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Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School

Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School

If you are sure your child is doing high school level work in an academic subject area like math, science, or foreign language in middle school, put that on your transcript and earn early high school credits!

Recent Comments
Lee Binz
Yes, absolutely! Just call it "Algebra 1 with Integrated Geometry" and put that under "Early High School Credits" on your transcri... Read More
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 22:12
Lee Binz
Hi Shelly, Thanks for asking that question! When a child is high school age, ALL classes are counted on the transcript. After all,... Read More
Thursday, 02 January 2020 17:10
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Nice Soft Boundaries for Homeschool English

Nice Soft Boundaries for Homeschool English
I'm a big fan of providing nice soft boundaries for homeschool english, rather than hard and fast rules.

One mom was struggling to balance English for her reluctant readers. It can be hard to figure out how much time to spend reading and writing - particularly with struggling readers and writers who may suffer and struggle through the process.  Here are some nice soft boundaries, as you think it through.

In general, think about having 1 hour of writing-type-stuff each day.  That might include writing, worksheets, vocabulary workbooks, writing in a journal, spelling, grammar, and whatever else they might need.  In high school, not all kids continue with the 'skills' portion - if they already spell reasonably well, it's often dropped, for example.  As they get more skilled, then homeschool english becomes more about writing.

Having your student read for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour per day is what I recommend.  It doesn't matter how many books they read - 6 to 60 per year is a nice soft boundary.  Don't worry about "literary analysis" just focus on reading for enjoyment. Try to choose books that are "classics" but not long or hard to read. Mix in some popular literature that other teens enjoy; Hunger Games is popular right now, for example (I haven't read it myself, I only know it can encourage reluctant readers because it's so popular.)  Have you seen my suggestions for reluctant readers?

Reluctant Readers

For reluctant readers, focus on very short classic books.  There are many great literary works that are remarkably short.  Consider reading aloud the first chapter, to get them started with the story and pronunciation of character names.

Crane, Stephen     The Red Badge of Courage (Instead of War and Peace)
The story of Henry Fleming, a teenager who enlists with the Union Army in the hopes of fulfilling his dreams of glory

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor    The Gambler
At a casino in Germany, a Russian family awaits news that a wealthy relative has died, but to their dismay, she arrives and begins gambling away their inheritance at an alarming rate. As fortunes are squandered and gained, lives are increasingly tied to the fickle rules of chance.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel     The Scarlet Letter   (Instead of Sense and Sensibility)
Set in Puritan Boston, tells the story of a woman who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of dignity and repentance.

Hemingway, Ernest    Old Man and the Sea (Instead of Moby Dick)
The exciting story of an old Cuban fisherman and his supreme ordeal: a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.

London, Jack     Call of the Wild 
Set in Yukon Territory during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush, a domesticated dog is snatched and sold into a brutal life as a sled dog, where he struggles to survive.

Melville, Herman    Billy Budd (Instead of Moby Dick)
The story of an innocent young man unable to defend himself against a wrongful accusation.

Shelley, Mary     Frankenstein 
Frankenstein is a young man fascinated by science and attempts to unlock the secrets of life and death.

Steinbeck, John    Of Mice and Men
In Depression-era California, two migrant workers dream of better days on a spread of their own, until an act of unintentional violence leads to tragic consequences.

Steinbeck, John    The Pearl
A young, strong, and poor Mexican-Indian pearl diver must find a way to pay the town doctor to cure his son. Then he discovers an enormous pearl the size of a seagull's egg when out diving.


I used a non-textbook literature approach in my own homeschool. If you are using that approach too, I have a few tips for helping reluctant readers.

1. Use books on tape when possible - they don't have to "read" everything to read everything.
2. Read the first 3 chapters of each book aloud to them, so they get caught up in the story before reading independently
3. Allow books below their reading level, so they increase their speed and fluency and enjoy it more
4. Watch your expectations - do not give a reluctant reader a book that will make them MORE relucant: Shakespeare, Homer, Moby Dick, etc.

