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Home Schooling in High School for 'Ordinary' Parents

  • Maggie Hogan Home-School Author, Speaker, and Mother
  • 2002 5 Mar
Home Schooling in High School for 'Ordinary' Parents

Editor's note: To take Maggie off the hook, I must tell you that I chose the title for this article. I don't think there is such thing as an "ordinary" home-schooling parent. But I know--from reading your emails--that many of you who eagerly embraced home schooling in the elementary years are suddenly intimidated by home schooling at the high school level. Maggie's article helps de-mystify the process, once again demonstrating that Ordinary Parents + Home Schooling = Remarkable Results!  Zan Tyler

Click here to read Part 1 - '"Raising Poised, Confident, and Productive Adults."

What is a High School Credit?

It’s useful to understand what a "credit" actually is. A credit is technically a "Carnegie Unit." According to the Carnegie Foundation this unit was developed as a measure of the number of hours a student has studied discrete (separate/distinct) subjects. For example, a total of 120 hours in one subject earns the student one "unit' of high school credit.

Consider purchasing the Guide to PA Homeschoolers Diploma by Howard and Susan Richman. Check out their Web site: This excellent booklet has many examples of ways to earn high school credits and to prepare for college. PA homeschoolers may receive credit if they do any ONE of the following, per course:

1. Complete two-thirds of a textbook
2. Have 120 daily logged entries
3. Have 120 hours of logged study
4. Complete a 10 page research paper
5. Complete a college course
6. Pass an AP exam

I would add to their list:

7. Documented Work Study
8. Documented Apprenticeship
9. Community Service/Volunteer Work
10. Long-term participation on a sports team
11. Long-term participation in community arts programs
12. Other creative ways in which you can demonstrate that a reasonable amount of learning has taken place.

Which Courses Does My High school Student Need? 

Using your state’s guidelines, college admissions, and any other resources, make a list of the minimum required courses your student should complete. Then, with your student, discuss options for electives. Keep their interests and abilities in mind as you plan. Electives don’t have to be planned out all at once. Be flexible and allow room for your student to grow and mature.

Now make a plan of attack: Which courses will be completed which year? Is your student capable of or interested in early graduation? Check to see if it’s legal and acceptable in your situation to accelerate and do high school in three years. For many home-school students, this allows them to spend what would be their senior year pursuing community college courses and/or work options.

Typical Credit Requirements for Graduation from High School
(For the college bound, choose the extra classes.)

Subject                         Credits

Electives                       6 or 7 Foreign language, Driver Education,
                                Computer, Art, Speech, Music, Drama,
                                Business courses are all popular choices.
                                Future goals should guide selections.

English                         4: 3 credits of sequential English and
                                1 elective such as Journalism, Creative
                                Writing, etc.

Health                          1 Credit

Mathematics                     2 or 3: Choose courses with college/career
                                in mind. Consumer or general math for some
                                students or Algebra, Geometry, Trig.

Physical Education              1: Soccer leagues, Ballet, Tennis,
                                Aerobics, etc.

Science                         2 or 3: Biology, Chemistry, Physics for
                                the college bound.

Social Studies                  3 or 4: U.S. History, World History, 
                                Government or Geography are typical.

What Are Some Options for Teaching High School Courses?

This is a great time to be home schooling! The options are many and diverse. Besides the traditional student book/teacher book method here are other ideas:

1. Barter: "You teach my student Spanish and I’ll teach yours Algebra."

2. Be a Student: Learning right alongside your child can be a fantastic experience. Whether you sign up together for a local Spanish course or just dig into the books together, show your kids that learning is a lifelong process!

3. Community Colleges: Many home schoolers take college level courses during high school. This serves two purposes: first, it is a practical way to take a class the parent prefers not to teach or for which the equipment may not be readily available, like chemistry. Secondly, a job well done offers "proof"of the student’s ability to college admissions personnel and/or potential employers.

4. Computer Courses: There are many programs available now. Ask friends for recommendations.

5. Co-ops and Hybrid Co-ops: - We’re involved in a wonderful co-op we started with two other families to teach our kids once a week in a classroom-like setting. We’ve expanded to three different groups: upper elementary, middle school, and high school. This year in high school we offer Literature, AP U.S. History, Biology, and Spanish II. Each year we decide which classes we want based on our families’ needs. We open this up to other students on a paying basis. Each teacher is paid, along with the co-op administrator. The kids love it and so do the parents!

6. Correspondence Courses: There are a number of different correspondence schools. Choose one course or take the whole program. Depending on the school, it may offer support, record keeping, testing, transcripts, report cards, and accountability. Many are accredited. There are both secular and Christian schools. This might be good for a course you prefer not to teach.

7. Hire a Tutor: If you can afford it and your local home-schooling laws permit, this is a great way to cover that one class you’d just as soon not teach. We do it for piano lessons, why not Latin?

8. Internet Classes: We’ve participated in Escondido Tutorial Services. Fritz Hinrichs teaches a number of classical courses through live, interactive weekly meetings. We’ve been very pleased. There are other many others now doing similar things. His site is Also see PA Homeschoolers online, mentioned above.

9. Video Courses: These courses are often lacking in interactivity but excelling in material covered. Some of the
courses we’ve used have been very well done.

Of course, good record keeping is a must. Check out Mary Schofield’s book, High School Handbook: Junior and Senior High School at Home, available from and many other sources. Another good book is Barbara Shelton’s Senior High: A Home-Designed Form-U-La. E-mail her at [email protected] Useful information can be found at Cafi Cohen’s site:

As you can see, there is a plethora of possibilities available to you, including articles from and many, many great home-schooling sites online. Be of good cheer! These are your teens and with the help of our Lord, Jesus Christ, you can do this!

Maggie's e-mail address is [email protected].

Maggie Hogan is a motivational speaker and co-author of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Gifted Children at Home, and other resource books. She and her husband Bob have been home schooling their boys since 1991. Involved in local, state, and national home-schooling issues, they both serve on boards of home education organizations in Delaware. They are also owners of Bright Ideas Press (, a home-school company dedicated to bringing the best practical, fun, and affordable materials to the home-school market.