I’ll just jump right in here.
If you are careful to institute the first eight strategies we have been talking about, then these last four we are about to discuss will be rather simple to implement. We are looking at strategies that will prepare your student for a great showing on the College Board exams.
9. Provide notebooks to your high school kids solely for the purpose of writing something regularly. We use vocabulary lists, and the kids need to write in their notebooks (or on Microsoft Word) three times a week utilizing X number of vocab words.
Allow students to write whatever they like without grading these essays. Here is an opportunity for your students to just write. My only rule is no pure silliness. Humorous is fine, but ridiculousness for its own sake is not going to fly with mom.
If you see repetitive mistakes in the work, it is fine to mention this to the student, but don’t give a grade for each day’s essay. This is pleasure writing at its finest and will get your student writing without fear of criticism. Get the creative juices going and just let ’em go.
Not all kids find it easy to be creative on paper. One of my students found it difficult to crank out half a page semi-regularly, but half a page was done without complaint.
It is fun to read what your kids come up with when they write without hesitation because they know they will not be graded. Making suggestions is fair, but going over with a red pen and fine-tooth comb is foul.
Forget formal essays and focus on regular writing for pleasure.
10. Take the College Boards early and often…for fun only! Have your student start taking exams annually in grades 8 through 10 for fun, and then when the scores really count, the tests will not be nearly as intimidating when taken in the junior and senior years.
When a student takes the SAT after 8th grade, there really is no pressure to perform. Who expects a middle schooler to do well at this age? This is precisely when confidence-building begins. Just don’t have any expectations at this age, and your student will pretty much surprise you. It is a great starting point!
Stress that the student is competing against himself only. The more familiar the student is with the testing environment, the more comfortable and confident he or she will be down the road when the test scores are “for keeps.”
11. Three weeks before the test date, use all of the practice tests you can findfor preparation. You can find free online tests at the college board sites, or purchase books by Kaplan or the Princeton Review, etc to work through as exam prep.
Forget all other school work and concentrate on taking the practice exams.
12. Do something fun the day before the exam. No studying allowed! Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam is my final piece of advice to students (and the parents who love them.)
Of course, once again it bears repeating that my top educational goal for my kids is NOT to ace the SAT and ACT exams. However, this will be the outcome if I have been faithful in developing their educational confidence by encouraging a love of reading and giving the freedom to become self-learning.
We as parents are Homeschool Coaches! This topic will have its own post devoted to it, but I wanted to throw that in right here and now. You are a Homeschool Coach. Your family depends upon you to know what is required to win the game, and how to get there step by step.
I hope that you can see that raising kids who enjoy learning and who become engaged in life is actually pretty cut and dried. It takes some backbone on our part as parents (just say no to constant TV and distractions) and say yes to just about everything else. (Yes, we can go to the library. Yes, I can play monopoly with you. Yes I can read you a story. Yes, you can use the video camera to make a movie. Um…no, you can not make your sister walk the plank.)
It is important to me to remember that I reap what I sow. If I sow to my flesh, I will reap little that is of eternal value. If I sow seeds of high expectations, I will reap good, hardy fruit.
If I sow diligence in my role as the coach, I will reap students who take the ball and run with it in the manner that we have practiced over and over and over again.
Thank you so much for coming by today!