High School Graduation Requirements - Part I
Dear HSLDA members:,
For the month of November, we are sending out our Homeschooling Thru Highschool email newsletter to all our members. Even if you do not have children in high school, we want you to know of the resources we have available for you at Home School Legal Defense Association.
The topic of this month's newsletter is graduation requirements. If your children are many years from graduating, you may be thinking about pushing that delete button about now, but I encourage you to read a little further before you do. Having a goal for the future is often one of the best ways to make sure that our steps now are headed in the right direction. After all, this type of "future" thinking is what God instructs us to do--to fix our eyes on heaven.
After you are done reading, should you decide that you would like to receive this email regularly, go to http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3459 to subscribe. Otherwise, this is the last one you'll receive for quite some time. Oh yes, back issues are also available if you'd like to read more or research other high school related topics.
Blessings to you and your family as you look ahead to all that God has in store for your family.
J. Michael Smith
Welcome from Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer, HSLDA's high school coordinators. After our own children graduated from high school, we wanted to pass on what we learned to make the path easier for moms who were coming up behind us. Through HSLDA's program, we've been able to help hundreds of moms.
What we've discovered is that homeschooling moms are just like us--busy ladies who through extraordinary effort soar to the heights of success and at other times fall into the dumps! And we've also found that it's important to remind each other that trials and hardships, as well as times of blessing, are a part of life and not byproducts of homeschooling. One of the consistent pieces of advice we offer is: "Focus on enjoying these days with your children, thanking the Lord for all He provides. These are precious times that the Lord wants to use in your life and theirs to accomplish His purposes."
Our topic for this month is one that encourages you to look ahead to an important goal for your students--high school graduation--and how you can design a program that will help them successfully graduate. Questions about graduation requirements are among the most common we receive from moms. Since we have much to share, we will cover this topic in a two-part series. This first installment covers the following: Your state's graduation requirements for homeschoolers (if any), your child's post high school goals, and your child's personal interests. Next month, we will discuss how to structure your child's high school program to include the five core academic subjects, electives, and extracurricular activities.
STATE HIGH SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS FOR HOMESCHOOLERS
The first step in designing your child's high school program is to check out your state homeschool laws. Legal summaries of homeschooling laws in all 50 states can be found at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3460 . Some states may specifically require that certain subjects be taught, but in other states no such requirements are stipulated. If you have any questions at all regarding your state homeschooling laws and how they affect your high school program, HSLDA members may contact HSLDA's legal department.
Remember that each state determines its own requirements for the number of credits public school students need to earn in order to graduate and receive a diploma. Although in most states homeschoolers are not required to meet these same high school graduation requirements, it is prudent to at least be aware of this information. You do not need to feel the necessity of complying with the public school requirements in any way--but use these requirements as a skeleton or frame of reference when deciding how many courses in each subject area would most benefit your child.
This nationwide educational website provides links to all 50 states. Simply click on your state name and type "high school graduation requirements" on your state Department of Education page. You will then find out the number of credits in each subject area that students graduating from public schools in your state are required to earn. Again, unless specifically outlined in your state's homeschooling laws, you do not need to follow the public school student's requirements for graduation.
YOUR CHILD'S POST HIGH SCHOOL GOALS
The second item to take into consideration as you plan out your child's high school program is that all-important question, "What are your plans for after high school?" If high school marks the end of formal education for your child and he plans to enter directly into the workforce or the military after high school graduation, then realize that the high school years are his last opportunity to develop and learn the knowledge, skills, and expertise he needs for the next phase of his life. Many times students will re-enter the educational scene at later times in their lives; so again, the high school years should be seen as valuable years to gain at least a familiarity and introduction to each core subject area.
If your child desires to pursue college after high school graduation, one very important factor in determining the number and type of high school courses you provide for him will be the colleges' high school requirements for admission. If your child knows the handful of colleges he may be considering in the future, simply check out each college's website and you will discover the number of credits the college requires for admission. Remember that these credit requirements are usually the minimums, and most admitted students will generally have earned more than the minimums.
If your child is not sure yet about the colleges he will consider after high school, just look at the websites of several colleges in your area to get a feel for the number of credits that they require.
The more selective the college, the more rigorous your child's high school course load should be. A rigorous high school program is distinguished by the number of credits earned and the number of advanced courses taken.
For a general overview of sample 4-year high school plans, see HSLDA's brochure: "Developing a Plan for High School: Sample 4-year Plans."
The third area to consider as you develop your high school program is your child's interests. For example, if your child is interested in owning a business someday, then an accounting course during high school would be a good choice. If your daughter has plans to enter the nursing field, then taking an anatomy course while still in high school will serve her well. If your child thinks he may pursue a law degree, then a debate course is invaluable. Likewise, if your son has talked about nothing else except becoming a real estate agent, then perhaps having him work alongside an experienced Realtor several hours a week and getting a jump on preparing for and taking some initial tests required for licensing in that field would be beneficial.
Most of you, though, encounter children who at this point in time have no idea what they want to do after high school. In this case, don't sweat it! Just pursue the basic general courses and maybe include a career development elective in your high school program so that your child can begin to explore the possibilities. Resources to help you in this area are listed here: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3463
Once you've taken a look at the big picture and have an idea of the general direction your child's high school program should follow, the next step is to plan out the specific courses and activities that you include. So tune in next month when we'll cover information on the five core academic subject areas as well as discuss electives and extracurricular activities and why they are an important part of your high school program. Until then, we pray the Lord's blessings on you and your family as you gather around the table at the end of the month giving thanks for all that you've been given.
With gratitude for you,
Becky and Diane
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (11/2/2006), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.