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What Grade is My High School Child?

What Grade is My High School Child?

There you are, homeschooling the normal and natural way, not worrying about grade levels. After all, when your child is younger, how can you really tell what grade they are in? Because they could be in 5th grade math, 8th grade spelling, and using a 7th grade history curriculum. But when you have a high school student, suddenly everyone wants to know.

What Grade is My High School Child?

The easiest way to determine grade level is to decide what year the child will be graduating from high school, and then count backward. In other words, if your child is graduating next spring, this is the senior year. If your child is graduating a year from next spring, then your child is a junior this year.

The only time grade level REALLY matters is when you take the PSAT for real. They will ask the child what grade they are, and only the 11th grade PSAT will count for the national merit scholarships. (You can take it in 10th for fun, but only the 11th grade level counts for scholarships.) Other than that, it's all about when will the child graduate.

The standard age and grade level for high school children may be helpful to know.

Freshman, grade 9, begins at age 14-15
Sophomore, grade 10, begins at age 15-16
Junior, grade 11, begins at age 16-17
Senior, grade 12, begins at age 17-18

But do standard age and grade levels matter? Not always - it depends on the child and the family. And sometimes it depends on the grade level of their friends, too.

When you are making the decision about graduation, keep in mind the magic number: 18. When children turn 18, they will usually want to become independent. This is a good thing, because we have worked our entire life to create independent, confident, capable young adults. The problem is that an independent, confident, capable young adult may not want to be homeschooled by Mommy. That can result in stress and difficulty at home, with even the most pleasant and compliant child. Without the agreement of the child, it may not be possible to homeschool a child over the age of 18 without some angst or drama at home.

I hope that helps! Remember, if you ever need some support, I'm happy to help! You can join the Gold Care Club, you can call me so we can discuss your worries or concerns.

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What does the PSAT score really mean?

What does the PSAT score really mean?
What does the PSAT score really mean?

For many children, it's just a way to see how they compare academically to other children.  But since sophomores and juniors take the test, your score may mean something different depending on your child's level.  A sophomore taking the SAT is being compared to college bound juniors a year older, with a year more of math and a year more of every other subject.

The college board provides a chart for high school guidance counselors that can help you determine what the PSAT score means when you compare sophomores to juniors.  It's a little complicated to read, but if you really enjoy numbers and statistics, you could really dig it!

PSAT/NMSQT Percentiles and Mean Scores can be used to compare students’ performance with that of juniors and sophomores.

So remember, if your child takes the test as a sophomore, and the score appears to be below average. it may actually be better than average!

Please rate my blog at Homeschool Top Sites! I'd really appreciate it!  Thanks
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Help for the High School Junior

Help for the High School Junior
Where to begin with a Junior in high school?   Probably the best place to start is this article.  You can ignore the parts if you've missed them already.  Better yet, make a plan to catch up.  Even if you are behind on your planning for college, don't lose hope!  You can recover with a well thought out senior year plan!

I can help you brainstorm ideas - just call or email me.
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Can My Homeschooler Take the SAT as a Senior?

Can My Homeschooler Take the SAT as a Senior?
How important is preparing for the SAT?  Important enough to delay taking the test until Senior year?  Susan asked me for some guidance to help her decide about when to take the SAT college admission test.
I wanted to let you know that your mini course on the 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make on Homeschooling High School was very informative. I like your thorough content and the fact that they are not too long each time. Each point is very valuable to know. I have done each one, but I have a question about the SAT.  Can my 11th grade girls take the SAT in 12th grade?  I would like to let them have more time to prepare. Thank you for your quality services.

~ Susan in Washington

You know, there are a lot of people that take the SAT "cold" each year - and I don't mean just the people freezing in the midwest right now!  I mean the kids that take it without any preparation at all.  Taking the test cold can be an option!

If you are considering taking the test without preparation, there are a few things to consider.  First, if they do relatively well on standardized testing in general, then they will probably do relatively well on the SAT or ACT test as well.  Poor test-takers would have problems, but good test-takers are usually OK.

Second, taking the SAT can help you find a college - and finding a college is the key, critical task of junior year.  Here is my article on junior year, which may explain things better. When you take the SAT, your putting the students name "into the system" and colleges will start marketing to you.  They will know the students approximate SAT score, grades, courses, and geographical location - and that's how they decide who they want to send marketing materials too.

Third, knowing their SAT score can help you decide which colleges are an "easy admit" which are a good fit, and which colleges could be a real stretch.  You'll be able to guide your student toward colleges that will award financial aid if you know their SAT score.  If you don't score well on the SAT, students can take it a second time, after preparing for the test.  Each college has a different policy on how they compare scores, but in general their policies will make you look BETTER.  Some will let you take the highest overall score, others will take the best score from each section, and some will let you take the most recent scores.  If your student prepares before taking the second score, it can make them look better.

