Productive Study Strategies for Homeschool Families

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A UNHS Staff Article Collaboration

Whether you’re a seasoned homeschooler or got your first experience with homeschool through the COVID-19 pandemic, you can always create a more productive home study environment for your family.

At the University of Nebraska High School, we have been developing distance learning curriculum for over 90 years. The academic success of each student is our top priority, and an important part of that success is productive, healthy home study strategies.

Read on to give your study routine a boost before the new school year.

1. Establish a schedule and stick with it.

One of the nice things about homeschooling high school is the flexibility you can have with your child’s schedule. You can build in time for extracurricular activities, rehearsals, and practices beyond the regular curriculum with a lower risk of burnout. UNHS courses can be completed at your student’s pace and at any time of day, so you have plenty of freedom to build the ideal schedule.

Once you find a schedule that works, develop it into a routine for optimal results. A reliable schedule makes it easier to consistently study, and regular, predictable studying habits help students retain information better than occasional bursts of studying.

2. Rely on your teachers and advisers.

Just because your family has chosen to homeschool, doesn’t mean you have to manage your child’s entire education alone. UNHS teachers, advisers and customer support staff can be contacted during weekdays and are happy to help you and your student solve problems.

By the time a student reaches high school, he or she should be equipped to independently study for periods of time. However, during independent study, it can be useful for your student to have an expert resource like a teacher to briefly discuss a problem with. UNHS staff members are friendly and passionate about elevating students to new levels of success.

3. Create concrete goals.

Measurable goals with reasonable benchmarks are a simple and fun way to motivate students to achieve more. You and your child can set an overarching goal for each course, then break down that goal into smaller objectives that he or she can accomplish in each unit or lesson.

Be sure to write down each goal and the steps your student needs to take to achieve them, then display the list in a visible place. A physical reminder of a goal makes it easier to reach. Work with your student to monitor progress and feel free to adjust goals to better fit your student’s learning needs. Developing productive study strategies is an evolving process, so don’t be afraid to change direction and try something else.

UNHS is an accredited online high school that prepares students for college and beyond with a wide variety of challenging courses. Visit our website, browse our courses, or contact us today to learn more!

Regrets Only

Ray
Raymond Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

Regrets only,
On some invitations to special events, the person who sends the invite is asking for “regrets only” or just wanting to be notified if the invited person is unable to attend. If the host or hostess doesn’t hear back that the invitee cannot show up, the event coordinator expects the invited guest to be a part of the festivity.

Have you ever received this type of invitation?

If you do not have an obvious conflict or an unplanned emergency and if you really want to attend, you most likely will enjoy going to the special event.

Relating this reply to other everyday situations, I hope your life is not filled with many “regrets only” responses if you really want to be a part of something. Using a sports analogy, I hope you choose to “get in the game” by being an active participant, not a bystander.

As you may well know, there are some obvious risks for participating, both good and bad, and usually, we focus on the negative. Adverse outcomes like failure and criticism (it is especially easy to criticize today with the availability of many types of social media) are not uncommon.  Some choose not to participate because they do not want to deal with these possible unfavorable results.

However, experiencing failure and withstanding criticism can actually help a person in many ways. What is the impetus for improvement if you never fail or are criticized? The by-product of learning successful problem solving and coping skills can only be developed by overcoming these obstacles as well.

I particularly like former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt’s perspective on involvement:

“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… Who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Please consider this blog an invitation to participation in the life arena of your passion and choice.

And I hope you CHOOSE to get in the game,

No reply necessary.

Saying Yes or No to a College

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

After the work you have put into the college application process, acceptance letters finally start to arrive. Now that you have your options laid out in front of you, how do you know which college will be the best fit for you? For some students, one school sticks out from the rest and it’s an easy decision. For others, they may feel torn between schools.

Take a deep breath and be grateful for choices.

