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Courses That Fit: High School Curricula for Homeschoolers

written by: Donna Clarke • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/8/2012

High school represents a time of reward as teens transition from dependent learners to independent thinkers, exploring and discovering interests and preparing for life's journey. Parents of homeschoolers can ensure courses that fulfill both wants and needs. It's a cinch if you've done your homework.

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    What About High School?

    The journey of homeschooling with its unique challenges and fantastic rewards should evolve organically from the beginning courses planned in primary grades to the collaborative joy of high school course mastery and graduation. But, when it comes to high school, what do you teach? What courses are required? What can be taught? What about college? Fear not, plan aplenty!

    • College? It may seem premature, but choosing courses beginning in the freshman year of high school that are intriguing to your teen, as well as to a college admissions officer, fulfills multiple goals: A happy student, an interested college or university, and a stress-free high school journey. Some high-schoolers may opt to take college courses concurrently during homeschool high school.

    • Are there graduation requirements? There are state requirements for high school graduation. If you are part of an umbrella, then the requirements of your umbrella might differ slightly from that of your state. Colleges and universities also have specific coursework that they prefer in addition to the basic graduation requirements. When choosing courses, be sure to fulfill those requirements that apply goals and interests. If your teen is interested in math, and your state or umbrella requires two credits of high school math, usually Algebra I and Geometry, then go ahead and indulge your teen with Algebra II, Trigonometry and Calculus! The extra courses are never fruitless! They can be applied to math or elective classes, and schools will notice the extra effort!

    • How do I know if course requirements are met? Graduation requirements by state are usually available on line at state DOE websites. The requirements are the same for public school students and homeschool students. Having the requirements of several state DOEs offers a broader perspective and allows you to meet and perhaps exceed your state requirements. If you are using a private umbrella, then the requirements may be available upon request. Should your umbrella not have documented requirements, it is always best to defer to the state.

    • Does my teen need a transcript? Unlike a diploma, a transcript is a written record of courses taken, grades achieved, credits attributed and fulfillment graduation requirement. Colleges and universities require official transcripts as part of the admission process. It is a personal choice whether to participate in an umbrella program that provides a transcript, or you can design a transcript independently. The state is does not provide transcripts to homeschooled students.

    • What are credit hours? Credit hours are measured as the number of hours attributed to a given course. Ordinarily, courses are 1/2 credit or 90 hours per semester of high school. Usually, to fulfill one credit of Math, English, Science or History, the student would perform two semesters or 180 hours of work.

    • Preparation over-panic! Designing courses around what is required is easy when you have included components of what is desired! Language buffs can compare or contrast languages with a year each of Spanish, French, German, and an ancient language, such as Latin, Greek or Hebrew. Budding historians can enjoy a year each of world, national, political, and economic history. Future writers can choose from courses of study including: Comedy Writing, The Short Story, Newspaper Writing vs. E-news Writing, How to Write Poetry, Novels vs. Novellas. Perhaps Accounting, Economics, or Physics from a mathematical perspective suits your teen. Concerned about our earth? Horticulture, Meteorology, the Study of Climate Change, or The Impact of the Loss of Our Rain Forests on the Planet are all potential science courses.

    High school affords the homeschooling family unique opportunities of growth and learning, along with exploration and debate. This final stage of a homeschool journey, when approached with confidence and knowledge, is also one of joy, fulfillment and wonderful memories.