For more help with English, consider picking up my Coffee Break Book, Easy English for Simple Homeschooling: How to Teach, Assess, and Document High School English, for a short read.

I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any tips for homeschool english or high school reading!

  1450 Hits

Teen Tips for College and Career Success

Teen Tips for College and Career Success
 First, a simple question (that reveals one of the great truths about human behavior), have you ever changed your mind about what you want to do in your life? Yes! Of course you have. We all have at one time or another! Join me in this homeschoo...
  176 Hits

January Gold Care Club Update

January Gold Care Club Update
New for this month in the Gold Care Club ... How-to Training Courses Quick Start : Homeschool High School Excellence Beginner : Preparing to Homeschool High School - Live Convention Part 1/3 Intermediate : Making the Grades Advanced : Making a T...
  250 Hits

Homeschool High School: Teaching Health

Homeschool High School: Teaching Health
Homeschool health requirements vary by state.  Check your state homeschool law, and see what your state may require for health.

Unless your state requires it, you don’t have to teach Health every year of high school. Some states want Health to be a requirement for graduation, but colleges generally don’t care about it much. Some colleges want to see students who take health as a separate course, while others assume it is included in Physical Education (PE) classes. More often, colleges don’t mention it as a requirement at all.

  1449 Hits

Why I Do Not Recommend Weighting Grades

Why I Do Not Recommend Weighting Grades
I don't recommend weighting grades. It makes it harder for colleges, and colleges tend to like you more if you make their job easier.  Here is the problem, every high school has a different policy on weighting grades.

For an "Honors" or AP class, some high schools will add 1.0 to the grade - so the highest grade possible is a 5.0 instead of a 4.0.  Some high schools will increase the grade by 0.5, so honors classes can earn a 4.5 grade. To further complicate things, some high schools will change the credit value. An honors class might be worth 2.0 credits, or 1.5 credits, instead of a 1.0 credit like normal. There are so many variation possibilities, and colleges need to compare students from different schools and school districts. For that reason, the first thing they do is to un-weight any weighted grades. Colleges have asked me to tell parents not to weight grades, and so I don't recommend weighting grades unless your first choice college prefers grades that way. High schools weight grades so their student population looks smarter, and more college ready. It sounds great in their marketing materials to say their average GPA at school is 3.2, when you don't have to mention how many kids earned a 5.0 grades. High schools do it for marketing purposes, but it's not helpful for colleges.

However, public schools do weight grades sometimes, and each school or school district can have their own grading policy.  As a homeschooler, you can decide on your own school policy on weighting grades. Look over these options and decide for yourself.

Here are the easiest ways I have seen for weighting grades for honors or AP classes:

  • Credit: double the credit value of the class to 2.0

  • Credit: increase the credit value of the class to 1.5

  • Grade: add 1.0 to your final grade

  • Grade: add 0.5 to your final grade

Recent Comments
Wow, that is complicated. Thank you for this article, I am grading standard grades; not weighted.
Thursday, 29 August 2019 18:17
That's really smart! You are making it much easier for yourself and for prospective colleges. Well done! Robin Assistant to The ... Read More
Thursday, 29 August 2019 19:26
  5361 Hits

January Homeschool Calendar Reminders

January Homeschool Calendar Reminders
It's a new year! Here are some handy January homeschool calendar reminders for you!     Middle School:  Avoid panic! Spend some time this month learning how to homeschool high school. Then next year you'll begin high school feelin...
  444 Hits

9 Tips to Earn More Scholarships

9 Tips to Earn More Scholarships
It's tempting to think that our goal is to get our children in to college. No, no! Our goal is that our children can get in AND afford to go to college. Getting admitted is only part of the problem! Here ideas to help you get more scholarship money o...
  3724 Hits

College Application Lexicon

College Application Lexicon

College application has it's own unique vocabulary.  As you look toward college admission, you'll notice you have many different choices on how to apply.  Here are the NACAC definitions of terms for different kinds of application plans.  If you need a primer on what "application" means, this blog post is for you.

