Assigning High School Credit and Planning High School at Home

Summary:  How to assign homeschool high school credit in 3 easy ways, plus planning high school at home.  #homeschoolhighschool #getintocollege #assignhighschoolcredit

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What is a credit, anyway?

And when we get in the business of assigning credits to our kids, where will that lead us?  Will we lose the very benefits that led us to homeschooling in the first place?

At first assigning high school credit seemed so daunting to me.  Would we have to finish every textbook, cover to cover, or calculate every quarter hour and record it on a form....?  And could we still make our own homemade courses for some subjects?  


As homeschoolers, we look for signs of learning, and as we work with our kids, 1 on 1, we know what they are getting and what they are missing....Assigning credit is just a way to translate what your child has accomplished into terms that the outside world can understand. 

Well, we found it to be a lot easier than we first thought.  We found that we could assign credit and still keep our homeschool style.

Below are three ways to approach high school credits, and we used all of them.  We needed to ramp up our recordkeeping, but still kept our nurturing, homeschool flavor, .....well, most days, anyway! 


- When your child is working in a textbook or online program for one year, then she has earned 1 credit.  

- Then, for one-half credit, an academic course (such as American Government) typically would require one semester or one-half year to complete.

Here's more on this from HSLDA:

"If your child completes a high school-level text by a reputable publisher in an academic area (math, science, English, foreign language, or history), consider the material covered to be one credit.  A one credit course typically requires one school year to complete."

It doesn't require that you check off every page, but that 75% or more has been covered. 

"Covering the material in a textbook does not necessarily mean doing every problem, answering every question, or reading the book from cover to cover, but you should diligently cover the material presented. Some authors calculate teaching 75% of a textbook to equal one credit, but the bottom line is, don't shortchange your child."--------HSLDA

This method of assigning credit can work just as well with an online course, from an established publisher, such as SOS, Tapestry of Grace, Oak Meadow, IEW, Ambleside Online, or Time4Learning, etc.

We used this method for our Oak Meadow Literature and History courses, and also for our science and math. 

My teen worked for a year in each of these courses, but there was always room to focus more on one topic than another, and adapt it to her interests and needs.  

But what about courses that are interest led, or homemade?


Here is a question that I often get  - "What about homemade courses, such as homemade Lit courses, where your child reads their choice of classics, and writes essays about them, that you have assigned?" 

In this case, a rough calculation of hours spent can give you guidance in assigning credit.

from HSLDA:

"For courses that do not use a standard high school-level textbook (perhaps you are putting together your own unit study, or you are using an integrated curriculum), log the hours that your child spends completing the course work. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work. The upper end of this range (180 hours) is usually appropriate for lab science courses, while 150 hours is the average for a year long academic course such as English or History." 

They go on to say that this doesn't mean that you have to calculating every 15 minutes spent on the subject..!

"Don't become legalistic in keeping track of each minute, but generally, when evaluating credit for an academic course, a good rule of thumb is 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 36 weeks, for a one-credit course. Logging hours is a good method of determining credit for elective courses such as art, music, sewing, carpentry, web page design, and homemade courses in core subjects, too."----- HSLDA

So then, a half credit can be earned by working, say, 2  times a week, for approximately 36 weeks.

We used the"hours method" for these three homemade courses:

1.  Speech and Debate  - I kept a running tally of hours spent in Youth and Government meetings, etc.

For example, my teen attended Youth and Government activities, which included public speaking practice and debate at their regular meetings and later at state wide meetings.  We calculated a total of 90 hours, so this became a half credit course.

2.  Visual Art - We did art project two times a week for a year, ie, 36 weeks, which gave her one half credit.

3.  Photography - We worked on this two or three times a  week, going out with our cameras to do nature photography. I taught my daughter myself.  It became a half credit course for fine arts credit. .....and I just had to share this photo, as I loved doing photography with my kiddo:

What if my child demonstrates that she has learned something, and we haven't counted the hours?


Whether your teen has mastered the concepts or skills over the course of a semester or even just during the high school years, credit can be awarded for mastery of that subject.  

Take, for example, a homemade course in film production.  My teen worked on a video, learning concepts and skills, made a video, and then entered it in a contest.  It was accepted, and received a small recognition.  

This indicated a beginning mastery in video production, so she earned her credit that way.

Say, your child wants to study drama.  She signs up for a drama activity, gets a part, and participates in practices and a production.  This shows a beginning level of mastery in drama, and could be half or full credit based on the length of time spent in learning.

This method could also apply to an apprenticeship. For example, you might award your child credit hours in based on working with someone skilled in, say, auto mechanics.  

Once she shows mastery, as determined by the skilled mechanic who is doing the teaching, she can receive high school credit for her work. 

Assigning credit became something that my daughter looked forward to doing.  It was a tangible sign of all the work that she had accomplished.

So I leave you today with some encouragement from Let's Homeschool High School:  

"College preparation doesn’t have to be complicated. For homeschoolers, it is simply a series of planning stages that parents and students go through to make sure they are on the right track." ----LHSHS

And it is still possible to stay on your own homeschooling path. 