Finally, although it seems like the policy changes every single year, I believe that you can still decide not to allow colleges to see your actual scores from the first test.  No harm, no foul.  You can wait to see the score first, and then release them to colleges.

Let's consider the other option:  waiting to take the SAT in senior year.  College applications should begin in September of senior year, before the SAT is even offered.  How will you know which colleges are a good fit?  How can the college give you merit aid that is tied to the SAT score, if you haven't taken the SAT?  What if you put off applying to colleges while you're waiting to get SAT score results?  You could put it off while the college fills with students and hands out scholarship money to others, and then get left behind.  Yuck!

One tiny additional tidbit, since you haven't really started the process yet.  Have your children take a sample test of the ACT and a sample test of the SAT.  Which one do they score better in to begin with?  Then have them take THAT test, and have them study for THAT test.  Choosing the right college admission test can also raise their score, even before they beginning planning for the test!

I hope that helps.  Let me know if you need more information.

Learn more about Finding a College in my parent training DVD!
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I'm Here When You Need Me!

I'm Here When You Need Me!
Feeling panicked?  Don't know where to start?  Not even sure what the questions are?  I can help!

If you have a junior or senior, I suggest a telephone consultation so we can talk about your homeschool a bit.  Usually in 1-2 hours I can help you figure out exactly what to put on a transcript, including course titles, grades, and credit values.  You'll get information what to do next and how to plan your year.

If you have a sophomore or junior, and you are thinking that your record keeping might include course descriptions, then consider my book "Comprehensive Record Solution."  It's not a curriculum or a to-do list.  Instead, it is a copy of my own homeschool records that I sent to colleges, so that you can see what a real mom has done already.  These are the records that the Admissions Director of Seattle Pacific University said were the best that he'd ever seen.

It's particularly helpful if you have used some of my own curriculum choices, because then you'll have some ready-made course descriptions. If you use any of the following, you get the bonus of prepared course descriptions:  Learn to Write the Novel Way, Apologia Biology/Chemistry/Physics, Jacobs Algebra/Geometry, Saxon Alg 2/Adv Math/ Calculus, Latin Road 1-3, Power-Glide French.  Even if you don't use those curriculum choices, you can still learn about how to write a course description for unusual delight-directed homeschool classes.

If you have a student in grades 7 through 10, then I would suggest getting the "Preparing to Homeschool High School" three DVD set.  It recommends classes that make a "college prep" experience, and instructs you on record keeping strategies.  After watching the DVD, many parents like to have a 1 hour phone consultation to discuss unique parts of their own homeschool situation, like what specialization could look like on a transcript, or which college prep tests might be appropriate for their child.

Think about it.  I'm here when you need me!

Need some help that's free?  Try my 5 part mini-course, The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Homeschooling High School.“  This is information you need if you are thinking about high school.
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To ACT or SAT, That is the Question!

To ACT or SAT, That is the Question!
Dear Lee,

I was at your talk at the HOME meeting this year and really appreciated your help.  I especially appreciated the grid you gave us to use for high school requirements.  It was the most complete and easy to use that I have seen yet. Do you have a recommendation as to whether a child should take the SAT or ACT for college entrance? Is the ACT as universally accepted by colleges as the SAT is?


Dear Lianne,

Both tests are usually accepted by every college.  Some colleges prefer one test over the other.  For example, the University of Washington strongly prefers the ACT test.  Even colleges that have a strong preference will still usually allow the other test.  For example, the University of Washington will accept the SAT test, but wants some documentation of science since the SAT doesn't include a science portion.  Go with what the college wants, whenever you can.

If you don't know what college you will apply to (and most don't, when they are just a junior!) then choose the test that is best for YOUR child.  Give them a sample SAT and a sample ACT (often available online) and see which one they scores best with.  1/3 score better on one test than the other, so you can really make your child look "smarter" if you choose the test they will score best in.

For more information, you can get my "High School Testing" on audio, which goes over each test in detail.  I hope that helps!
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Last Call for College Visits!!

Last Call for College Visits!!

If you have a high school junior, it's VERY important to visit some colleges now. It's virtually impossible to know "the real college" unless you visit it. By next fall, your child will need to start college applications. If at all possible, visit colleges while classes are in session, so you can get to know students, professors, and see the campus "in action." That means that you need to hurry, though. Colleges are finishing up their spring quarter, and you want to get your visit in quickly! By the way, it's great for sophomores (and younger!) to visit now as well!

If you feel overwhelmed with the whole idea of college visits, my Finding a College can provide a primer for you.

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