High School Graduation Tips for Homeschoolers
Some of you have asked for High School Graduation Tips and how to know that you are meeting the requirements for your state. Since my son is in 9th grade this year, and since I know it is a big deal that he gets a true valid diploma, I started planning and organizing when he was going into 7th grade. Middle school was sort of a practice run, because it’s not “official” the way high school is. (Post may contain affiliate links).
The other day, I was thinking, “My little system is working so well!” I purchased this little portable file cabinet on wheels, and it has been super helpful.
For example, I can move it out of the way when I’m not using it, which is a HUGE deal because we are living in an apartment that is less than 1000 square feet.
As a result of my system working and giving me confidence, I decided to share it with you. Hopefully, you’ll get some new ideas that will help you feel more organized and on top of things.
The little file cart I purchased was less than $50 and I organize it like I would any other file cabinet. Since I only have one child, some of this might be a little simpler for me. However, what I do is I start with 8 1/2 by 11″ hanging folders. I label them by main subject. For example, Math, English, Social Studies, etc.
The sub-folders I have created include teacher notes, answer keys, to do work, and work completed. You may have other ideas for that. If you have more than one child, you could create more folders (and have a bigger file cabinet (they have bigger ones than I one I’m using).
When I first decided to homeschool, I discovered HSLDA. This stands for “Homeschool Legal Defense Association.” HSLDA is the oversight organization in the United States. They can help you get off to a good start. They have lots of resources, and if you become a member, they will even defend you in court if need be.
I haven’t needed them for legal defense, but have picked up some ideas through their site. And, particularly because Nathan is in High School, I want to keep tabs on what HSLDA has to say as they are usually on top of changes in homeschooling laws.
One of the things HSLDA recommends is researching the specific academic requirements of your state.
My state is Oregon. So, I just typed in “Oregon High School Graduation Requirements 2023” and looked for the information. This is what I got. I am using the basic table from this site to help me with my planning. (It hasn’t updated since I last checked. However, I will keep checking every year, just in case)
In the state of Oregon, in order to graduate with the standard diploma, Nathan has to take three years of math. However, the three years include Algebra 1 and beyond. I chose to enroll him in pre-algebra this year so that he would more easily be able to master Algebra. This means he will get a total of four years of math (he is not happy about this).
I’m okay with this, because even though he hates math, he is not terrible with math. His biggest issue is math facts, and quite possibly, if he would have remained in traditional school, he would be further back than he is currently. He can understand the concepts, and when he has a calculator, he can deal with his difficulties with math facts.
After all, a calculator will only give you a correct answer if you enter the numbers in correctly.
In addition to math, Oregon requires:
- Four credits English/Language Arts (years=credits).
- At least three years/credits of science
- One of the science classes needs to include a lab
- Also, three years of social science
- One credit/year of physical education (PE)
- One credit/year of health
- Three credits/years of either a second language or other arts career and technical education
- Six elective credits
Total of 24 credits, divided by 4, is 6 credits per year, which would be 3 credits per semester.
And one credit/year is equal to 150 to 180 hours (can be as low as 120, depending on the course).
If you’re homeschooling, this is a really good thing to know. Knowing the specifics will make it much easier to plan and also to reassure yourself that your child is doing what he or she needs to do to meet the minimum requirements for graduation.
It’s good to get an idea of the number of hours so you can determine about how much time your child should be spending in school each day as well. You can take the 150 hours, divide it up into the number of school days planned, and voila you have an average amount of time to spend each day.
Of course, you can adjust as necessary throughout the year—it is not set in stone.
And I don’t keep track of every little hour, I simply get an idea for how much time he is spending—or better yet, if he completes the reading and other assignment, it counts as an hour or whatever time—even if he didn’t actually spend that amount of time to finish.
Speaking of which. If you have a child that consistently completes assignments more quickly than average and is highly motivated, you should consider a higher level diploma (I don’t know what it’s called, but I believe that in Oregon there are three levels, standard diploma, adjusted, and higher requirement diploma).
When you are planning your semester or year, keep in mind extra-curricular activities. For example, if your child is taking piano lessons for 2 hours a week (plus practicing in-between lessons), include this time in the total hours spent in music and give your child credit for the time spent. And if you like, you can add some written work to the “class,” like an essay on a particular composer or something similar. Once your child completes the required minimum hours (150+), then you can add 1 credit of music to his transcript.
An example in our house is that my son is involved in puppet ministry at our church. He spends, on average, 3 hours per month at his meetings, at least 1-hour (ideally) practicing for the performance, and another hour prepping before the performance. He is involved year-round. So, by the end of 4 years, he will have earned 1 credit in drama (.25 credit per year x 4 years = 1 credit).
So, make sure you give your kiddos credit for their extra-curricular activities as you deem appropriate.
In addition to Drama, Nathan is currently enrolled in
- 9th Grade English
- Social Studies and Geography
- Life Science
This year he is taking a Cinema Studies class for 9th grade English. It’s a great experience, watching classic movies, and then discussing and writing about them. This class is working out wonderfully because it involves movies instead of books; 2 movies per month (each movie counts as one novel).
Some of the movies we’ve watched so far include Casablanca, Places in the Heart, Rudy, and High Noon. We are also reading on the side, and I assign writing related to the topics we are learning. For example, when we were studying the presidents at the beginning of the semester, Nathan wrote two essays on two different presidents.
We also read on the side.
For example, before bed. I read to him. There are many reasons why I read to him. First of all, he likes it when I read to him. Second of all, I read faster than he does. Third of all, I honestly believe that when you read to your children, it really helps them build their vocabulary. It also helps develop listening skills and develops their imagination. I especially love reading historical fiction because it makes the real story and real person come to life in ways that an ordinary textbook can’t do. Lastly, if gives us time together.
So, there are LOTS of awesome reasons and excuses to read to your children!
For science, Nathan is reading “The Grand Experiment” Parts 1 and 2. We’ve already finished the first book! He is super smart in science. So, I’m going to have to consider what we are going to do for the rest of the semester!
We’ve studied several Christian martyrs in Social Studies with the assistance of Schoolhouse Teachers and Torchlighters. We also read the book, “When Lightning Struck,” which is a historical fiction/biography written through the eyes of Martin Luther.
This book was written by Danika Cooley. It was really well written and we both enjoyed it! Martin Luther was indeed a complex individual.
For PE, Nathan is signed up for a one-hour class at the local recreation center, “PE for Homeschoolers,” and we drag his reluctant butt to the gym two times a week for weight training (not his favorite thing to do :D).
And last, but not least, Nathan spends 15 hours a week with his ABA therapist. This is most DEFINITELY Life Skills. And I am most definitely giving him credit for the work he is doing. (Not sure how much, but definitely some credit).
Hold on a Second!!! How Am I Supposed to Record All of Those Classes and Hours Without Getting a Headache?
This is where Applecore comes in!
I have all sorts of resources that I’ve gathered from all different places. However, whenever I’m stuck on a subject, and to help with organization and direction, one of the places I go to is Schoolhouse Teachers. And I use Applecore system for transcripts and scheduling.
Applecore makes it really easy (not an affiliate).
For example, at the beginning of the year I utilized Applecore to create his course overview (see picture at right). This shows which subjects he’s taking and how much credit he’s going to earn as a result of completing the course by the end of the year (or the end of the semester).
Then I add his schedule for Monday through Thursday plus Friday for life skills what he’s doing every day. Note that I did this mainly for record keeping purposes. I find that in the day-to-day flow of things, it’s much easier to have a hard copy schedule that I can go to plan my day and week.
And last but not least, there’s attendance section (see picture below).
You can just mark attendance based on every day that your child is in school. If you do this, you will have a permanent record which is really nice. And there is no need to update it every day. Once a week, or even once a month, will do.
I actually paid extra for the Applecore Gold because of the fact that Nathan is in high school.
One of my favorite things about Applecore is that it’s online, on their server. So, I don’t have to worry about losing it.
However, if you prefer to keep track offline, then this is another reason to consider Schoolhouse Teachers.
Schoolhouse Teachers is always a good deal, but at certain times of the year you can get even better deals for membership. And they are also a great source for high school graduation tips.
Plus, if you have multiple kids, you only have to buy one membership for the whole family! And there are classes for adults as well. For example, Graphic Design, How to Start a Business, stuff like that.
In regard to scheduling, Schoolhouse Teachers can also help you with this. For example, once you join you have access to their HUGE planners, which are updated yearly. Plus, the awesome digital magazine, Old Schoolhouse, and a free subscription to World Book Online.
The planners are available for high school and elementary level. Though I think the high school level might only be available if you have a high school membership, which is a little bit more, because it includes EVEN MORE stuff.
Anyway, lots of choices for you to consider and hopefully the high school graduation tips for homeschoolers in this post are helpful to you!
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1/29/20: Lifeschooling Launch Kit. Click here to find out more.
Thank you for being here. 😊