Even though we'd committed to homeschooling through high school, I was terrified. It wasn't the breadth of knowledge that had to be taught or even the subject matter that made me a nervous wreck; it was the record keeping. Suddenly, grades mattered, particularly because our firstborn desired higher education and his transcript was essential to getting him there.

I'm sure you know that there are many, many resources for high school home-education recordkeeping, but just in case you don't, here is one worth noting: the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

I made a binder for each of our high schoolers with the following subject tabs: Attendance, DSST/CLEP Tests, Online Courses, Master Reading List, College Course, and Field Trips. All test results, school papers, and transcripts are filed away in their binders.

Then, even though plans change and some teens in my house drag their feet through a subject like, say, chemistry, I do make a rough sketch of where we're going in the four years of high school. Our firstborn was very academic and eats this stuff up, so although I'm going to show you what his plan looks like, it is not a plan for every one. Compare thee not!

Ninth Grade

  • Algebra II
  • World Literature and Composition ( plus CLEP)
  • Modern World History
  • Biology I
  • Theology I
  • PE
  • Logic
  • Latin II
Tenth Grade
  • Geometry
  • Intro Constitutional Law
  • Chemistry
  • Classical Rhetoric
  • British Literature and Composition
  • US History I (CLEP)
  • Computer Graphics (junior-college course)
  • PE
  • Driver's Ed
Eleventh Grade
  • Trigonometry/Pre-Calculus
  • French I
  • Physics
  • PE
  • Statistics (DSST)
  • Economics
  • Law and Public Policy
Twelfth Grade
  • French II (CLEP)
  • Senior Thesis
  • Classes through the local junior college

All three of our high schoolers so far have decided they'd like to plug away at their college general-education coursework while in high school, so they are taking the CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) and DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Test) as well as courses online and at our local junior college. As a high school junior, our firstborn had already knocked off a semester of college work. Boy, do I wish I'd known I could have been doing this when I was getting my bachelor's degree. Would've saved myself a lot of time and money.

But not every student is college bound. Our second born is not an academic kid, and unlike his highly focused older brother, he doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. We think that's more typical of young men his age, and we're absolutely at peace with it. He's been raised in a home where learning is a lifestyle, and we have no doubt he'll know exactly how to go after what he wants once he figures out what that is. In the meantime, there is still an academic plan for him. He is required to study to the best of his ability and is encouraged to learn and grow by a variety of means. His strengths are fabulous in areas that aren't necessarily scholastic.

Whether your child is exceptionally motivated toward higher education or floundering through several years of self doubt, creating an academic plan together and keeping excellent records may mean the difference between a mediocre high school experience and a truly exceptional one.

Kendra Fletcher is the homeschooling mother of eight, ages 19 down to 4. She is the preschool columnist for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, author of Circle Time, and blogger for Preschoolers and Peace.

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