How to Homeschool High School
The thought of home schooling high school can loom menacingly for many families. While high school presents unique challenges for the homeschool, it also produces unique benefits.
A continued ability to mentor the whole child during these special maturing years, especially through mature topics and difficult subjects.
Better schedule flexibility for teens to pursue special interests and talents (that also look especially appealing on the college resume).
The continued use of efficient homeschooling techniques which teach to the individual student rather than the classroom.
An emphasis on self-directed learning which teaches teens to achieve an education rather than receive it (this translates very well to college).
Avoid Changing Tracks Midstream (From Homeschool to Public or Private)
Public and private high schools are not required to accept anything you've done as a homeschooler. Homeschooled high schoolers may lose credits and valuable academic time as their homeschool work is not acknowledged by the public or private high school. If you believe you will only partially homeschool high school, talk with admittance counselors to know how your student's credits will be assessed.
Admittance policies vary greatly from district to district and even school to school within districts. Some schools are more lenient than others in accepting homeschooled credits or in being flexible with make up credits to allow a student to graduate at the original age level.
Scope with all the High School Years in Mind
Plan high school with the whole high school block in mind to optimize your child's experiences. Plan courses in a progression that will develop the core skills as well as their specific interests for his or her future--whether that includes college, vocation, or ministry.
Think outside the 4-year box. Stretching high school over 5 years (from 8th through 12th or even 9th through 13th) offers more time for in depth study, community service, and building skills in a child's talent areas and needs. Generally, high school course work can be completed in 8th grade and receive high school credit. Some finish high school with a "gap year" to cement certain skills, improve a portfolio, or take CLEP exams for general credits to free up valuable college dollars and time.
Currently in Oregon homeschoolers are not held to any required scope, curriculum or credit load for high school homeschool, although the State does assume a general education will be given.
It is important to remember that traditional expectations can still play an important part in your student's opportunities in many fields -- that can translate into the inclusion of certain traditional courses as computed by a credit system and reflected on the high school transcript.
As a general comparison of "traditional" high school expectations, currently the Oregon Department of Education, requires 24 credits as a minimum for graduation for a public school student as follows:
English: 4 credits
Math: 3 credits (at the Algebra 1 level and higher)
Science: 3 credits (scientific inquiry with lab experiences)
Social Science: 3 credits
Health: 1 credit
PE: 1 credit
Second Language/Fine Arts/Technology 3 credits (2 years of Foreign Language are required by most colleges)
Electives: 6 credits
What constitutes a credit varies between states and even districts because there are different ways credits are figured--whether the credit time is based upon a 45 minute, 50 minute, or 60 minute class period, and whether or not alternative assessment methods are allowed.
Traditionally, the Oregon Department of Education considered 130 fifty-minute class hours 1 credit (OAR 581-022-0102).
That works out to be 108 sixty minute clock hours for 1 credit and 54 sixty minute clock hours for 1/2 credit.
Other credit assessment methods were considered for a number of years. (A 2015 example can be seen here).
In January 2017, the strict 130 credit hour requirement was dropped allowing proficiency markers to be considered instead. (See this OSBA article). The Oregon Department of Education's "credits by proficiency" allow credits to be awarded through a demonstration of proficiency without the need for logging in a specified class time for those courses that do not require time for completion. Demonstration is usually done through passing a course exam, portfolio assessment, or skill level demonstration.
That is good news for home schoolers. You do not have to keep time for everything, even if you were attempting to follow a more traditional scope for transcript purposes. You only need to award credit by minutes for courses that are based upon activity participation (like music, community service, PE).
Proficiency credit is easy to assess for subjects that use a typical textbook or have a standardized set of skills. For example, a standard high school Algebra textbook is usually considered completed in one year. If your student completes that book in 6 months demonstrating satisfactory mastery (usually assessed through tests), he or she would be awarded 1 full credit for completion. This would also be true if your student took 2 years to complete that Algebra book if nothing were added in supplement.
For performance type courses, proficiency can be alloted by time spent or level achieved. An example for proficiency might be passing a driver's education course, achieving a certain syllabus level on an instrument, or obtaining a Red Cross First-Aid/CPR certificate.
Track Volunteer Time
Don't forget to track the time your child spends in ministry or community service. Most colleges want to see a listing of volunteer work on the application resume as do many apprenticeships for certain fields. Volunteering can turn into vocation. (For a directory of locally available community volunteer outlets, please go to our Community Volunteer Work page.)
Often, volunteer time can count double for community service and for an elective, ie lifeguarding preparation courses can count for community service preparation as well as health studies.
To Learn More
Please read our Records,Transcripts & Diplomas section for the finer details of high school record keeping.
To learn more about how to set up the home high school for the college or vocational training path, please see our page at
Planning for Vocation or Career
Good books to read to prepare for the homeschool high school years are:
"Homeschooling High School" by Jeanne Gowen Dennis;
"Homeschool, High School and Beyond" by Beverly Gordon-Adams;
"Senior High Form-u-la" by Barbara Shelton.
the CHOC Board
All Rights Reserved
(Permission is given to print for personal use or link to this article as long as credit is given to Tammy R. Arp at the CHOC Board and our website address is shown.)