Assigning Credit and Planning High School @ Home

Summary: Assigning high school credit to your homeschooled teen is NOT hard to do. Here are 3 ways to high school credit, and ALL of their work counts  Tips for getting started planning your high school homeschool are included as well, and what is in my easy-to -ead guide to high school, on SALE for $3.49, with exclusive high school planning forms.  Are you worried about making homeschool transcripts, writing course descriptions and college?  It is ALL in there!

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?

Many parents who are contemplating homeschooling high school wonder just how they would go about assigning credit.

And whether it would interfere with their chosen homeschool style.
We found that was not the case. 

Assigning High School Credit 

Researching around the web, we found that there are 3 easy ways to assign high school credit.

Assigning high school credit is not hard to do, even for those of you who haven't done it before!

And, no, you don't have to count every hour that your teen works on their studies.

Assigning high school credit is not hard to do.  And there is a way to assign credit for all of the work they have done, and some of their activities, too.

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

Our cat always likes to help with our online courses.

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, AmblesideOnline, 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. 

We made use of all 3 of the methods discussed above,  allowing us to make some homemade courses and follow our daughter's interests a lot.

Now that we have covered assigning high school electives, how do we then plan for homeschooling our teens?  What else is involved?  

Planning High School at Home

Now that my daughter got accepted to college with her homeschool transcript and now is a college grad, I want to help other families  who are homeschooling high school with college in mind.

My book/ebook, Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, is on Amazon  and is both a helpful guide to high school and a help for college, too.

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

But how do you deal with both of these things?

That is why I wrote my book.

Have you seen my NEW Complete Guide to college for homeschoolers yet? 

Barnes and Noble $11.99

Kindle is coming!

It lays out 10 easy steps for homeschool to college, and covers everything you need to help your teen get into the college of their choice, with 7 NEW chapters. Recommended by Lessa Scherrer, a certified college counselor and a homeschooling mama of 3.

Create your own unique and nurturing high school program for your teen and showcase their accomplishments to the colleges. 

The 17 Chapters include:

>Chapter 1 - 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.

College in Mind - 2nd Edition

Lit Pick did a review of my book and gave it 5 stars. Click below for that review:

Vicki Tillman, college counselor from 7 Sisters Homeschool says:

"This is a terrific resource for homeschooling parents...and I can attest that the information is spot on, chock full of resources!"

I have lots more high school and the college posts here on my blog, and I am always writing more!
Homeschooling high school had it's struggles but yielded us so many gifts, for my daughter, for our family and for her high school education.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy blogs at BJ's Homeschool about the early yearshigh schoolcollegeand is the author of "Homeschooling High School with College in Mind".  She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting.

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Copyright 2016
Revised 2019 
@ BJ's Homeschool

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  1. Thanks for the informative articles. I have learned a lot from your blog.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, and leaving your kind comment, Debbie,


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