Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Parent of an eighth-grader: What's on my mind?

My kids are growing up very quickly. I know we all say it, but I feel it to be true. Having an eighth-grader this year I am also feeling that the end of the tunnel isn't too far away.

This knowledge brings many questions along with it. Will we successfully complete all the classes we need to complete before time runs out? Will my student be self-motivated enough to continue through the next phase of his life without the structure that our schooling has provided? Will we get all the tests and paperwork done in time for college admission?

Many of my thoughts will be common feelings which both parents of children in traditional school as well as parents of homeschooled children can probably relate to.

Though none of us know what paths our kids will take after high school, we have decided as a family to prepare for the future as if college were the goal. Our reasoning is simple: if a different opportunity comes along, we will still reap the benefits of a rigorous education. But if we didn't prepare for college along the way, it's a bit more challenging to make up for missing classes and tests later on.

The largest items looming in my mind currently include:

*Getting our life-after-high-school antennae on: This simply means being more inclined to notice conversations other people have about what they or their students have experienced in the transition from high school to whatever comes next.

*Forming and honing good study habits: Setting goals, managing time, finding out the best times for you personally to work on certain types of tasks...Work ethic, self-motivation, and perseverance...Many of these skills are steps to success whether kids go to college or straight to a job.

*Forming and honing life skills: Everyone needs to know how to do their own laundry, basic cooking, healthy habits and  eating, money management...You need these, too, no matter what your future holds!

*Encouraging them to find their strengths, weaknesses, and interests: Knowing these might be very helpful when deciding what type of career path to follow. As a parent, I might need to give a listening ear when my students think out loud through these issues. I will also need to find time and energy to shuffle kids to extra activities or clubs if they think they might like to pursue some of these interests.

Other considerations in my mind:

*Money for college


*SATs, ACTs, the Common App...

These last three aren't quite as pressing yet, and I'm trying not to dwell on them too much right now. One thing at a time. We just keep doing our research, making connections with people who have been down this road before, and teaching and learning one day at a time.

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