Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Resources for Homeschooling in High School

If you are considering homeschooling and have or will have a high schooler, be prepared to do some research. Buy yourself a 3-ring binder and start filling it with information , because you will be referring back to it often. The fact is, you will be taking on the role of not only teacher, but also guidance counselor, as you navigate issues such as career choices, college admissions, and drivers licenses.

At the meeting last Saturday, we discussed the following topics:
  • Creating a high school plan
  • Record Keeping
  • Transcripts
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Testing

One place to find information on all this and more is the HSLDA site "Homeschooling Thru High School". Spend some time reading through the information on this website and you will have a great foundation from which to work.

There are also some great books that will help you in planning and proceeding through high school with confidence. Two of my favorites are
Barb Shelton's Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+u+la



and Jeanne Gowan Dennis's Homeschooling High School



Creating a High School Plan
A high school plan is simply a 4-year plan of academic courses, as well as practical skills and any other requirements that you or your state deems necessary for graduation from high school.
To create a high school plan, the best way is to start at the end and work backward. What that means is that you should talk to your child and determine what his or her goals are for life after high school. If college is a possibility, then create a high school plan based on the admissions requirements of the most selective school they might be applying to. If the workplace or military is their goal, then find out what skills or training is required for that particular field or branch, and include that in your high school plan. A high school plan can be as individual as your child. You can include things like hours of volunteer work, practical skills such as cooking and first aid/CPR, a list of books you expect your student to have read in addition to their academic coursework, a missions trip, work experience, a "senior project" ... whatever you as the parent/teacher think is important for your child to accomplish before leaving home. That is your high school plan.

Record Keeping

Depending upon where you live, you might be required by the government to keep specific types of school records. But even if you live someplace like North Carolina, which only requires attendance records, immunization records, and annual achievement test scores, it is still important to keep a record not only of the high school courses that your student completes, but of all the extra things that he does, such as sports teams, music lessons, volunteer work, clubs, awards, church involvement, seminars or workshops attended, field trips, reading list, etc.

Any of these things might be important to a future employer, academic program, or institution of higher learning. Do not rely on your memory. Let me repeat that. Do not rely on your memory. Use a notebook, file folders, a shoebox, computer software, a high school record book, a calendar .... whatever fits your personal style and is something that you will use! Some people photocopy the title page and table of contents of every textbook used in high school to keep as part of their records. Some keep very detailed lesson plan and grade books. Some create a
portfolio/scrapbook of each year - either digital or hard copy. Some type up an annual summary that includes a list of textbooks and materials used, classes, field trips, and extracurricular activities. The important thing is to have information recorded and kept in a way that you can access it to create a transcript or to show someone what your child has accomplished during his high school years.

Transcripts
I don't how it works in other places, but here in NC, our homeschools are considered private schools by the state, and therefore I have the authority to create a transcript for my student. A transcript is simply a record of the academic work a student completed in high school. A transcript should be only one page long and typically includes the following information:
  • child's name, address, phone number, birth date, and social security number
  • parents' names
  • homeschool name
  • date issued / current school year
  • names of courses completed and in-progress, including credits earned and grade
  • grading scale
  • grade point average ( GPA )
  • most current standardized test scores
  • signature of parent
Both high school resource books listed above include information about creating high school transcripts. In addition, there are a few very good resources that I would recommend. Inge Cannon's Transcript Boot Camp DVD seminar is well-worth the money, and can be shared by members of a support group. Her company, EdPlus, also sells software called Transcript Pro that is very helpful. Teascript is an online transcript building service that is very user friendly, and was created by a homeschool graduate. Another excellent resource is a book called Transcripts Made Easy, by Janice Campbell.
Just a couple of points about creating transcripts - be sure your transcript is accurate and professional looking. You want to make a good impression. I also strive to make my kids' transcripts attractive, by using quality paper and a colored type for headings and titles. Although the main transcript is one page, I also include several addendums, including our Philosophy of Education, a page listing activities and achievements, and several pages of course descriptions in which I list each course and list the books/materials used, as well as a couple of sentences describing the course, whether or not it included a hands-on or laboratory component, any trips or workshops that supplemented that course work, etc. This is "extra", but I think it augments the homeschool transcript nicely.

Testing
High school students who are applying to college must submit scores from either the SAT or ACT . These are standardized tests that are administered at a local high school, but can be registered for by any student online. There are books available at both bookstores and libraries that will help students to prepare for these exams. The websites for both of these tests also include lots of advice and help for students.
FUN FACT : In North Carolina, homeschool students are required to take an annual achievement test. The ACT meets that requirement because it is an achievement test, but the SAT does NOT because it is an aptitude test.

1 comment:

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Whew! A lot to consider. So glad I don't have to think about that just yet. But you have a great list of resources here!