Homeschooling High School: How to Collect High School Credits
Homeschooling High School: How to Collect High School Credits
The idea of homeschooling high school is often the tipping point in many homeschooler's decision to quit in their child’s eighth-grade year, fearful that they are not qualified to teach their child, especially in areas such as science, math, and foreign language. Others have no idea how to tackle collecting high school credits for the high school transcript.
Thinking that this will be an insurmountable obstacle, and for fear of believing that they will mar their child’s chance to get into a good college, some homeschool parents simply stop at the eighth grade. Sometimes, they move on to a private school, but others will enroll their child into the public school system.
I’m here to tell you today that you do not have to take either of those extremes. With just a bit of research and preplanning, you can easily tackle the topic of how to homeschool high school and collect high school credits and your child will be much better off for it.
Evaluating Potential High School Credits for Homeschool High School Transcripts
In order to assure that our children get a comparable education through the high school years, there has to be some standard to which homeschoolers adhere that allows credits to be assigned appropriately. And there is. It’s not something that seems to be common knowledge, especially for those who have never homeschooled through high school, so hopefully, this article will give you a much better grasp of how to handle credit assignments for the high school transcript.
In the first instance, you can count one credit for every high school text that is completed. For instance, high school math, science, foreign language, or English texts are each considered to be one credit, and usually takes a school year to finish. Likewise, a course such as Constitutional Law or European History is often taught as a semester course and therefore is equivalent to one-half credit.
It’s very important to note that this doesn’t mean you have to cover every single page in the text and complete every single question or problem. Most authors will agree that good coverage of at least three-quarters of the text will constitute a credit.
Important note: California residents will want to review the supplement for their state that best explains credits for California students. Please refer to the text: The High School Handbook – Junior and Senior High School at Home by Mary Schofield.
In the event that you are writing your own homeschool curriculum or unit study plans, or are using a study that is integrated, you should log the hours your child actually spends on work associated with the lessons. In these instances, 120 to 180 hours of actual coursework is the equivalent to one full credit. A semester class is half of that. This is known as the Carnegie Unit approach. If you’re unsure of the specific number of hours due per subject, consider this. For courses that require labs, such as science, you should use the high end of the scale and shoot for 180 hours. For courses such as history or English, 150 hours is sufficient.
Likewise, if your child takes a course at a local community college, one semester is worth one full year of a high school course, and when working with the community college can often be counted as dual enrollment and earn your student some college credit, as well. Keep in mind that it isn’t just classwork that makes up these hours, but also labs, field trips, special projects, and extra credit assignments.
Yet another approach to calculating high school homeschooling credit is mastery of content. If taking online courses, this content will be laid out clearly through learning objectives and evaluation methods such as assignments and tests. However, if you’re not managing the course this way, you can also use a public or private school description of the course from your area to find out everything that is covered and therefore considered necessary for mastery, and summarize it into your own words.
Using tests such as the SAT®, AP®, or CLEP® are other ways that homeschoolers have assessed mastery of content. This not only assures you that the credit has been satisfied, but it’s also an official record of the same. Additionally, this will work towards college admissions for your homeschool graduate. It’s certainly an excellent means of proof of content mastery, but it can become expensive if detailed per each course. If you choose this method, you might be wise to spread the testing out over the course of the year.
Planning Out Homeschooling High School Credits
Once you know how to evaluate credits and you’re sure you’re going to go forward with homeschooling your high school student, it’s important to put a plan into place. Although not absolutely necessary, it is strongly suggested to include your child in the process. The “meeting” can take place anywhere, towards the end of the middle school career, from the kitchen table to a local coffee shop or diner, as long as you’re comfortable and prepared.
First, consider your state graduation requirements (see below). Then consider the requirements necessary for the college or colleges your student will likely be interested in. And finally, there is the matter of the homeschool parents' requirements for graduation. For some families, this means taking music classes, a foreign language, Bible, or theater throughout the high school years.
It’s important to remember that over the course of the four years of high school, the plan could change. There are many reasons for this, but simply knowing it’s a possibility can relieve a mountain of stress before you ever get started.
Don’t neglect your child’s specific passions when planning the high school education. What do they want to do? What are they really good at? What type of profession do they hope to pursue after graduation? These are some starting points that can launch a conversation that will lead not only to necessary coursework but to possible electives that could prove critical to their chosen profession. All of these electives chosen by the student's passions and the homeschooling parents' requirements count as high school credit. Use the Carnegie Unit calculations above to count these hours.
Record Keeping is Extremely Important in High School
Because high school homeschooling records are not simply another passing year, they are incredibly important and should be diligently kept and filed appropriately. These records, at the end of the senior year, will be turned into a high school transcript that is necessary for college (and for dual enrollment if that path is taken), and to prove that graduation and high school diploma requirements have been met. Don't wait until the end of the high school career though to come up with all of the credit hours that the student has taken. This can be very stressful and result in forgetting what classes were taken if good records haven't been kept. Doing this at the end of each year of high school is best.
If you don’t already have one, now would be a great time to invest in a dedicated file system of your choice. Then dedicate the drawers as necessary. Separate binders for each class can help keep information separate and easily accessible when necessary. You can subdivide these by assignment, quiz, test, or unit study. Whichever is easiest for you.
No Matter What…
The bottom line is that each and every state has its own homeschooling laws and regulations, and some of those pertain specifically to high school credit hours, as mentioned above for the state of California. Before you decide on which method you will use for calculating credits, be sure to check those laws and regulations carefully so that you will always be compliant. Research your state’s requirements for homeschool high school graduation and honor diploma tracks, if applicable.
It’s true that calculating homeschool high school credits can be a daunting task. However, there are plenty of resources online to guide you through the process. If you’re a part of a homeschooling co-op, private support group, or online social media group, these are all excellent places to begin your search. Of course, you can’t overlook the things you can find from a simple Google search either, as resources change often.
One of the best ways to find out more about homeschooling high school credits is to attend a Great Homeschool Convention near you. With seven regional conventions across the United States, you’re sure to find one nearby. To check online, and to secure more information, tickets, and hotel package deals, visit the Great Homeschool Conventions website.
There, you’ll find dozens of informational speakers, hundreds of workshops on important homeschool topics, and extensive curriculum and resource vendors. You’ll also have the opportunity to talk to experts and other homeschooling families, just like you, so make sure you don’t miss the opportunity.
And remember. Great Homeschool Conventions are Equipping. Encouraging. FUN!
Stacey is an author, blogger, and former homeschool mother who loves to encourage and uplift, especially on the subjects of faith and homeschooling. She lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, Jimmy, and their two children. For more information, visit her website, Words From The Wheel.