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[Book Excerpt] Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child

~ A word from our founder, The HomeScholar Emeritus, Lee Binz ~

This is a chapter from my book, Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child: Help Your Homeschool Graduate Stand Out from the Crowd. You can purchase a copy in print or Kindle version on Amazon.

Chapter 1

Course Grading

The first key concept you need to know is how to give a quick grading estimate. An A or 4.0 earned in a course can mean that your child works to mastery in your homeschool and has met your high expectations, your child has high standardized test scores (e.g. an 80 or 90 percent on the Iowa Basic standardized test), or your child loves the subject (a good reason to give an A).

A grade of B or 3.0 means your child did well but their work wasn't worth an A. A grade of C or 2.0 is when your child does not do well. I often say that a grade of C is when their work is stinky but they kept progressing to the next level. You know your student has passed when they keep going on to the next level in a course.

When we homeschooled, only half our classes involved tests for evaluation and the rest involved quick estimates, yet colleges loved our transcripts and records. You can go through all sorts of contortions if you want to, but it's not important, especially not when colleges only perform a quick review of your child's transcript. My son once told me that my grades were bogus because I used my quick grading estimate. However, in college he found out I was a tough grader compared to his college professors!

Bad Grades

Sometimes children earn bad grades or completely bomb a class in school. If they're in a public or private school, they usually don't have another chance to learn the material to improve their grade and it goes on their transcript. Your child's homeschool transcript only needs to include your student's successes, not their failures.

I often don't tell people that one of my children flunked "Algebra 1" the first time he studied it in high school. When he took "Algebra 1" again, he earned an A. His transcript shows he received an A in "Algebra 1" but not that he failed the first time. I only gave him a grade for the final homeschool class, which he excelled in.

If your student completely bombs a class in a public or private school, you could get them to repeat the class, or take it again at home. You could also provide test scores instead. For instance, if your child fails a biology class, give them an SAT Subject Test in biology and provide the test score instead of the failed class score.

It can be helpful to include an explanation of such situations in a cover letter. The cover letter is usually included with the transcript. If your child has bad grades, a cover letter is your opportunity to explain the situation. You may need to explain that your child was bullied in school, suffered consequences, and you removed them from the violent situation and began homeschooling. Or you may need to explain major medical or emotional problems. You can mention that when they started homeschooling, your student developed a love of learning.

Flunking School

Of course, sometimes there are bad years instead of merely bad grades and your child is flunking school completely. I see this when a client is withdrawing their child from public school. A cover letter can be helpful to explain exactly what happened: why you decided to withdraw them, the benefits you experienced, and the problems at school.

Sometimes a student performs poorly because they don't care and weren't challenged enough. Your child can repeat classes, or you can replace these classes. Even better, as a homeschooler you can modify your curriculum or use a different curriculum that fits your child's learning style.

Sometimes, when a child comes out of a difficult public or private school environment, they need some time to decompress. If this is what your child is going through, I recommend reading the book, Deschooling Gently. Not all children need this time — sometimes children haven't been academically challenged and do better when you challenge them right away. But for other children who experienced difficulty, a time to decompress can be a good idea.

If a student is flunking out of public or private school, it is not necessary to include those classes on their homeschool transcript. You can instead let the school transcript speak for itself. Normally, I suggest placing all school classes on the homeschool transcript because it is the clearinghouse for all a child's educational activities. However, if you experience an entire flunked school year or two, sometimes it's better not to include these grades on the homeschool transcript to bring into sharp contrast the differences between the two school environments. In general, if they make your child seem smarter, include non-homeschool classes on your homeschool transcript but if they do not make your child look smarter, let the public or private school transcript speak for itself.

If your child has flunked out of school, you do need to send the public or private school transcript to each college upon application, which is why the cover letter can be so helpful. But this doesn't mean you must automatically put it on the homeschool transcript. If your child repeated the class, course descriptions are strongly encouraged because colleges will want to know what you used for the class and whether you did a thorough job teaching your child.

You might also want to consider additional testing. If your child flunked, show that they have a high school amount of material before moving on. Colleges may ask for work in the student's handwriting. If they flunk math and you re-taught math, the math section of the SAT or ACT can demonstrate competence, but a college may still ask for a math paper in the student's own handwriting.

Straight "A" Students

At the other end of the spectrum are the straight A students. Many parents feel uncomfortable giving their own children straight A's but I've seen colleges ask parents to raise their child's transcript grades, so they match the test scores. If your child is earning high test scores, make sure you give them good grades.

It's okay for a homeschooler to earn straight A's. Many homeschoolers work to mastery, and mastery often means straight A's, so many parents award straight A's on their children's transcripts. Give your child marks that reflect their work.

Colleges like to see straight A kids, because a college's business is evaluated based on the grade point average of students they get to attend their college. If the grades are honest and true, colleges prefer that you have a straight A student rather than giving them a bunch of B's to make them look normal. I encourage you to be honest and true and award straight A's if your child is a straight A student.

Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child is one of my Coffee Break Books. What are Coffee Break Books? These are books designed for YOU - a busy homeschool parent feeling frustrated by something, and needing information NOW - all put together in an easy-to-read, short, simple format. Coffee Break Books are perfect for overwhelmed, sleep-deprived moms with a baby on their hip. Simple, large font makes them easy to read even when distracted or pulled in a million directions. They are designed to help parents tackle just ONE issue of homeschooling during just ONE coffee break! Each book combines a practical and friendly approach with detailed, easy-to-digest information. Never overwhelming, always accessible and manageable, each book in the series will give you the tools you need to tackle the tasks of homeschooling high school, one warm sip at a time.

Learn more about Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child in my video review below!

This is a chapter from my book, Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child: Help Your Homeschool Graduate Stand Out from the Crowd. You can purchase a copy in print or Kindle version on Amazon.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2024

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