Just when we homeschooling parents think we have a handle on homeschooling, the high school years come along to knock the wind out of our sails. For many of us, the idea of homeschooling high school can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
As with the start of the homeschool years, a little research and self-education about high school can go a long way toward a successful experience. Following are four things you need to know to successfully homeschool high school:
How to determine credit hours
Determining credit hours is not complicated. Most colleges and universities accept Carnegie credit hours. One Carnegie credit hour is equivalent to approximately 120 hours of instruction time.
Most school years are 36 weeks, so if your student works on a particular subject for 45 minutes to an hour each day most days of the school year, he will earn one credit for that course. If his homeschool curriculum contains 120 daily lessons or more, that is typically the equivalent of one credit hour.
A mastery-based approach is another way to determine credit hours. If, for example, your student is learning auto mechanics or cooking over the course of his or her high school years, you might choose to award 1 credit hour based on the successful completion of the goals you’ve set for him or her.
If she is taking a dual-enrollment or college-level course for one school year, that is typically one credit hour.
Shorter courses with less class time may earn half a credit. Health class and driver’s ed are two examples of courses that generally earn half a credit.
How to keep transcripts
Even if you’re not a highly structured homeschool family, you’re probably going to want to keep a good transcript of your student’s activities each year so that you don’t risk forgetting an important class, skill, or accomplishment if he decides to apply for college admission.
Keeping a transcript of your student’s classes doesn’t have to be difficult. I like to keep a simple grade book form on my laptop. At the end of semester, I transfer my students’ grades to their transcript, and at the end of the year I figure their GPA and include that, as well.
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A transcript can be a simple spread sheet listing information such as:
- Your student’s name, address, and social security number
- Student’s gender and date of birth
- Parents’ names
- Name and address of your homeschool
- Standardized test (such as PSAT, SAT, and ACT) dates and scores
It should also include columns for each of your student’s school years, 9th – 12th grades, and rows for course titles, with grades for each. The Homeschool Legal Defense website has several sample high school transcripts that you can use as a starting point to design your student’s transcript.
Alternately, you may wish to compile a portfolio of your student’s high school work, in lieu of keeping a high school transcript.
What courses your student needs to take
If your student is college bound, one of the best ways to determine the courses he needs to take in high school is to research the admissions requirements for the colleges and universities he is considering attending.
If your student doesn’t plan on attending college or you just need some general guidelines, you can check out your county or state’s graduation requirements. For general planning purposes, most secondary schools are going to expect the following minimums:
- English – 4 credits
- Math – 4 credits
- Science – 3-4 credits (at least 2 with labs for college prep)
- History – 3-4 credits
- Physical education – 1 credit
- Health – 0.5 credit
- Foreign language – 2 credits (of the same language)
In most states, homeschooling laws allow the teaching parent to determine graduation requirements, so, ultimately, you and your student should work together to decide what courses he or she should complete, taking his or her post-graduation plans into consideration.
You can do it!
Perhaps the most important thing for you to know about homeschooling high school is that you can do it! The thought of homeschooling during the high school years can bring back all the fear and trepidation of the early homeschool years for many parents. However, armed with a plan and some knowledge, you can successfully homeschool high school.