It just needs to be adapted for the process of "homeschooling towards college", with the emphasis on homeschooling....and you are on your own wondrous journey! 

Homeschoolers are being widely accepted by colleges, especially when they have good course descriptions and quality reference letters coming along for the ride.  

Planning High School at Home

When we began thinking about high school, it was a little daunting to us.  

We had been homeschooling for years, but the thought of doing high school meant that we would have to make transcripts, assign high school credit and other things that we did not yet know how to do.

We went ahead and homeschooled all the way, and I am so glad that we did.  Homeschooling prepared our teen well for college and kept our family relationships strong, throughout the important teen years.

Are you looking for my best tips on planning your high school homeschool

I wrote a second edition of my book, based on my experience homeschooling high school and helping my teen get accepted to college. 

Are you new to homeschooling high school?  

Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition 

The 17 Chapters include:
>Chapter 1 - Skipping Public School and How to Start Homeschooling if you are a Newbie
>Chapter 2 - 101 Reasons to Homeschool High School
>Chapter 3 - Researching and Getting Started
  Chapter 4 - Planning High School and Making a 4 Year Plan
>Chapter 5 - Choosing Your High School Curriculum
>Chapter 6 - Three Ways to High School Credit
>Chapter 7 - Making Your Teen's Transcripts
>Chapter 8 - 100 High School Electives
>Chapter 9 - Making Homemade Courses
>Chapter 10 - Writing a Winning College Essay
>Chapter 11 - Course Descriptions and Reference Letters
>Chapter 12 - The Common Application - Your GUIDE
>Chapter 13 - Preparing Your Teen for College Writing
>Chapter 14 - Dealing with College Testing SAT/ACT
>Chapter 15 - Top Sources for College Scholarships
>Chapter 16 - Dealing with “Those Questions” from Others
>Chapter 17 - Don’t Forget the FUN!

>There are 12 downloadable high school homeschool planning printables plus a transcript form for you to just fill in. The kind of transcript form that the colleges are used to seeing.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is a Christian and mom to her college grad whom she homeschooled from the early years onward.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd edition.   She offers homeschool help through BJ's Consulting. 

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  1. This is such a wonderfully, thorough explanation Betsy! Complete with links to resources - thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for your nice comment, Hodgepodgemom!

  2. This is great - very clear. It helps to alleviate my concern of homeschooling high school. :)

  3. Thanks, Eva,

    So nice of you to stop by and share! I hope that this blog series will be of help to you and others who are homeschooling high school. Your comment will serve to encourage others!

  4. Great post, Betsy! I'm featuring you on the blog hop this week!

    1. Thanks, +Anne Campbell, and I'll be hopping over to the Hearts for Home blog hop tomorrow! I enjoy seeing all the posts, and checking out all those great ideas!

  5. Betsy, I have visited your blog a few times and really have enjoyed all your writing. This one is no different!!

  6. Thanks, Bekki Sayler, for your kind comments! That is so nice to hear I try to make my posts easily readable and approachable, to encourage families who are homeschooling high school. Thanks again for stopping by BJ's Homeschool. If you are interested, I am on google plus, at +Betsy Sproger.

  7. Great ways to get the high school credits :) Thanks for sharing on this week's Inspired By Me Mondays; hope you join us again this week! Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough

    1. Thanks Rachael De Bruin, for stopping by! I will be joining you again on Inspired By Me Mondays and have a great week!

  8. This is wonderful! Thanks so much for the info. I have two in HS right now. Pinning! ~Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    1. Thanks, Heather, for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,

  9. Thanks for stopping by, Heather @ My Overflowing Cup! I am glad that you found this info helpful!

  10. Fantastic post! Hopping by from @SquishableBaby's #Homeschoollinkup. we are continually debating on returning to traditional homeschooling (we cyber school at currently) and this is great info to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing. Have a super weekend.
    ~Cool Mom for
    The Stanley & Katrina Gang

    1. Thanks for commenting, +Cool Mom! I hope you have a cool day, and we always enjoy linking up on the #Homeschoollinkup!

  11. This is an awesome collection of ideas. I have two homeschool grads (and we used a combination of all your methods!) and one currently homeschooling highschool. You've reminded me of a few things we should be recording! :)

  12. Thanks, Lee, from Bright Sky Mom. Congratuations on your graduating two students already! My grad is in college, just started this fall, and is looking at what she might like to do for a major. It is an exciting time, but I do miss homeschooling high school with her. I am glad that this post was a bit of a help to you! Once I figured out high school credits, it made the last years of homeschooling really fun.

  13. This is perfect. We have kept track of hours, given credit for mastery, and used textbooks for college credit. You explain each very well. I will have to share this with my homeschool friends!

    1. Thank you, Amanda! And please do share this with your homeschooling friends! That's why I blog, to try to support other homeschooling families on their journeys. Have a good one!

  14. This was very helpful to me. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience!

    ~ Deah =)

    1. You are most welome! Enjoy your homeschooling time with your teen!


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