4 Practical Ways To Prepare Your Homeschooled Child For College

Preview: Is your homeschooled child ready for college? In this post, you will learn the four skills every student should acquire to be successful in their future career.

A homeschool mom sent me the following email:

My biggest struggle is battling anxiety regarding whether or not my children will be adequately prepared for their life path. Mostly, I think in terms of college. 

Can you relate? Do you worry about this too?

You’re not alone!

Most parents wonder if their homeschooled child will be ready for college or vocational training.

The good news is that many colleges and employers actively recruit homeschooled students because they recognize the valuable skills homeschooled students develop through their unique learning experiences.

I didn’t think about my children’s college plans when we initially decided to homeschool. After all, my oldest child was still in preschool. But when she started middle school, I began to think about this. I had several questions, including:

  • Do I need to do anything differently in our homeschool so she is ready for college?
  • Does she have the life skills she needs to live confidently on her own?
  • Is there anything about her homeschool experience she will look back and wish we had done differently?

I ask myself each of these questions as I begin planning our lessons each year. The answers help me identify areas where I could improve my children’s homeschool experience.

Learn more about homeschooling: 3 Benefits Of Homeschooling

In this post, you will learn how I incorporate learning four skills into our homeschool plans to prepare my children for college or vocational training.

You can listen to episodes 61-64 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast to learn how I taught these life skills differently to each of my children and how you can incorporate these skills into your homeschool. Each episode is embedded below the related skill.

Why are college prep skills important?

A shift has taken place in the past couple of generations. Very few individuals from my grandparents’ generation went to college. Skilled labor jobs and managing the home were considered respectable professions. Today, our society puts a big emphasis on obtaining a college degree. 

The reality is that not every person should attend college. Some high school graduates are not good candidates for a university setting, and not all jobs require a college degree. Skilled labor jobs are still in high demand, and many pay as much or more than white-collar jobs.

If not all children should attend college, why should you be concerned about college prep skills? Because the college prep skills discussed in this article are beneficial for every homeschooled student, regardless of their future career path. 

College prep skills are beneficial for every student, regardless of their career path.

Homeschooling provides a unique opportunity for your child to develop these important life skills. Unlike a traditional classroom setting, you can customize your child’s learning experience and incorporate his interests, passions, and needs. And you can incorporate life skills training into your child’s learning plans.

I incorporate the following four skills into our homeschool plan. Each year we work on a new aspect of the skill until my children have mastered it and are ready to move on to the next one.

One of my homeschool goals is that by the time my children graduate from our homeschool, they will be prepared for life. I want my children to succeed regardless of how they continue learning—college, vocational training, or self-study.

Teach Life Skills

You probably don’t even think about the life skills you are teaching your child every day—home management, hygiene, laundry, cooking, finances, car maintenance, time management. 

Many of these activities are necessary for daily living. Since your children are home all the time, they should help maintain your home. These skills will also help your children live productive lives and be responsible members of society when they move out. 

Learning life skills is similar to learning to walk. It requires time, practice, patience, and supporting your child through the process. Use this easy four-step process to teach any life skill.

A four-step process to teach life skills

As I help my daughters acquire new life skills, I use the following four-step process to teach any new skill.

  1. Explain the steps.
  2. Work together.
  3. Provide quality control.
  4. Turn over responsibility.

Listen to episode 61 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast to learn more about this process and hear examples from our home.

Learn more: How to use a Responsibilities and Privileges List to motivate your children to assume responsibility for themselves

Instill A Love Of Learning

If you are like most homeschool parents, you worry that your children will have gaps in their education. You want to prepare your homeschooled children for college or vocational training, so you want to make sure they learn everything they need to know during their homeschooling years. 

Unfortunately, you will not be able to teach your children everything they need to know. There will be gaps in their education, as there are for public and private school students as well. There are gaps in everyone’s education. 

The goal of education should not be to teach everything one needs to know to get into college but rather to instill a love of learning and teach a child how to learn and think.

When your child loves to learn and knows how to learn and how to think, he can then learn whatever he needs to know for any given situation he encounters throughout his life. He will be a lifelong learner. 

How to raise lifelong learners

You can cultivate the habit of lifelong learning by helping your children view learning as a privilege and a joy instead of a chore.

It is well we should recognize that the business of education is with us all our lives, that we must always go on increasing our knowledge. Charlotte M. Mason

I keep the following four principles in mind as I seek to raise lifelong learners.

  • Encourage your children to read widely. Help them establish the habit of reading to learn about their passions as well as reading for fun.
  • Be excited and interested in what your child is learning. Even if it doesn’t interest you, listen, and ask questions when he explains what he learned.
  • Encourage your children to strive for excellence. Focus on your child’s effort instead of simply completing a lesson or passing a test. Utilizing a mastery approach to learning helps you and your child focus on excellence.
  • Provide plenty of free time for your children to learn more about subjects that interest them. You may need to shorten school lessons and reduce outside activities to create more margin in your children’s day.

