- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

This time of year, many high school seniors are making final decisions about where they will attend college next fall. For some, attaining their life goals will be possible only with a college degree. But college is not for everyone. Many children, home-schooled or not, will graduate from high school and move right into the work world.

Equipping a child with the tools necessary to succeed in the college, career or vocation he chooses should begin early in the high school years. I believe you first should provide a good general high school program covering the basic subjects of language arts, math, science and history. Once that program has been established, a college or vocational track can be added.

Our children should be well-read and be able to speak and write well. Can your child effectively convey his thoughts and convictions both orally and through the written word? One resource for good writing is "Writers Inc. School to Work." This student handbook includes various forms of writing, from business letters to resumes, and covers the writing skills needed in the workplace. To hone your child's public-speaking skills, you might want to take a look at "Who's Afraid of Public Speaking?" by J. Mark Fox.

Good general mathematics skills also are essential. The Meridian Creative Group has done an excellent job of providing a practical math course with its "Mathematics for Everyday Living" series. Topics addressed include the mathematics of budgeting, saving, insurance, investments and taxes.

Make sure your child is able to research a topic using reference and resource materials. No one could ever learn everything about all things, but you can teach your child how to find information and interpret it. The list of resources could be endless, but here are a few ideas:

Traditional resources: encyclopedias, dictionaries, libraries, textbooks, magazine articles and so forth. Old-fashioned legwork: conducting interviews and getting information from tutors, teachers, professionals, businesses, organizations and the phone book. Computer-related helpers: software and the Internet.

Although college-bound students will spend more time in the sciences and humanities, all high-school students should have a working knowledge of the sciences and have a good history base. For easy-to-understand high school texts in the fields of biology, chemistry, life science and physics, I like Dr. Jay Wiles' science textbooks available through Apologia Educational Ministries.

As your child develops a vocational direction, let your home-school hours work for you. Don't feel bound to the three R's for diploma program requirements. Everything in life is a learning experience. Now is the time to add elective studies or college prep courses to your basic areas of study. I have found that Christian Light Education has a good selection of material in elective subjects: accounting, agriculture, basic automotive, carpentry, home economics, and home maintenance and repair, to name a few.

Keep an experience journal and portfolio of the types of volunteer, apprenticeship, intern or employment opportunities in which your son or daughter has been involved. Also have your child's employer or supervisor fill out an evaluation form rating your child's performance. Colleges and future employers will be interested in seeing an overview of the work your child has done during the high-school years.

Whether your children are bound for college or the work world, the foundation you create now can give them a jump on their future.

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 ([email protected]).

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