, responsibilities, and community service.

That’s where a seasoned Academic Advisor is helpful.

I see the credits you overlook because it’s your normal. For example, I recently worked with a high school student who flunked most of last year’s courses.

After digging a bit deeper, I discovered that he had extensive camping and fishing experience – like he provides fresh fish yearly for more than one family. He has hundreds of hours of Community Service (mowing and plowing his grandma and neighbor’s driveways and walkways). Works full-time laying fiber optic cable (because he has such an amazing work ethic and is a responsible worker). And has re-built a diesel engine for the truck he bought with cash he’d earned watching YouTube videos.

Along with identifying a processing disorder and getting him the academic help he needed, I created a transcript for him. The transcript reflected the hard-working, high PIQ (Performance IQ), kind and generous young man he was. Additionally, we could lay out a doable plan that will get him the professional certification he needs in life to earn the kind of money he should, given his abilities, despite academic struggles.

Similarly, I worked with a family who had a student hoping to graduate from college while still in their teens. This student has the intellectual capability of doing just that, but he is also very interested in going into the art field, and doing creative, freelance work. His Personalized Learning Plan included CLEP and Dual Enrollment classes.  These classes were coupled with developing an online presence, attending professional conferences, developing his artistic abilities, and going to graduate school in a location that would allow him to create the best connections possible.

Story Telling and the Art of High School & Career Counseling as Part of Homeschool Academic Advising

Here’s the deal. At heart, I’m a writer, a teller of stories. I love listening to people, hearing their hearts, and learning about the story they’ve lived so far and the story that God is writing. From there, it’s easy to create an Action Plan that makes sense, to resource the students and parents with camps, classes, competitions, books, and ideas to make the story they are living be cost and time effective and lead to success.

Whether You Have a Fast-Burner or a Struggling Learner, Homeschool Academic Advising Can Help!

Whether your student is on a fast track or struggling just to keep going, we can help. We have worked with homeschooled students worldwide, from profoundly gifted to disabled.

Along the way, we’ve mentored everyone from Olympic hopefuls to kids who use P.T. for PE credit. We have helped kids go on to Internships, the military, community college, State and Christian colleges, and Ivy League schools. Every student has a story, and we would be honored to work alongside you to help write the next amazing chapter!

Do you need more great career advice for your homeschool student? We have resources to help!

Recommended Resources:

Young Professional Series Bundle

5 Tips for Homeschooling Through High School

FREE Personalized Learning Plan

Special Needs Credits & Transcripts

Special Needs Credits & Transcripts

You have a special needs kiddo, and they are in high school. They are not quite up to grade level in Math or English, or it takes them a few years to get through what is traditionally a one-year program. How do you award special needs credits and special education transcripts?

The basics and therapy eat through your week, there is no time for extracurriculars, and the list of concerns goes on. Special Needs parents have unique life challenges, including creating a Special Needs Transcript for their High School years.

Twenty-Five Clues Hinting at Learning Disabilities that Hint at Learning Disabilities. Need a helping hand? Our SPED Academic Advising will save you time and money!

Creating a Special Needs Transcript

The Basics of a Special Needs Transcript

  • Vocational Transcripts are often 19 credits total, compared to a 24-credit College Prep or 28-credit Honors Transcript.
  • You will want to list 4 credits of English, 3 of Math, 3 of Science, 3 of History, 1 of PE, ½ credits of Health, Speech and Computer and Bible, and other electives.
  • A credit is generally considered to be 120 hours of work. You can organize this work by book study, lessons, practice, time logs, recitals, performances, hands-on work, etc.

You can list courses and subjects using a traditional 4 x 4-course grid (which you can find on our True North Homeschool Tribe FB Group) with the subjects along the left-hand side and years along the top, or you can list courses by subject area. My only caution is that if your students hope to enter the military, they might not accept a by-subject transcript.

Transcripts, Special Needs, and Graduation

Your special needs student may be unable to handle high school level classes or struggle with what would be considered traditional high school work in a specific subject area. It is perfectly acceptable to list courses that your students are capable of, regardless of the level of “grade.” If your student is 15 and capable of 4th grade English, list English on the transcript and give them full credit for an entire year’s work and the grade they earn.

