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Church Worship Band for High School Credit

Church Worship Band for High School Credit
If your child is a member of your church's youth band, have you considered turning that into a high school fine art credit? If you are swimming in fine arts, like my high school friends who took multiple music classes, you might like this article: Fi...
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Best Guidance Counselor Tips for a Performing Arts Student

Best Guidance Counselor Tips for a Performing Arts Student
When your child is a gifted actor, homeschooling can provide the best education possible, while still providing enough time for them to perfect their craft. ​ Cover the Core Actors, singers, and musicians often have one thing in common. These kids of...
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Writing a Course Description for Chorus

Writing a Course Description for Chorus

Writing a Course Description for Chorus

Cindy was working on her course descriptions (go, team, go!!!) and got stuck with music class.
  I would like to count all the singing our youth group does as Choir but not sure how to write it on a course description or on the transcript. How can I best represent this in a transcript and Course description. Oh yeah, they do a drama in the performance too!

It's so common for kids who love one kind of fine art (like singing) to love LOTS of fine arts (like drama.) Choir is a GREAT fine art - that's what I took in high school, same course description for all 4 years, and I got a total of 4 credits during high school for it. I had friends in high school that took choir, band, and orchestra every single year - and earned 3 high school credits in music every single year. Feel free to put choir and drama both on your transcript.

First, read this review of the 3 Ingredients of a Great Course Description

When you get stuck, try to find a high school course description from a public school. I found a choir course description from Antigo High School in Wisconsin, a public high school, but you can pilfer wording from any school with a similar class, and then modify it to fit your needs.

Grades 9 – 12
1 Credit
1 Year
No Prerequisite

The Treble Chorus is a women’s chorus that sings a variety of music. It is open to any interested female in grades 9-12. All females in the choir program will be placed into Treble Chorus their freshman year. All students with no choir experience must have a voice placement interview with the instructor before being allowed to participate. Focus will be placed on proper vocal production, sight-reading, diction, music theory, and functioning as a musical ensemble. Required concerts for the Treble Chorus include: the Fall Concert, Holiday Concert, Clinician and/or Large Group Contest, and the Spring Concert. Other performances are possible during the course of the school year. The Treble Chorus meets daily.

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How to Put Crochet on Your Homeschool Transcript

How to Put Crochet on Your Homeschool Transcript
You know you want to include fabulous fun electives on your homeschool transcript. But how? How do you put crocheting and other delight directed learning on a high school transcript!?

You know you want to include fabulous fun electives on your homeschool transcript. But how? How do you put crocheting and other handcrafts on a high school transcript!?

Mandi asked, "My daughter has taught herself to crochet and makes bags, headbands, coasters and whatever else pops into her head. Can count that as an elective art credit?

Yes! Art can be taught intentionally with books, or learned naturally and for fun like Mandi's daughter. School districts across the country include these kinds of classes, and we can do it too. Let me show you just a few examples.

Wallingford Public Schools in Connecticut offers a class called "Contemporary Crafts". Their online description suggests a variety of crafts, but of course you have unlimited options as a homeschooler. They call it "Career and Technical Education" instead of fine art, but high school kids can earn 1/2 credit each year.  Here is their course description:

Course Description for Contemporary Crafts

"Contemporary Crafts is a hands-on course designed to give students opportunities to develop skills in a variety of craft techniques. The course delves into the history of each craft and its application to today’s society. There are numerous connections to the core academic areas. Each student will create an individual information based portfolio. The class will design a business based on a craft and market their product. Examples of the skills that may be developed include macramé, decoupage, charted designs, basketry, weaving, quilting, knitting, crocheting, paper craft, bookbinding, and stamping."

Bloomer High School Wisconsin simply calls it: "Crafts 1". It's available every semester for students in grades 10-12, but we have the freedom to provide the same thing in grade 9, of course. Their online description says "Some projects covered are: paper arts, cement casting, stamping, card making, clay, handmade books, fiber arts, and decorative painting."

