Part 4: Secrets to Homeschool High School Transcripts and Credit Requirements
We’ve made it to the final piece of this series on homeschooling highschool! I hope it has been helpful and informative! I appreciate you being here.
So now let’s talk about homeschool high school transcripts and credit requirements. This is a task that is daunting for a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to be! I used to feel scared about this, too. But now, having graduated 3 of my kiddos, it’s not so bad.
I’m here to help, so I hope I can take some of the fear out of this for you. It doesn’t have to be confusing and scary!
The first thing you need to do, is check with your state laws. Every state is different on what they require for homeschool high school credit requirements, classes and grading.
The HSLDA is an excellent resource.
I am fortunate to live in a very lenient state, Nebraska. Here, each homeschool is treated like it’s own private school in it’s own district.
Since each district in the entire state can do what they want in terms of graduation requirements, homeschools also get to do what they want.
So I can make any number of credits acceptable. I do not want to do a disservice to my child, so we approach this with integrity and rigor. However, we are free to do as we see fit.
Let's talk about homeschool high school credit requirements
I’m sure you’re wondering, what do I even teach my kids in high school?
Depending on state laws, you can do whatever you want. If you want your child to do math every year, then that’s what they’ll do, regardless of what the public school is doing. (Again, your state laws trump anything I say here.)
Mapping out all 4 years of high school is a good idea.
This is not as big of a task as it sounds like. Just sit down with your child in the summer before 9th grade and figure out how much of each subject area they would like to do.
If you want 4 years of math, then you would simply write out a math level for each grade.
9th Grade: Pre-Algebra
10th Grade: Alegebra 1
11th Grade: Geometry
12th Grade: Algebra 2
Then just do this with each subject area, such as history, English, science and so on.
In no time, you’ll have a simple and easy map for your child’s high school career!
Now you may be wondering, how much math are they supposed to have? How much English?
There are many ways to figure this out, but here’s what I do.
I go onto my state college website, in this case it’s the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. There they have a list of requirements for incoming freshman.
This means that every child who comes into UNL as a freshman needs to have these classes. This list becomes my child’s high school class list!
All the thinking is done for me!
Now, UNL is not a top, Ivy League school, but it is a very run-of-the-mill type college. Most colleges would have similar requirements as UNL, so I can confidently use them as a baseline.
If my child figures out in 11th grade that she wants to attend a different college, I would go to that college’s website and look at their freshman requirements and switch to that as my guide for the remainder of their high school career.
Here’s a screen shot of their requirements.
|All units must include intensive reading and writing experience. Innovative interdisciplinary courses and courses in speech and journalism may be substituted if they include substantial amounts of reading and writing.|
|Mathematics||4||Must include Algebra I, II, and Geometry, and one additional unit that build on a knowledge of Algebra II.|
|Social Sciences||3||At least one unit of American and/or world history and one additional unit of history, American government, and/or geography.|
|Natural Sciences||3||At least two units selected from biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences. One of the units must include laboratory instruction.|
|Foreign Language||2||Students who are unable to take two years of foreign language in high school may still qualify for admission. Such students will be required to take two semesters of foreign language at the University of Nebraska. These students are still required to complete 16 units of academic courses for admission.|
Now, this is only showing 16 credits and most high schools would require more than that to graduate.
A couple of classes that are missing here are PE and Fine Arts. I looked at my local high school and they also have classes like Career Ed, Health (which is required in my state for homeschools as well), and Technology.
Adding in those types of classes would get you more credits than even UNL is requiring. But again, this is just a blueprint to help provide you with some structure and a starting point. You can add in any classes you need based on your state laws or that you want, based on your family’s values.
HSLDA has some great resources, including different plans already done for you.
Here is another great resource, showing each state’s homeschool high school credit requirements.
So how do i count the credits?
A credit is just a unit of measure to show us how much school work a child needs to fulfill the graduation requirements for that district or school.
The standard way to use calculate this, is to use the Carnegie credit system.
This says that 120 school hours equals 1 credit.
So once your child completes 120 hours of instruction in a particular subject area, they will receive one credit towards they’re entire credit goal.
In my area, most schools want 20-30 credits in order to graduate, so that’s between 2,400-3,600 hours spent in the 4 years of high school.
Here’s an example:
Your 9th grader is doing Algebra 1. They do math every day. You just have them keep track of their daily time spent on math.
Looking below, this child did 20 minutes on Monday, 30 minutes on Tuesday, etc. Their total for the week is 80 minutes. They earned almost 1 1/2 hours towards their 120 hour goal.
There are many approaches to doing homeschool high school, as I’ve laid out some of them in my previous posts.
The two most popular ones are: doing a traditional homeschool curriculum, with the child completing books and taking tests; and an outside the box approach where you let your child follow their interests and try to find credits within the framework of what they are doing.
So how do we actually count the credits?