Listen to episode 62 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast to learn more about these principles and hear examples from our home.

Teach How To Think

I want my children to feel equipped to form their own opinions when they graduate from our homeschool.

Instead of parroting back my beliefs or being swayed by the latest news report or controversy, I want them to research, identify bias, analyze data, and form their own opinions.

I also want my children to contribute their perspectives and insights to conversations with others. If they go to college, I want them to feel confident about participating in class discussions.

To do this, they need to view an issue from multiple perspectives, hear an argument with which they disagree, and present their viewpoint logically and respectfully.

How to help your child think critically

To help my children learn to think, we implement the following principles into our homeschool.

  1. Implement narration. My children narrate the books they read, and we discuss the ideas found in them. Their narrations begin as oral narrations when they are young and progress to written narrations and then essays.
  2. Set an example. Talk about how you research issues, identify bias, and form opinions. Be open to consider differing viewpoints and engage in dialogue.
  3. Accept that your child may form different opinions than yours. When you teach your child how to think, they may come to a different conclusion than you did about certain issues. I would prefer that my children can form their own opinions as they become more independent and interact with a variety of people than to parrot back what I believe.

Listen to episode 63 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast to learn more about these principles and hear examples from our home.

You can print out the graphic below or save it to your phone as a reminder of the questions to ask your children to help them think critically.

Turn Over Responsibility For Learning

I cannot force my children to learn.

It is their responsibility to learn.

It is my responsibility to provide a learning-rich environment and direct their learning.

It is my children's responsibility to learn. It is my responsibility to provide a learning-rich environment and direct their learning.

I had mentioned this many times to my daughters, but one day it finally clicked.

We were planning their summer learning, and as I explained that they had an opportunity to take full control of their learning for the summer, a light bulb finally turned on. My daughter’s face lit up. I could see the wheels start to turn as she thought about what she wanted to learn that summer.

How to help your child assume responsibility for his education

I use various strategies to help my children assume responsibility for their education, including the following.

  • Talk about their role. The concept of assuming responsibility for our education is contrary to much of what we hear from society. Begin talking about this concept when they are young and talk about it often.
  • Encourage your children to read. In addition to reading school books, I require that my children read in their free time. 
  • Stop planning summer learning. Help your children develop their summer learning plan, but allow them to be in charge.
  • Teach your children about learning styles. When your children are young, you need to provide a learning environment that best meets their needs. As they mature, they should learn how to create an appropriate study environment.
  • Find ways for your children to learn from others. When they are young, your children could learn from grandparents, your spouse, a sibling, or a co-op class. As they enter the high school years, you could also include dual enrollment, correspondence courses, or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). When others are planning and coordinating their learning, don’t jump in. Allow your children to experience different teaching styles and expectations.
  • Help your children develop study skills. When they are young, focus on learning to read and narrate. Over time, incorporate developing time management skills, learning different note-taking styles, practicing taking tests, learning how to learn from various sources (living books, textbooks, online courses, etc.), and creating good study habits. My daughter learned a lot from Cal Newport’s book, How to Become a Straight-A Student.

Listen to episode 14 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast to hear about real situations in our homeschool of how I implement each of these steps, sometimes more successfully than others.

Ease the transition from homeschool to college or vocational training

All students should develop the four skills discussed in this post, regardless of their future career path. By incorporating them into your homeschool plans, you can help your children develop them over time.

Your homeschooled child’s transition to college, vocational training, or a job will be smoother because they have already developed many of the skills they will need to succeed.

When you sit down to plan your next homeschool year, consider these four skills. Determine the next step your child needs to take and incorporate that into your child’s educational plan for the year.

Listen to episode 64 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast to hear how Heather Woodie eased the transition for her children from homeschool high school to college and how you can do so with confidence too!

  • What she did during the high school years that had the most impact on her children’s college experience.
  • What her college kids were most thankful for that she did during their homeschool high school years.
  • What she is doing differently with her younger students because of feedback from her older ones.
  • How you can ease the transition from homeschool to college or vocational training for your children.
  • You can connect with Heather at: https://blogshewrote.org/
Blog, She Wrote

Do you have questions about homeschooling?

Watch the FREE Homeschool 101 Workshop. It’s an on-demand workshop you can watch at your convenience.

Want a little help?

Homeschool Coaching might be a good fit. Through our 1:1 sessions, we can help you create a homeschool you love. Schedule a free Discovery Call to start your journey today. (Or, click here to learn more about Homeschool Coaching.)

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