As your child nears high school age, it’s common to feel a little nervous about those last four years of schooling. You aren’t the first to wonder about homeschooling high school, transcripts, and graduation. Will you mess them up? Will they be able to graduate? Go to college? Get a job?
Dear moms and dads, relax! You have everything it takes to send a graduate into the world. If I can do it, you can do it!
I’ve written a post on planning high school. This is a great place to start if you see high school staring you in the face. It’s really not scary at all. It’s a great time to sit down with your teen and have a heart-to-heart talk about their future.
If your child is on a path to college, they will need a trasnscript. Keeping a transcript is not rocket science. It starts with keeping records. Each semester, jot down what your teen is studying. Write down the name of the course, the number of credits received, and the final grade earned. You can easily keep a document in your computer that you add to over time, or in a simple spiral notebook.
To figure high school credits, determine how much time was spent on a course. 60 hours or about one semester equals a 1/2 credit. 120+ hours, or about a school-year (two semesters) equals 1 full credit.
I don’t keep track of hours spent. As a homeschooler in a pretty free state (Texas) I make the final decision on this question. So I will assess the work done in any given course and determine the credit earned. If a course didn’t take exactly 120 hours, I’m not going to assign another 15 hours of busy work to meet an arbitrary goal; my kids are individuals, and I treat them as such. Depending on your state, you make the call.
By the end of the 10th grade year, I’ve started an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of credits earned. For each “school year” I enter the courses taken and their grades. This includes classes taken at co-ops and other opportunities outside the home.
If you’d like some step-by-step instructions for creating a transcript in Excel, watch this YouTube video. There’s a good (free) template to help you get started at Walking by the Way. There’s even more great info at TheHomeschoolMom.com
If your child is not college-bound, you don’t need a transcript. However, it doesn’t hurt to keep one just in case they change their mind. If you want to keep records without an official transcript, you can create a portfolio of their school years for preserving memories.
How do you know when your teen is ready to graduate? You know you need a certain number of credits, but what will you choose? This will depend on your state, as well as your child’s future plans. (See the highschool planning course I referenced above.)
You can begin with a chart like this one at LetsHomeschoolHighschool.com to determine your state’s requirements. However, in Texas for example, the state doesn’t have actual requirements, only suggested credits (yep, even for public school!). So talk to homeschoolers in your state for further clarification.
If your child has college plans, you will definitely need to plan for their admissions requirements. Contact several colleges of choice to find out their requirements for incoming freshmen and create a plan based on that.
Again, if they are not college-bound, and depending on your state homeschool law, graduation requirements are up to the parent. I have really ejoyed tailoring this to my children. My goal is well-rounded, mature, adult, Christians, so I design their high school based on that.
First-time homeschoolers often worry themselves sick over graduation. But guys, it’s basically a celebration, a party, or a public declaration that we did it.
This is a time to have fun and be creative! Homeschool graduations come in many forms, from a simple family get-together to a formal ceremony with lots of other teens.
In our local area, each year the parents of seniors get together to plan a custom graduation ceremony with caps and gowns, diplomas, music. Every year it looks different because it’s tailored to the families involved.
Other homeschoolers will have a family party or a ceremony at their church with a photo slideshow and a cookout.
We’ve ordered everything we needed from HomeschoolDiploma.com.
Gradution ceremonies do not get kids a job or into college; it’s the knowledge and abilities they have (and sometimes the transcript to prove it). Relax and have fun with graduation. Don’t get caught up in thinking it’s going to make or break your child.
What I really want to convey with this post is that moms and dads need to assess their priorities. What are your goals for homeschooling? What is the desired outcome?
If it’s a college student, then follow the advice above. But if it’s a well-educated, mature adult who desires to live as “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom [they] shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15), there’s so much more to think about.
Yes, teach the basics. Keep track of high school credits. But don’t be a slave to them! Teach them how to read well, how to think critically and logically, how to communicate effectively, and how to be independent. Basically, look at what’s wrong with our world today and ask yourself, “How can we prepre our children to be different?”
The high school transcript is helpful and often necessary. Graduation is a celebration of completion. Put each one in its proper place, which should be second to shaping the hearts and souls of a generation of world-changers. I talk about how that’s done in my post High School is Actually the Best Part of Homeschooling.
See my related blog posts on topics mentioned above: