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PHOTO CAPTION:  Diane Kummer, Home School Legal Defense Association high school consultant, speaks to military Families and civilians during the High School symposium sponsored by the Fort Belvoir Home Educators at the George Washington Community Center on Saturday.

April 12, 2013
By Justin Creech, Belvoir Eagle

Getting a child through high school is tough for military and civilian Families. For military Families, it can be especially difficult if the Family has to move to a different installation at the beginning of, or in the middle of, their children's high school years, and the children have to adjust to a new school curriculum and atmosphere.

Fort Belvoir Home Educators sponsored a high school symposium Saturday at the George Washington Community Center providing parents with information on how they can home school their children through their high school years.

The symposium is comprised of four seminars: You can home school high school, developing a high school plan, high school transcript clinic and recordkeeping, and important pit stops during high school.

"You can home school your children through high school," said Diane Kummer, Home School Legal Defense Association high school consultant when asked what she wanted the Families to take from the symposium. "There's a lot of help available and many resources, so anyone that wants to home school their children through high school can do it."

The symposium discussed developing a four-year plan for high school, but understanding the curriculum may change as the child begins to figure out what they want to do post-high school. Kummer also discussed organizing a transcript and developing general workplace skills while in high school, like time management, computer skills, and providing other avenues for the children to learn, like a field trip to a museum or historical site.

Kummer said the four-year plan should be a guideline for what courses a child or children will take in high school.

"Everyone will take the basics in 9th through 10th grade, and you get to customize during the 11th and 12th grade years," Kummer said. "Parents should choose a course or two in 11th and 12th grade that will be beneficial to their child's future plans."

Alexandria Roach is stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling with her husband and their three children. Roach has home-schooled her children for the last seven years and feels it has made the constant moves much easier.

"Not having to adjust to new schools and a new curriculum and approaches to education other schools might have is the biggest benefit," said Roach. "Plus, I take breaks when I need them. If my husband has a four-day weekend, or we move and I need a month to get situated. It doesn't matter if it's in February, June or September."

Roach has always organized her children's curriculum based on what she feels they need to know. She has utilized resources like home schooling groups and organizations in the states she's lived in to aid her in her course selection.

"They put on curriculum fairs. The big publishers have tables and they explain the curriculum to you," said Roach. "Talking to experienced home (educators) helps, because they have the experience."

Taking home-schooled children on field trips is an important part of their education and provides a break from their normal daily routine, according to Kummer. Roach has done the same with her children, especially since they've been in the Washington, D.C. area.

"Being here in D.C., you have tons of sites and museums to go to, so I schedule field trips because children learn by seeing, touching and feeling things," said Roach. "I definitely think my children have received an education they wouldn't have, if we didn't home-school them."
Providing children with workplace skills is an important part of home-schooling as well, said Kummer. Basic skills such as using Microsoft Office programs and time management are important skills to teach a home-schooled, high school aged child.

"Let them know deadlines matter," said Kummer. "They matter greatly in the real world."
Roach recently began teaching her children workplace skills after coming across a website called code.org that teaches people how to organize codes to build web pages.

"It's important for when they enter the workforce," said Roach. "So, we've looked into that."
Keeping an organized transcript of a child's course work is vital when applying for college, according to Kummer. Parents should start the transcript as soon as their children begin taking high school courses and just add to it each year. Kummer said just make sure the transcript lists courses taken, grades earned, credit awarded and an accumulated grand-point-average.

"Colleges are usually fine with parent-generated transcripts because the student has other things for them to reference besides the transcript," said Kummer. "As long as the transcript is organized and looks professional, there usually aren't any problems."

Parents also need to be as fair as possible when grading their children's work, Kummer said. Parents should not give their child a high mark based on love; their grades should be based on how well they've done the assignment.

Parents need to look at grading their children's school work as important feedback, according to Kummer.

"If the child isn't doing well in the subject they need to know that," said Kummer. "Either the material needs to be taught again or the child is being lazy. In some cases, bad grades may hurt self-esteem but they should be the motivation to somebody getting in gear."