One of the biggest fears that homeschooling parents have is creating a high school program for their child that includes the rigors of a traditional school and so much more. Parents often wonder if when this is presented to college admission officers if it will be enough! With that said, this task, although it appears daunting, is much easier than you would realize. Keeping a high school transcript for grades 9 – 12 is required. Now, yes, that might send chills down your spine; however, it is much easier than it looks. Here are five basic tips to get your started.
Have a plan
Some homeschoolers think that “starting early” with high school subjects (meaning taking them as 7th and 8th graders) will give their child a running start. It is actually not true. College want to see what your student has done for the last four years (grades 9th – 12th) of high school. If they are graduating early, well honestly, it depends on the college they are applying to; however, most colleges only want to see four years…. Not five years… Not six years…..
With that said, it is absolutely critical to decide what information you need or want on your homeschool transcript well in advance of creating it. Knowing all the information that you want included on your student’s transcript ahead of time will help you plan out their high school career and your responsibilities as their teacher.
If you are unsure on what to include on a high school transcript it is advised that you look up your state’s graduation requirements. States (often) do not require specific course titles – but they do require the amount of years that a student studies a certain subject. This gives homeschoolers the flexibility in the courses that they opt to study as long as they fall under a certain subject.
Additionally, if you have an “idea” of where your child might attend college (Ivy League, your alma mater, a local state school, etc.) – it is wise to look up their expectations for admission. Use both your state’s and (if known) potential college’s requirements to make up their high school course load.
It is best to look these requirements up early on in their 8th grade year so that you can easily formulate a plan for the next four years. Time flies by fast. Don’t get caught off guard.
Keep Accurate Records
It is crucial to keep accurate and consistent records. During your child’s 8th grade year, you should investigate what tracking system would work best for you. There are a wide variety out there! Speak to other parents. If your child is taking an online course, find out how they will be evaluated in that course. If you need more than they typically offer, ask them to provide you with further details. Quite often, the online school is happy to provide you with more. Once you choose a system, stick with it for all four years. Consistency is the key!
I strongly encourage you to keep records of…..
- Book Read
- Field Trips Taken
- Activities Participated in
- Awards given
- Volunteering Hours
- Classes Taken
- Within each class – Assignments with grades
- Within each class – Test Grades
Additionally, I would keep a portfolio of samples of final exams, major papers and anything else to demonstrate your child’s ability.
If you keep good records on your own, then absolutely do this on your own. If you feel like you need some organization, there are many online trackers (under $100 per year) that you can use online to keep and create transcripts for you. One of the most popular ones for homeschoolers is Homeschool Tracker. https://www.homeschooltracker.com. Some of the other trackers available are Homeschool Minder, Homeschool Planner, Homeschooling Records etc. A quick Google search will bring up a variety of options.
If purchasing a program, you need to decide what features are important to you. Many of the online programs have a variety of features that you might want to consider first. Some of these can include cost, multiple students, trial options, cancellation policy, daily/weekly/monthly calendar, color coded/drag and drop options, ability to easily bump or reschedule assignments, ability to import information, ability to schedule chores/field trips/extracurricular, ability to add web-links and assignments, ability to add PDF files, ability to keep a book list, ability to keep a resource list, ability to create a transcript, student portal, mobile phone usage, ability to login with social media…
Stay on Track
The same way you want your child to stay on track with their schoolwork, it is incredibly important for you to stay on track with recording keeping. Creating an annual transcript is a great way to do this. It will force you to keep up every single year. I strongly suggest that you print out a HARD COPY annually (actually multiple hard copies annually) and file them away.
Staying on track will not only make you and your student aware of where he/she is GPA wise, but will make creating your “final” transcript a breeze.
Remember to be Flexible
One of the biggest perks of homeschooling is the ability to be flexible. Just because we are trying to capture our student’s education on a formal document, doesn’t mean we can’t be flexible.
For example, if your student didn’t finish an entire course in one year, don’t worry, you can continue that course the following year and still include it on the transcript*. On the flip side, maybe your student finished all their high school coursework and requirements in less than the standard four years. Again, this isn’t a problem as long as it is clearly captured on their transcript.
* Note: Just make sure, if your child didn’t finish a course in the expected amount of time, that you still complete the required classes for each subject area for your state.
Don’t Wait Until Graduation
It can be extremely difficult to create an entire high school transcript after the fact. Pouring through old records, grades, curriculum and trying to synthesize all those details into a one to three-page document is a daunting task. This is why it is important to start early!
As homeschoolers, we devote a significant amount of time, energy and effort to providing the best for our child’s education. Having all our hard work, and more importantly, our student’s hard work reflected on a transcript is a great way to cap off an excellent high school experience. If you begin early, have a solid plan, keep accurate records and stay on track (while giving yourself some flexibility), you will be celebrating your transcript as much as your student’s success!
Eva Goldstein-Meola is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.