How Do Homeschooled Kids Graduate? Here’s How!

Homeschooling is not for everyone. It suits certain kids and definitely has to suit a household. But if you decide to home school then can your child graduate? Here’s all the information you need to know.

Homeschool kids graduate like public school kids. There are certain things that need to be put in place in order for them to graduate. Let me tell you what they are.

  1. What State do you live in?
  2. Have a home school plan
  3. Picking a college and getting in
  4. Who’s driving the Home school bus?
  5. Home school pros and con’s

It is a big decision to home school one or all of your children. It may be that you don’t agree with the state school regime or you feel your child would benefit more from being with you at home. Whatever the reason your child’s education and life skills are what matter most. Let’s talk about how you can make the choice that suits you best and graduate your child.

What state do you live in?

Depending on where you plan to home school will determine what rules or guidelines you must follow.

Most states, in fact, don’t have any requirements for home school graduation.
If you live in New York State or Pennsylvania you can only home school under certain conditions. 

You must for example have either a high school diploma or a teaching certificate. Regular assessments must be carried out and filed and certain subjects must be taught. You must also advise the local authorities (district superintendent) on your intent to home school before the school year starts.

The last point is true for many states but the majority allow homeschooling with little or no department intervention. 

You must, in most states cover the subjects taught in English, and cover the basic grammar/ spelling, math, science, and social studies.

As I say each state has some differences or guidelines that determine how you go about your home school journey. The best thing to do is get to know your state’s home school laws and be mindful that if you move state your rules might also change.

Have a home school plan

Homeschooling is not something to take on lightly. Not everyone is a born teacher. Maybe you are a teacher or have been in the past, but teaching your own child or children is a different ball game.

Kids react differently to teachers than they do to their parents.

This is only apparent if your child is changing from public school to homeschooling. It’s easier if they have never known any different.

Why are homeschoolers so smart? is another one of my posts that touches on the pros and cons of homeschooling.

So we must ask why we have chosen to home school. Lots of us in recent times have had no choice but to home school due to the recent pandemic. I have spoken with lots of parents about being thrown into this unknown online education world. Unfortunately, for many that I have spoken with, they have thrown in the towel.

They just can’t hack the pressure of keeping on top of the lists of school work, and submissions and run a home and possibly continue with a remote working job. There is a difference between voluntary and mandatory.

During the pandemic, most kids were still engaging with their schools, albeit digitally. So we were dancing to the tune of a school’s curriculum as opposed to a home school one.

Although lots of parents shrivel at the thoughts of teaching their children, there may well be lots of parents who will emerge from the pandemic with a different view on their child’s education. The fear of sending your child back to the school environment is also high on the agenda.

I really enjoyed sitting and puzzling out things with my 16-year-old boy. We got to learn things together, but there were certain areas where I had no knowledge (or truthfully interest!) and maybe those subjects suffered because of it.

But as I said, pandemic schooling is different than homeschooling. Homeschooling is all about what suits your child and your agenda. No one knows their child better than a parent. You will know if they are into math or languages or science. So you can tailor their needs to what suits them best.

As long as you are covering the State guidelines then everything else is a bonus.

There must be some plan put in place, however. It doesn’t have to be rigidly stuck to. You can decide at the start of the year that you are going to allocate ‘X’ amount of time to each subject. Then decide how you are going to fulfill that, be it through projects or life learning through museums, galleries, or exhibitions. As long as something is in place it will give you a great foundation going forward. The year will then run more smoothly. There are lots of resources available to homeschoolers and their parents.

The ultimate goal obviously is that they graduate. Picking homeschooling over public schooling needs to be done for all the correct reasons. And everyone needs to be on board, including your child.

The main structure of your home school plan is basically determined by what your child’s interests in further education are. If they were attending public school, they would be making subject choice decisions before the 9th grade, so it’s a good guideline to follow.

Lots of kids have no idea what they want to study in college but if they wish to go to college (and even if they don’t, you want them to), then they need to be as prepared as a kid attending public school.

Creating a physical plan over a four-year period gives everyone something to aim for in terms of graduation.

You may not know what electives your child might decide to take but at least if you have them penciled in then you can work with them rather than realizing you have to cut out something else at a future date.

This plan goes hand in hand with my next topic, picking a college and getting in. You don’t necessarily have to pick a college or set anything in stone, but knowing some college admission requirements will help greatly in filling in your four-year plan.

Picking a College and Getting In

Most colleges require High School course basics

  • 4 years English
  • 4 Years of Maths
  • 3-4 Years of Science
  • 3 Years of Social Studies or History
  • 2 Years of a Foreign Language

These are the subjects that need to be filled in your plan first. Then you can start to fill the gaps with electives. These can be anything from life skills such as Drivers Ed, cooking, PE, or a part-time job. This will obviously change over a four-year time period as teens’ likes and dislikes change like the weather. But we have to start somewhere and build from there. 

You can spread credits over more than one year. The general consensus is that 60 hours = half a credit. However, not all hours are always counted. If you’re teaching your kid to drive (and I’m not sure you should unless you have a strong disposition!), who’s to say the time you spent in the car with them on a particular day was 45 minutes or an hour. But the best thing is, as a home school provider you are the one that’s in charge.

We get so hung up in the high school way we forget that our kids are not in high school but home school. It’s our decision how many hours a child spends on an elective, and more importantly whether you think they have passed that elective.

Each college in each state is aware that not every school is the same. And so their admissions policies have to reflect this.

If you have a fair idea of a few college ‘maybes’ then find out in detail what is required for your child’s transcript. The main thing is that their transcript is clear and concise and only answering what is being asked.