Northland Pines School District is also in Wisconsin, but it uses a really fancy class title, calling it "Textiles, Arts and Crafts". Their online description says "Students will learn a number of handicrafts by taking this class. Students will work with the following areas in this class: crocheting, latch hooking, cross stitching, bracelet making, scrap-booking, cake decorating, beading, and glass decorating."

Wayne Westland Community Schools in Michigan calls it "Creative Stitchery" for Grade 9-12 and allows their students to take this class all year. Although each semester class earns 1/2 credit, the course can be taken more than once for credit throughout high school, so students can earn up to one credit per year of high school. The school provides this description:

Course Description for Creative Stitchery

"This course explores hand sewing and craft techniques. The student will make a sample project supplied by the teacher. This allows the student to learn a hand craft such as knitting, crocheting, counted cross stitch, and/or embroidery. Students will be required to purchase some additional materials. As the student’s ability increases, each project will become more challenging. Because this class is taught according to each individual student’s skill level, this course may be repeated to increase skill level."

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Class Title for Piano

Class Title for Piano
How do you choose a class title when nobody tells you what the class title should be? There are so many options for class titles. Even more so when you are talking about a skill that is repeated in high school.

Lisa asked me how to name her piano class on a transcript.  The easy answer? You can do it any way that you want to, because all schools would do it differently.

So many options. So few rule. You get to choose!  Here are some options.


  • You could just say "Piano" each year, with no numbers attached to it at all: "Piano."

  • You could call the class beginning, intermediate, or advanced: "Beginning Piano."

  • You could use the grade number for the class title: "Piano 9" taken in 9th grade.

  • You could use the year in high school for the title; "Piano 1" taken in 9th grade.

  • You could use the number of years of practice: "Piano 7" after 7 years of practice.

  • You could use random Roman Numerals for added fun: "Piano IV"


Here is what I did. Originally I planned to use Piano 1, 2, or 3 depending on what year he was in high school - Piano 1 for freshman year. Later in high school, my son competed in piano, and his adjudication forms gave an official piano skill level.  I can't remember if it was 7 or whatever, when he was a junior. So that was the year I gave him Piano 7 - the year he was adjudicated during competition at that level. Then I counted backwards, and the previous year was Piano 6, the year before that was Piano 5.

Bottom line: there is no right or wrong answer, so you can do what you want to do.  In fact, I did a quick check of some schools to see what they call their classes, and here is what I came  up with.

High schools have a variety of titles they use for a piano class. It's interesting to think about these being taught in a classroom setting.  I'm so thankful my shy child, less gifted in music, didn't need to take piano in front of other children. But here are the titles some schools use:


  • North Attleboro High School: "Piano Class"

  • Nicolet High School: "Beginning Piano" or "Intermediate Piano"

  • Vrevard Music Center: "High School Piano"

  • UNC Chapel Hill calls high school classes: "Group Piano IV" or "Group Piano V"


The Roman numerals were determined by age, generally.

Colleges had a variety of words and number for piano. I found this one amusing from Easterm Kentucky University.


  • MUS 109: Introductory Class Piano

  • MUS 110:  Beginning Class Piano I

  • MUS 111:  Beginning Class Piano II

  • MUS 112:  Piano I


In this case, introductory comes first, then beginning, and then the students have finally achieved the esteemed class title of "Piano 1."

For some classes, there are no right or wrong answers. You get to choose! Knock yourself out! Feel the power! You are the homeschool parent!

If you would like to talk to Lee about your own class titles consider joining the Gold Care Club. As a member you can talk with Lee on the phone on a weekly basis!
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Racking Up Music Credits

Racking Up Music Credits
When kids love the arts, like music, they can quickly and easily rack up fine art credits.

When I was in public high school, I took choir every year. At the end of high school I had 4 credits of fine art, all called "Choir." I had plenty of friends who took choir, band, AND orchestra. Those kids would have three credits of find art each year. If they kept that up for 4 years, they would end up with 12 fine art credits - all music credits! One of my friends also took additional art classes!

To figure out how many music credits a homeschooling music-lover has, estimate the number of hours per week you meet, practice, and perform. For example, if you meet with one band 1 hour per week, and another band 3 hours per week, and you are practicing at home and performing occasionally, then altogether it will be a 1 credit class. If your child is practicing, performing, and attending class for 5 hours a week in one band, that would count as 1 music credit. If your child is ALSO practicing, performing, and attending class for 5 hours a week on a different instrument (or a different fine art), that would count as a second high school music credit.

