Homeschool Tidbits: Homeschooling High School Q&A, Part 1

March 29, 2024

Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 69 –Homeschooling High School Q&A! In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school, and one who is a college graduate!

If there is one thing that stresses out a homeschool parent, it’s the idea of homeschooling through high school. So many opt out entirely because it all just seems like too much to tackle on our own.  But having graduated three of my four kids, I can tell you that not only is it not as scary as you think, but it’s totally doable!

I asked if anyone had questions about homeschooling in the high school years, and you delivered – more than I can manage in one video! So, I’m going to answer a few of those questions today.

By far, the most common question I get is about transcripts—how to make them, what to put on them, and how many credits to give each course—so let’s begin there.

First, let’s demystify transcripts. High school transcripts are just a list of courses taken each year of high school, along with the number of credits, grades, and GPA. That’s all a public or private school provides as well – think of it as a 4-year report card. If you have been record-keeping all along, then this is nothing you can’t handle. If you haven’t – it’s just one extra step.
My favorite tool for this has been a website called – I used their transcripts for my older kids when we applied to colleges and had zero issues. It’s easy to use and it gives you a beautiful transcript at the end of their homeschooling years. You can even set it up to figure out their grades and GPA. It offers you a place to add in extracurriculars, figure out how many credits a course is worth, etc. It’s a phenomenal tool.

What I do is start planning for high school in 8th grade. First, I look at what is required to graduate in our state. Then, if college is on the horizon, I look at the schools in our area that we might apply to and find out what they expect to see on a transcript. Often what they are looking for is a little bit different from what the state graduation requirements are.  For example, they might want to see more math credits, foreign language credits, etc.  Once I know what will be required, I can consider what courses we will take and when.

I have video about big picture planning for high school, so if you want to learn more about that, I highly recommend checking out that video.

But to give you an example, 9th grade might look something like this:

English 1
Earth and Space Science
Algebra I
Jazz Ensemble
Studio Art
Intro to Literary Analysis
Spanish 1

Then we figure out how many credits each course is worth.

Credits are based on how many hours it takes to complete the course. If it is a full year’s worth of work, that’s probably going to be a full credit. If it’s a semester-long course, it’s half a credit. Only a 6 – 8 week class? That’s a ¼ credit.

Another way to figure out credits is to consider the hours spent in the course. So, a core subject, like English, you will likely work on daily. So, if they spent 150 – 180 hours on coursework, it’s a full credit.

Be sure that when your child takes an outside class you specify that you need a grade for your transcripts.

I start making our transcript in 9th grade and add to it each year. That way I’m not scrambling around trying to pull it all together when it’s time to start applying for colleges.

I also have a video about figuring out how to assign grades in high school – so if that is something you need, I recommend checking that video out.

How do you balance extracurriculars with needing time at home?

For my family, we have limited our outside extracurriculars to the evenings/late afternoon so that we can get our work done during the day. We are creatures of habit and routine, and if our schedules get too wacky, we won’t get anything done. I also try to limit the number of outside activities my kids participate in. They don’t need to do everything under the sun to have a good or well-rounded childhood. One or two well-thought-out activities are more than enough.

For example, my youngest is 15, and she takes karate classes. She is also in a leadership program at karate where she is learning to help teach classes and she volunteers once a week to assist. She is dedicated and has made a lot of friends through karate which has been a great experience for her.

My advice is to choose extracurriculars that will best suit your teen and ideally, lead them towards their goals. One of my twins took art classes at the local high school because that’s what made the most sense for her. She’s about to graduate from college with a degree in illustration.

Several people requested more information about planning for high school while you are still in the middle school years.

I think the big picture planning video I mentioned earlier would be super helpful to watch here too. But I’ll just touch on this briefly.

The best time to start thinking about high school is while you are in the middle school years. This is when you can get experimental. Haven’t taken outside classes yet? Do that now. Want to try online courses? Now is the best time. The middle school years are when you can try new things out without consequences. You don’t want to be doing their first ever online class in high school – it takes a minute to adjust to the format, to a new teacher, to new anything! So that first class should be something that doesn’t really matter – something fun. Then, while still in middle school, try a more challenging class. Now your teen will be a pro when it is time to take a class for high school credit.

This is also a great time to figure out what track they will likely be on in the high school years. My kids have all been mostly arts-focused, so we had lots of conversations about that in the years leading up to high school. That helped me to see where we should focus our time when it comes to extracurriculars and electives. Right now, my youngest wants to study digital art with the potential to go into animation. So I’ll be adding more art classes as we move through the high school years so that should she go to art school, she’ll be prepared and have a great portfolio of work to show.

The middle school years are also a great time to start introducing the idea of grades – you don’t have to grade everything yet, but giving grades in a few of their core classes will help them to understand how that works and give them an idea of what high school work will be like.

I hope that I’ve helped today to make homeschooling high school feel less intimidating. I have loved homeschooling my teens – it’s honestly been some of my favorite years in our journey. I hope that I’ve inspired and motivated you to tackle homeschooling during the high school years!

Coming up next…

I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!

Until then, happy reading!

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Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves sharing her love of literature. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on YouTube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

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About Build Your Library

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

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