Are you anxious about homeschooling high school? Maybe you’re already doing it but you have no earthly idea how to keep up with the grading or record keeping.
I’m a seasoned homeschool mom of four, having graduated my two oldest daughters and continuing to homeschool my younger two. Like many, I was intimidated by the thought of homeschooling high school, especially those dreaded transcripts.
Thankfully, before I had a high schooler, I found a few seasoned homeschool moms who were sharing their experiences and what worked for them. Their advice and counsel took the fear out of homeschooling high school and so I want to share with you some of what I’ve learned along the way and how I’ve made it work for me.
To begin with, you should know the laws in your state which you can find through HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association). I’m in Maryland so I’m required to be under the review of my county or of a school umbrella, which can be run by a church.
I’ve always chosen to be under an umbrella; however, early on I learned what my county requires and sometimes I incorporate their requirements into my own. My umbrella provides guidelines for graduation, listing which subjects are required and how many credits each student needs to earn in order to graduate. We’re also provided with a downloadable template for their high school transcript which lists the student’s information, classes completed for each year of high school and the grades earned.
If you don’t have access to these resources you can check with (HSLDA) or search online for a transcript template. I recommend having this ready before you begin.
When my oldest daughter was in the 7th grade, I typed up a list of course options, how many total credits needed to graduate as well as specific types of classes they could choose from for each subject.
See the examples below.
I’m happy to share my forms for your personal use, please do not use these in any other way. I created this course options list for my 3 daughters so the courses are geared towards them. I’m making available an editable version for you so that you can make it work for your own family.
Click Here for a printable version you can edit. High School Course Options
Before my children ever began high school, I sat down with them, much the way a school counselor would, and we discussed what they were interested in, their goals, their hobbies, and what careers they might do well in and then we mapped out courses for their four-year high school career. This, of course, was just a guideline and was open to change.
Because of what I learned from other homeschoolers, I chose to lead my children in such a way that would allow for them to go to college if they wanted to. That meant they followed a course curriculum which offered courses that most colleges would want for them to have.
My older girls were sidelined by chronic Lyme disease during their high school years but with the help and guidance of HSLDA we were still able to meet their requirements using curriculum that met their specific needs. HSLDA can give counsel for how to homeschool a chronically ill child or one with special needs.
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Paperwork & Portfolios
To keep my High School Records organized I purchased these Home School Cumulative Record folders. (If you can’t find them at the link provided check Christian Book Distributors or Rainbow Resource)
I really like these folders; I can write down their classes and grades for each year from Kindergarten through 12th grade and I keep all of their important paperwork, report cards, and awards tucked neatly inside.
I purchased a bankers box for each of my children when they began high school.
On the outside, I labeled the box with their name and the years they would be in high school. As my child completed assignments I chose the very best work from each subject. I might include research papers, a few Math tests, Science labs, exams reading lists, and Christian service hours. Don’t forget a list of extracurricular activities.
Each year we could easily gather items for our year-end review but most importantly, this box made their best work accessible if they ever needed to take a portfolio to a college interview.
My umbrella doesn’t require grades except for when I submit a high school transcript, however, my daughters preferred that I give them grades. Not only did their grades provide accountability but it also made them feel like they were working toward a goal.
With 4 children and chronic illness, I never graded every single assignment. My children are with me all day, every day. I’m intimately involved in the work they’re doing, so for most subjects, I knew what grade they were earning without grading every assignment, with the exception of Math. I’m the homeschool mom that allowed my high schooler to grade their own Math so that they could immediately see how they were doing and fix the problem.
Another helpful thing I did for our homeschool was to plan ahead of each school year using a form that listed each subject’s requirements for the year. This form listed what I expected for them to complete during the year and what they needed to do in order to earn an A, B or C.
I took this idea from a resource I recommend, especially if you’re an eclectic homeschooler like I am, Barb Edtl Shelton’s book Senior High: A Home Designed Form-U-La.
This resource is chocked full of amazing information for homeschooling high school. Barb includes stories and examples from her family as well as from many other homeschoolers. My favorite part of the book is the many forms and examples she includes.
I recreated one of Barb’s forms for my personal use because I couldn’t find a downloadable version and I wanted to be able to type in my own requirements. I’ll share this with you for your personal use only.
Click here for a printable version: High School Credit Check List
The forms are laid out so that the student would check-off their completed hours at the bottom of the form unless their course was a curriculum that was already laid out for them and then they were not required to keep track of hours. In this case, I would type in exactly what was required of them including tests or a reading list.
Understanding exactly what was expected helped all of us to stay on track and allowed my children the freedom to choose how they approached their schedule. This also helped me to grade each subject more easily and prevented any disagreement about what I might have said in the beginning of the year.
High School Transcript
Having a system laid out makes it much easier to complete a transcript. I liked to download a transcript from my umbrella at the beginning of each child’s high school career and at the beginning of each school year, I typed in each subject and the credit that they’ll be earning. Doing this makes it much easier at the end of the year to finalize my paperwork. All I need to do is type in the grades for each subject, print it off, sign it and mail it in.
Even if you’re not required to submit a year-end transcript, I highly recommend getting into this habit so that you’re not spending a lot of time right before graduation trying to remember what courses your child took each year and what grades they earned.
My umbrella sends back a nicely printed transcript including the student’s earned GPA. This gives the student satisfaction in work well done or encouragement to do better the following year. Again, this is something you can easily create and calculate using resources found online.
However you choose to keep records for high school, I highly recommend that you begin as soon as possible to put systems in place that will help you keep the most accurate records for your high schooler.
Even if your child doesn’t plan to attend college, they may change their mind a few years after high school and having their high school box neat and organized will make finding the necessary records a breeze.
Don’t let homeschooling high school scare you. You can continue the same style of homeschooling that you’ve chosen for the elementary and middle school grades. If you want further information on this I highly recommend that you learn from Lee Binz, The HomeScholar and Terri Johnson from Knowledge Quest. Terri has a high school course called Upper Level Homeschool that you can you take online and Lee offers ongoing support through her blog, Facebook, and a Gold Care Member Program.
Homeschooling high school doesn’t have to be hard and it certainly shouldn’t scare you away from continuing to homeschool. Prepare ahead of time and then you can enjoy those years with your high schoolers and finish up strong.