All musical experiences can be grouped together into one class.  If your child is playing with 2 different bands, and the two experiences add up to 5 or more hours per week combined, then I would call it a 1 hour class. A course description for that class would include information on both bands. Each band is like a unit study. Your child had one "unit" with one band, and another "unit" with the other band, and combined they make 1 whole music credit.

If this has been helpful and you want to read more "freeing" ideas, or if you need more information, I think you'll like this article: Fine Art Fanatics

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A Big Homeschool Question: Is This Class a Credit or Not?

A Big Homeschool Question: Is This Class a Credit or Not?
Determining just how much theater comprises a high school credit is hard. The broad idea for almost all classes is 5 hours a week for a full year of school, which means you can easily determine if that’s an adequate amount of for a credit or perhaps for a half credit. There’s no real “absolute” right and wrong option.

I like right-and-wrong math questions, therefore I never felt genuinely at ease estimating on credit value. I generally did the “5 hours per week” rule. If perhaps it’s less complicated, you could total all of the hours together to figure out the credit value. The majority of books suggest that 120-180 hours is a credit. Given that quite often performance week in theater can add an easy 40 hours, you could have an less difficult time simply holding out until you have the total before you determine what number of high school credits it’s worth.

Don’t forget that colleges are only looking for 1 credit of fine arts; and fine arts are a combination of music, art, theater and dance. If you feel it’s enough, that’s great. Otherwise, look into additional supplements to make up the difference.

The Comprehensive Record Solution provides you  the guidance and coaching you need to finish the your homeschool records with confidence.
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Homeschool Credit for Special Courses

Homeschool Credit for Special Courses
If you’re struggling to evaluate your student’s courses, and how to assign credit, you’re not alone!  A lot of parents have a particularly hard time figuring out how to evaluate special courses, such as the culinary or fine arts.  One approach is to think of all the different skills that your child demonstrates. In culinary arts, sometimes people come up with things like shopping, meal planning, and menu creation. Other times people will list general skill areas like baking or frying. It just depends on what you want to evaluate.

Another way is to think about what your child did today that you would call ‘school’. For example, if she went to the grocery store to do shopping, she learned school because she learned the value of the dollar. You would then know that shopping for resources is one of the ways that you can evaluate your student.

The fine arts present challenges sometimes too.  A parent once asked me, “Would piano practice be considered a music credit? My son plays two hours a day but he gets just one credit, right?”  It’s true. When a child practices piano for two hours a day, it usually indicates that they’re at a fairly advanced level, but they still are earning one credit of piano.  Of course, if you have different musical experiences, like your child plays the piano and sings in a choir, then you could have two credits of music: one would be piano and one would be choir.

What special courses have your students completed?

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Struggling With Homeschool Art

Struggling With Homeschool Art
In my homeschool, there were things I did well (like math and science) and things that completely baffled me (like art.)  When we had a “bad homeschool day” it almost always involved art in one way or another.


I tried various art projects, but they were all so messy that I lacked the follow-through necessary to make sure the project actually happened.  Even when I did manage to start an art project, I never seemed to allow enough time to do it, and didn’t follow through to make sure the project was completed later.  For example, I thought we should try oil paints.  I bought all the equipment, and got the kids outside to work on painting a springtime landscape.  It was a great idea, and my children seemed to like it, but it took much longer than I expected.  After about 2 hours, we had to stop to get back to our academic subjects, and we never returned to finish those oil paintings.  I wish I had given them more time for projects like that!

I tried everything I could think of to get my children interested in art.  Finally I signed them up for a pottery wheel class, hoping they would enjoy working in the mud.  The first day of the class, as my son threw his clay on the wheel, he managed to injure himself.  The sculpting tool he held in his hand impaled his palm as he threw the clay!  Leave it to my family to get injured doing art…. For us, it wasn’t so much that we had one bad “day” of homeschooling.  For us, we had one bad “subject” that we really struggled with.

