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Homeschooling Your High Schooler
Last Revised: March 10, 2009
What about homeschooling through high school?
Where do I get the transcript and diploma?

Short Answer
Each state sets its own requirements for high school graduation. These may include specific subjects and a set number of credits. Credits tell you how much work is expected in the course and the number of hours spent studying the subject. There are different systems for counting credits, so be sure you are using whatever system your state requires.

Many families homeschool through high school. It can be done. Much of the curriculum for high-school-aged homeschoolers is designed to be self-taught with parental guidance and interaction. The key is to choose a curriculum that is substantial enough to meet your state’s high school standards/credits and your child’s future plans.

Your state’s requirements provide the “boundaries” for your high school program. What your child needs to graduate may not be what is needed for college or vocational training. So it’s a good idea to find out what your student will need and then work backwards from there. Finally, consider your child’s interests and talents. You will want to develop these through the elective courses.

  • What a student needs to graduate depends on each state’s requirements and standards. This information should be included when you research your state’s homeschooling requirements.
  • Each state also specifies the number of credits involved, how those credits are determined (such as one year’s work equals one credit), and how those credits are spread across the core subjects. The number of credits for each year is also set by the state’s homeschool regulations.
  • If you live in a state that does not list specific requirements, then you as the parent determine what is necessary for graduation. The number of credits required for graduation varies from state to state, even school district to school district. Typically, the numbers range from 18 to 28 credits (using the Carnegie system of one credit per year). How these credits are distributed across the subjects also varies.
  • There are two basic approaches: college prep work and non-college or vocational training programs. Most colleges require 4 years of Science, 4 years of Math, 4 years of History/Social Studies, and 4 years of English. Two to three additional electives are expected per year. These often include 1-3 years of a foreign language, music, art, or computer technology. Non-college programs require fewer credits for each of the core subjects and allow for more electives.
  • The state’s graduation requirements may not be what your student needs to get into a specific college or apprenticeship program. Since entrance requirements for advanced education and training vary from program to program, a good approach is to take the entrance requirements needed for the college, major, or vocational training of choice and work “backwards” to ensure that all subjects are covered in a logical sequence.
Unless your state mandates otherwise, the parent generates the student’s transcript and issues the diploma. The diploma is a sheet of paper that simply means your child has completed the necessary courses to graduate. When a potential employer or college asks if your child has a diploma, usually they do not need to see the diploma itself. What they are really asking is if the student has completed high school. You can go to your l ocal office supply store and get a blank certificate that can be filled in as a diploma. Or you can find diploma forms online that you complete for your homeschool. The parent signs the diploma as the “principal.”

In reality, the transcript is more important than the diploma. If your child attends a college or vocational training institute, a transcript will be required. It will be compared to any entrance exams taken to ensure that the two are consistent. Now that homeschooling has become so widespread, most colleges have some sort of procedure for admitting homeschoolers.

For high school students, the parents complete the transcript. The transcript is a listing of the courses the student took, the number of credits possible and the number earned, plus the grade achieved. There are resources and software available that can help you generate the transcript. Or you can simply design your own.

High School Curriculum
Once students are in high school, they should be able to pretty much teach themselves. In fact, the vast majority of high school curriculum is already designed to be self-taught. There are even math and science programs developed specifically for homeschoolers with additional helps and extensive guides to enable students to learn on their own. Labs are included that can be done in the home setting. Supplemental video programs provide extra support for upper level math.

There are also a variety of ways you can get high school credit. Because homeschooling has become so widespread, you may be able to find a co-op or enrichment classes for some of the courses, especially science and foreign language. These are courses offered by a group of homeschoolers who come together to pool resources and expertise. In some cases, they hire a special instructor. Many community colleges allow dual enrollment, where the student takes a course on campus for both high school and college credit. Your state or local homeschool support group may have a listing of these programs.

And this is just the beginning. There are many helpful materials available for homeschooling through high school that include teaching tips, alternative classes, information on applying to colleges, maintaining a transcript, and building a high school plan. Be sure to check out our product reviews for some of these resources. It can be done!

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