3 Ways to High School Credit

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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! 

Homeschoolers are being widely accepted by colleges, especially when they have good course descriptions and quality reference letters coming along for the ride.  

Are you Homeschooling High School?  This book will make your high school planning so much easier.  

It is based on my experience homeschooling high school and then helping my teen get accepted to college.  Each of them on her list, with scholarship offers.

It is a do-it-yourself guide to high school, with helpful forms that go along with each chapter.  I also threw in tips for getting your teen into college, if is something they are thinking about.  This book will help you in your planning, where ever your teen is headed.

 Homeschooling High School with College in Mind 

 Kindle is on Amazon 
Also in print - Amazon  
PDFis on Educents  

What's included in the book?  Check out this review by Tricia Hodges, from Hodgepodge and You Are an Artist.  

Use what I have learned to make it easier! 
Why reinvent the wheel?

Here are the chapters and each one has printables:

Researching College Entrance Requirements
Planning High School with College in Mind 
Choosing High School Curriculum
Assigning High School Credit
Making Your Transcripts (Calculating the GPA, etc)
Electives and College
Writing the College Essay
Course Descriptions and Reference Letters
Preparing your Teen for College Writing
Don't Forget the FUN!

Have you seen Tricia Hodges's video courses in art yet?

Taught by a master artist, and offered by Tricia Hodges, mom of 5 blessings who are all homeschooled.  This is a full one year course, ideal for your teen who is interested in art.   Get your fine arts requirement done (for college bound teens) with this easy to use video course!  

Perfect for independent study! No need for a long list of supplies. Just get some paper and some chalk art pastels and you are ready!

The iHomeschool Network is doing a blog hop this week on how to creatively homeschool.  To reach all the other creative posts click here.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now rising college senior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote - 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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Copyright, 2017, All Rights Reserved

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  1. Yes! I think sometimes we overthink, overworry, and overcomplicate things. =)
    My oldest is going to graduate in December, a half semester early, because I realized that she already has a full transcript, minus only a couple of courses which she will complete in the fall. That was a nice discovery. =)

  2. For sure, I did, when I started homeschooling high school! How wonderful, Amber, that your teen gets to graduate early. How nice that you found that out! Thanks for sharing, as that can really be an encouragement to other families, as they take on high school. Wishing you and your family a beautiful graduation time with your teen, this December!

  3. I am so glad to have found this! I have pretty much only heard about the hour method and thought that would not work for us since we don't spend hours on each subject.. even in a week! Pinned.

    1. I am so glad that it will be a help, Mother of 3! We made some of our own courses and used all of these 3 methods for assigning credit. Hope you and your teen have a great year!


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