Most follow the guideline below:

  1. High School Courses Completed
  2. Course credits
  3. Course Grades
  4. GPA
  5. A projected graduation date
  6. Student info: Name, date of birth, School name and address (for home school this is their home address)
  7. A parent or guardian’s signature

This is why your four-year plan is so important. If you religiously keep your kid’s grades and credits up to date, then when the time comes filling out the transcript is a piece of cake.

All colleges have websites, and all have an admissions section. Here you will find all the courses or classes that are expected to appear on a transcript. Try and get a cross-section of various different colleges from the local community all the way to Ivy League.

You’ll soon see that they are all very different. The number of credits to graduate high school is much greater than that required to enter certain colleges. So what does that mean for our home school graduation.

It means that we can tailor our child’s credits in order for them to graduate and hopefully get the college of their choosing. When we know what is needed or required then we can work our four-year plan around this.
Researching a number of schools will alleviate a lot of the stress behind graduating your child.

Who’s driving the Home school Bus?

There is always a reason for our choices and deciding to home school is not a choice we make lightly. We have to be sure it is what is best for both the child and the parent.

There are many reasons why people decide to home school. Many feel that pure academics is not always the best education. That their child will learn and develop more in the natural environment of their home.

And then we might have a child who simply doesn’t enjoy going to a school environment.
We need to be very careful about who is driving the home school bus. If as a parent your gut feeling is that your child will do better at home with you, as a parent that is your right.

About 2/3 of homeschoolers choose to do so because of religious beliefs. The lack of religion taught in public schools is a good enough reason to home school, as long as you feel capable to do so and are in it for the long haul. There’s no reason why any parent can’t home school their child. The online support and teaching aids are superb.

On the other hand, we have the kids that attend Junior High and decide that high school is not for them. About 25% of US kids drop out of school before graduating. That’s a pretty high statistic. About 7000 students per day decide that school is not for them.

There are obviously lots of reasons why kids drop out of school, from their socio-economic background to peer pressure, to not being able to keep up or just not fitting in.

My experience of this is through my niece. She never really settled in school and became truant just before Junior High. I couldn’t really get my head around the fact that she wasn’t going to school. Why was my sister not trying harder? She was from a good background but seemed to have just lost her way.  But surely that can’t be just it right? We can’t just allow them (our children) to drive the bus. 

But my niece was. She was calling all the shots about wanting to be at home, couldn’t cope with everyone in her class, she wanted to be home schooled.

But my sister wasn’t on board for this. She was in fairness working full time and just couldn’t drop everything to start being a home school mom.

But I’m not sure that should just be that. I felt at the time that my niece was nearly playing everyone off each other. Modern kids know how to push buttons and also have access to alot of information about what they are allowed to do.

But unfortunately, my niece didn’t go back to school. She has done some Outreach programs but she doesn’t have any formal high school graduation behind her. I sense that as she gets older she will start to question why this was allowed to happen, she was after all the child and not supposed to be in charge.

We always need to remember who is the adult. It’s a bit of a mantra for me. How can a child of 12 or 13 know what they want from school or life? You can’t allow them to have that much control over such a major decision.

I know if I discussed it with my sister, and I have, she would say that you can’t make a truant kid go to school. But there must be an alternative if even to just get them to graduation. 

My post, do homeschoolers have friends? is something you may also be interested to read.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle. A choice. It has to suit everyone. If a kid drops out of school, there’s a reason. And possibly homeschooling in certain instances is the answer.
There certainly is plenty of support for those that wish to pursue it. It may need to be only a temporary decision to get a kid back on track or it may turn out to be the best decision you ever made and wish you had done it sooner.

But the key is you have to be all on the same page. It has to be a joint, positive decision, not to be taken lightly, and always be mindful of your state home school laws.

Home School Pros and Con’s

In any situation, there are pros and cons. Homeschooling is no different. Home school is NOT for everyone but that doesn’t mean you should discount it. And definitely don’t dismiss it for the reason you think they won’t be able to graduate. As humans, we take criticism and judgment to heart. By going against the norm there will always be parents that think they know better.

  • How will your kid get to college with no high school graduation?
  • How will your kid cope in college as they don’t know how to talk to peers?
  • How will they ever succeed?

If this is the road you think is best for your household then you need to go for it. Don’t be dissuaded by people who think they know what is best for YOUR child.
The only rule you must follow is your state home school rules. For everything else, use your judgment as a parent.

There will be challenges with homeschooling but there are also challenges in dealing with the public school system.

Although for every pro there is a con, this is true of every situation. People see negatives in everything. What’s important is that if you choose to home school one or several of your children then don’t be put off by people that are quick to judge.

Home school kids can definitely graduate. Can absolutely go to college and statistically are 66% more likely to stay in college and graduate compared to 55% of public school graduates.
They score 15-30% higher on standardized tests and outscore public school kids on SATs.

How early should should you submit your college application is my post that touches on the steps involved in college application and the timeline in which it should be done.

When college professors are asked about home school kids fitting into campus and college life, they say that home school kids are much more settled, get on with the work assigned, and are completely self-motivated compared to public school students.

They are some very positive stats.

It’s not for everyone but the most important thing is to nurture our children. To make them the best adults they can be. To educate them to the highest standard they deserve.

Homeschooling is not for everyone as I say, but if you are considering it for any reason, then check out your State Home school laws and give it a chance. You might be the best teacher your child will ever have.

Tara Cunningham

Tara Cunningham is a Mum and Graphic Designer. My children's education has always been very important to me. I feel that if you are willing to put in the time they will appreciate the effort. I hope that you find our thoughts and ideas useful and interesting.

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