High school probably brings about the highest level of anxiety for a homeschooling parent, with teaching a child to read at a close second. What courses do they need to graduate? How do I know this is good enough for college?
On the plus side, you can plan high school in a full four year chunk, meaning you have some of the work done ahead of time for the three upcoming years. Most resources I’ve come across recommend doing this so all the courses are planned out, and in an order that makes sense to you. One downside: the time spent planning before the freshman year is greater than previous years.
So, how to put it all together? One step at a time, of course!
Find your state’s high school requirements
It’s up to you to know what your state requires to consider your student “graduated”. In our state, Mom can put together the transcript and consider her child graduated. A simple Google search will guide you to finding what courses need to be completed in each state. Some categories will be fairly general, like “3 language arts credits” and some will be more specific, like “3 science credits, including Biology and Chemistry”. One credit is generally considered a full year course.
Look into college entrance requirements
Do you have a specific college in mind? Make sure to look at what their entrance requirements are as they may be higher than the state requirements. Even if you don’t have a specific college in mind, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at some of the requirements for universities in your state, or even places like Yale or Harvard. I looked at the requirements for Harvard last year, just to get an idea of what they wanted to see. We don’t plan on our kids going to Harvard, but I want to make sure their education at home is not a hindering factor in to whether they could be accepted or not.
Start your spreadsheet
Whether you do this in a spreadsheet program like Excel or Numbers, or choose to write everything out by hand, having a spreadsheet format helps to look at everything in a systematic way. I organized mine by semester, and jotted down the courses I plan on having Care Bear complete.
I started with just marking down which categories I thought would fit in each year
Then I moved on to putting in specific courses
I only went through 10th grade since our plan right now is to have Care Bear take her Junior and Senior year of high school at a local college through the state funded program, in sha Allah. I doubled up on some areas in our plan so she can take more career focused courses at the local college and count them as high school electives.
Look into credit by exam options, as needed
We are very excited to be on the credit by exam track, so I looked into what exams would fit what types of classes. Language Arts was largely left as a generic marker on my spreadsheet until I looked into this further. All of the Language Arts courses now match with an exam Care Bear can take and earn college credit. In order to find what universities and colleges accept in the way of credit by exam options, visit transfer.org, then click on Quick Equivalencies. You will need to have a specific college or university in mind to use this tool, though.
Start looking for resources
Many high school homeschoolers I talk to are either doing a) a virtual school, or b) using a wide variety of resources ranging from online classes, to parent guided classes, to self directed classes, and anything else in between. Know what’s out there early on so you have some go-to places when it comes time to start buying. If you have the luxury of time, start a year early. In my experience, finding quality high school resources is harder than finding resources for middle school, but I also have very specific things I’m looking for, so my experience could be different. Still, it’s great if you can find one resource to take your student through their whole math program, or their whole science program so there’s some continuity.
I hope that helps! Any other tips to wade through the high school years with a solid plan?
The rest of the series to check out!
- Q&A: Homeschool Scheduling (February 20, 2013)
- Q&A: Homeschool Time Management (March 7, 2013)
- Q&A: Keeping Track of Grade Level (March 18, 2013)
- Best Kids Islamic Resources (April 1, 2013)
- Q&A: Planning the High School Years (May 7, 2013)
- Q&A: What is a co-op, and why have one? (May 28, 2013)
- Q&A: Pros and Cons of Virtual School (June 10, 2013)
- Q&A - I'm not patient enough to homeschool (June 26, 2013)
- How Do You Check Academic Performance? (October 19, 2015)