Okay, back to the conference. This workshop was definitely the most helpful to me, because I am lacking in knowledge the most in this area. I realize, by posting this on my blog, that homeschoolers from different states may read this, and therefore I must state ahead of time that Illinois (my state) is one of the easiest states to homeschool in, because there are so few requirements. So I advise that you check with your state requirements first, and do what they say, as apposed to what we are able to do in Illinois. What I will be listing below should apply to most any state, if you are able to design your own curriculum.
The first thing that I had to understand was that transcripts are only required for 9th-12th grade. These are not physically required by law, but if you have any hopes of your child entering college in the future, this is a must.
Creating transcripts for your child is fairly easy, and can be done on your home computer. During the high school years, a total of 150-170 credit hours of study should be listed on your child's transcripts. Listing the standard classes for 9th-12th grade with corresponding credit hours are as follows:
- English (Comp., Lit., Dictation, etc.) = 3 credit hours per 1/2 year, or a total of 24 credit hours over the course of 4 years;
- Math (Some algebra/geometry are standard, calculus and trigonometry are optional.) = 3 cr/hrs per 1/2 year, or 24 over 4 years;
- History (Some form of World, American, American Government, and Geography are standard, with US Constitution being required 9th grade year) = 3 cr/hrs per 1/2 year, or 24 over 4 years.
- Science (some form of physics, biology, or geology studies are standard, plus 2 lab credits per year) = 3 cr/hrs per 1/2 year or 30 over 4 years;
- Foreign Language (Spanish, French, Latin, German, Sign (yes, sign language is considered a foreign language), or any other language your child wants to learn.)= 2 cr/hrs per 1/2 year. A minimum of 2 years is required for most colleges, 3 for most universities. So, over 3 years, a total of 16 credits;
- Fine Arts (Music, Art, Drama...I also add Speech and Debate, in these categories)= 1 cr/hr a piece per 1/2 year. For a possibility of 8 cr/hrs per item for 4 years;
- PE (standard PE classes, sports or fun physical exercise your child is interested in)= 1-2 cr/hrs per year, or 4-8 over 4 years;
- Electives (any course of interest or study)= 2 cr/hrs per 1/2 year; or 4 per year.
- An additional 24-28 credits may be given for other student interests or a job the child has.
- Unit studies can be counted as 1/2 credit per unit study.
Please be aware that this is only one example of how you can make your child's schedule for 9th-12th grade. If you want to improvise this to keep you on track with your younger children's schedule, you may do that as well. I like to keep a record of each of my children's progress, so I am able to see where we have come from, and where we still need to go. I also like to keep quarterly reports on how my children are progressing. I do not give report cards, or letter grades. I simply list goals that I have for my children, and when they meet each goal, I mark it as met.
Next year, I will be using letter grades for my oldest son, because he will need a GPA for his HS transcripts. What I wondered entering the workshop was how to fairly calculate a letter grade for a child's work: This is how I understood it. An "A" is given only when a child has given his "best" work; A "B" is given when a child has given "a lot of effort" to his work; A "C" is given when a child has done a "satisfactory" amount of work; A "D" is given if "very little" effort was shown; and an "F" is only given when a child flat out refuses to give any effort at all.
Creating a Transcript
Transcripts come in many different forms, and if we took a look at our own high school transcript we might be surprised to find what it actually looks like. It is held to sacred standards by many a high school, and dues must be paid to even receive a copy of the document. Most are typed on a small piece of paper, and some have hand written scribbles all over it. Some (most sacred) document, to be sure. So, don't feel threatened to attempt to create a transcript. With the modern technology we have today, making a transcript is fairly easy. The basic transcript must include these things:
- Birth date
- S.S. #
- Listed Courses of study.
- Record of grades for each class.
That's basically it. You can make it as pretty or plain as you want to. There's really not too much to worry about, because most colleges are used to the growing number of homeschooled children applying these days, and most use their ACT or SAT scores for enrollment anyway.
HS diplomas may be created on your own computer, or they can be ordered on-line through many different homeschool websites.
The instructors also advised that when the child enters their senior year of high school that they be permitted to take a few classes at a junior college. This will help adjust them to a classroom setting, and to having other people in the classroom with them. It will also help them slowly adjust to the college routine.
One of the great things about homeschooling is that there is such a broad range of subjects that a child can sink their teeth into. For example:
- Household chores can be listed as Home EC.
- Babysitting can be listed as Child Development.
- Bike Riding can be listed as PE.
- Washing Dishes and putting the food away, can be listed as Food Safety and Sanitation.
- Cooking, can be listed as Food Preparation.
You get the picture. It's pretty hard not to find something your child is doing during a given day, and not make a learning experience out of it.
A Couple of Additional Things
When mailing transcripts to colleges, make sure you include a copy of the child's SAT/ACT scores, which ever one the college he is applying for requests, and a FAFSA form, or financial aid form. It just makes the process go smoother and faster, if that is sent also.
Driver's Ed - Some high school's will permit homeschooled children to take Driver's Ed along with the other students, most will not. You can sign your child up for private lessons, which is what most people do, or there are some homeschool Driver's Ed courses you can purchase as well. I recently saw one advertised in a homeschool magazine I subscribe to.
Lastly, I forgot to mention this. On the bottom of the child's transcripts or on the college application make sure you list any organizations, employment, volunteer service, and awards, the child has been involved with or has received. A lot of colleges look at this section, so it is important to add.
I guess that's about it. I hope I was able to give you some options. I will try to continue tomorrow.