How to Homeschool High School: Earning Credits

By request, 7Sisters will be doing a series of posts on how to homeschool high school. Earning credits is the topic of this post.

How to Homeschool High School: Earning Credits

How to Homeschool High School: Earning Credits

Many parents feel nervous when they are faced with homeschooling high school. It can feel intimidating to figure out:

  • Credits
  • Grading and GPAs
  • What credits are needed for graduation
  • Deciding appropriate levels and rigor
  • Transcripts
  • Choosing the right courses and formats
  • Graduation
  • College and/or career preparation

7Sisters will be sharing the things we have learned as homeschooling moms for decades. We have been (and still are) leaders in the homeschool community, either locally or digitally. We have helped hundreds of local homeschool high schoolers fulfill graduation requirements and successfully move on to college or career. I will share the ways our homeschool high schoolers have succeeded in earning credits.

High school, whether at home or a traditional school, requires that students earn credits for graduation.

What is a credit in homeschool high school?

A credit in homeschool high school is the accountability or proof that a student has met educational requirements for a subject. Credits in high school are generally based on Carnegie units, which originally set the standard for earning a credit as: 120 hours of instruction.

However, these days many states have extended the numbers of hours needed to earn a credit, ranging from 120-180 hours. (Many homeschoolers also join a supervising organization, which uses and sometimes exceeds state guidelines. These organizations may be called umbrella, charter or hybrid schools, among other things.) Our local umbrella school requires teens to earn 135 hours of education per credit.

Each state has a different requirement for number of hours per credit. To clarify the hours needed for your state, we encourage you to check (and join) Homeschool Legal Defense Association (we are not affiliates). OR just be safe and aim for 180 hours of education per subject.

Teen homeschooling high school this year? Feel intimidated? It's okay! You CAN do it!

What does “hours of instruction mean” in earning credits in homeschool high school?

When a student is in traditional school, the phrase “hours of instruction” connotes time sitting in a classroom, learning from a teacher. In homeschooling high school, “hours of instruction” can happen a number of ways:

How to homeschool high school: Earning credits

Here are several ways our teens have earned credits for their homeschool transcripts.

Time with parent, tutor or mentor apprenticing or experiencing the subject

If parents, tutors or mentors have expertise in an area of interest, teens can spend time apprenticing to learn. Students should keep a log of what they have done including:

  • Date
  • Amount of time
  • Brief description of activity or learning that occurred

Keep a total of the hours spent until your homeschool high schooler reaches the required 120-180 hours for a credit.

Independent study with textbook

You do not need to log hours if you are completing a textbook. Texts are usually one credit or one-half credit (you can usually find this information in product descriptions. 7SistersHomeschool texts are an example of full and half credit texts. Our texts are also include instructions on meaningful ways to level up the text to high powered Honors credits for college-bound teens.

Independent study by personal research

If your homeschool high schoolers has areas of interest they want to explore and enjoy doing research, they can earn credits by keeping logs of time spent:

They should keep a log of what they have done including:

  • Date
  • Amount of time
  • Brief description of activity or learning that occurred

Keep a total of the hours spent until your homeschool high schooler reaches the required 120-180 hours for a credit.

Participating in online courses

Homeschool high schoolers who are taking online courses (live or self-paced) usually do not need to log hours. The person or organization managing the course will assign credits.

Educational experiences

Educational experiences include:

    • Field trips
    • Movies, documentaries
    • Hands-on activities

If a student is interested in a subject and wants to explore it with livelier experiences, this is a good choice. This kind of credit is best for electives or for leveling up a core subject (English/Language Arts, Maths, Sciences, Social Studies).

They should keep a log of what they have done including:

  • Date
  • Amount of time
  • Brief description of activity or learning that occurred

Keep a total of the hours spent until your homeschool high schooler reaches the required 120-180 hours for a credit.

Dual-enrollment college courses

Many community colleges and some universities allow homeschool high schoolers to take a few courses during high school. Teens who pass these courses earn high school and college credit at the same time. However, colleges are on a different credit system.

  • A one-semester college course may earn three or four college credits.
  • That one-semester college course is only ONE credit for the homeschool transcript.

CLEP testing

Homeschool high schoolers can sometimes earn high school and college credit at the same time by CLEPing. If they pass a CLEP test in an area of expertise, they may earn college and high school credit. Not all colleges accept CLEP, so check colleges of interest for information.

Can homeschool high schoolers earn partial credits?

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Yes! Teens can earn partial credits.

  • .25 credit (30-45 hours)
  • .5 credit (60-90 hours)
  • 1.0 credit (120-180 hours)

This is especially useful for electives that help teens explore interests.

One thing that is important to know: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school and you CAN do this!

For more ideas, check out posts from our friends:

Also get more information than you can dream in our Authoritative Guide to Homeschool High School post series:

BTW- We are not affiliates of any of the links from our friends, we simply like their work.

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How to Homeschool High School: Earning Credits

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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