Lots of questions come to us about including "levels" on a homeschool transcript. Today we will discuss one:
What are levels on a homeschool high school transcript?
Colleges these days are looking for a description of the amount of academic rigor associated with each course a high schooler takes. Some traditional high schools call this description "Levels"; some call it "Phases". Locally, our homeschooling community uses the term, "Levels".
Whatever your school calls the description, that must be put on the homeschool high school transcript beside the course title. (Also a brief description of how the levels are measured is placed in the key on the transcript. A more detailed description can be provided on a school profile, if you choose to include it with the transcript.)
There is not a standard tool that all traditional schools or homeschools use to measure levels.
Because we want our homeschoolers' transcripts to be very powerful, our local umbrella school's levels are much more robust than many schools. However, our reputation for high standards has opened doors for our students to many colleges.
LEVELS: All high school academic subjects have a specific level, or can accommodate multiple levels. You choose and then describe on the transcript key how the levels you follow are measured. Here, as an example, are the levels our umbrella school uses:
Level 1- Remedial Courses
This level is for students who struggle severely in a subject or who have learning disabilities. While it is acceptable for high school graduation, Remedial Courses are not acceptable for college applicants.
Level 2- Average High School Courses
This level is for average high school students. While Level 2 Courses are not as rigorous as Level 3- College Prep courses,
taking a few Level 2 courses does not prevent a student from going to college. (More on this tomorrow...)
Level 3- College Preparatory Courses
This level is for students who are certain they are going to college. These courses mimic the rigor of college classes.
Level 4- Advanced Courses
This level is for students in College Prep courses who are able to do more rigorous work. These courses add power to the transcript and are attractive to colleges. Level 4 at our umbrella school requires Level 3 work plus 1/2 more credit's worth of work to equal 1 advanced credit. (Thus, the homeschooler does 1 1/2 credit's work but the transcript shows 1 credit Advanced work.)
Level 5- Honors Courses
This level is for highly competitive students who want the most powerful transcripts. These courses look very attractive to colleges but are very rigorous. Level 5 at Mt. Sophia requires fully double the work of a Level 3 course or the use of a college textbook. OR a 1 semester college course counts as Honors on our transcript.
Btw- our 7 Sisters curriculum includes guides for increasing the level of each course. (Writing bundles with all the writing guides have instructions for levels, the individual writing guides don't. All other 7 Sisters curriculum does!)
My son aims for higher levels on Language Arts and History. Do your homeschoolers choose higher levels? On which subjects?
Here's my vlog on the perfect homeschool transcript:
I felt kind of sad the other day, when I went to an open house at the local community college's (Del Tech) Innovation and Technology Center.
They were holding an open house for homeschooling high schoolers to showcase their new program- training homeschooling high schoolers in trades so that they graduate high school ready for employment in electrical work, plumbing, HVAC, welding, or general maintenance.
Why was I sad? Because these teachers said that many of the professionals in these fields are making more per hour than I am making as a masters-level mental health counselor who has been in the field for almost 20 years. I had spend many more years in school and lots of college debt...
Ok, maybe not sad. Just mildly jealous. But I guess God has to work on that.
Here's the scoop:
Not every homeschooler is called by God to go to college.
If your homeschooled high schooler is called to serve God in the mission field of a trade, what should you do?
-Look into apprenticeships
-Log hours in a variety of "career exploration" experiences (try on hats)
-Do some solid, simply Career Exploration courses (see my Free Career Exploration Questionnaire to get started, followed by the easy $6.99 Career Exploration Workbook, then follow up with a visit to my pinterest board...)
Every homeschooled high schooler should take Human Development before they graduate. It is the course that helps them prepare for adulthood, parenting, caring for aging parents, and more! (Our local umbrella school counts this as a health credit.)
Why do two year olds say “no”? Why do grandparents tell the same story over and over? Why do teens think about themselves so much? These are Human Development questions.
What is Human Development and why should your homeschooling high schooler have this on his/her transcript?
-Human Development is the study of God’s wonderful design for people as they grow from conception through old age. It explains how people change physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally throughout each stage of life.
-Human Development is a 1 credit high school health credit.
-Human Development is the perfect course for any teen that has to interact with others and/or plans to grow up, get married, have a family, (and maybe take care of his aging parents someday).
Human Development from a Christian Worldview helps high school students understand how God designed people to grow, from conception through old age. This is a one credit health/social sciences curriculum.
This lively 106-page text written by Vicki Tillman MA (a homeschooling mom and practicing licensed professional counselor) is easy to use, fun, and is presented at an average high school level. Instructions are included for activities and readings to increase the credit to college prep, advanced, or honors.