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[Free eBook] How to Motivate Homeschool Teens

[Free eBook] How to Motivate Homeschool Teens
It can happen overnight. One day your child is pleasant, cooperative, and enthusiastic about learning; the next day, they aren't. This can happen with girls or boys; sometimes it happens at a certain age. Don't feel as if you've done something wrong,...
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How to Write a Cover Letter for Your Transcript

How to Write a Cover Letter for Your Transcript

Usually a cover letter is a simple introduction provided when sending homeschool records. It might introduce the student, explain the records, describe major issues or anything unusual. The cover letter should always highlight the positives, and put a positive spin on anything encountered.

Cover Letters Explain Craziness
While many parents have nothing important to say in a cover letter, some homeschool parents must address an unusual situation. In a calm and poised manner, use the cover letter to use advantage. Let me give you 6 common crazies that you might explain.
1. Horrible Grades
When you remove a child from school, and begin to homeschool, you may need to explain why the grades suddenly changed. Use a cover letter to explain why your child had failing grades, why you began homeschooling, and why the student is successful now. It's helpful to explain it positively, perhaps explaining the child was not being challenged or was not engaged in learning. 2. Crazy Credits
Sometimes a student has a huge number of credits that needs to be explained. You can describe how you homeschool year-round, permit summer school credits, and allow delight directed learning after hours. With too few credits, you can explain a change of heart that has provided the student with the drive needed to succeed with a full credit load in the future. 3. Gifted and Advanced
Use a cover letter to explain unusual situations you might face, like early exposure to advanced classes, extended use of dual enrollment, or excessive credits. Explain that your homeschool provides unlimited class options, not limited by the interests of the teachers. Also, explain that you allowed early high school credits to be earned in middle school. 4. Classes Outside the Home
A cover letter can be used to explain classes taken outside the home, if multiple transcripts are expected with the application. You must submit all high school transcripts from all schools, but you can use the cover letter to turn it into a "good news story." 5. Medical or Emotional Problems
When facing a crisis at home, always be honest with grades and credits you assign. While it's not always helpful or appropriate to explain these situations, sometimes is can be. You may be able to look forward to improvements.6. Super-Senior Year

When a fifth year of high school is required or beneficial, the reasons can be explained in a cover letter. While it's important to put a positive spin on things, explain that maturity, additional school credits, or health needs have required an additional year of school. If it's applicable, and true, explain that the student was eager for the additional year, to eliminate the concern of over-controlling parents.

Simple Cover Letter Format
A cover letter is helpful when you are sending a transcript or comprehensive homeschool records to a college for admission. Often it is a very simple statement of "enclosed is the transcript." Other times the cover letter for your transcript can be up to one page long, explaining a complicated situation as briefly as possible.
When writing a cover letter, it can be helpful to use a standard, formal cover letter template. Consider this example of a cover letter for your transcript:

November 14, 20XX

Lee Binz
(555) 555-5555
[email protected]

RE: Official High School Transcript

To the Office of Admissions:

Enclosed is an Official High School Transcript, as required of all applicants. In the hopes that it will help in your evaluation of my son Joe, I’ve also included comprehensive homeschool records and a list of honors and leadership experiences.

If I can be of any assistance in clarifying any aspect of his home education, please feel free to call or email me. I did add a few comments to the online application, which should be helpful as well.

Thank you,

Lee Binz

A cover letter might explain why your child took 5 years to graduate, earned straight A's (or didn't), or that you require mastery, or homeschool year-round. Anything you deem important might be explained in a brief cover letter.

A transcript is just the beginning of the college application process. Let me unlock the mysteries of the whole process for you in this free class! Click to register: College Applications Simply Explained
Quick cover letter tips:
  • Don't mention anything that happened before high school.
  • Don't brag but be positive about what happened.
  • Don't talk about yourself or your family, only the student.
Now that you've learned how to write a cover letter for your transcript, what is your biggest concern about college admission? Please share in the comments!


Click to Join my Newsletter!

