What if I mess up homeschooling high school and my child doesn’t have everything he needs to graduate on his transcript? I had this question myself, and I hear it now from homeschool moms all. the. time. But the good news is that this concern over homeschool graduation requirements, while very common, is also easily dispelled!
That’s my job today — to give you everything you need to know about homeschool graduation requirements, so you can be well-informed and feel confident as you are homeschooling high school. I consider the encouragement of moms who are homeschooling teens as one of my big missions in life, because I believe EVERY mom can provide the high school education her teen needs!
So let’s get right to it, because you’re going to be amazed how easy this is. Here goes; are you ready?
Suspenseful distraction right here to just say that all of this information — AND MUCH MORE — can be found in my book about homeschooling high school. It’s called CURE THE FEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING HIGH SCHOOL: A Step-by-Step Handbook for Research & Planning (so you can be sure you’re not missing anything!) — and if you find the information you’re about to read helpful, then this book is for you! It takes you from square one of doing the research to find out what you NEED to do all the way through making a complete coursework plan for your child. With EIGHT pretty printables to make it all more fun! Check it out here: Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School.
Here’s what you need to know about homeschool graduation requirements (drum roll, please):
(pause for dramatic effect)
(deep breath…. Aaaaaaaaannnnnnddddd….)
MOST STATES DON’T HAVE ANY.
Wait, what? you say. Repeat that, please? you ask.
Happy to oblige: Most states do not have ANY graduation requirements for homeschool students.
But why do I see graduation requirements listed on my state’s education website? you demand.
Be aware that while all states do have PUBLIC SCHOOL graduation requirements, those DO NOT apply to homeschoolers. You do NOT have to fulfill them.
Only a handful of states have HOMESCHOOL graduation requirements. If your state homeschool law does not specifically say a child must complete x, y, & z to graduate, then your state probably doesn’t have any!!
My information comes from a very scientific source (cough cough). You see, we took a poll in the FB group. :-) (Seriously, though, it is your responsibility to research your own state — but our results will give you an idea of where you might stand.) In that very informal poll, the only states reported to have homeschool graduation requirements are PA and NY. In CA, LA, and TN, it depends which path you take (and if you live in those states you probably know your options). In the VAST MAJORITY of states (although some were not accounted for), there were NO graduation requirements for homeschooled students. Nope. Zilch. Noodle!
Guess what? That means that for most of you out there, you can determine your own graduation requirements. YOU can decide how many credits of math, or how many of English, or history, or whether a foreign language is necessary, or if PE is something you want to mess with (I didn’t, lol).
I recommend coming up with a general idea of what you would like your graduates to have accomplished when you do your initial curriculum planning process that takes place before ninth grade. That way you can come up with a four-year plan to aim for. I talk a little more about determining your homeschool graduation requirements and a four-year plan in my post called How to Create A High School Homeschool Curriculum Plan in Four Simple Steps.
But won’t my kid have a better chance to get into college if we follow the public school requirements? you ask. This is a common misconception, but it is absolutely not true. Colleges know that public school requirements vary widely from state to state — so they can’t base their admissions policies on them, since they draw students from many states. They don’t have time to compare your homeschool transcript to the laws of the state you live in; that’s WAY too much work for them!
In fact, colleges have their own admissions requirements, and those are what you want to be concerned about. The best thing to do is research a few colleges and find out what they expect their applicants to have accomplished — I discuss how to do this in How to KNOW What Your Teen NEEDS to Get Into College. You’ll find that college admissions requirements are usually much less demanding than public school graduation requirements, which should give you a sense of relief and of freedom.
Yet in some respects, it may seem intimidating to think about determining your own homeschool graduation requirements. But it is actually a wonderful thing. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- You can individualize the requirements to each child. You don’t have to have the same set of requirements for all of your children. One might be required to do more math (maybe they are planning a technical major in college), or you might allow another to replace literature with philosophy, if that is their bent. Or you might have a special needs child, whose requirements need to be more closely tailored to their strengths or weaknesses.
- You can adapt your requirements to your family homeschool philosophy. If you are unschoolers, you might eschew the entire grading system and find a different way to assign credits. Or even “conventional” homeschoolers may prefer an emphasis on literature/living books or practical experience or whole language learning or scientific experimentation or whatever else.
- You can outright MODIFY your graduation requirements as your circumstances or needs change. What you determine before your child enters high school may not reflect their needs by the time they hit junior year (or whenever). My one child hated math but loved languages. So somewhere in the middle of her high school years, we let go of a math credit and added more language credits to her “requirements.” There are also life circumstances that get in the way — maybe finances or a death in the family mean you have to scale way back on what you thought you would require. It’s all THOROUGHLY OK.
The key to remember is that since YOU decide all this, your child is not “missing something.” No high school education is going to cover all the wisdom and knowledge of man, lol. What you deem important for your child to know is what your requirements will be. Let the rest go!!
The moral of this story is this: be very familiar with your state’s homeschool laws. One of the best places to find out what they are is HSLDA.org. Or do an internet search for “Missouri homeschool law” (for example). (Although some bonus info is that I homeschool in MO, so I can tell you without a doubt that there are NO graduation requirements for homeschoolers in our lovely state!!) :-) Most states have homeschool organizations that can explain the law to you if you are unsure.
Moral #2: Do NOT let the fear-mongers make you feel like you have to jump through a lot of hoops or your kid won’t succeed or get into college. Those are most often public school representatives, have you noticed that? Like the math teacher down the street, or the mom of your kid’s childhood friend. It’s usually people who have NO CLUE about homeschooling, but they think they have the right to voice their opinion, regardless. Gotta love ’em — but don’t believe ’em.
Moral #3: Don’t accept information (from any source other than your state’s homeschool law) that tells you that you MUST have this, that, and the other thing in your child’s course of study or on their transcript or even as their extra-curricular activities. You don’t HAVE to have anything beyond what the homeschool law spells out. It really gets me riled when I see that misinformation disseminated around Pinterest and other social media. I very strenuously avoid the words “you must” or “your child must” in my posts for that very reason! (And if you see me using them that way, please call me on it!)
Sometimes well-meaning homeschoolers are just uninformed about the truth. Well, that doesn’t need to be you any more. Fly, be free!! Bask in your right to determine your own homeschool graduation requirements for your children (if you live in one of the MANY states that allows you to do so)! And come back here to Annie & Everything for more great high school homeschool information! :-)