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High School--Simplified, Part 1

I have a friend whose oldest child is wrapping up their junior year of homeschooling. This friend is feeling the pressure because next year is her daughter's dreaded SENIOR YEAR (say it like it's terrifying!).


Oh, that infamous senior year. It can spark fear in the hearts of the most courageous homeschool parents. Well, let me rephrase that. The words "high school" can do that as well. Some people hold it together just fine until that finish line comes into view, and suddenly, we start doubting everything we ever knew or believed about home education.


  • What about college?

  • How do I make a transcript?

  • When do we start _____________? (visiting colleges, preparing for the SAT, etc.)

  • Oh my word, we need senior pictures!

  • This is the last time they will ____________

  • Have I taught them enough?

  • Do they have enough credits to graduate?

  • Oh no! What about community service?

  • Where do I get a diploma? What about a graduation ceremony?


The list goes on and on. The doubts hit you in the middle of the night as you wake up and realize you aren't 100% sure what you are doing. You are both careening head-first downhill toward a goal that used to seem a lifetime away. Maybe you aren't even certain you WANT to homeschool high school. I help erase some common doubts about it all here.



Well, I'm here to help. I'm going to make this as simple as I can for you. Today, let's talk about classes/courses and credits. Is your child starting high school soon? Take notes. Are you in the thick of it? Read on and assess what you have already done and what is left to do.


If your state laws have not required any record-keeping up until this point, you will need to start keeping records in high school. You can check your state homeschool laws here. What kind of records, you ask? Well, of course, you should begin with what is required by law in your state. Other than that, you will want to write down what classes they have completed for high school credit and what their final grade in that class was. I also like to write down what curriculum we used because sometimes that jogs my memory about what class we are talking about here. I know it doesn't seem possible, but over a span of four years, YOU WILL FORGET THAT YOU EVER DID SOME OF THESE CLASSES. Ask me how I know.


So you can write:


World History (Notgrass Exploring World History) A Fall 2022

Algebra 1 (Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1) B Spring 2023


Just like that. Keep a running list each year of what your child did and the final grade. You will need all that to make the transcript. I've also seen a tip where you snap a photo of the curricula at the beginning of the year. Great idea!


I'll go ahead and address the other questions you may have about this.

  • How do I know they earned a high school credit?

  • How do I figure out their final grades?


Before I answer these questions, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. Everything I know about homeschooling high school comes from experience and from Lee Binz, the HomeScholar. I attended a webinar when my oldest was in 8th grade and learned so much. Her website is FULL of resources, and she has written a ton of books. All of her stuff is so helpful. So yes, read my simplified explanation, but now you know where to go for more info.



Here is the simple answer. Is the curriculum you are using intended for high school? It will say so in the description on the website, in the title, or maybe inside the book's introductory material. If so, that curriculum could earn your child a high school credit, even if they are only in 8th grade.


Now, did they complete or mostly complete the curriculum? Schools rarely finish every single chapter in the book. Do you ever remember completing an entire book in school? Lee Binz said she would consider 80% or more done as good. Now be honest with yourself here. If they truly only did about half the work, that's not earning a high school credit. But neither should you withhold an earned credit just because there were a few lessons left in the book.


Maybe you aren't using a traditional textbook or course. You can also base your decision on hours spent. A full credit would be about 120-180 hours of work, whereas a half-credit would be about 75-90 hours of work. You are the parent, and you know best. But these guidelines really helped me especially when it came to things like P.E. credits and fine arts. I was able to add up all the hours my daughters spent on choir, band, practice, theory class, concerts and performances, etc., and find out that they did earn full credit. I just wrapped all that up into a "Music" credit. Please don't worry about counting hours for all courses, it just isn't necessary. But the guideline is there for you if you have a non-traditional course. For more on hours and credits and half-credits, please visit The HomeScholar. (link at the end)


Grading is pretty straightforward if you are grading their work in each course. But, there are some questions that can come up when there isn't an actual paper to grade. You will need to decide on a grading scale (I used the traditional "anything 90 is an A, anything 80 is a B"...). Once you have all their grades, you will need to average them to find out their final grade. BUT (you knew there would be a caveat), how much will tests count? Projects? Will you even give tests? Will everything be weighted the same? The Homescholar will answer all of these questions and more. Homeschoolers tend to come out with fairly high grades because we simply don't just fail our students. We make them do it again until they know it! That's a good thing, but your final grades need to reflect reality as well.


Once you have all of that recorded each year, making the transcript is a breeze! Honestly, the hardest part for me was formatting it to all fit on one paper. There are plenty of examples online to give you ideas. You can start the transcript after the first semester of 9th grade, but you can't complete it until they complete their senior year.


Now, for help with all of this, visit this link at The HomeScholar and get ready for some great record-keeping!


As always, I am here to help! Just visit the "Contact Me" form on this website.



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