Homeschool students have the wonderful freedom to study a huge variety of different topics, going way beyond the usual high school subjects. My oldest son studied Russian history, and I know other students who’ve studied ornithology, bluegrass music, and U.S. government revenue generation policies! The question many parents wonder about is, "How do you know it's high school level?" How do you determine whether the work your student is doing is high school level, and should earn credit on their transcript?
One way to know is when somebody tells you. A textbook manufacturer such as Saxon will note that their algebra book is appropriate for high school level, a homeschool curriculum catalog may characterize a world history class as high school level, or an accreditation program might explain that a combination of experiences will make up a high school level course. If an educational entity has deemed something high school level, it’s generally safe to take their word for it and award credit.
As an addendum to this, I believe that parents know best when it comes to granting credit. In our home, we used a one credit Bob Jones textbook for world history, but because I supplemented it heavily, we spread it over a two-year period. Based on the amount and quality of the supplements, I knew that my students earned two credits. There will be times when you know best too, because you are your child's expert.
It doesn’t matter how old your child is when they do high school level work, students of any age can earn high school credit. This is, in fact, one of the few things that experts seem to agree on. I did what they said and included pre-high school work on my student’s high school transcripts. It wasn’t until I began consulting and saw transcripts from public and private high schools that I started to see with my own eyes how these schools included credits earned in middle school on their students' high school transcripts.
In addition to age being irrelevant, the way your child learns is also irrelevant to awarding them high school credit. If your student has learned some material on their own, you can give them high school credit even if they didn’t learn from a textbook. Perhaps they taught themselves a foreign language, designed a website, or wrote a novel. Each of these can be counted towards high school credit.
You can also give your student credit based on the number of hours they work on a subject at high school age. In general, 120-180 hours merits a high school credit. A rough way to evaluate this is that an hour a day, five days a week for most of the school year is a credit. Half an hour a day, five days a week, or two or three hours per week, is generally a half credit.
If your student’s on the remedial end of the spectrum, working on basic math or spelling at the high school age, you should still give them high school credit. When students do remedial work in public school, it is included on their transcript, so you should feel free to do likewise.
Whether they learned without using a textbook or were 12 years old when they mastered geometry, when your student demonstrates knowledge of high school level material, you’re doing them a disservice if you don’t give them credit for it. If they’ve earned it, they deserve the credit.
If you'd like more guidance on choosing curriculum and tips for grouch-free grading, check out my Coffee Break Book, Planning High School Courses.
Course descriptions require a professional demeanor on paper. Your words should sound "business casual" not " yoga pants " even if you are writing professional course descriptions while actually wearing yoga pants