Not every subject will be your favorite, and not every project will be fun.  As the parent, find a way to work within your limits.  Make sure you cover your weak areas (like I tried to, with art).  Try to find the least-painful way to cover the subject, if possible.  Although nobody expects to get skewered by art, I suppose!

Learn more about steps you can take right  now to meet all of your homeschool high school goals.
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Too Many or Too Few Fine Arts Credits

Too Many or Too Few Fine Arts Credits
Are you an art person? Most people tend to either love the arts, or if you are like me you struggle with them. Even if you or your student struggle with the fine arts, colleges still want to see some on a high school transcript.


Learn more about high school credits and grades with my webinar.
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Advice for Non-Art Enthusiasts

Advice for Non-Art Enthusiasts
Dear Lee,
"Did you schedule the art studies or simply allow them do it as they wanted? I debate a lot about whether its worth setting aside the time for art study."

Art is really, TRULY my weak area, for that reason I basically reserved time for art study, or else we would most likely never do it! We never had a challenge getting math or science finished, only art, LOL! I planned it for 2-3 times a week, 1-1/2 or 2 hours at a time, depending on the year. Never the less, it was one thing that we from time to time simply didn’t do. (Art is so messy, you understand.)

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Are you doing too much in your homeschool?

Are you doing too much in your homeschool?
How do you know when enough is enough? Particularly with Writing and History, how can you make sure you are not asking too much and frustrating yourself and your children?.  Sometimes it can be so hard to tell.  It can be VERY difficult to make sure you aren't expecting too much!

Here are some ideas to consider if you think you may be overworking your children.  If you use a curriculum for writing and history, do not supplement it.  A standard curriculum is meant to be a whole high school credit.  So if you supplement it with anything (no matter how wonderful and cool) you can experience burnout and frustration, because you're expecting too much work.

If you feel like you MUST supplement, then the simple solution is to remove something else from the curriculum that might take about the same amount of time.  In other words, remove as much as you add.

Remember as well, in high schools they don't do ALL of the curriculum.  In other words, if the book lists 4 hands-on projects, they may only do one - or none of them.  They give a lot of suggestions in a public school curriculum that may never be used by any teacher.

I have a blog post about how important it is not to double up on your curriculum; Homeschool Blunder - Doubling Up

If you aren't using a curriculum, but you are pulling together pieces yourself, then strive for only 1 hour or less for history each day and 1 hour or less of English each day (reading books may take longer, but the writing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. - that stuff keep to just 1 hour or less.)

Do you Twitter? Follow me here!
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Homeschool Art for the "Art Klutz"

Homeschool Art for the "Art Klutz"
Art Klutz's of the world, unite!

Art was a weak area in my homeschool.  It was one subject that we all had to work at, or it wouldn’t get done.   If we didn’t set aside time for art study it would never happen!   It may sound strange to some, but we never had that problem getting math or science done.  I know for certain that art is my nemesis.  It's messy.  It's subjective.  There are no right or wrong answers in art.  I'm definitely someone who likes to be INSIDE the box rather than OUTSIDE.

Read my article called Art for the Art Klutz

The article was originally published in Heart of the Matter Magazine, September 2010 edition.

Get our new FREE training webinar, “Grades and Credits and Transcripts, Oh My!!
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Course Descriptions for Fun Stuff

Course Descriptions for Fun Stuff
I often get questions about how to create real classes for unusual interests like writing music for movies.  How do you create classes for fun?  More importantly, how do you write a boring course description about fascinating non-classroom learning?

My Gold Care Club member asked for me to look over her course descriptions.  When I saw this one, I flipped!  This is just WONDERFUL, and a great example of how to take a student's interest and create a course description.  We talked about what her son did, and what he used, and found some possible course titles, and looked in a college catalog for a course that had similar content.  She confirmed with her son's piano instructor, who agreed it was a great course title.  She used some words from the college catalog, some words from the texts and materials she used.  It's a wonderful, academic class with a description filled with details.  It really represents what he learned and how much he accomplished.  Remember, this was an activity her son does for fun, using the gifts and abilities he was born with, and his parents just wanted to feed his passion with appropriate materials.  What a great course description!  Thank you, Ann, for sharing your course description!