According to Federal law, children with disabilities have the right to stay in school until they complete their school program or until they turn 21, whichever comes first. That is good news as you manage and balance life skills, academic and vocational training, and therapies. Give yourself – and your student! – the time they need to develop and succeed!  

Can therapies “Count” for Credit?

Absolutely! You can log PT and OT for PE credit. Special needs tutoring or educational therapies can count towards credit in subject areas. You can use logs to keep track of credit hours.

How About Hobbies and Electives?

Inevitably, parents underestimate what their students have done and what they can do. Dramatic or musical theater can count towards Speech, Music, Drama, etc. Working in a computer repair shop can be logged and count towards Community Service, BCIS- depending on how detailed and involved the work was -or sales and marketing.

I worked with a student a few years ago who, at age 16,  could not manage to write a complete sentence. This same student successfully co-owned and operated a model train store with his Mom. He had customers worldwide who understood that his speech impediment would in no way impede the high quality of service and attention to detail that he would offer every customer.

The Power of the Parent

So many parents of Struggling Learners and Special Needs students go above and beyond looking for resources, experiences, tutors, and therapies that bolster and build their student’s ability to succeed. Too often, the parent doesn’t understand how to transcribe these experiences, travel, therapies, and P.E. opportunities into credits.  Boy Scouts, 4-H, etc., and other similar programs can translate into many academic credits. Think creatively!

Now, where to start?

Parents of struggling learners and Special Needs are often thrust into a world that requires much research and goes beyond normal. High school can be especially daunting. But you don’t’ have to go it alone! Connect with other Special Needs parents and homeschooling companies that partner with Struggling Learners and Special Needs.

Our favorites include SPED Homeschool and our Special Needs Academic Advising, Classes, and FB Group: Survive and Thrive Special Needs Homeschool.

Our Special Needs Academic Advising program was created to come alongside struggling learners and special needs families. We will do a credit evaluation (and find those “hidden” credits you may have overlooked), recommend curriculum, classes, and programs, develop a Personalized Learning Plan, and provide the support you need to manage to homeschool successfully.

The world of Struggling Learners and Special Needs can be tricky to manage, but thankfully, with the resources available today, you don’t have to go it alone!

Essential Tips to Homeschool High School

Essential Tips to Homeschool High School

You Can Homeschool High School

Homeschooling High School can be intimidating, to be sure. But, for some reason, you are or have considered it, and you are ready to take the plunge! Many people are intimidated by homeschooling High School because they feel like they can’t cover all of the subject areas adequately.

Why are we so afraid?

Well truthfully, for most of us, it HAS been years since we took Algebra.  We might never have been that good at writing, or we don’t have a good handle on history or science. And seriously, WHAT is a credit and how do we create a Master Plan of Action to get through these next couple of years with our strong-willed, bored, lazy, overly compliant, non-compliant, willful, just wants to read all the time, hates math, never wants to read ever, delightful, funny, sleeping all the time, hungry ALL the time teenager?!  Honestly, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!

The good news, actually the GREAT news is, that homeschooling high school has never been easier. Resources and materials for homeschooling High School have exploded in the last couple of years, making it possible to craft an academically rigorous, delight-directed, interest-led, affordable program for your teen!

So what are these resources, and where do you find them?

Online Learning

Online resources are more diverse and range from free to expensive, with amazing content and quality. Some classes are live, some are pre-recorded, and some are animated. We’ve done our fair share of online courses ranging from Latin National Exam prep, Math, Greek, Pre-law, Marine Biology, Chemistry, and more. Online classes can fill in areas that you aren’t prepared or qualified to teach.

Local Homeschool Groups

Closer to home, most cities have a plethora of homeschool class days, co-ops, and academic programs that are inexpensive to participate in and easily accessible. Our regional Homeschool Facebook page lists area groups and contact information. Many of us are involved in more than one group at a time, depending on our schedules and kids’ interests.  Additionally, area points of interest have begun to offer homeschool-specific programs, such as our local Outdoor Campus.

