I’ve written previously about the things a parent can do to assure their student’s homeschool diploma is given appropriate respect. This includes providing an attractive diploma, preparing a professional appearing transcript, and including a letter of compliance from the school district.
Now, I’ll let you in on a secret. In my state, I could easily do all of those things, whether my student had actually completed the work claimed or not. This might sound like an argument AGAINST respecting homeschool diplomas, but consider this: I overheard someone waiting in my dentist’s office admitting that his wife had actually completed the online college course in which he was enrolled, because it was “just too hard” for him!
So Why Bother Tracking?
Those who are determined to cheat will find a way, regardless of the educational method. So, why do I put all the time and effort into tracking homeschool hours for my high school students? Of course, I’m on a mission to assure the credibility of homeschool diplomas, but there’s a more personal reason. I want my children’s diploma to be something they are proud of, symbolizing goals achieved and requirements met. I want them to take their education seriously, and to understand that something as important as a high school diploma won’t be handed to them unconditionally. Along with algebra and world history, I want to teach them to succeed in life.
In our homeschool, 100 hours of course work equals one high school credit. A quick Internet search will show that high schools each have their own ideas about what constitutes a credit. I’ve chosen 100 hours, because it’s within the range used by the high schools I’ve researched, and it’s an easy number to work with.
Because many “classroom instruction” hours in traditional high schools are spent attending special assemblies or waiting for time to pass before going on to the next subject, I feel justified in using the lower end of the range of hours-per-credit. These hours aren’t all spent sitting at a desk. I count piano lessons as music credit, league sports as P.E., and even some carefully-selected movies as history or social studies. Some of the time spent at a part time job can be credited to math (counting change) or career ed. This isn’t cheating! Our local high school gives credit for helping out in the school library, being a “teacher’s aide” (correcting papers), and holding an after-school job.
I made the following time log to keep track of my first child’s high school hours. It has undergone some minor changes over the years, as it’s been used with three more children. It’s important to fill this out at the end of every day; otherwise, we tend to forget what happened. My kids love to look back over their time logs, and it’s a valuable document for adding credibility to your homeschool high school program. It also comes in handy when it’s time to prepare a transcript at the end of each year. You can feel free to print the attached form, or to use it as inspiration for designing your own.