Preparing your Homeschooled High Schooler for College Writing - Updated

How to prepare your homeschooled teen for college writing.  Including sources for homeschool high school English courses, and how to teach writing to your college bound high schoolers.  It is not hard to do!  #homeschoolinghighschoolenglish #highschoolenglishcurriculum.  This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

My homeschool grad is a college grad now.  When she was in high school, I worried whether she would be prepared enough for college writing.

I remember supporting her work with her first college writing assignments during her freshman year.  She had an opinion paper to write, a research paper to finish, and a bibliography to create.  

I met with my daughter to hear how she planned her writing and study time, and she took it from there.  She was doing well with her college writing assignments, and continued to do so.

I thought back to her high school days and how we did her high school English at home. 

So today, I'd like to share seven things that we did for high school English, that prepared her for college writing. 

1.  First thing - Write a Lot

I encouraged her to write. Mostly every day. 

In whatever way that she felt motivated to do....  Write about a newspaper article, write some dialog to a short story, write how to's - such as a recipe, or how to find a good deal on cell phones, etc.  

It is also helpful to introduce your teen to different types of essays, such as narratives, expository essays, persuasive essays, etc. Time for Learning has a great resource for that here.  But the topic was always teen-led.

2.  Literature and Composition 

Whether you use a prepared curriculum or put together your own course, literature and composition are vital for college writing. Many colleges ask for both of these components on transcripts for high school English.  

They are looking for both literature and composition on the transcript.  

IEW , Oak Meadow and SOS all offer Literature and Composition courses.  But they are pricy, especially the first two options, IEW and Oak Meadow.

That was a bit too much for our budget.  We found that 7 Sisters Homeschool also had Lit and Composition courses, that were well laid out and well done, plus much more frugal. 

But actually any of the 7 Sisters year long English courses would serve just as well for the Literature and Composition that the colleges are looking for.  World Literature, British Literature, American Literature, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many more choices are on their site.

We chose their American Lit in junior year.

The  American Literature course 
consists of a 125 page downloadable ebook text, which is a complete college prep one year course, centered around nine classics.

Each of the courses we used were helpful for teaching our teen literary analysis, which was crucial to my 2e daughter developing her critical thinking skills, for college readiness.

They have many more options to choose from for your high schooler's English studies here.

If you prefer the do-it-yourself style, that can work well, too.

By choosing good literature and assigning essays to go with it, you can make your own high school English courses. 

Time for Learning has a helpful resource for do-it-yourselfers - It is a listing of writing standards for 11th and 12th grades.  

3. Literary Analysis

Doing literary analysis was key for my daughter, too.  

It taught her critical thinking skills, preparing her for more complicated essay writing in college.  Many of the prepared English programs, mentioned above, will guide you in teaching this important skill. 

7 Sisters English does this, as well as IEW , Oak Meadow and SOS, by asking lots of questions to ponder about plot, setting, character development, etc.  

I found these helpful in getting my daughter to really dive into literary analysis.

 Ambleside Online also has a great sample list of narration questions as well.  Here's another great resource on this, from IEW- Windows to the World - An Introduction to Literary Analysis.

4.  Ask Lots of Questions

When discussing literature with your teen and having them do their written narrations or essays, ponder the why's and how come's of the story, the plotline, how the setting impacted the plot, etc. 

5.  Creative Writing

If your teen is interested in writing fiction, I would encourage that. Writing fiction is a great way for kids to learn the components of literature - setting, point of view, characters, plot, etc. 

6.  Do Research Reports

We started report writing early on, with early book reports, then moved on to simple research reports about her current interest.  From penguins, to aerospace, etc. Her first report was on rats, but that's another story.

But by the time she reached high school, we wanted her to learn to components of a real research report.  And we turned to 7 Sisters Homeschool for guidance, because of the quality of their frugal high school courses.

"Many teens find it easiest to start with an APA research paper.  It is 
an extension of the basic report. However, if teens enjoy writing their 5-paragraph essay, they might enjoy starting with writing an MLA Paper." 

Vicki Tillman of 7 Sisters Homeschool

As my daughter liked the 5 paragraph essay, we started with that, and chose their Chicago Style Research Paper Writing Guide.  

Writing research reports gave my daughter practice in the all the components of researching, such as:

  • note taking
  • compiling data
  • drafting 
  • revising
and the all important bibliography.

If your teen likes writing basic reports, 7 Sisters Homeschool has an online course just for them, called APA Style Research Paper.  

Note - They now offer an online video course that goes right along with their APA Style outline. 

Just click the link above for more info on that. 

Wish they had that when my daughter was in high school!

IEW and Oak Meadow include research reports in their high school English.

Learning good research writing skills is essential for all teens, but especially for those that are college bound.

Writing research reports gave my daughter practice in the all the components of researching, such as:
  • note taking
  • compiling data
  • drafting 
  • revising
  • and the all important bibliography.

7.  Practice the Steps of Writing (from brainstorming to publishing)

Time for Learning has a simple outline of these steps here, which include Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, Editing, and Publishing. 

My daughter disliked making an outline, but learning how to make and follow an outline has really paid off for her in college.

For more information on preparing your teen for college writing, click here - What kinds of writing should college bound teens do?

After handing in her assignments, we took some time to go on a mini road trip and stop by our favorite farmer's market.  

I was amazed at all the vegetables that were already available there.  And lots of great apples, too.

That got me busy cooking, and making applesauce.  Nothing like homemade applesauce.  We had it with latkes, potato pancakes, for dinner.    

What is your favorite way to encourage writing for your teen? Thanks for stopping by and I love reading your comments.

Free to read on Amazon Prime.

This book includes:

- My own homeschoolers guide to the Common Application
- Where to find college scholarships
- SAT/ACT Prep
- How to make your own homemade courses
Recommended by: Lessa Scherrer, Certified College Counselor

More high school posts are on Pinterest here: Homeschooling High School Pinterest Board.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school
college and wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition,  

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  1. Writing can be an intimidating subject to teach, but it sounds like you've done a great job with it! And the applesauce looks absolutely fantastic. :)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, The Mama Behind the Story, and for sharing your comments! We took the high school writing work one day at a time, and that made it approachable and more fun. And, thanks for your comment on applesauce, an important ingredient to any fall project, anytime! Have a good weekend!

  3. Great tips! We are using Windows to The World and I like it so far.

  4. Thanks, Donna Stone, for your kind comment! Nice to hear that Windows to The World is working well for your family. My teen learned so much from doing literary analysis, and it helped her a lot, later, with her freshman college writing. Have a good day!

  5. Thanks, Donna Stone, for your kind comment! Nice to hear that Windows to The World is working well for your family. My teen learned so much from doing literary analysis, and it helped her a lot, later, with her freshman college writing. Have a good day!


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