If you are using the more traditional approach, with curriculum and tests, then you can do one of 2 things:
- keep track of their hours spent or
- count each book as a credit
A typical textbook in a typical homeschool curriculum will take a typical student one school year to finish, so that’s pretty close to 120 hours. Sometimes it’s easier to do it this way, especially if your child is good about staying on track and moves fairly regularly through a curriculum.
If you have a special needs child, a struggling child or a other circumstances, such as illness or traveling, that keeps you from being able to establish a steady pace (or a Type A mom, like me!), keeping track of hours is a good way to go.
It’s not as daunting as it sounds.
All of my children have done it and it worked great!
If you are using a more outside the box approach, then counting hours will be about your only option.
I’ll give you an example to show you how easy this can be.
Let’s use our student from the last post who likes to work with small engines.
Let’s say he goes out 3 days per week to work on his engines and the other 2 days he’s in the house doing more traditional school. When he’s outside, keep track of how long he’s out there. 3 hours? 8 hours?
Then when he comes in, have him tell you what he did and help him track those hours on a tracker.
If he read a bunch of manuals or Google trying to find the answer to a problem for an hour, then that can be an hour of language arts (reading) marked off.
If he was trying to figure out how to put a piece back on and couldn’t get it to go, and spent 30 minutes messing with it, that’ s 30 minutes of math he spent (spatial awareness, geometry).
If he had to drive to the store and buy some parts, that’s math (money, budgeting, comparing prices) for 60 minutes that can be marked off.
On the days he’s in the house, you could have him reading some history books and counting that time. He read his history book for 20 minutes and took a test for 10 minutes, that’s 30 minutes of history marked off.
I’ve also done things like counting my daughter’s dance classes for a fine arts requirement.
Be creative! You can find school everywhere!
It’s really not hard to keep track of your children’s hours. Also give yourself permission to do it both ways and see which you like best.
Homeschool High school transcripts don't have to scare you!
Even though it might be something that has been hanging over your head for years, as you watch the exit sign get closer and closer, putting together a homeschool high school transcript is not hard.
I promise! You can do this!
I found a free transcript creator that is wonderful! Even though you have to start over every year, which can be a pain, it’s not hard. I save it each year on my computer and then all I have to do is copy it from one year to the next. (They do this for security reasons.)
But it is free and looks very nice and professional, so I use it.
I’m sure there are many, many other free options out there, this is just what I use. Two of my kids went to college with it!
Once your child gets their homeschool high school credit requirements done for the year, just sit down and put that on their transcript.
So if she got her math book done, half of her history books done and built a dog house, I would look at the hours, figure it out and give her credits accordingly.
In this example, she would get one math credit, ½ history credit.
I would also give ¼-1/2 math credit and ½ science credit for the dog house depending on how much time she spent on it, which we would know from her tracker.
That is really how simple it is!
So what about the actual grades?
Even on homeschool high school transcripts, you need to give a grade. Even if you don’t want to, or don’t think grades are necessary, they will need them for their transcripts.
Here’s how I do it.
Again, check with your state, but in my lenient state, we have quite a bit of freedom.
What I prefer to do, is to check mastery on subjects by talking to my children and seeing what they are retaining, how they are incorporating it and applying it to their lives. If they can have a robust discussion on WW2 and whether they agree or disagree with situations surrounding it, then they will get an A for history from me.
You can also test them, have them write papers, and the like. There are curricula that does this for you, even down to the credits.
Whether you test or not, is completely up to you but it is a simple way to get grades for your child.
I have done some research on this in the past and found that 80% correct is considered mastery of a topic, so I use 80% as my guide.
(Disclaimer: I did my own research on this probably 15 years ago. However, the link I provided is a newer source, but is still stating the 80% mastery rule. I just wanted to clear up any confusion.)
If my child gets 79% or lower, they retake the test.
If they get 80% or higher, they pass it.
It would technically be a B, but you can also decide this. If they get an 80% on the WW2 test, but can narrate to you every detail of every battle, then why not give them the A?
Some kids just can’t do tests and that’s OK. I had one with severe test anxiety.
Life isn’t about testing, and I would rather my kids be able to discuss their thoughts, either in writing or verbally, than to be able to pass tests. But again, those are my opinions and you have to do what’s right for your child and your family.
What about the Act or sat?
In my Facebook group, I go live every week answering the group’s questions. One of the ladies in there had a question about high school, so I spent some time talking about different aspects of it.
There was a little bit of time where I talked about my experience with the importance of the ACT vs transcripts.
Watch this short clip for more info!
(Also, sorry about the bad quality. I recorded this one on my computer for the first time and didn’t know it was looking like this.)
This post was jam packed!
I know I threw a ton of information at you, but I hope it was helpful.
I am excited for you to start on this high school adventure. You will not regret spending more time with your kids, even as teenagers.
The high school years can be some of the best years spent with your children and they are definitely a very precious time.
Don’t forget I offer mentoring for homeschooling moms and can also help you with your exact situation, if you need some more help and guidance.
I am have it closed right now, but am going to open it back up after the holidays. You can go here, to get on the wait list and be the first to know about the details!
Thank you for being here and please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you!
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