Human Development from a Christian Worldview is designed for self-instruction but also includes group discussion questions making it perfect for use in homeschool co-ops or group classes.
The text includes:
-vocabulary and key concepts in sidebars
-chapter comprehension questions
Help your homeschooler understand the people in his/her world with Human Development!
Enjoy our vlog about why your homeschooler should take Human Development and/or Psychology in high school.
God made each homeschooler (and everyone else, too) with inborn gifts and talents. He knows why He put them there, and the plans He has for your high schooler.
The trouble is: often teens don't know what their gifts are.
Homeschooling families are in such a great position to help our high schoolers discover their gifts. We have the freedom to develop courses and experiences that help them explore and discover themselves.
-Make sure they know to pray about it
Teens sometimes feel like they have to figure out their future all on their own (or parents feel compelled to do it for them). If they can relax and trust that God has plans, it will help. In order to discover those plans, teens need to feel comfortable talking to God about it. (I recommend giving them some light-hearted practice with our interactive Prayer Journals.)
-Make sure they know God's voice
The better homeschoolers know God's voice, the more confident they can be with their explorations. God gave them Scripture for that. I've polled lots of local homeschool teens, Bible reading is often neglected... unfortunate. If a teen wants to be sure to recognize God's voice, he should be very familiar with the way He speaks. He gains this familiarity through Bible reading.
-Have a new experience each month
Do new things, go to new places- even if you don't think it would be interesting. Going to new things gets the imagination working. Sometimes you meet inspirational people who will be the connection to another new thing. Sometimes the new thing is so awesome your teen will want to try it again... might lead to something.
When you do something new each month, it doesn't really matter what, just needs to be new. A new field trip, a play, a concert, an interview...anything! He'll hate it, like it, or love it- each is fine. When your teen does new things, his imagination goes to work. He'll come up with other ideas, meet interesting people, maybe make some connections that lead to other things. If you do new things as a family, great bonding experiences can happen.
Our local newspaper has a weekly list of activities in the area. Does yours?
-Experiment with out-of the box courses
Our various kids have experienced all kinds of courses that go beyond the basics: Cinematography, Drama, Voice, Bell Choir, Photography, Psychology, Human Development, Philosophy, Critical Thinking, Logic, Financial Literacy, Astronomy, Leadership Skills, Worship Theory, Hermeneutics, Missionary Geography, Barbering, and more. Each course either birthed an "Aha, there's some gifting here!" or closed the door on the topic. All were enriching.
-Interview family members about their careers- why they chose it, what they like, what they don't
Your homeschooler may notice family talents. Here is our free questionnaire about Career Exploration and role models.
-Complete a Career Exploration curriculum
It doesn't have to be expensive or boring, just needs to explore God's leading, interests, values, and experiences. This is the curriculum we use with our local homeschoolers- quick, non-intimidating, inexpensive.
What are some ways you help your homeschooler discover his/her gifts?
My third son earned several credits in cinematography while in high school. These have really given him the edge when doing projects in college. Here is his "interview" with Ralph Waldo Emerson (BUT FIRST an announcement!):
Celebrate our first Kindle book with us! Homeschool High School: You Can Do It! Just $2.99. Easy, encouraging how-tos!
To quote NPR's Car Guys: "From the Shameless Commerce Division" of 7 Sisters Homeschool:
Why should your homeschooling high schooler take Psychology?
Here are three reasons:
1) Social Science courses help create the well-rounded transcript colleges seek.
2) Most college majors require Psychology. It is good to have a Christian foundation in psychology particularly before experiencing it at college (perhaps secular) level.
3) It is wonderful to grasp an understanding of God’s wonderful creation of our mind and personality.
Vicki Tillman MA (a homeschooling mom and practicing licensed professional counselor), wrote this fun and comprehensive text from a Christian worldview so that students can appreciate God’s handiwork and also be prepared for college settings. (This is not a killer course, like many high school psychology courses. It is written for students to learn and love God's wonderful world of psychology- while earning high school credit.)
The topics in the fifteen chapters cover:
-The Brain and How it Works
-History of Psychology (Ancient to Pre-modern Times )
-History of Psychology into Modern Times
-Needs and Motivation
-Looking at Personality & Theory
-Sleep & Dreams
-Careers in Psychology
-How to Help a Friend in Crisis
This attractive etext includes:
-new words and key concepts in sidebars
-comprehension questions for each chapter
-instructions on how to make the course ½ credit average high school level, 1 full credit average high school level, or ½ credit college prep, advanced or honors levels
This user-friendly curriculum may be completed by a homeschooling high schooler with or without parental support. It is also often used in homeschool group classes.
Here's a short excerpt from Chapter 1:
There are as many ways to mark the end of homeschool high school as there are homeschoolers crossing the finish line.
