1. Are you done with curriculum?
One way to measure a high school credit is when you finish the curriculum. You only need to be 75-80% finished to be "done" so there is some flexibility. While it's true that most homeschoolers finish curriculum in order to save money (you know who you are!) it's also true that if you are pulling your hair out, it's perfectly fine to be DONE when you are 3/4 finished with the curriculum.
2. Has your student put in the time?
Another way to measure high school curriculum is when you put in the number of hours required for a credit. If you have worked for 1 hour or more per day, or if you have 120-180 hours of work in the subject, you can say that your child has earned the credit, and you can be DONE for the year. Often this will happen if the curriculum is so full of books, worksheets and information, that most children won't finish in a year. This can also happen when parents supplement or add to the curriculum. If you are ready to be done for the year, and you have put in the time, you don't need to continue working until you have finished every assignment or book, you can just be done for the year.
3. Is it a core subject?
For core subjects like reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, you really do need to finish 3/4 of the curriculum to be done. But some core subjects are easy to finish, and others, like math and science, really take daily effort. When you fall behind in those subjects, it's hard to catch up. You can let non-core subject drop when you are done for the year. In high school, instead of granting a whole credit, you might give your child 1/2 credit for foreign language instead, and just stop for the year. Math is unique, though, and I encourage you to work through summer if necessary to finish at least 80% of the math book. Colleges want 4 credits of math, so it's important to teach a whole class each year, and without finishing the book, it will be even harder to understand math the following year.
4. Do you need natural consequences?
Sometimes kids just don't do the work they need to do during the year. They didn't work enough, they didn't put in the hours, and they NEED to get that core class done. When that happens, summer school is a natural consequence of not getting their work done. Have them work on their core subjects during the summer until they are done. As the kids are working on those areas, make a plan to prevent the problem from happening again next year. Remember my big two tips for making sure you are consistent with school for next year. First, have a meeting with your child every day to check in on each subject and make sure they stay on task. Second, put weak areas first, so the subjects they are most likely to "forget" are done first thing each day.
Taking a break in summer is important. Even if your child must take some summer school classes at home, that doesn't mean mom or dad needs to work too. Try to get them to work independently so you can get a break from the normal rigors of homeschooling. Breaks are a breath of fresh air that can rejuvenate your homeschool next fall!
If you are thinking about summer school, you might like one of these short books for encouragement.
Creating Homeschool Balance: Find Harmony Between Type A and Type Zzz.....
Getting the Most Out of Your Homeschool This Summer: Learning Just for the Fun of it!
Do you do school in the summer?