Having homeschooled in different areas of the country, it’s been my experience that the local homeschool community usually develops its own culture and unique offerings. We know of one large city that hosts a huge Homeschool Prom. Our smaller city hosts a yearly dinner dance, and we also have a rich and diverse theater program for kids of all ages, with Drama Camp,  a yearly festival of One-Act Plays, and a Shakespeare Camp, where kids perform a full-length Shakespeare Camp!

Online Support Groups

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Then there’s probably a group online that can help you out. Other homeschooling moms are extremely helpful, and more than likely there’s one out there who can answer your questions. A simple Facebook (or Google) search will likely lead you to a wide variety of online homeschooling groups.  There all your questions can be answered. Don’t skip this valuable resource!

(Are you looking for a fantastic online support group?  Check out the Help Homeschooling High School group on Facebook.)

How does one take advantage of all of the amazing possibilities open to homeschoolers these days?  You create a learning plan.

In my opinion, having helped hundreds of homeschoolers from around the world as an Academic Advisor, the most straightforward way to get through high school is to create a learning plan. This plan should include academics, family values, extracurricular, sports, and more!

If you need help with this, check out our Academic Advising package! We provide credit evaluation, a Personalized Learning Plan, standardized testing, vocational testing, and more!

Questions Answers Signage

Homeschooling High School can be such a rich, rewarding experience with the right plan and resources. Lucky for all of us, they are more available than ever before!

 

Get your homeschool high school plan on track with our Homeschool Highschool? HELP! Bootcamp Challenge. With a daily email with a video from Lisa Nehring, a workbook, and a Facebook group for support, you’ll be confident you can homeschool high school in no time. 

Dynamic, Virtual Online Clubs for Homeschool Kids

Dynamic, Virtual Online Clubs for Homeschool Kids

Let’s talk about Virtual Online Clubs for Homeschoolers

 

When I was growing up we were involved in clubs, it was just part of life.

We were Girl Scouts for years, part of a square dance club complete with crinoline poufed skirts. Wewere in Music Clubs and community service clubs. People just did clubs. It was a great way to learn new skills, meet new people, get out of the house and create amazing memories!

My kids have participated in a ton of clubs over the past twenty-five years. Including, Girl and Boy Scouts, Lego League, Music Clubs, Art Clubs, Horse Clubs, AYSO, Larping, Theater & Book clubs, Service clubs and more.

 The beauty of a club is that it is usually full of awesome learning and looks like fun!

Virtual, Dynamic Online Clubs are Academics Plus Fun!

 

Clubs can provide both academics and fun for our Jr. and Sr. Homeschool High School students. 

In my opinion and experience, clubs takes some of the pressure off of academics, allowing the kids to learn and experience rich and varied skills and opportunities.

As a Transcript Artist, I see a lot of homeschoolers selling themselves short on credits because they often forget to count clubs, service work, hobbies and areas of interest as “credit” on their High School Transcript.

For instance, my graduated son had a serious interest in history and weaponry for years. One Christmas he found himself the happy recipient of a few encyclopedias on the history of weapons. He Larps regularly with friends -an informal club of sorts -and he has spent countless hours creating armor, swords, distaffs and more out of foam noodles, duct tape, cardboard, plastic and even more duct tape. It’s not a “class” per se, however, the amount of time he has put into not only learning about weapons, but constructing and crafting them, could certainly count for credit.

Don’t think kids learn much through this type of activity? When watching movies, he can tell almost immediately if the armor is appropriate to the times. That’s history and craftsmanship, right there!

About True North Homeschool Academy Clubs

“What about socialization?” This common question directed at homeschooling families is often met with a strong response. We’re right to ask, “Who defines socialization?” and understand that socialization is more than peer-to-peer relating. We are constantly socializing. That’s just part of culture, right? 

Still, many homeschool parents often ask me about this question. And honestly, I think it comes from a place of needing support. We’re not trying to imitate the school culture and follow the pattern of the world when it comes to friendships. We’re too busy transmitting our faith culture to our kids!