Some quietly, privately mark the achievement. Some throw a huge party. Some work in community with others to host a traditional graduation ceremony.
Some are nervous and teary-eyed. Some are doing the dance of joy. A lot are doing both.
And all of those variations (plus a thousand more) are okay.
The one thing all homeschool moms need to remember as they watch a child cross that finish line at the end of high school is this:
If you feel stressed marking this magnificent achievement, you are not alone!
Keep that oxygen flowing.
Keep those prayers coming.
And remember that it's okay to experience a very mixed-bag of emotions at such a momentous point in the life of a homeschooling family.
Congrats to all the graduating seniors and their parents in our homeschooling community!
This is Economics year for my homeschooler so I was excited that I was given the chance at 2:1 Conference to review R.C. Sproul Jr's new DVD series: Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principals to Work, Wealth, and the World.
As a homeschool mom who has already graduated 4 of my kids, I remember the weeping and gnashing of teeth that occurred each time economics rolled around. As far as my high schoolers were concerned, economics was the best cure they could find for insomnia. So, I'm tickled that homeschooler #5 will have the chance to work with Sproul's Economics for Everybody.
The cool thing about these DVD's, actually, is their production value. Each of the lessons is wedged in tweet-sized bites between old movie black-and-white movie clips and lots of old-timey music.They are cute and fun- and professionally presented.
While the lessons may be fun, it is amazing how much meaty information Sproul could pack into the little bites, though. The lessons are rich with useful and thought-provoking information from a very biblical worldview. Good data is presented, scripture, and solid economics is served up in a delightful format.
There are 12 lessons with this course (which comes with a study guide). Lessons 1 to 5 introduce key economic principles; Lessons 6 and 7 explain the relationships between theology, philosophy, and economics; Lessons 9 to 12 examine the application of economics in real-life systems.
Please note that this course was not designed as a stand-alone. Many homeschooling high schoolers need 1/2 credit in Economics. Economics for Everyone is designed to be part of that credit. Here is the explanation from Compass Classroom (Sproul's publisher) on how it works:Economics for Everybody is designed to be the base of a one-semester economics class for homeschool high school students. If this Scope and Sequence is followed, it will good for one-half credit in economics.The course can be used in two ways: by itself as a lighter study to introduce basic economics concepts (9th/10th graders), or used together with another economics textbook as a more in-depth study for students with worldview training (10th/11th/12th graders). If you choose to do the latter, we recommend Basic Economics, Third Edition by Carson and Cleveland. It is available at CompassClassroom.com***********A personal note: If one of the homeschooling high schoolers that I advise for my local umbrella school asked me about the Economics for Everyone + Basic Economics, Third Edition, I would suggest to them that this appears to be a Level 4 (Advanced Credit) course. Very good for a high-powered or very-interested student.My son, while he is plenty smart and could slug through the Basic Economics text, would be miserable. Since he does not need his Economics to be a high-level course, we will use Economics for Everyone along with AGS Economics (a very basic economics curriculum from a secular company that covers the need-to-know information in a light format). The 2 curricula together will make his course College Prep level, good enough for him. I think he may actually enjoy the semester!**********My friend, Penny, is teaching Economics for our local homeschoolers. I had her watch the lessons with me and she loved them. She said they were "well done" and that it was important to her that her students understand a biblical basis for their economics experiences. She is very excited about Economics for Everyone.Here's a delightful trailer for Economics for Everybody.
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a portion of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Sometimes homeschool parents can get a little prideful. After all, our homeschool graduates nationwide are very successful.
Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute has found that:
The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:
- participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,
- vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and
- go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
- internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate. (NHERI.org)
Here is something to think about: Not every homeschooler should go to college!
That is a difficult thought for parents who feel peer pressure about what their homeschooler should "accomplish". Are they a failure if their young graduate does not go to college?? What will people think??
Parents, let me give you a bit of advice as a long-time homeschool high school advisor, mental health counselor, and homeschool mom:
You are only a failure if you give up on your kid or try to force him into someone else's plan for his life. God is the one with the plans and His plans don't have to look like yours or your friends' or your mom's. Your job is to explore with your kid and teach him to pray and seek God's will himself.
I know homeschool graduates who went straight into the military, mission field, family business, or training programs for various trades. They are fulfilling God's call to their unique mission fields (because where ever God plants them is an important and valuable mission field).
(You can click here to hear their song Turn Around.)
What matters is that your homeschooler seek God about His plans and then fulfills them with gratitude. If your teen does that, then you have done well!
To help your teen with this process 7 Sisters has 3 simple and encouraging resources:
This is a free questionnaire to get your homeschooler thinking about the future. We ask about role models and experiences.
