This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Create and Use a Syllabus for Homeschool High School. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
It’s the beginning of a new homeschool year and it’s time to get organized. One of the most helpful tools you can use to help your teens learn time and organizational skills is learning to use a syllabus.
- Homeschool high schoolers who are headed for college need to be prepared with this skill, since most college classes will use a syllabus (sometimes called a “schedule” or other titles at college level).
- Homeschool high schoolers who are not college bound will still benefit from learning to use a syllabus. Using a syllabus will help them learn to think and plan so they can be efficient and successful in the workplace.
SO what IS a syllabus?
Basically a syllabus is a chronological summary of a course that a student can use to guide the organization of their studies. This is so helpful because syllabi often include day-by-day assignments or weekly assignments so that a student understands exactly what to do and when.
Syllabi often include other details about the course such as:
- Text (author, publisher, ISBN if possible)
- Other materials and experiences (documentaries, field trips, etc)
- Course goals (brief summary of purpose and goals)
- This helps teens remember the “why” of the course
- Topics covered in the course (this can be chapter titles or just topics to be studied)
- This is useful for teens to understand what is coming up
- It is also useful for teens who are interested in NCAA sports, the military or that rare college that is not familiar with homeschooling
- Grading scales
- Teens really need to know this
- This helps setting the grade for the transcript
- Due dates of projects, papers and exams
- Schedule: Homework assignment listing by day or week in the body of the syllabus
All of this information is good for your record keeping, too!
Once you have a syllabus constructed, go over it with your teen and use it to help them plan their schedule for each of their courses. (Check here for more ideas on how to help your homeschool high schooler stay on track through the school year, as well as this interview about time management for teens with Vicki on Vintage Homeschool Moms Podcast.)
It may feel like a boring task, but this is worth the effort. Go over each part of the syllabus with your teen:
Show them the textbook.
Explain the other materials.
Go over the goals, the “why” of the course. Discuss this. If it will be a boring or challenging course, how will it help them…if nothing else: they need it for graduation and it will develop skills in perseverance 😉
What is expected and when for projects, papers and exams.
Then discuss together what the daily timing of what they will study and when. If you include them on the decisions on their daily schedule, it will help them own their education and organization.
Get out a calendar, planner, digital calendar (whatever they feel good about using). Mark the due dates of projects, papers, exams, then schedule backward from there. What is scheduling backwards? It is a simple way to help your teens learn to organize their study time (you can learn details on how-to with our download on Scheduling Backwards). Here is an overview:
Mark due dates on calendar
- Go back in time to a reasonable start date for the project, paper or study time. Mark that date as “Start project”, “Start research paper” or “Start studying for exam”.
- Then go forward to the halfway point between the start date and the due date. Mark that as “Be halfway through with…”
- Then mark quarter-way points and three-quarter-way points.
Mark when homework-to-mom or homework-to-co-op dates will be.
Remember that teens are learning to manage themselves. Most are not ready to manage a syllabus on their own in their first year of homeschooling. That is why you want to work on this together and then check in frequently.
These guidelines for creating and using a syllabus are suggestions. Remember: you are homeschooling in the way that is best for your homeschool high school. There’s not ONE right way to homeschool! Adapt to your family’s needs.
BTW- Many of the texts at 7SistersHomeschool have a suggested syllabus that you can download and adapt to your needs.
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