I attended a wonderful meeting last week with experts on the subject of homeschooling through high school. Many people who decide to homeschool panic when their youth reach about age 14. This is because they are hyper-concerned about being able to meet all of their students’ academic and social needs.
At the meeting I learned how to create a transcript for my homeschooled children, and why I’m allowed to. This is particularly important to me right now, because my 16 year-old daughter is signing up for her first college class (online) and the University needs her transcript to process her application. They asked for a transcript, even knowing she is homeschooled. When I told him I didn’t really have one, he explained that they simply want to see a list of the subjects she has studied, and how well she has performed.
My goodness, it’s so easy to overcomplicate things. Even after 9 years of being unplugged, the more I learn about homeschooling, the more I realize how simple it is.
The idea of a transcript is to simply describe what our students have learned in a language that the colleges will understand. That’s it! As the administrator of our homeschool, I just have to think about what my children have been doing in terms of estimated hours spent, and evaluate the quality of their work and issue the grades.
So, how do you quantify their educational experience when it hasn’t really been tracked, and when the time spent on each subject is not scheduled or measured?
(We haven’t been measuring their work by grades, because as far as I’m concerned, all of their academic work is simply unfinished until it’s good enough for an A. I don’t say, “Okay, that’s a D… moving on.” No, it’s just unfinished until it’s an A, even if it sits unfinished for a year. If it really needs to be done, it will eventually get done, and it will be done well.)
To answer the question, “How do you quantify their educational experience?” I found some posted guidelines for evaluating credit for a course. You’ll see that the Homeschool Legal Defense Association explains that that if a child has spent between 120-180 hours on any one given subject, it can count as a high school credit, particularly if it covers material at the high school level.
As for the transcript, here is an outline from one University (not a homeschooler’s blog) that describes under what conditions a homeschool transcript would be considered official.
They even provided a template, instructions, and guidance on how to create the transcript. Keep in mind that each University will have its own guidelines and requirements, and many of them probably do not have posted instructions specifically for homeschoolers. But it’s catching on. Universities and community colleges are learning that homeschoolers are valuable in many ways, and are thus providing more resources, programs, and guidance for this growing sector.
Anyway, it’s been fun and enlightening to start gathering the list of the things our kids have studied for their official high school transcript. The list is much longer than I thought it would be. I feel like we’ve just been living life and exploring whatever interests us.
So here are a few examples of how I am applying what I’ve learned this week. Besides counting up their hours and accomplishments in their core academic subjects:
~ I’m going to give Kayli (16) and Jared (15) an elective credit for Drama because they each spent over 200 hours to practice, prepare, and perform in an outdoor theatrical pageant a few summers ago in New York. The production consisted of nearly 800 cast members, and since the majority of them were teenagers and adults, I feel it is reasonable to say that it provided at least a high school level experience.
~ Jared could legitimately have tons of Computer Science credit, because he will have easily logged 180 hours – in just the last 2 months. For what he’s done over the last 3 years, I could even break it down into a number of different courses, such as 1/2 credit for Programming in Flash (because of the 52 weeks he spent with a private tutor to learn it), 1/2 credit for an online class in Application Design and Marketing (which he will be completing through an online course soon), and a full credit each for Intro to Computers and Intro to Computer Network Administration (because of the more than 15,000 hours he has dedicated to learning the ins and outs of the Computer World.)
15,000 hours is much more time than is necessary for a high school diploma, because it would only be considered an elective, and he doesn’t need that many electives. Still, it’s fun to calculate and quantify his educational experience. It’s also made me realize that much of what he has already done with computers would exceed the education he might have received at a technical college. He might not have the classroom time, but what technical college student has 15,000 hours available to dedicate to a computer class?
Back to the transcript…
~ There is even something called Career Technical Experience (CTE) that I am adding to Kayli’s transcript, which gives high school credit for relevant, real-world learning opportunities. She has spent between 300-400 hours assembling automated online marketing campaigns for over 300 small businesses in the last 2 years, so I am going to give her a Business Marketing credit on her transcript. Even if it’s just an elective, this helps to highlight that accomplishment.
~ Something else I will be able to add to Kayli’s transcript will come from that BYU Idaho Medical Terminology class that begins next month. By completing that course, she will get a high school science credit AND college credit. (Since she has not yet graduated from high school, it is called dual-enrollment.)
But here’s the main reason for my post tonight:
At the top of her transcript, I needed to put a school name. Not to pretend that we’re something that we’re not, but because the colleges WANT us to make it easy for them to understand what our students’ experience has been. They WANT us to present their credentials in the language to which they are accustomed. They WANT me to decide when I consider my students graduated – I’m the one who decides that. I don’t need to ask any other official of any other organization if they think she’s ready to advance – as the administrator, guidance counsellor, program / staff coordinator, and instructor, that’s my job. It’s nice to know the college recognizes me as such, and that they want and trust my honest evaluation of her as a potential incoming student.
So after 9 years of providing K-12 Private Instruction, we finally have a name. It feels great to be taking our establishment to a more organized level:
Take a look HERE
I’m not going to spend a lot of time updating or maintaining our school website; I’m just excited to finally have an official presence in case an admissions clerk needs to learn more about the school we’ve named on our official transcript.
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