An easy-to-use, simple guide through the process of self-knowledge and seeking God's will. We examine God's leading, life experiences, talents, values, and more... Useful stuff for only $6.99. (It is the program I have used with all my kids and many of our local homeschoolers.)
Lots of great resources on Career Exploration for homeschoolers.
Do you know any homeschoolers in non-college careers? I'd love to hear about them!
High school is an important time for challenging students with literature that raises more questions than it answers.
Teenagers need to be encouraged to think about hard questions. While it is true that "Jesus is the answer," that is not a complete enough application of the truth for young people about to go out and face life on their own. We need to encourage them to examine the ways in which faith in Christ may be applied to a myriad of circumstances involving broken people in a broken world.
Great books touch on the reality of brokenness. Digging into well-written books -- even those which do not present a Christian worldview -- is a powerful way to introduce our teens to challenges with no easy answer, and to encourage them to search for the truth about the ways God uses His children to bring restoration to the broken things around them.
Here are some of the books I've recently read and discussed with homeschooled teens in our local community, and some of the hard questions we've pondered together. (Literature study guides for these titles are available for $3.99 each in our EBookstore.)
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
- What is a family to do when famine ravages a farming society? When a father must send his children to beg in the streets, when his work is never enough to provide even the most basic food for them, what are his options for response?
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
- When a whole country's government adopts laws that are unjust (like the apartheid laws in South Africa between 1948 and 1990), how can an individual bring change? When unspeakable tragedy strikes a family, how can forgiveness be practiced in real-life ways?
Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
- Where can people with privilege find meaning in life if they have always been taught to live selfish and shallow lives? Are we in danger of living more selfishly than we realize because we live in a privileged society?
Antigone by Sophocles
- If what seems to be a personal responsibility to another human being defies the present authorities, what is the individual to do?
Is it hard for you to have discussions with your teens that raise questions to which YOU must admit you have no easy answers?
To follow up on Allison's post on how to throw a homeschool graduation party. Here's her sister, Sabrina's ideas on how to be a great grad party guest:
These next few weeks are filled with graduation parties in most of our world. Here are a few tips for enjoying those you attend as a guest (for tips on how to HOST a fabu party, see Allison's post How to Throw a Homeschool Graduation Party):
* Most graduation parties are "open house" style which means your arrival time is not specific. Read the invitation carefully to be sure this is the case, but if it is, plan to come right near the beginning if you can and offer to help the hostess set up last-minute items or carry food out from the kitchen. That last-minute rush is stressful for a lot of hostesses, and if you come with your sleeves rolled up ready to help her, it will also relax her!
* When offering to help, be sure you really mean it. Before you volunteer, put your pocketbook down and use the bathroom if you need to. THEN offer. Chances are your hostess has a million things running through her mind, and she will more easily put you to work right away if she sees you are ready to jump in.
* Visit with the people you know, but try to introduce yourself to a couple of groups who are new to you. Graduation parties tend to be a mix of family, friends, and church....there are always a few folks you haven't met before. It's great to spend an hour with your closest friends, but it's also great to spend 5 minutes reaching out to someone new.
* Most graduation parties are for families....whole families are invited instead of just one or two people. So if your younger children are also partying with you, remind them of good social skills before you arrive, and keep a half-an-eye on them during the party as well. If you notice their behavior getting a little too rambunctious, take them aside and gently remind them that "This is someone's home, and you need to treat it with respect," (or "That little girl may be annoying, but pouring lemonade down her back is rude"....etc.). There's nothing more awkward than being the hostess and agonizing over a child who is behaving badly while the parent is oblivious.
* Greet the grad, but don't monopolize his time. He has probably invited a lot of people to this party, and while he wants to thank each person for coming, he can't do that if he has to have a 1/2 hour conversation with each one about his future plans. Keep things light and brief. If he can talk to you more later, he'll find you.
* Clean up using common sense. Sometimes there are plastic cups all over the backyard. You can safely assume that if the party is winding down, the hostess would love to see the cups picked up and thrown away. You probably don't have to find her and ask for plastic cup protocol. Near the end of the party, the hostess is often exhausted, and may finally be sitting down to enjoy some food herself, and if you come and ask her something as simple as that, she may feel that SHE should get up and do it. If you just use common sense, you will probably be offering real help, and leaving her tired brain out of it.
Just like 7 Sisters blogs are more fun when everyone comments, graduation parties are more fun when everyone pitches in to keep them running smoothly. Unlike a formal dinner party or reception, a graduation party is a great time for casual fellowship and working shoulder to shoulder to set up and clean up.
Congratulations to all our homeschool grads, and happy partying!
For working on social skills with younger kids, check out our Social Skills for Children.
Got any funny graduation party stories?