How to Help Your Child Prepare for an Early College High School Education

Students who attend an early college high school are expected to finish high school classes in half the time. This means students must double up on all necessary courses in their 9th and 10th grade years to free up two to three years for college courses. The idea of graduating high school with an associate’s degree is appealing for our daughter, but she has hours of studying and plenty of weekends dedicated to reading, homework and projects in her near future.

Practice time management techniques. With a minimum of two hours study time a night, students in an early college high school need strong time management skills. There are two ways to approach time management, either the student can use a planner to schedule study time with other life activities or establish a study schedule as the focal point of each evening with other activities molding around that study time. With four children in school, I chose the study schedule. Each child has a dedicated study schedule with time for breaks noted on the schedule. The entire family uses this time to study or prepare for the following day and all breaks are taken at the same time. Study time ends at 6:00 P.M. when the entire family gathers for dinner preparation and family time.

Establish a study schedule. It does not matter if a family has one child or twenty; a study schedule is helpful when planning dedicated time for education. In my case, children have a unique study schedule based upon their individual educational path. My children study and complete homework from 4:00 P.M. until 6:00 P.M. on most nights. During this time, each child follows a set schedule of activities to ensure proper time management. First homework obligations are completed. If homework takes only one hour, the remaining time is utilized for reading. Both parents are available during study time for questions and homework / study help. If children do not need help from parents on a given day, that time is used to prepare for the following workday or as dedicated reading time. It is easier for an early college high school student to maintain the attention needed for advanced study preparation if the entire family is doing the same thing.

Encourage your child to think outside the normal. Sometimes the obvious answer is not the best answer. Whether a student is practicing creative writing techniques or preparing for a school project, thinking outside of the box is an important life skill to learn. My daughter makes a master list of potential project themes before choosing the best theme for the given project. Completing a poster for a book project, for instance, may be the simplest idea but it does not tap into creativity. Instead of a simple poster, I encourage my daughter to write a simplified version of each chapter to create a study guide for the book, complete with a unique book cover.

Make education a fun experience. On Sunday of each week, I plan activities that compliment current school lessons. The activity is a family experience yet it is personalized to each child. My first graders may create and color activity pages about pilgrims and Indians during Thanksgiving week. At the same time, my 6th grader is creating a cornucopia out of paper mache and my 8th grader is creating a unique story of one Indian and the changes caused by pilgrim interaction. All projects are shared over Thanksgiving dinner.

I have always stressed the importance of education to all my children. Athletic prowess may come and go, beauty is only skin-deep and acquaintances are a dime a dozen, but no one can take away your education. When preparing for an early college high school education, students need a special set of skills and a strong, dedicated family.

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