And that’s the beautiful thing about what we do here at True North Homeschool Academy. We understand the importance of our common Christian culture. Our live online classes are born out of a desire to support homeschool families. And yes, even provide an avenue to socialize with your homeschool tribe. 

Wouldn’t it be a dream-come-true to find a safe place for your kids to make friends, interactive in a live setting, and learn some really cool stuff? We think so. That’s why we created Homeschool Clubs 

Each club will be worth at least a 1/4 credit per semester or 1/2 credit per year- so all of the fun of the a club, none of the pressure of a traditional course, and credit to boot! Of course, students and parents are welcomed and encouraged to add more to the club to make it full credit worthy (and we are happy to provide guidance on that, if you need it).

If you are looking for a Club that you don’t yet see, please let us know! We might just be able to make it happen!

10 Reasons to Join a Homeschool Club

Here are ten great reasons why your child should be in a homeschool club:

Homeschool Clubs offer accountability.

In a homeschool club, students meet regularly with others with similar interests and abilities, setting goals and report progress to their classmates and club mentors. Writing down and sharing goals is a sure-fire way to move ahead with them!

Homeschool Clubs provide a diverse learning environment.

Rubbing shoulders with those who know more than you allow students to have something to reach and strive for. In our Writing Club, we have students with a broad range of ability, experience, and passion. The older kids encourage younger students and provide amazing role-models.

Homeschool Clubs offer mentorships.

Being a mentor for those who don’t know as much as you do gives students a chance to hone their own abilities. The best way to learn something exceptionally well is to teach it. In writing club students with experience are reaching out to younger students to offer advice, encouragement and support, share contests, online resources, editing, and more!

Homeschool Clubs are skill building.

Clubs allow students to grow and develop their skills in ways that they possibly wouldn’t seek out on their own. Our writing club has delved into songwriting, comedic sketch writing, and more based on the interest of club members!

Homeschool Clubs are low stress but offer high rewards.

Clubs allow students to immerse oneself into an area of interest without a huge time or monetary investment. Jr and Sr high school is the perfect time for students to explore various areas of interest. Clubs give students support to explore and develop in areas that may lead to career interests, lifelong hobbies, friendships, and professional skills!

Homeschool Clubs are a great way to earn credits.

Clubs are a low-stress way to earn credits. Our writing club is automatically worth a half a credit a year but students can earn up to a full credit of writing, depending on their goals and commitment. This allows students to build their transcript in a low-stress fun way!

Clubs often offer side benefits.

Because our good writers are readers, our writing club does a weekly “Book-Share” too. Students learn about different genres, learn assessment tools and participate in co-authoring quarterly “Tweens and Teens Book Recommendations,” which are published on our blog. Also, students have the opportunity to write blog posts for our blog, allowing them to publish before a fairly wide audience while still in high school.

Homeschool Clubs offer more freedom than a traditional classroom.

For example, homeschool club members can socialize with people that they have things in common with. In our Writing Club, we often do break-out rooms with smaller groups. The kids work on projects together, like writing poems or songs and have a blast laughing, brainstorming, and coming up with amazing ideas together.

In a Homeschool Club, everyone is there because they want to be there.

They are already interested in the subject matter which makes it easier to make friends! People tend to be warmer and more engaged when it’s something they want to do versus something they have to do. In our Writing Club, kids are meeting and talking with kids from around the country both inside (and outside of class).

Homeschool Clubs allow students to have input!

On the suggestion of one of our Writing Club members, we have writing “buddies.” Kids were paired up randomly with someone else in the class. This is because kids wanted to be able to continue writing prompts, share ideas, and brainstorm outside of class. The enthusiasm is contagious and some writing buddies are even writing stories together!

Clubs. We LOVE them at True North Homeschool Academy because we LOVE watching students learn, grow and develop into people who are passionate and eager to engage in the world around them!

What are you waiting for? Join a Club – we have lots to choose from and you can get more information about how to join us at our homeschool clubs page.