When homeschooling high school, having a plan and keeping records becomes more important.
Beginning with 9th grade, a 4-year plan is necessary.
How do you make a 4-year plan?
When I sit down to make a 4-year plan for my new high school student, I am not concerned with what the state of (fill in the blank) says is necessary for a public school student to graduate. My concern is with the college my student might want to attend or the path my student wants to pursue after high school. Homeschooling laws do vary from state to state so be sure to check your state requirements for homeschooling.
Every college website posts minimum high school requirements for admittance. This includes test scores as well as subjects taken in high school. That is what I want to make sure we are covering, not what the state says is the minimum for graduation.
We want to cover at least the minimum for admittance, not the minimum for graduation.
As an example, Texas A&M University posts this as the minimum required for admittance:
Texas A&M University’s minimum required coursework mirrors the State of Texas recommended and advanced/distinguished high school curriculum, including:
- 4 years of English;
- 4 years of Mathematics (Must include Algebra I and II, Geometry and a fourth math course. Applicants are encouraged to take math each year of high school culminating with a course for which Algebra II is a prerequisite.);
- 4 years of Science (Two courses must come from Biology I, Chemistry I, and Physics I plus two additional courses meeting the recommended or advanced/distinguished curriculum.); and
- 2 years of the same foreign/sign language
While Southern Methodist University, a private school, posts this as their minimum:
Minimum high school course requirements include:
- 4 units of English
- 3 units of math (algebra I, II, geometry)
- 3 units of social science
- 3 units of science (of which 2 must be lab science)
- 2 consecutive units of foreign language
If my student was interested in both of these schools, I would plan 4 years of English, Math, and Science, as well as 3 years of Social Sciences and 2 years of the same foreign language.
Look at two or more colleges that interest your student. The requirements will be similar, but some will be more strenuous than others. Choose the most strenuous college requirements for your high school plan. Even if your student does not go to that college, they will be prepared for the one they choose.
Your plan will reflect your student’s interests. Even if they do not know what they want to do, this is a good time to use their electives to explore subjects.
Various extracurricular activities can be made into a course for credit. We have used Vet Science with 4-H, robotics for exploring engineering, public speaking credit when learning to speak to judges for oral reasoning, etc.
When making your plan, fill in the 4-year plan with subjects you plan to use to fulfill the requirements. These can change, but at least you have a plan. High School English will include a lot of literature and writing, provided your students have a good background in grammar and sentence structure. If not, use the first year or two to focus on that.
Science will include the basics: biology, chemistry, physics; but courses can also follow a student’s interests and include advanced biology, advanced chem, advanced physics, astronomy, microbiology, etc.
Social studies will include World History, U.S. History, and Economics, but can also include a study of Ancient History. We have used a history study that takes four years to cover Ancient history through Modern times.
Foreign language is any language other than English, but remember a student could also choose American Sign Language or one of the 'dead' languages like Latin.
Colleges usually like to see math credits begin with Alg I, so three years might be Alg I, II, and Geometry. If your student plans to study engineering, more math will be better. If your student completed Algebra 1 before high school, you can choose to put it on the transcript for 9th grade, or you can leave it off as long as the student has 3 - 4 more math credits. (Alg 2, Trig, Geometry, Calculus)
Make sure you are covering all the requirements, then fill in electives with subjects that interest your student. It is best to do this before the 9th grade year so that you don't get to the beginning of junior or senior year and find you have neglected something important that will be difficult to make up.
If your student takes dual credit college courses, one semester of college course equals one year of high school course.
Your high school plan for your student is to prepare the student for what they plan to do after high school. You do not have to follow the graduation requirements for your state. You set the graduation requirements, but make sure they will benefit your student and prepare him/her for the next phase of their life.
From the HSLDA website:
Must the student comply with state or school district requirements in order to receive a diploma?
No.* It is up to each parent to decide what the student must do in order to receive a diploma. While each state has slightly different requirements for graduation for its public high schools, parents are not required to meet the same requirements that are imposed on public school students. For example, you may hear that 20 “credits” are required for graduation. While public schools may require students to complete 20 credits before being allowed to graduate, and may require that certain subjects be taken, homeschool parents are under no duty to imitate the public schools or adopt their standards.
*Note: The Pennsylvania homeschool law prescribes graduation requirements, but even though the student fulfills them, neither the school district nor the state will issue a diploma to the student. HSLDA encourages parents to issue the diploma and take the position that the state should recognize it, since the student has met the state-prescribed requirements.
While you are preparing them academically, make sure you are preparing them for life also. If they plan to pursue a trade, can they get an apprenticeship?
Not every student will go to college or needs to go to college, but make sure you prepare them for whatever they choose.