How to Homeschool High School: Course Requirements. How to Homeschool High School: Course Requirements. What classes do your teens need for graduation? What should be covered each year? Here’s help!
How to Homeschool High School: Course Requirements
I remember when my first son was finishing homeschooling middle school how nervous I was about homeschooling high school. Being so concerned about creating a valid transcript with the right courses for my son I was worried. I was concerned about choosing the right courses so that he could be college attractive.
That was almost three decades ago. That son now has his PhD, is married to another homeschool graduate. Both have professional careers (in fact, Dr. Tillman wrote our popular Philosophy in Four Questions questions curriculum). So obviously we figured it out.
In fact, all five of my kids are homeschool graduates and college graduates, employed and active in the community. Homeschooling high school worked then and works now.
What about you? What classes do your teens need for graduation? How can they make sure their transcripts are college attractive (or are best for whichever career they want)? Let’s take a look.
How to homeschool high school: Course requirements
The first thing to know is that each state has its own course requirements for graduation. (You can check Homeschool Legal Defense for state requirements or check your state’s Department of Education’s website.) Not only that, each college is looking for specific courses when considering college applications. Also, teens who are planning on a trade do not need to concentrate on honors-level academics, but rather on career prep. You see, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school!
So let’s get the basic classes required for graduation
We will start with the core courses that all students will need for graduation. To understand the details of earning credits check out this post.
English/Language Arts, ELA, English or Language Arts are all names for the same course. Most states require four credits in ELA, one credit per year.
ELA is the most cumbersome credit of all. It generally covers five different areas each year:
- Public Speaking
We often are asked what the correct course of study is for Literature and Writing components of the Language Arts credits. The cool thing is that there’s not ONE right order of handing lit and writing. But if you would like to use a popular order check out these posts:
However, if you are new to homeschooling high school and would like to have all five components chosen for your teen, all in one place, check out our comprehensive ELA bundles. SO easy to keep track of!
States vary widely on math course requirements. Colleges also vary widely, also. Not only that but college majors vary on the maths they are looking for (for instance, a STEM major will usually need Pre-Calculus or even Calculus on their transcripts but and English major may not need either). If you have a college-bound homeschool high schooler, it is wise to check out the entrance requirements for several colleges. (Also our friend, Marcy at Ben and Me has an excellent post about what colleges are looking for.)
Often by graduation teens will need to have completed these mathematics courses:
- Financial Literacy: 1/2 to 1 credit
- Algebra: 1 credit
- Algebra 2: 1 credit
- Geometry: 1 credit
Higher maths that might be needed could include:
Many parents feel overwhelmed when teaching higher maths. How do you teach what you do not know? No worries, there are a number of ways to handle it. Check out this episode of Homeschool Highschool Podcast for help.
Course Requirements for History or Social Studies vary from state to state. However, many states require:
- American History: 1 credit
- World History: 1 credit
- American Government/Civics: 1/2 credit
- Economics: 1/2 credit
For states or colleges that require more than three credits (many require four credits) we often find these History/Social Studies classes needed for graduation:
- Geography: 1/2 credit
- Social Science (Psychology, Human Development): 1/2 credit
- Elective History: 1/2 credit
These courses may be done in any order you please. However, if you have a teen who is planning on transferring later on to a traditional school setting, it would be wise to look at the website for your local school district and check their graduation requirements or course of study (your state Department of Education’s website might have the same information).
As homeschoolers, you can determine what you want to cover in each of these courses. Check out his post on earning credits to give a little guidance. If you want more help, hop over to 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group and ask. You will get lots of ideas and support. We love to have more 7th Sisters!
Course Requirements for the Sciences vary from state to state and especially from college to college (and college major to college major). Check your state Department of Education and if your teen is college bound, check out admissions requirements for several favorite colleges). Many states require:
- Biology: 1 credit
- Chemistry: 1 credit
- Health: 1/2 to 1 credit
Homeschool high schoolers may also need:
- Physics: 1 credit
- Elective science (especially vocation-related science if going into a trade): 1 or more credits
World Languages (Foreign Languages)
Course Requirements for the Languages vary from state to state and especially from college to college (and college major to college major). Check your state Department of Education and if your teen is college bound, check out admissions requirements for several favorite colleges).
If your state requires a World Language, the requirement is usually 1 or 2 credits. Some colleges may want 3 credits.
Phys Ed requirements vary from state to state. Usually it is one or two credits. Check out this post on how to earn Phys Ed credits. Or if you have a not-sportsy teen, check out this post.
Many states require 1 credit of Fine Arts, but if your homeschool high schooler likes music, art, dance, photography or drama, they can earn more credits. Here’s a post and and Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode to help. And for not-artsy types, here are some ideas.
Homeschool high schoolers can fill the remaining needed credits for graduation with electives that are meaningful to them. This is one of the best things about homeschooling high school. Teens can really lean into interests and talents or explore until they find an interest or talent. This post will help you and your teen choose electives.
Also, our friend Meryl at FundaFunda Academy has a post on choosing electives.
You can do this! We will talk about choosing curriculum next week (but you can get a preview here).
For more encouragement, check out posts from our friends:
- Tips for Homeschooling High School from The Homeschool Scientist
- Planning Homeschool High School from The Organized Homeschooler
- A real homeschool mom’s story of her year from A Rup’s Life
- Is homeschooling high school as easy as pie? No, but you can do it!
Be sure to check out our “Authoritative Guide” posts with lots of how-to’s.
- Authoritative Guide on How to Homeschool High School
- Authoritative Guide to Transitioning to Homeschool High School (from traditional school)
- Authoritative Guide to Planning Homeschool High School
- Authoritative Guide to the Homeschool High School Transcript
- Authoritative Guide to Electives for Homeschool High School
- Authoritative Guide to Literature for Homeschool High School
- Authoritative Guide to Out-of-the-Box Credits for Special Needs Homeschool High Schoolers
- Authoritative Guide to Career Exploration for Homeschool High School
- Authoritative Guide to Co-ops for Homeschool High School
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