Assigning Credit and Planning High School at Home

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

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?

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 still on your own wondrous journey! 

Planning High School @ Home

Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Homeschoolers are being widely accepted by colleges, especially when they have good course descriptions and quality reference letters coming along for the ride.  And I have tips for both of those in my book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind. 

Kindle on SALE through Mother's Day, @ 3.95 and Paperback are both on 

The ebook includes 13 Downloadable Planning Printables

Vicki Tillman, from 7 Sisters says:

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

Betsy's family

My always homeschooled daughter was blessed to receive acceptance offers with scholarship, from each of the colleges that she applied to with her homeschool transcript, and that could be your teen, too.  It really is not that hard!  

 These are the topics in the book:

High School Planning
Assigning High School Credit
Calculate the GPA
Writing the College Essay
Course Descriptions
Having Fun with your Teen
with Printables
and more!

 Good News!

Subscribers will get the first chapter free! 

Click here to get yours!

I have lots more high school and the college posts here on my blog, and I am always writing more!

Homeschooling high school 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 is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

Want to stay in touch?  

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Subscribers will get the first chapter of my book! 

Click here to get yours!

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  1. Thank you! This information is very helpful and takes the fear out of the process! :)

    1. Super! I am so glad to hear that! Thank you, Beth for stopping by BJ's Homeschool.


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