- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Something strange happens to many home-school families when their children enter junior high school. After successfully teaching through the elementary years, parents begin to question their ability to educate their children. Phonics and simple math were relatively easy, but teaching junior high and high school subjects becomes a daunting thought.

As your children get older, you might face teaching a subject you never learned or don't feel strong teaching. You may be intimidated by a chemistry book, especially if you didn't do well in chemistry or if, like me, you never took chemistry. Relax. The prospect of teaching upper-level subjects need not be frightening.

These ideas can help you teach unfamiliar subjects:

• Team up with another home-schooling family and team teach. Your forte may be language arts, and another home-school parent may be knowledgeable in the sciences. Offer to teach a writing class to that person's children in return for having him or her teach biology or earth science to yours.

• Enlist the help of a relative or friend who is strong in a subject. You might be surprised by how many people would be happy to share their knowledge. You may have a retired teacher living down the street who would love to help.

• Learn the material with your child. In high school, I was a business student. I took typing, accounting, business English, etc. When it came time for me to teach my children algebra and geometry, I learned right along with them. I would try to work each problem a day or two ahead of them so I could explain the material should they have difficulty.

• Contact local support groups for co-op possibilities. For the past five years, our family has been involved in classes offered by Creative Home Education Support Services (CHESS), a one-day-a-week school for home-schoolers. CHESS hires instructors to teach various subjects, and students receive one hour of classroom instruction and homework each week.

• Use a video course. You can find instructional videos to teach just about anything. In the past, we have used video courses to teach geography, chemistry, math and Spanish. The best thing about videos is you can play them over and over again. If your child doesn't grasp a concept or misses a valuable piece of information, just rewind the tape.

• Hire a tutor. This person could be a fellow home-school parent, a schoolteacher or possibly a local college student. If finances are an issue, consider bartering services.

• Use a computer course. The best place I have found for educational software is Educational Resources (800/624-2926 or www.edresources.com). This company specializes in educational software and technology for kindergarten through grade 12 and provides an excellent selection of titles in a wide variety of subject areas.

• See if a local community college offers courses to high school students. College and high school credit often can be earned simultaneously. Two colleges in my area not only permit home-schooled high school students to attend classes, but also offer one tuition-free class per semester to qualifying seniors.

• Take a class along with your high school student. This year, Joseph, my 17-year-old senior, is taking a chemistry course. I am auditing the class not only to learn chemistry for the first time, but also to help him if needed.

• Check into on-line schools and the possibility of taking just one course. I'm always receiving e-mail announcements about new on-line schools and courses. This certainly seems to be the educational wave of the future. If properly monitored, I believe on-line learning can be a tremendous asset to any high school program.

As home-school parents, we need to keep in mind that not every subject has to be mastered before high school graduation. There will be gaps, and that's OK. If we teach our teens to find and use resources well, we will not need to be overly concerned about trying to master every subject. Teach your high schoolers good research skills, and then when they find a gap in their education, they will know how to fill it.

Kim Huber, a mother of four children, has been home-schooling for 17 years. She and her husband serve on the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania's board of directors. She can be reached by e-mail (CHAPKimH@aol.com).

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