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Twelve Days of Christmas with IEW

Twelve Days of Christmas with IEW
​One of my favorite writing curriculum resources comes from my friends at IEW. If you aren't familiar with IEW, Institute for Excellence in Writing , you should go check them out! So many great resources that make writing fun to learn and remember! A...
  294 Hits
  1 Comment

Grading Estimate

Grading Estimate
Let me guess.  You didn't use tests on all your homeschool subjects, right?  Neither did I! And yet, somehow, my children survived!


Some homeschoolers think it's tons of fun to go back through four years of high school records and try to find or recreate every possible test, quiz, and assignment.  For me, that doesn't sound like fun.  I was not one of those people.  Plus I've noticed that even when parents do some forensic grading like that, it doesn't really change what they know to be true.  If you are not a tester in your homeschool, look beyond tests, and think of how you have evaluated.

Consider what best reflects your child’s true progress (and learning style!). While a visual learner may test well on paper, a hands-on or auditory learner may be better understood during personal interaction, rather than a paper-and-pencil test. Consider the arts - if you're student is taking piano lessons, you probably won't test, rather have a concert where you evaluate them. Get creative and know your child.

Because not all homeschoolers use tests, I have created a quick grading estimate for homeschool parents.

Grade A or 4.0
Meets high expectations
High standardized test scores
Child love subject

Grade B or 3.0 
Pretty good
Not worth an A
Tempted to do it again

Grade C or 2.0
Not very good
Kept going to the next level

This is one of piece of a Gold Care Club monthly webinar.  They are tons of fun!  I hope some day you'll join me!  You can read more about the Gold Care Club here: The HomeScholar Gold Care Club.

Another feature of the Gold Care Club is the opportunity to ask your biggest questions about homeschooling high school.
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December 2019 Gold Care Club Update

December 2019 Gold Care Club Update
 Here's what's new for this month for the Gold Care Club. Be sure to check your inbox for more details about where to find these resources and what dates will look like for Christmas and New Year's consultation days.  Don't miss out on all ...
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Reach, Fit, and Safety Simplified

Reach, Fit, and Safety Simplified

Finding a college is more than watching where your friends and neighbors’ children go to school. Take your sophomore or junior to a college fair and/or search online for the perfect college match for your student. Once you have some possibilities, visit the college in person. Visiting is the only way to see if it’s a perfect match. Try to whittle down the list to a handful of colleges by the end of junior year. When you visit, ask about their homeschool admission policy. Find out what records they want from you, and any additional testing requirements. When your high school junior is applying for colleges, it's a good idea to look at three different kinds of colleges; REACH, FIT and SAFETY.

By the end of junior year, make a list of four to eight colleges where your child will apply, including both public and private colleges. Choose a mix of reach, fit, and safety universities. A "reach" school has higher average test scores than your child’s, but they meet the college requirements. Be careful, though, because all Ivy League and military academies are reach schools, no matter how high your child’s scores might be. A "fit" college score is about the same as your child’s score, and they meet the college requirements. A "safety" school means your child’s test scores are higher than the college scores, and they exceed the college requirements.

Here is how you do it.

  1. Look at your SAT or ACT score.  If you took the PSAT, you can estimate your SAT score from the results.
  2. Research the colleges you are considering.  Find the colleges average SAT or ACT score.
  3. Compare your score to the college score
  4. Choose some "reach" school.  The college has a higher score than yours, but you meet the college requirements.  All Ivy League and military academies are reach schools, no matter how high your scores might be.
  5. Choose some "fit" schools.  The college score is about the same as your score, and you meet the college requirements.
  6. Choose some "safety" schools.  Your score is higher than the college scores, and you exceed the college requirements.

Applying for reach, fit, and safety colleges can help prevent heartache.  When you apply for a variety of schools, you're almost sure to find a perfect fit that will accept you, and may provide great scholarships.
It's common for children to apply for 4-12 colleges, with a mix of reach, fit, and safety schools.  Although it's a  common suggestion, but it doesn't fit every family.

There are 9 easy steps you can take in preparing for high school graduation and in preparing for college. Read my artile, 9 Easy Steps: High School Graduation Checklist to find out how prepared you are for finding a college you'll love.

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