I remember the first time I looked seriously at home schooling into the high school years. I was completely terrified about making the jump from 8th to 9th grade. So, I decided to do what many well prepared home school parents do when they see those high school years approaching–I attended a weekend conference about home schooling through high school.
While the conference was filled with lots of good information on what to do when, and how to leave a good paper trail of my student’s high school work, I left the conference with more questions than I had originally brought. The reason for my questions, though, had little to do with the logistics of how to keep records, document work, or even teach high school level subjects. Rather, throughout the course of the weekend I was boldly faced with the reality that I did not have the ability to prepare my child in the next four years for EVERY future life experience.
“A man’s steps are of the Lord. How then can a man understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24
In turning to God in prayer as I faced planning for the unknown, He was so good to show me I didn’t need to know all the plans He had for my child in order to teach him in the way he should go. Instead, God gently guided me to an understanding that in order to successfully teach my child, I just needed to trust in His ability to provide the resources, materials, and people that would perfectly complete my son’s education and prepare him for the road that He alone knew was ahead for this child’s future.
Ultimately, in God’s eyes, diligent home schooling in high school is staying the course while being wise and watching for God’s leading instead of trying to know everything about the path before your student’s 9th grade year. Therefore, the listing of items below are basic milestones for planning, teaching, and documenting the high school home school years.
The best thing to do when you start considering the classes your student will take in high school is to equally weigh where your child thinks he will be headed after he graduates (which is not something most kids have together during their 8th grade year) with what you as his parents feel are concepts and lessons he should master before you consider him ready to graduate from your school.
Additionally, it is good to remember that each student enters high school level classes with strengths in certain areas and deficits in others. There are many ways to approach teaching a child who excels or struggles, and here is where discernment and seeking where God is at work in your child’s life is very helpful. There is no perfect high school plan for every child. One student will do best if classes focus around his or her gift; another will excel doing a college preparatory curriculum that has an even focus across all subjects; and yet another will find the most success from applying everything learned to life skills and training for a trade. Even within these three very different approaches to home schooling high school, there are ways to incorporate two or all three of them together. The options are limitless when you think outside the box and really seek to plan your student’s school as it best fits your student.
Teaching Your Own Courses for High School
Curriculum available to teach high school classes at home abound. While none are perfect, some suit children with particular learning styles better than others. By this point in your home schooling career, if you have taught your child for at least a few years, you will have a pretty good idea what will best fit your child’s learning needs while challenging and teaching subjects and lessons you feel should be included in his or her high school years.
Although most home school high school curriculums specifically state if they are high school level courses and whether the classes are considered full credit or half credit, here are some general guidelines to using materials that are not specifically labeled as such:
120 – 180 hours = 1 credit, and 60 – 90 total hours = ½ credit; core classes usually meet the higher hour limits, and electives keep within the mid to lower of those number ranges.
In general though, a high school student will earn 6 to 8 credits in a year, which allows for the basic subjects of math, English, and good citizenship, and a good amount of electives.
Using a Mixture of Home, Outside Source, and Dual Credit Courses for High School
Some parents also choose the option to have their child take a mix of courses at home, at a co-op, and/or as a dual credit student at a college or university. The key to making this mixture of courses successful is to use external programs to build upon the courses you decide to teach in your home school. Oftentimes, parents who feel incompetent in teaching specific subjects or know their child will benefit from the instruction of someone other than themselves, will look for an outside sourced class to cover those subjects.
The biggest thing parents need to remember when looking for outside instruction for their student is that they, as the parents, are ultimately responsible for the instruction provided by these other teachers. Therefore before you enroll your child in any class outside of your home, make sure to do your homework and get a syllabus from the teacher. Ask her how the class will be taught and how your student’s work will be graded. This way when it comes to adding your child’s class information to a transcript you will do so assured that your child received instruction to back up that transcript.
Using an Umbrella School for High School
An umbrella school is usually considered a school that covers the entire high school program for a student. At the completion of the program, the student then receives a diploma from this school, instead of your home school, for his or her high school work.
THSC would like to caution the Texas home school community that not all umbrella school programs are created equal. The sad fact is that some umbrella schools operate in a fraudulent manner as diploma mills that essentially do not provide adequate instruction to back up their diplomas. Therefore, if you are looking at using an umbrella school for your child’s high school, THSC would urge you to contact the attorney general’s office to see if your school choice is currently under investigation. Again, just as in using co-ops or other teaching sources outside your home school, you, the parent, are responsible for discerning whether your children are receiving adequate instruction when they are being taught by someone other than yourself.
Transcripts, in general, should show the summary of a high school student’s career on one page and should include the following information:
- Your school information
- Your student information
- Classes taken each year of high school
- Credits earned for each classes
- Grade earned for each class
- A signifier (like an asterisk *) if a class was taken outside your home school, as well as the place of instruction for the outside class
- A yearly GPA
- A cumulative GPA
THSC has a transcript template to make generating a transcript easier for our members. All our members need to do is enter the information listed above, and the template will compute the GPA for you and provide all of the information in a layout that is very simple to read and understand.
One additional note that parents should be made aware of: if your child is taking dual credit classes, then how those classes should be recorded on a transcript should follow the guidelines your student’s dual credit learning institution prescribes.
Finally, making sure that you keep up your student’s transcript and that you finish it completely, is very important. Often times when prospective college students are having trouble with college admissions or financial aid, it is because their home school transcripts were not completely updated to reflect all their classes, grades, and/or GPA.
As a type of private school in Texas, home schools have the legal right to present their own diplomas upon their student’s graduation. THSC makes this process even easier for our members by supplying a diploma template. Although a diploma may be the piece of paper that signifies that your student has graduated from your home school, the paper with more weight when it comes to showing your student’s graduation status is the transcript. Finally, both of these critical documents should be kept in a safe and easily accessible place, both in the home of the home schooling parent and in the possession of the graduating student.
Diligence to the end
In the beginning of this series of blogs on diligence, I stated that “Being diligent in the planning process and keeping to a well thought-out plan, no matter how many times you need to tweak it in between, you will never end your home schooling years asking yourself if you did enough. You will know for certain you did all you could do, and you handled your responsibility in a worthy manner.”
It is the goal of THSC to equip your family to get to the end of your home schooling years knowing you did your absolute best to prepare your children for their future. We will keep on fighting to make sure you have the right to home school in Texas as we diligently do our best to continue to seek out the road God has set before us–one that has us fighting for your parental rights in Texas and your freedom to raise your child “in the way they should go” without having to worry about your freedom to do so.
Are you already a member? If so, access your transcript and diploma templates today; if not, join today and get access! As a THSC member, you receive many benefits in addition to supporting Keeping Texas Families Free.
Home Schooling with Diligence Series by Peggy Ployhar
Part 1: Home Schooling with Diligence
Part 2: Resources for Home School Planning with Diligence
Part 3: How to Measure Success for Your Students
Part 4: How to Successfully Home School through High School