Home School Court Report
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No. 2

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by Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
- disclaimer -
What Parents Want to Know . . .

Are you contemplating or perhaps actually preparing to homeschool a high schooler for the first time? If so, you’re probably asking some big questions about how to best address your student’s unique academic needs. In this article, we answer some of these major questions and connect you to resources that will equip you and your student with confidence. Yes, you can homeschool your high schooler!

Becky Cooke
Becky Cooke
Diane Kummer
Diane Kummer

What resources are available to help me navigate the high school years?

In order to confidently prepare for these years, we suggest purchasing a couple of reference books to read prior to starting high school and to keep on hand during the high school years. Here are several that will provide you with the basics you need to know:

  • The High School Handbook: Junior and Senior High School at Home, Mary Schofield
  • Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission, Jeanne Gowen Dennis
  • Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La, Barb Shelton
  • 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, Cathy Duffy

As an HSLDA member family, you can contact us (HSLDA High School Coordinators Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer) with any questions you may have along the way. We provide personal consultations via phone and email.

What courses do I teach and when?

Your high school program depends on many different factors, such as your state’s homeschooling laws, your child’s post-high school plans, and his or her academic abilities. HSLDA’s brochure Developing a Plan for High School: Sample 4-Year Plans (See sidebar: “Here for you.”) will help you lay out a general high school plan. It’s a good idea to begin with the five core subject areas—English, math, science, history, and foreign language—and then add elective courses to round out your program. Using the four-year plan on our website will make it easier for you to chart each year of high school.

Is your student college bound? Then check out prospective college websites to view their high school requirements for admission. The requirements listed will be minimum credit requirements and many applicants will have more than the minimum. HSLDA’s article “Preparing for College” provides additional information to keep in mind as you plan your teen’s high school program.

On the other hand, if your child is considering heading directly into a career or the military, check out high school webpages for links to many helpful resources related to these goals. In addition, the HSLDA high school brochure It’s Off to Work We Go: Homeschooling for the Marketplace, the Home Front, or the Military may be downloaded from our website.

What curriculum do I use? How can I possibly choose from the many options available?

Here for You

HSLDA members may contact our high school coordinators, Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer, for advice on teaching teens. Call 540-338-5600 or visit www.hslda.org/contactstaff.

Check out www.hslda.org/highschool for more helpful information on teaching teens.

Today, the number and variety of resources available make it easy for you to custom-design a high school program that fits your teaching style, your child’s learning style, your child’s career interests, and (most importantly, perhaps!) your budget. First, decide on your teaching approach-traditional, classical, unit studies, unschooling, eclectic? Then, determine how much teacher preparation time you have available in relation to your family and other responsibilities. The answers to these questions will enable you to narrow down the curriculum choices best suited for you and your children. Decide on curriculum for the academic subjects first, and then explore elective resources to supplement your high school program.

Graduation Day

In addition to parent-taught classes, you may want to consider alternatives that make use of outside instructors, such as online courses, correspondence schools, or dual-enrollment college courses. Visit the HSLDA high school website for resources in these areas.*

What records should I keep during high school?

Recordkeeping does not need to be burdensome—keep it simple, and you’ll benefit from having essential information on hand when it’s requested. The first step is to check your state homeschooling laws. Remember that records of your child’s high school academics and activities will be important to colleges, employers, and the military. HSLDA’s Recordkeeping for High School: Simplifying the Process brochure details the main recordkeeping areas, such as academics, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, volunteer service, and awards. For a more in-depth discussion of what short-term and long-term records you may want to keep, see the March/April 2009 Court Report cover story, “Recordkeeping: Is It Worth the Trouble?”*

How do I evaluate high school course work?

The evaluation of high school work includes the credit earned and the grade awarded for each course. There are three major methods to establish credit for a course. If a high school-level textbook is used, upon completion of the course, the credit earned in most states will be one credit for a yearlong course or a half credit for a semester-long course (as indicated by the publisher). However, if you are building your course using a variety of resources or you are using an integrated curriculum, logging hours will be the method you will use to determine credit. To convert hours into credits, a suggested scale to use is 120–180 hours equals one credit. The lower end of the range (120 hours) is adequate for an elective course. The upper end of the range (180 hours) is appropriate for lab science courses, with 150 hours suitable for core academic courses. A third method of evaluation is used when determining credit for dual-enrollment courses. Simply, a one-semester college course is in most cases equal to a one-credit, yearlong high school course.

In addition to evaluating credits, you will also want to determine a method of awarding letter grades for each course. It is important to choose grading guidelines before the course begins.

Will you give tests or quizzes? Assign papers or projects? If you have an idea ahead of time about what components you will be using in each course, grading will be much easier throughout the year. If you need help in this area or would like some grading examples, check out the grading guidelines section of our website or explore the ideas found in Making the Grade by Lesha Myers.*

What is a high school transcript and how do I create one?

Which is scarier? Getting a call from the IRS, having brain surgery, or creating a transcript? From the number of phone calls we receive from concerned parents, the answer is creating a transcript! A transcript is a concise one-page record of your teen’s academic program. The body of the transcript lists courses completed, credits given, and grades awarded. Other items appearing on the transcript include the student’s personal information, school information, summary of total credits, and grade point average. Each time you provide a transcript (to a college, scholarship committee, etc.), it should be a signed and dated original. Colleges, employers, scholarship committees, the military, and vo-tech or trade schools may all request your teen’s transcript. See transcript samples on our website.*

Now, aren’t you glad you kept all those records?

Resource List



4-Year Plan:

Article “Preparing for College”:

Finding your teaching approach:


Alternatives to parent-taught classes:


Evaluating course work:

Creating a transcript:

About the authors

Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer are HSLDA High School coordinators.