  1. Compare all opportunities for final decision-making.
  • Make a pros and cons list for each college choice.
  • Compare your initial reasons for applying to a specific college to how you might feel about the opportunities after you graduate.
  • Remember that your college campus will become your home away from home. Select a campus that will make you feel happy, confident and challenged.
  1. Practice etiquette when accepting an admission offer.
  • Sign the acceptance letter and submit the required college deposits on time. Keep in mind that May 1st is the deadline for most colleges.
  • Housing, financial aid and scholarship forms must be returned before deadlines.
  • Order a final transcript and AP scores to send to the college.
  • Make notes on the calendar when tuition and room and board fees are due so that you don’t forget to pay them.
  • Attend pre-admission college events to meet future classmates and get to know the campus.
  1. Remember to inform other colleges that you’ve decided to decline their offers.
  • Send a written note (preferably not email) prior to May 1st.
  • Be grateful for their consideration.
  • Provide which college you will be attending and why.
  • Thank staff members who assisted you with the college admissions.
  • Note if there was a specific recruitment effort that sparked your interest to apply to their college.
  1. Check out the UNL/UNO/UNK Tips for the Education Journey concerning housing, financial aid and scholarships.

Lots of choices can be overwhelming, but with the right process, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.

From One Procrastinator to Another

 

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

I almost did not write this blog, I just kept putting it off, putting it off and putting it off.  I finally decided to make a procrastination acrostic with statements and thoughts that hopefully can be helpful to you if you have issues with being a procrastinator.

 

Procrastination is a problem of self-regulation.

Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is an important step.

Opt out of putting things off by saying, “I will do it tomorrow.”

Coping mechanism for a lot of people.

Really would rather play video games or do something else.

All people procrastinate sometimes, you are not alone.

Set goals and list the steps needed to meet them.

Time management skills development (use a planning device).

I work better under pressure! Is that really true for you?

Nice to have someone who will help keep you on track (an accountability partner).

Adopt anti-procrastination strategies like a daily to-do list.

Treat or reward yourself for getting something done early or on time.

Idleness is okay sometimes (we all need a break from our pressures).

Opt out of looking for distractions, so you don’t have to do your needed task.

Never give up on improving your procrastination habits!

Famous American patriot, Ben Franklin, once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” but well-known American author, Mark Twain, also stated, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

It’s your choice which advice you will follow!  All the best to my fellow procrastinators!

Note to High School Educators: Consider Slowing Down that Start Time

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

The most recent Phi Delta Kappan issue (December/January, 2017) contains an excellent article championing the cause for high schools to start school at later times. The idea isn’t new, but the research keeps getting more convincing that a later start time is certainly in the best interest of  students and carries many benefits for them. This article, written by Kyla L. Wahlstrom, looked at some earlier studies in Edina and Minneapolis schools. The author points out that what we know about the teenage brain is that the need for more sleep is “a matter of biology, not choice,” and many teens are not able to fall asleep before about 10:45 p.m. and remain in a sleep mode until about 8 a.m. This appears to be connected to the circadian rhythm and is directly related to hormonal changes during puberty and eventually disappears as teens enter their 20s.

start-time

Wahlstrom points out that medical research (Carskadon, Acebo, & Jenni, 2004; Jenni Achermann, & Carskadon, 2005) shows negative effects of sleep deprivation such as depression, obesity, substance use and abuse and increased car crashes (this should concern all of us!). Early research showed that absences, tardiness and sleepiness in school had significantly declined with later start times, and that moods and feelings of student efficacy had improved (Wahlstrom, 2002).

Wahlstrom went on to study eight high schools in five school districts in three states—Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming, from 2010 to 2013 (Wahlstrom et al., 2014). It was found that in those schools that implemented the latest school start times of 8:35 and 8:55 a.m., there was a significant decrease in absences and tardiness in grades 9-12.

Finally, the study indicated that  those students who slept eight or more hours each night were significantly less likely to report symptoms of depression, fall asleep in class, drink caffeinated beverages, have a phone or computer in their bedroom and do dangerous things.

At UNHS, we are fortunate that students who are working through their online courses can choose when and how much time they spend on their coursework. They have much more control over starting their work later in the day to match their circadian rhythms. The ultimate expectation remains the same—the work must get done and having a regular routine study time is an important part of making progress. Aligning a teen’s brain efficiency with their work schedule is a plan for better academic performance. I encourage you to read the entire article in the Kappan as it goes further in discussing how best to approach your school board and community about making a later start time a possibility. It begs our attention.

(“Later start time for teens improves grades, mood, and safety”, Phi Delta Kappan, December, 2016/January, 2017).