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How to Assign High School Credit for Electives


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Do you have a high school student who is passionate about a particular hobby? Josh is an amazing guitar player, and Megan has a fantastic eye for composition in photography and is a budding writer.

A friend’s daughter is a talented photographer, and we have two other teen friends with a passion for film-making. They are already earning money videoing a variety of events.

How to Assign High School Credit for Electives

One of the best benefits of homeschooling high school is being able to turn those passions into electives and allow your students to earn credit doing something they love. Sure, there are electives in public school, but there are a limited number of options. When you homeschool, the possibilities for turning your student’s passions into high school electives are endless!

How to Assign High School Credit for Electives

First, you need to know how to assign credit for electives. One credit is generally award for 150-180 hours worth of work in a subject. So, if your student spends an hour a day most days of the school year working on his hobby (or skill, talent, passion, etc.), he’s earned one credit.

{Tip: This also applies to sports concerning P.E. credit.}

You can also assign credit for mastery of a skill. So, maybe your student doesn’t spend 150-180 hours on a given hobby in a single school year, but over the course of her four years of high school, she achieves what would reasonably be considered high school level mastery of that skill, you can award one credit.

When to Assign More Than One Credit

We homeschooling parents need to be on guard against short-changing our kids. We certainly don’t want to fabricate credit for our students but, on the flip side, we need to make sure we’re giving all credit that they earned.

If you have a student who spends a tremendous amount of time on a given skill or hobby, you can probably award more than one credit. If your photography buff were in school, she might take photography classes more than one year of high school – think Photography 101, Photography 102, etc.

You can do the same thing in your homeschool. Josh spends hours learning and playing guitar. In addition to learning to play, he has also studied music theory. I gave him credit for each on his transcript.

My film-making friends also spend hours on their craft. There is so much that goes into film-making from composition to the actual filming to editing and preparing the final product. Not all of those skills would necessarily be taught in a single course, so mastery may earn more than one credit.

How to Assign High School Credit for Electives

How to Assign More Than One Credit

A simple way to figure out how to assign credit and list electives on your student’s transcripts is to do a little research online. Read the course descriptions for similar classes on public school and college websites. In addition to clearing up any confusion on how to award credit, reading online course descriptions can help you:

  • Determine what constitutes various levels of a given course
  • Give you ideas for other skills your student might want or need to pursue to achieve mastery
  • Help you write out your own course descriptions

High school is the perfect time for teens to really begin exploring their passions. Just about anything can be considered an elective course for high school. You never know what might turn into a career field or an entrepreneurial opportunity. At the very least, your student may discover a lifelong hobby.

What are some of your student’s interests? Do you have questions about counting that as an elective?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

images courtesy of depositphotos

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7 Comments

  1. Besides learning how to speak Japanese, my daughter has also taught herself how to read and write both sets of Japanese characters. Do you think that could be a separate credit?

    1. You might be able to count it as 1st and 2nd years of a foreign language, depending on how much time she’s put into it.

  2. My daughter has two main interests. Ornithology has led to two credits so far (and there will probably one more) as well as some stuff (newsletter editing and contributions to other publications) that I keep as extra-curriuclar. Her other interest is trampolining. As well as competing she coaches, judges and does other volunteer work at competitions. I keep that all as an extra-curricular since threre is no PE requirement here and it isn’t especially relevant for the field she plans to study at univeristy. If she was going to pursue teaching, or sports science or something I’d have it in the main academic section of her transcript. I’m pretty relaxed (she’s the youngest of four who were all homeschooled and there are few to no formal expectations as to what is required for graduation or university admittance) and just follow my gut as to what to put where on a transcript.

  3. I have found that the credit hours are pretty arbitrary. When I was researching different states credit hours 16 years ago, I found it could be counted as low as 70-80 hours per credit. Many places used 120. I do not know why most home school sources site the much higher 150-180 range. Especially in today’s ps , where kids are hardly getting in an hour a day, usually much less, per subject. I have found that 90 hours is quite sufficient and middle of the road between the two extremes found in most brick and motor systems. Most traditional courses- such as using a high school textbook, doesn’t need any hours counted. A student can do the entire book in 2 months or take 2 years and still earn 1 credit of high school biology. The hour counting is really only needed if using a self-created course or electives that don’t have a set course book/schedule- such as sports or art on one’s own. So why make it unnecessarily high? Yes, I make traditional looking transcripts for all of my children, but it is a tool and not the goal. Far better for the student to excel in self-learning skills than overly worry about too many boxes and hoops.

    1. Yes, absolutely every family should do their own research and do what makes sense for their unique families and situations. What I share is based on my experience. In my area, the standard range for credit hours seems to be 120-180, with 150-180 being fairly standard. In most states, the homeschooling parent decides the course and graduation requirements for their students so the range is simply a guideline, though I would want to take into consideration the requirements and expectations of the colleges and universities a student may be interested in attending.

      You’re absolutely correct about textbooks. Completing a more traditional textbook should earn 1 credit regardless of how long it took to complete it. That wasn’t what I was addressing here since most students’ hobbies and interests aren’t going to involve a traditional textbook. I was addressing self-created courses and electives, which, as you said, may require hour counting, if for no other purpose than to give the teaching parent an idea of how a student’s self-directed interests could best be shown on a transcript.

      As always, anything I share here is based on my own experience and is based on how I tend to do things. Thanks for sharing a different perspective!

  4. My son has spent many hours planning and setting up the Christmas lighting for our outdoor property every year. I would like to give him credit for all that he’s done, but I have no idea what to call the course. Any ideas?

  5. My daughter has helped me complete five design projects- including four complete cosmetic remodeling jobs- removal and installation of floors, fixtures and hardware, selecting and applying paint, furniture and accessories.

    She’s also volunteered with a building trade both physically and politically.

    She has had advanced vocal training through online self-training and has become a gifted singer.

    We also purchased items listed on a syllabus for a local art college that has a program track she’s been desiring to pursue in order to provide herself the academic advantage of beginning instruction before attending the college.

    As far as fitness credits, homeschooling has advantaged her to choose thing she enjoys- running, swimming and other cardio. She’s naturally built like an athlete, so chose to avoid weight training.

    We also agreed to educate her in whole nutrition and homeopathy as well as financial planning and money management as these are often overlooked (but necessary) life skills.

    She’s learned to harvest clams, mussels, oysters and crab, fish off of the Atlantic Ocean and tend to garden variety herbs. She’s become quite the culinary artist as well. (Unfortunately, she doesn’t clean windows or toilets.)

    I’ve made it possible for her to transfer MOST of these credits to public school in order to graduate from an accredited high school before college.

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