Make sure you teach your high school student how to study. It is easy to assume that by high school
your student knows how to study, but there are skills required for self-education that should not
If we home school more than one child, it is easier to become aware of weak study skills in our
children because we depend upon them to learn by themselves earlier. It was my methodology
to lecture or demonstrate a skill or subject to my kids and then send them off to do the work on
their own. Whether is was a problem set in math, a list of comprehension questions in literature,
or sentence diagramming, my children did much of their schoolwork on their own. It was only
when they handed work in to me that I realized how much or little they understood of the subject.
At that point, I would sit down with my child and re-teach the problem area until it was thoroughly
understood and we could proceed to the next lesson. Of course, this is not uncommon.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that my children learned how to actually study on their own.
Self-education is a skill required for a student to be successful in college and in life. It is the
ability of a child to receive information either by listening or reading it and then being able to
integrate that information in practice or real life experience. For instance, if I want my child to be
able to write a research paper on a subject; they have to know how to find information related to
the topic, how to take notes that are meaningful to them, how to organize those notes into some
logical progression, and how to communicate them in formal, complete thoughts and sentences.
In order to accomplish such a task, my child has first to learn how to use the library or the
internet responsibly and effectively. Reading comprehension and organizational skills are
necessary for note-taking and assembling information gathered. Finally, the student has to know
sentence structure, how to put paragraphs together, and how to effectively inform or persuade
Looking over this list of skills needed, you might see how lecturing and doing busy work is not
sufficient background for success.
By high school if there is any doubt in your mind that your child can read well and understand the
concepts they read, it is critical that you address these skills thoroughly. If all those lessons in
grammar have not turned into an ability to compose sentences and organize thoughts on paper,
you should turn your attention to developing outlining skills – whether they outline with webs or in
a traditional format.
Although I have addressed study skills necessary to complete a research paper, math and
science study skills may include deductive or inductive reasoning – which means that they have
to be able to make observations and take context into consideration when forming conclusions
or working out math equations.It is not my intent to make you feel overwhelmed or discouraged as you home school your high school student. I only want to give you notice that by high school the skills that your child will depend upon are those that were well-developed over the years that led up to 9th grade.
I, myself, found that one of my high school children was weak in some study skills. I felt guilty for
overlooking the signs earlier in that child’s education. I immediately focused on those
weaknesses and sought extra (outside) help in getting skills developed as quickly as possible.
But, as you might imagine, it is not always possible to bring a child up to speed in a short period
of time. My child has had to work more diligently in college than some of his peers in order to see
the same results. He might not get top grades, but I know that my child is learning a tremendous
lesson and will succeed in spite of the obstacles.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can identify inadequacies in our own education. I know that I
worked harder in college for some of my ‘C’s than I ever did for some of the ‘A’s I received.
Ultimately, we realize that by the grace of God and hard work we can learn and persevere in the
process. I know that as I look back on my own education, I am very appreciative of those
teachers that taught me to read and challenged my weaker skills. I am confident our children will
not look back on their home education and criticize our teaching methods, but rather they will
fondly remember those precious years we learned together.