Important Pit Stops on the High School Time Line
Time governs our days. The harder we try to hang on to it, the faster it seems to go! But, with careful planning, it is possible to use your time wisely during the high school years.
We suggest that you lay out a time line of important to-dos and major deadlines. You’ll see the big picture, while at the same time you will be able to prioritize individual items. Your confidence will grow, and you’ll see progress as items are checked off your list.
To help you get started, we’ve outlined a possible time line below. Jump in at any point, but be sure to make up for any lost time by doing a quick review of prior years to check if any items were missed. For a more detailed look at what to include in your time line for high school, you may wish to download the HSLDA brochure Keeping on Track: A Time Line for High School along with the helpful links.
Before High School
If you have students in the 7th and 8th grades, take advantage of these years to solidify foundational skills in reading, writing, and math. A good grasp of these areas will give your teens an advantage when tackling high school courses.
Continue to foster reading of all types and have your teens keep a reading list. Reading aloud as a family may even entice your children who do not enjoy this pastime. Or, listen to books on tape in the car (on both short and long trips) to stimulate an interest in good literature. The College Board provides a comprehensive reading list recommended for high schoolers. (Parents, please review the list for acceptable books before handing it to your children.) Other good sources for reading lists are found or included in a former newsletter, “The Pleasure and Pursuit of Reading”.
It’s always a good idea to lay out a map before beginning a journey. The same holds true for high school. So sketch out a rough blueprint for your teen’s four years of high school using the brochure Developing a Plan for High School: Sample Four Year Plans.
Now…on to the high school years!
Ninth grade is a good year to discuss your teen’s future goals and together choose courses of interest to supplement the necessary core courses. Remind your child that all course grades are going to “count” in view of those future plans, so it is important to take her studies seriously. This is the year to consider beginning or continuing some outside activities to enhance and enrich the academic program, develop life skills, provide camaraderie, or serve others.
You’ll be surprised how much your child will mature each year. The 10th grade, then, may be an opportune time for your child to take a class from another teacher. If he plans to go to college, such classes will provide sources for those college letters of recommendation. This will also be the year to register for the PSAT (for practice), or the PLAN. These tests serve as good practice for your teen by familiarizing him with the test environment, pacing himself in a timed test, and developing test strategies.
Tenth grade is also a good time to begin preparing for the SAT and ACT (college entrance tests) by providing your teen with test prep resources.
It is not too early to check out colleges if your teen is headed in that direction. Most college websites have web tours available. A visit to a college fair will allow your teen to meet representatives from many different colleges, pick up literature and applications on the various schools, and learn about admission requirements and financial aid information. The National Association of College Admissions Counselors, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, are two websites to use to locate such events in your area.
If your teen is not college bound, discuss possible career interests, have him take a career test, or begin to research a possible internship or job shadowing opportunity for the future.
You have now reached the halfway mark of the high school years. It’s especially important for your teen to continue to focus on the academics as the 9th through 11th grade courses will provide the most recent grades colleges will see when making admission decisions. Register and choose convenient dates to take the SAT or ACT test. You may want to have your teen take either test in the fall of the junior year and then again in the spring to try and improve his scores.
The junior year is when the PSAT test must be taken in order to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.
Use this year to begin narrowing down the post high school study options, whether it’s college, vo-tech schools, apprenticeships, the military or others. Each option requires advance planning to know what deadlines to adhere to and what forms are necessary to complete. If financial aid will be necessary, then become familiar with what information will be needed for completing the forms. Scholarships take time and effort to find, so it’s not too early to begin the search. Remember that they, too, will have specific deadlines and requirements for applying.
If your teen does not have a resume, this is a good time to create one and continue to update it throughout the remainder of high school. It’ll then be ready to submit to potential employers, military recruiters, scholarship committees, and others who may ask for it.
Even though 12th grade seems far off in the distance for some of you, it’ll be here before you know it. As you prepare to launch your teen into the next phase of his life, enjoy this year together. Spend time strengthening communication skills and family ties while encouraging your teen to continue working hard to complete challenging courses and keep up the grades.
Schedule enough time to complete those school applications, request ACT or SAT scores to be sent to the schools of choice, obtain letters of recommendation, complete financial aid applications, and finish school visits.
As this year comes to a close, commit your child to the Lord to guide him or her in His paths of righteousness for His name sake. Then celebrate the journey by honoring your teen with a graduation ceremony complete with awarding that coveted high school diploma.
Next month please join us for thoughts on how to motivate your teens for yet another year.
Thank you for investing precious time in the lives of your teens,
Becky Cooke & Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators