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Non-Traditional Ways to Determine High School Credit

Non-Traditional Ways to Determine High School Credit

Non-Traditional Ways to Determine High School Credit

There are many different ways you can determine high school (and sometimes college) credit for your homeschool student. It's one of the great things about homeschooling! The usual test-and-quiz evaluation method isn't the only way to give your child credit on their high school transcript. Other methods are just as legitimate, and in some cases even easier!

One way your child can earn credit is through dual enrollment in a community college. They may be completing a correspondence or distance learning class, or are sitting in a college level course. College level learning should go on the high school transcript.

Perhaps your student is taking credit by examination. Many homeschoolers take College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, which show college level learning at any age. Other parents use Advanced Placement (AP) courses to determine that their child knows a college amount of material. If your child takes a CLEP or AP test and they demonstrate college knowledge in a subject, whether you taught it or not, make sure to put that on their homeschool transcript.

Another way you can award credit is to look at demonstrated expertise, although it’s a little bit harder to nail down. One way to recognize expertise is to get a professional’s opinion. If you have a friend that is a college professor or teacher, and they say your student has demonstrated high school or college level work, then you can be confident in giving your student credit for that expertise.

Sometimes students get published in an adult-level paper or periodical.  Getting published in National Geographic Magazine or having research on mushrooms published shows expertise. They may even land a job in the field. One of my friends' daughters was a dental assistant at a very young age, holding an adult job in a career field. This is demonstrated expertise which you can put on a transcript.

Some students compete in an activity that demonstrates high school or adult level work. Students who compete athletically often compete against adults and their expertise is certainly worthy of recognition and credit. Several homeschool students have competed on the U.S. diving team  at the Olympics—I hope their parents gave them credit for it! Other students compete in debate tournaments, Bible Quiz tournaments, or 4-H state events, which all demonstrate expertise and knowledge.

Remember that knowledge is demonstrated in many different ways and doesn’t have to be evaluated by a test or a research paper. If your child shows high school or college level knowledge on a topic, you can award them credit on their transcript. This is one of the advantages you have as a homeschool parent—freedom to let your child learn at their own pace and explore many interests, instead of being restricted by a school’s agenda or curriculum.

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High School Computer Science Credit

High School Computer Science Credit

Are you confident on how to give grades, assign credits, and create transcripts for all your classes, including Computer Science? Let me show you how. Click to register: A Homeschool Parents Guide to Grades Credits and Transcripts Webinar

Does your child need a computer science credit? It’s easy to cover in your homeschool! There are many topics you can cover for a computer science class. Colleges want to know that your children are computer literate. Learning to use Microsoft Word, internet skills, email, and keyboarding skills all demonstrate computer literacy. In some states, one of the graduation requirements is a technology credit for high school. But don’t worry, it’s a VERY broad, nonspecific requirement, and almost anything goes.

If your child is already computer literate, then you can give them credit based on the skills they possess. Put together a course description listing your child’s skills. Ask the child to help. A more computer savvy teen will be able to list quite a few programs they can use. You can also go through the programs file on your computer with your child and ask which ones they are familiar with. Can they use Excel? How about PowerPoint? Some kids are online almost constantly, so ask them if they can make YouTube videos, code a website, or write on a blog. These are great skills to learn and have for the future.

Computer Science Credit

Computer science is about the software and coding - the binary code of computers. This might be a good class title if your child is learning computer coding languages, creating software, developing apps, learning operating systems, and developing websites. There is an AP Test in Computer Science. If your child is good at this kind of techie stuff, consider if taking a Computer Science AP Test might be a good option.

Computer Engineering Credit

Computer engineering is about the hardware, or the physical pieces of the computer. This might be a good title for kids who are putting hardware together, and working on computer equipment, circuit boards, routers, microchips, and electrical stuff.

Computer Technology Credit

Technology is a basic class describing how to use different kinds of technology. If your child is NOT computer literate, then you can create a computer class emphasizing basic skills. I would focus on basic Microsoft Office skills (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), keyboarding, (perhaps using the Mavis Beacon program), as well as basic internet skills. Remember that the goal is computer literacy, and independence at college and in life.

What are you using as a Computer Science credit in your homeschool? Please share!

Looking for ideas for planning high school courses? Check out my ebook for Kindle/Kindle app, Planning High School Courses: Charting the Course Toward High School Graduation.

Please note: This post was originally published in July 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Occupational Education for the Confused Homeschool Parent

Occupational Education for the Confused Homeschool Parent

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What Can We Learn From Pennsylvania Homeschoolers?

What Can We Learn From Pennsylvania Homeschoolers?
According to, homeschoolers in Pennsylvania may receive high school credit if they do any ONE of the following in a course:

1. Complete two-thirds of a textbook
2. Have 120 daily logged entries
3. Have 120 hours of logged study
4. Complete a 10 page research paper
5. Complete a college course
6. Pass an AP exam

What Can We Learn From Homeschoolers in Pennsylvania?

Do any ONE of the following
You don't have to do ALL of them. You don't have to complete a textbook AND write a 10 page paper AND pass an AP exam. In Pennsylvania, you only have to do one of these things to get high school credit. In other states, you may have the freedom to choose other ways of determining credit. Homeschoolers may read the list and think they have to do them ALL, but you don't - even in Pennsylvania.

Complete two-thirds of a textbook
Wow. That's not at ALL like finishing the whole book. I try to tell parents that sometimes it's OK to lighten up, and not finish every last chapter. Most public schools say 75% of the book means you are "done." Teachers in public schools plan ahead for which chapters they will skip. I always liked to finish things in my homeschool, but that didn't ALWAYS happen.  Even if you don't live in Pennsylvania, don't feel bad if you don't finish a textbook.

Have 120 daily logged entries
Some experts require 120 hours, some require 150, and some require 180. Instead of being regimented, just guess. Unless your state requires daily logged entries, you don't have to keep a log of hours and attendance.

Have 120 hours of logged study
Unless your state requires daily logged entries, you don't have to keep a journal with the number of hours your child has studied. I read one expert who said homeschoolers couldn't count "homework." Excuse me? Isn't almost all homeschool done at home, and is therefore homework? Unless this is a state requirement, you don't have to keep a log with hours checked off - you can estimate.

Complete a 10 page research paper
In other states, you may decide to award credit for an 8 page paper or a 9 page paper. I liked assigning a written paper for each course because I liked having something to document every class. 10 pages?  Wow!  I'm glad that doesn't apply to other states.

Complete a college course
If your child knows enough to pass a college course, they know enough to pass the course in high school, right? Dual enrollment means you get credit for high school and credit for college at the same time for the same class.

Pass an AP exam
This is the same idea as the one above. AP tests measure a college amount of knowledge. So do CLEP Exams. If your child passes either, you can give a high school credit.

Remember that state laws vary. I don't want you to think I'm picking on Pennsylvania. I don't know PA homeschool law in detail, and I'm not familiar with the website. I just want to encourage others to learn what they can. Some things may not apply to you at all!

Please note: This post was originally published in August 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Do you like getting this sort of help for homeschooling high school? Gold Care Club members get extended answers to their most challenging high school issues.
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The Great Courses for High School Credit

The Great Courses for High School Credit


My Gold Care Club members love having their biggest questions answered promptly - and they love having a monthly webinar too!  Recently Anne shared her burning question for the week, and I thought it would be helpful information for others as well.

My burning question for this week is:  What about The Great Courses company?  Are their DVDs enough to “count?  I know you said that just reading Susan Wise Bauer’s History of the Ancient World over the summer will work fine for a World History credit (see below), but what about watching an 84 half-hours DVD course? The Great Courses also has a couple of Speech and Debate DVDs on sale right now.  So, I have the same question about this subject, which is required to be taught at some point in the state of Colorado.  Will be on your webinar tonight.  Loved the last one I did with you and can’t wait!
Thanks Lee.  Hope your holiday was lovely. ~ Anne

I know that some homeschoolers feel the Teaching Company classes are college level, so that when you complete a big series (48 lectures) they give a full credit of high school work in that subject. Other homeschoolers feel that since it isn’t a “prepared curriculum” you would need to count hours, and 48 hours is NOT enough for a credit.  75-90 hours is worth 1/2 credit, just for reference.

I used The Teaching Company mainly as a supplement.  We would do our Sonlight work, and I supplemented with Teaching Company lectures to beef it up.  I had the children take notes from the lectures, so they would get practice with college note-taking while still learning something.

I used the Teaching Company to fill in gaps, as well.  Kevin didn’t get any economics in high school; because his brother studied economics 24/7, I simply FORGOT that I’d never had Kevin even take economics.  (Yup - I'm a Bad Mom!)  Once Kevin finished his Economics lectures, I did give him 1/2 high school credit in that class.

I also gave my children full high school credit when they passed a CLEP exam.  Because they learned SO much with The Teaching Company lectures, they were able to pass quite a few CLEP exams in different topics.  Each passed CLEP went onto their transcript as a full 1 credit high school honors course.

So…. you are probably looking for “rules” about The Teaching Company.  I can’t really give you any hard and fast rule.  I can give you my opinion, though.  In my opinion, an adult course with 48 lectures, standing alone with nothing else would probably be a 1/2 credit class.  A high school level course with the workbook and everything, supplemental reading, would probably be a 1 credit course, because I think it would take about an hour a day to get through the whole thing.

I suggest you just guess and estimate how much time the student spends.  Add up all the experiences you are planning, and see if you have 75 hours or more.  If you do, then call it 1/2 credit.  If you don’t, then say it’s a supplement – they can add it to other music and art experiences to make up their own credit.  If it is 120 hours or more, then you can call it a full credit.

By the way, we LOVED the “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music”!

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Does Your Homeschooler Make the Grade?

Does Your Homeschooler Make the Grade?


Parents often have a hard time figuring out how to assign grades to their homeschool students, and get stressed just wondering whether ‘mommy grades’ are even valid or not!  At a recent webinar, one of the attendees asked, “Can you give some options and factors to use when evaluating grades?”  Another mom wondered, “My daughter is autistic and we do a lot of hands-on type things. How do you decide grades for hands-on assignments?”

There are many ways to evaluate your student’s grades, and one of my favorites is something I call the Annoy-O-Meter!  I even wrote an article on this method, and in that article, I wrote that anything that causes you to be annoyed is a factor that you can use to evaluate grades! Think of every skill your child demonstrates (maybe they’re filing, learning vocabulary, reading books, or writing) and list all those skills. It’s basically what you require of them, and each of those ways would have an evaluation.  If they produce something, like a science fair project, then each might have an evaluation grade like an A, and the subject matter they know would have an evaluation as well. If you have a discussion about it, include that in your evaluation. Anything you do can be given a grade, whether it’s hands-on or not. If you’re grading your child’s pottery, you could grade her wheel work and her pottery glazing. Each thing you ask her to do and anything you consider as school is a way you evaluate. The key to evaluating is that you don’t have to base it on test scores alone.

Those of you who know me will recognize that I’m not a big fan of tests, and I prefer to estimate grades without complicated systems, but I recognize that many homeschool moms would like some definitive help to create grades the right way. I have a class in my Gold Care Club called “Making the Grades,” and if you send me an email through the member email address, I will send you that class. If you are not a Gold Care member, you can still purchase this course as an A la Carte Training Resource.

Do you like getting this sort of help for homeschooling high school? Gold Care Club members get extended answers to their most challenging high school issues.  
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Making the Most of Community College

Making the Most of Community College


If you are planning to use community college classes to replace or supplement junior and senior year, I have some specific suggestions.
For maximum benefit....

  1. Make sure to have your child take a class in each major subject area: English, math, history, etc.  If you are trying to get an AA degree, that means you will be covering all of those major subject areas plus a little more.

  2. Make sure to have her take a class for required classes at her favorite university.  That may be the same list as number 1, but it could be different. Some colleges require freshmen to take Psychology or something.

  3. Find out the university policy on community college classes.  They may not accept college credits, or consider students a transfer applicant rather than a freshman applicant. Find out so you are prepared.

  4. Be prepared with everything that homeschoolers normally provide: transcript, course descriptions, reading list, activity and award list. Save the college course descriptions for classes taken.

  5. Make sure your child gets excellent grades - hopefully all A's in college classes.  College grades will be weighed heavily, even if a university does not give you college credit for the classes.

  6. Make sure your students gets to know professors, because they will be writing letters of recommendation for college admission.  Sit in the front row, ask questions and participate, so professors know them.

 Curious about The HomeScholar? Read more on our About Us page.
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Transcripts for the Rest of Us!

Transcripts for the Rest of Us!

It’s not too hard to create a stellar transcript for a student that excels in all they do, but what about the more average student who struggles in certain areas, and may be a little reluctant to learn?  How do you make their transcript look acceptable without any stretching of the truth?

Usually the first thing I suggest when I consult with somebody in this situation is to figure out what your child does for fun. There are often things that they do that you may have forgotten are academic in nature.  For example, if your child is a football player, make sure that you include football on his transcript as a P.E. credit each year. Make sure that you get all the good stuff on their transcript, the places where they shine, and don’t just try to make it look like everybody else’s transcript with only the standard academic courses.

In addition, make sure that you’re not requiring too much of your child, and that they’re learning in the ways that makes sense and fit them. They don’t have to be evaluated with tests, so if it makes more sense to evaluate them through oral reports rather than written reports, or by tracking the time they spend on their studies, that’s perfectly fine.  Remember, if they were in public school as remedial students, chances are their course credits would be measured by the hours they spend doing things. Perhaps they would have more hands-on projects or group activities. You can include all of that in your determination of high school credits for all the different subject areas.

When you are applying for colleges, you will need a great homeschool transcript.  The good news is you can “do-it-yourself” and save thousands.  Discover the Total Transcript Solution.
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Recording Credits for Year-‘Round Homeschoolers

Recording Credits for Year-‘Round Homeschoolers


The other day, a client asked me, “What is the best way to record transcript credits for classes that do not fall within a given school year?”  This family homeschooled year-round, and had courses that spanned several ‘school years,’ so they wondered how to reflect that on their homeschool transcripts.

One of the best ways to handle this situation is to record the end date when you actually finish the course. That’s actually what our family did.  Some of our classes were completed in November, so I just wrote that down as the completion date on their transcript and course descriptions. Other people might record the credit it in the year where they did the bulk of the work. For instance, if they did the bulk of the work before June, they might list the credits under that year (i.e. sophomore year), which tends to make the transcript look a little bit more typical.

If you do homeschool year-round, you might end up with a lot of high school credits. If that happens to you, then you can explain the situation in a cover letter to the colleges, and say that you homeschooled year-round, which is why your student has more credits than might be expected.

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Transcripts and Course Descriptions for Music and Theater People

Transcripts and Course Descriptions for Music and Theater People


I asked Bari "How do you like it?" after he purchased the Comprehensive Record Solution, and he said "We are theater/music people and many things seem to not apply or go over my head a bit. Overall - I am pleased with the material."  So.... how do you make a transcript and course description when you are a dealing with a lot of fine arts?

When you are music and theater people, it can help to think about what would happen if they were doing music and theater in a public school.  Because EACH class would be on the high school transcript, even though there is more than one fine art per year.  So divide those musical/theater experiences into groups that take about 150 hours to complete.  Put each one as one credit.  Another way of looking at it:  if your children do theater every year, and it's over 150 hours then give them 1 credit of theater.  If they also do the violin for 150 hours or more, then give them 1 credit for violin.  If they ALSO do piano, and they do more than 150 hours of piano (not counting time they spend on violin) then you can give them 1 credit of piano.

Example:  I know a girl who did most of her fine art at public school and almost all her other subject homeschooling independently.  We saw for ourselves how the public school put that on the transcript.  EACH YEAR it said:
Theater 1 credit
Band 1 credit
Choir 1 credit
Orchestra 1 credit.

She earned 4 credits in fine arts each year.

To make a course description, look online.  Either look at the experiences (the orchestra) to read about it and then cut & paste information or google "High school choir course description" and you'll come up with lots of options.  Make sure to include "high school" on it.  Edit that course description as necessary, and voila!

See those cute buttons at the bottom of these blog posts?  Those are there to help you share helpful posts with others who might need encouragement.  Go ahead and give it a try.  I promise that nothing will blow up!
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Summertime Reading, Planning, and More

Summertime Reading, Planning, and More

Summer is a great time to compile your student’s reading list, in preparation for college applications.  A reading list is simply a list of books your child has read, including title and author.  Often requested by colleges, and sometimes useful for scholarship applications, reading lists are an important part of your student’s high school record.  Include books you have assigned your children to read over the summer, books they’ve used in their coursework, and books they read just for fun.  Encourage your children to keep track of their own reading, if possible. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, my children didn’t keep their own lists! They were excellent readers, but they had absolutely no interest in creating a reading list. Instead, I had them bring me the books they read and I added to their list each week.  However it works for your family, the important thing is to make the list.

