Putting together an official transcript for your homeschooled highschooler can seem like an overwhelming task. But this is one area where out-of-the-box homeschoolers need to make themselves intelligible within the system. Here, Inge Cannon, executive director of Education PLUS, lends her expertise as homeschoolers tackle the transcript. Use her checklist to help maximize your preparations and minimize the challenge.

DON'T even think about not providing your children with high school transcripts! No matter where a student is educated--public school, private school, or homeschool--that student deserves a transcript from the people who organized the academic program, taught the courses, and evaluated the work. If you want to teach high schoolers at home, you absolutely must provide them with the documentation of a transcript.

DO grant your children a high school diploma. High school graduation is an important benchmark and transition point in a young person's life, and it should be honored as such. Your children deserve the right to say "yes" on job applications that ask if they have a high school diploma!

DON'T use the GED to document high school graduation. You may find yourself in situations that require a GED test score for screening or admissions purposes (however unjustified by law), but that does not mean you have to document graduation by a method that often carries the stigma of a high school dropout.

DO identify each child thoroughly on his or her transcript. You will need to indicate full legal name, current address, gender, birth date, parent or legal guardian name(s), and a Social Security number (especially crucial if you are applying for any financial aid to go to college).

DON'T feel obligated to make your transcripts match the public school system in timeline, structure, sequence, curricular options, or anything else. Home education is a tutorial process; thus, it is important to focus on the needs, interests, talents, and gifts of each individual child. Most tutorial education procedures do not follow the typical school structure of living between classroom bells and being classified as freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior--let alone sitting in lecture sessions of designated length and completing routine "busywork" assignments.

DO limit yourself to two pages (or one sheet front and back) for your printed transcript. Transcripts (like resumés) are supposed to present a summary of achievement and/or experience--short enough for the reader to know at a glance who the student is and what he has done. In academic and most employment circles, anything more than two pages becomes a portfolio.

DON'T succumb to any pressure-- real or imagined--to require a college preparatory course lineup in order to graduate your children from high school. You do not have to satisfy any college admissions requirements
to earn a high school diploma (i.e., there is absolutely nothing wrong with a diploma focused on apprenticeship, the trades, the arts, or any other pursuit of knowledge and skills). However, it does make sense if your child is college-bound to work the college's admissions requirements into the student's high school preparation.

DO use your child's transcripts as an annual report card. This is especially helpful when applying for good driver discounts on auto insurance and work permits when employers need them, or to accompany resumés or applications for volunteer and paid positions, etc.

DON'T skip physical education credits. Some colleges actually ask students to make up deficiencies in physical education when they enroll. Remember that physical education generally earns half the credit that would be earned for a comparable amount of academic work.

DO include Bible credits if yours is a Christian program. Even if a college tells you that it does not recognize "Bible" or "Religious Studies," your transcript should not be crafted by what the college accepts or denies. The transcript is a report of the work your child has completed.