Course Description
Music Technology: MIDI Arranging of Film Scores

The student will develop skill and proficiency in musical arrangement on the keyboard and through the use of musical technology. He will practice ear-training skills by translating a piece of music into individual instrumental parts recorded into tracks on the keyboard. He will progress to using Sony ACID Pro 6.0 MIDI sequencing software to produce arrangements of various pieces.  In addition, the student will read and study Complete Guide to Film Scoring – The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV by Richard Davis, as well as listen to numerous film scores.  The student’s most complex arrangements, which his instructor will record with a Kurzweil K200r synthesizer, will be played at his yearly recitals.  Recordings of recital pieces available upon request.

Texts & Materials:

Complete Guide to Film Scoring – The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV by Richard Davis (Berklee Guide)

Sony ACID Pro 6.0 MIDI - Sequencing software


Blood Ritual” / “Moonlight Serenade” from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
One Last Shot” from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
The Black Pearl” from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
The Medallion Calls” from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl by Klaus Badelt
Davy Jones” from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest by Hans Zimmer
Jack Sparrow” from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest by Hans Zimmer
Themes from Apollo 13 by James Horner
Theme from The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein

Keyboard & Sony ACID:
Concerning Hobbits” by Howard Shore from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Themes from Jurassic Park by John Williams
Unforgotten” from Halo 2 by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori


Spring Recital 2008: Theme from The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein (recorded by instructor with Kurzweil synthesizer) Spring Recital 2009: Themes from Jurassic Park by John Williams (recorded by instructor with Kurzweil synthesizer)

Course Grade
A = 4.0

Grading Criteria: Letter grade awarded based on quality of effort. / Credit awarded based on 150(+)  hours of work.

Grading Scale: A=93-100%=4.0 / A- = 90-92%=3.67 / B+=87-89%=3.33 / B=83-86%=3.0 / B- = 80-82%=2.67 / C+=77-79%=2.33 / C=73-76%=2.0 / C- = 70-72%=1.67 / D+=67-69%=1.33 / D=63-66%=1.0 / D- = 60-62%=.67 / F=Less than 60%=Less than .67

This same child had another music class called Music Technology: MIDI Composition & Arranging.  For that class they used Sibelius 5 Notation Software and also Sony

ACID Pro 6.0 MIDI Music Studio sequencing software.  I have to say, I'm VERY impressed!  I know that sometimes people think "WOW!" about some of my own homeschool classes.  Has it every occurred to you that other parents may be thinking "WOW!" about YOUR homeschool classes?   It's true!

The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school.
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Computer Graphics and Video Editing Class

Computer Graphics and Video Editing Class
There is NO LIMIT to the wonderful array of homeschool classes you can  teach!
Hi Lee. I heard you speak at the Midwest Homeschool  Convention. I really appreciated all your information. I need to  ask you a question. Can I count a computer graphics class or  video editing class for fine arts credit on the transcript?
~Trina on Facebook

Sure, Trina! Some parents use classes like that for a technology credit, and  others will use it as a way to get art into a techie kid. Either way is just fine.  Remember when we were in high school and we could take photography for  art? It's the same sort of thing, only now we have computers.
Thanks Lee. I sure appreciate your willingness to help guide  those of us who are taking this journey for the first time. You are a blessing! Thanks for the free mini-course. I look forward to digging more into your website and  blogs for help.  I have a 10th grader and 2 more younger than that and I fully intend to homeschool them all the way through high school.  Thank you so much for sharing all you've learned with those of us who haven't learned yet so that we too can be successful!
~Trina on Facebook

If you would like to receive my free mini-course, please grab the class here.

It's called "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Homeschooling High School" - NOT because I think you're making mistakes, but because that's what people google for help about.  It's a small, bite-sized class that is perfect for beginners.  One little lesson every few days over a two week period.   Nothing scary or intense - and you'll feel better when you're done!

If you are curious about providing a great homeschool education for your gifted child, check out my audio training, “Gifted Education at Home.
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