Summer is also the time to plan ahead for the next school year.  It’s the time when you should purchase curriculum and develop your schedule and goals for the coming school year.  If you have a middle or high school student, think about what courses they’ll need to cover in order to get into college.  If you schedule the upcoming school year now, you can encourage independent learning in the fall—just give them the schedule to follow!  Another way to plan ahead is to read books that you will require your children to read for school. You can read the assigned literature during the summer, when you have more time, and you’ll be ready to discuss it during school

As you think about your homeschool tasks this summer, remember that you are a professional educator. Consider your own need for continuing education too.  Perhaps you can attend a homeschool convention, or buy books and videos that will help you be a better home educator.  Invest in yourself.  This is your chosen profession, and it’s worth the effort.  For some great ideas on summer planning and preparation for the upcoming year, I recommend ordering Getting the Most out of Your Summer.

And remember to include a little rest and relaxation. Don’t worry if you’re a little behind on your homeschool tasks.  Summer is here, and it’s the best time to catch up on these things.  Think how great you’ll feel when the fall comes around, and you’re ready to roll!

Your best strategy for keeping all those balls in the air is preparation.  The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school.
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Crazy Lifestyle of Learning

Crazy Lifestyle of Learning


Lots of homeschoolers have a "Crazy Lifestyle of Learning".  I'm a huge fan of Delight Directed Learning , and I love helping my members turn that into words and numbers that colleges understand - and putting those on a Homeschool Transcript. Here is one example!

"My son spends his remaining school day working on film projects. He had already won two contests. I took him to the San Antonio Christian film festival academy a few Weeks back. I have no clue what all this counts as or what to call it. Lastly, we volunteer every week accompanying a senior adult choir on our instruments. We already take choir so we have that credit. We are called a band by our director. You are kind to help. I should have asked sooner but I figured no one could relate to our crazy but wonderful lifestyle." ~ Bari

Dear Bari,

I talk to a LOT of homeschoolers, so nothing really throws me :)

If you look at a community college catalog, you should find some classes that involve film projects.  Find those classes, find a description that looks the MOST like what he is doing. Use that class title (perhaps it's Film Making") and then use the description of the class that you find from the college catalog - adding as many specific examples as you can.  Each of those contests he entered is how you evaluated.  Certainly if he WON two contests then her should get an A - his work was even evaluated by someone else!

For the choir, since you already have choir, that may be all you need, and you can save the volunteer work as either a supplement for the other choir class OR you can just use it for Volunteer Work.  Here is the key - if that work on the senior adult choir ALONE is 150+ hours, I'd call it a class.  If it's much less (perhaps 50 hours?) then I would call it a supplement or just Volunteer work.

Learn how you can create homeschool records that win college admission and scholarships.
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Homeschooling High School - How to Get it All Done

Homeschooling High School - How to Get it All Done
How do I get it ALL done? That is a big question. It all depends on what your "ALL" means to you? Is your "All" too big? What are your priorities?

I am now a featured expert on! You can read my articles here.
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Getting Enough Credits While Homeschooling High School

Getting Enough Credits While Homeschooling High School
For my children it was chess and economics. Those things that your homeschool student spends their time on. That thing that sometimes gets very annoying to you. These are the things that could actually end up becoming credits on their homeschool transcript.




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What Do They Do For Fun?

What Do They Do For Fun?

What do they do for fun?

When I’m helping parents with a transcript, that one question can open the floodgates! How does your child spend unstructured time? When they are supposed to be working on school, or emptying the dishwasher, what are they doing instead? That can be a great indication of their Fun Factor.

If they enjoy their fun for more than one hour a day, you may be able to translate that into high school credits. Anything involving music, band, handcrafts, or theater can be a fine art credit. Children who love starting or working with a small business, from yard work to online marketing, may earn a credit of occupational education. Children who love creating or fixing computer hardware or software can get credit for computer technology. If children love something that makes them sweat, give them PE credits – whether it’s dance, gym membership, team sports, or individual athletics. Kids who love speech and debate may get a credit each year. Some children will love a specific THING, like mushrooms, birds, or horses. Others will love a specific IDEA, like economics or politics.

Whatever they love, put it on the transcript!   If you aren't sure how to get that fun stuff on paper, I do have a free webinar called "Grades and Credits and Transcripts, Oh My!"

What do they do for fun? I don't know - but YOU do!  And you can often put that on their high school transcript!

Learn how to translate all those great homeschool high school classes into the words and numbers that colleges will understand.  Get the Total Transcript Solution .

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