How to Keep Records for Homeschool High School: An Authoritative Guide

Another in our Authoritative Guide Series: How to Keep Records for Homeschool High School.

How to Keep Records for Homeschool High School: An Authoritative Guide

How to Keep Records for Homeschool High School: An Authoritative Guide

Record keeping for high school can feel stressful. These are the years that count as our teens move toward their future. Whether they are bound for career, military or college what they do in high school matters. AND having proof they did it matters!

Why do you need to keep records for homeschool high school?

I sometimes get this question. After all, we are homeschooling and we know what is best for our teens. Why do we have to prove to anyone other than ourselves that our teens have been educated?

There are several answers to this question. Let’s take a look at each:

Teens going into a career or trade schools

According to the situation, teens will need to produce a diploma, transcript or GED. So you, at a minimum will need those records.

Teens going into the military

These days, homeschool graduates need to produce a diploma and/or transcript to join the military. (In the old days, our local homeschool grads would also have to show their recruiter their portfolios- but we have not seen this in a long time.) For more on what military recruiters are looking for in homeschool high schoolers, check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with a military recruiter and this interview with a military homeschool mom.

Teens going to college

Most of the time these days, college-bound homeschooler will only need to produce a transcript when they fill out their Common Application (or other online or paper college application). There still may be a few colleges here and there that want to see portfolios for application. (Some majors- such as art or music may need a specific portfolio related to that major. Talk to the college admissions officers at the college of interest about this.)

Teens playing NCAA sports in college

Teens who are going to play NCAA sports will need transcripts and lots of documentation about their courses. NCAA has strict regulations about coursework and records, so make sure you and your teens are in touch with NCAA for the latest (also coaches will often give helpful advice on this). We have lots of helpful information on documentation for NCAA in this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview.

High school paperwork. It's a lot but you can do it!

So, what kinds of records do you need to keep for your homeschool high schoolers?

Master portfolio

A master portfolio is a record-keeping device where you can keep important documents from all four years of homeschool high school in one place.

What form can a master portfolio take?

It can be a:

  • Large binder
  • A crate
  • A filing cabinet or filing box

There’s not ONE right way to create a master portfolio. However, whatever format you choose, you’ll be glad you kept one! This post goes into detail on setting up your teens’ master portfolios.

Here’s what to include in the master portfolio:

Remember: there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…or to keep records. With that in mind, think through these suggestions:

Proof or backup records

These are records that prove your teen actually did what their transcript says they did. YOU know they did it and your teens know they did it. However, there may be a place in life they have to prove they did it. (The craziest time I ran into this was with a homeschool graduate who applying to a high-powered graduate school after they finished their bachelors degree. That grad school wanted to see proof of her coursework in high school!)

These backup records can include:

Course descriptions

  •  Course descriptions give detail about the courses listed on a homeschool transcript. You will mostly want to include course descriptions for core courses and courses in your teens’ future college major interests.
    • These descriptions often include:
      • Text used for course
      • Topics covered by the student in the course
      • Methods used for instruction (text, real books, inquiry-based activities, etc)
      • How the course was graded
      • `Amount of credit earned and level of rigor
      • Include the syllabus, if one was used
      • For more information, check out this post on creating course descriptions
    • Papers written
      • We suggest some rough drafts, too. This shows that the papers were not purchased from some paper-writing website.
    • Sample tests
      • You do not need to keep all the tests for every course
        • Here’s a post on grading tests, if you need some encouragement in this area
  • Testing scores and reports
  • Log sheets for credits earned by logging hours
  • Awards earned from competitions or service
  • Log sheets, momentoes or pay stubs from:
  • Records required by the state
    • This varies state to state but sometimes includes:
      • Letters of intent
      • Attendance logs
      • Work permits
      • Medical records

Transcript

Transcripts are the number one priority in records for your homeschool high schoolers. While, we always say there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, we do HIGHLY recommend you create a transcript for your teens.

Why? We know that many teens can graduate without a transcript- that it is not required in all states. However, in my work as an academic advisor for almost two decades, I several times had adults need a copy of their transcripts many years after graduating high school.

How to Create a High School Transcript. Homeschool high schoolers create meaningful transcripts with this editable PDF transcript, course checklist and detailed guide.
Click image for full description.

I have also heard from a few homeschool graduates who had hard feelings toward their parents for not creating a transcript during their high school years. So, be kind…create a transcript. It is easiest if you start the transcript when your teens are freshmen.

To help you out, we have a how-to guide along with an editable transcript template in our estore.

Some courses, like English/Language Arts get complicated. Here are some ideas on how to record ELA on the homeschool transcript.

Diploma

This is another record that might seem unnecessary or frivolous. However, we have found that sometimes employers (and often, military recruiters) want to see a diploma.

The cool thing about diplomas is that there is not a standard format or special place you need to order them from. Rather, you can simply create one on your own computer. Print it up on some parchment paper to make it look official. You can get ideas from Pinterest.

Keep the diploma in some sort of a frame or cover. Also, if you place a copy or two of the transcript behind the diploma, you will always have one on hand. (I keep a copy in the master portfolio also.)

There are more ideas on handling paperwork for homeschool high schoolers in this Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview.

How long do you keep records?

This is an area that is totally up to you. There’s not ONE right way to homeschool and there’s not ONE length of time you must keep those records.

That is, except transcripts and diplomas. You keep those indefinitely (or until your teen is out on their own and keeping up with their own records).

As far as the master portfolio records- that really is up to you. One of our homeschool mom-friends had a bonfire on the night of each teen’s graduation. They burned all the portfolios and roasted marshmallows.

I have been a bit more cautious. I keep them until my homeschool graduate is safely in graduate school, at least. But I am on the way-cautious side. (And also sentimental…I love to look back at the work my homeschoolers have done. It’s like having a scrapbook of their homeschooling high school years.)

Record keeping, especially in homeschool high school, is an important yet sometimes tedious job. However, it is also so cool to look at the good work you and your teens are doing. Therefore, keep those records with pride!

Also, don’t forget to join our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group where you can always ask questions to your big sisters and all your 7th Sisters! (And for more how-to’s checkout the sidebar on this post for all the posts in our Authoritative Guide series.)

 

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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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