Create Your Own High School Transcript From Home

This question comes up a lot in homeschool circles and groups: what do I do about a high-school transcript? It seems official and formal and scary! But it doesn’t have to be. It’s super helpful to know what requirements your state has for graduation/ college entry, so definitely check out the Homeschool Requirements in Your State to get started.

There are several ways to produce homeschool transcripts for your student, including availability from various organizations and online planner services, but creating your own isn’t as scary as it sounds.

A transcript really only needs the following information

  1. a list of the high school courses that your child has taken,
  2. the grade earned for each course
  3. the credits earned for each course
  4. GPA’s: one for each year and a final, overall GPA
  5. a graduation date/ projected graduation date (for seniors who haven’t yet finished)
  6. Student and school information (student name, birthdate, and/or social security number; school name & address)
  7. your signature

Any additional information is optional (unnecessary) so there’s no need to clutter up a spreadsheet with extra-curricular accomplishments or awards. And their SAT/ACT scores are entered on the actual college application, so there’s no need to include them on the transcript. This is just the academic record. You want it to be as clean and uncluttered as possible. A quick search will pull up hundreds, even thousands of examples to follow.

Check out this incredibly informative post over and Annie and Everything, where she lays it all out for you.

You can download this free transcript template here!

Giving Credit

There are several different ways students may acquire credits. Your state’s requirements will guide you through determining how many credits your student needs in each subject., but oftentimes homeschool moms have questions about what constitutes one high school credit.

To help you make those determinations, here are some examples of how students may acquire credits via subjects or electives:
  • The completion of a high school level textbook
  • Completing a semester-long course at a college
  • Taking a high school or college level online course
  • Completing a year-long unit study (or 2-semester long unit studies)
  • Participate in homeschool sports teams
  • Take private lessons and participate in competitions (Martial Arts, Dance, Swim, Theater, etc.)

General high school credit guidelines are that a 1-year course = one credit; and a semester course = one half credit

What if the course type isn’t so clearly defined? Chess and swim teams don’t exactly measure accomplishments this way, right? In that case, as a general rule, you can calculate credits this way: 120-180 hours of work = one credit. 60-90 hours = one-half credit

Missing Credits

In general, students in a well-planned homeschool won’t be missing credits because the homeschool sets the requirements. As home educators, we are aware of the workload facing our students in their college years and we work diligently to prepare them for success.  That said, it’s wise to contact colleges your student is considering attending and ask them what requirements they look for students to complete.  Don’t be surprised if they expect all state requirements to be met.

The Perfect Transcript

Don’t be afraid to take the time to make a great first impression, but don’t fear the transcript process! You can do this! Ask veteran homeschool parents who have graduated a homeschool student to share a sample with you.

And when you’re all done, congratulate your student on a job well done. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back a little either.

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The Best Online Writing Curriculum for Struggling Writers

I’ve found that writing is an “all or nothing” subject, at least with my kids. They either love it and look for opportunities to do more, or they completely despise it and act like it’s torture to write more than a sentence. There is no middle ground.

We have loved out-of-the-house writing classes, and many homeschoolers supplement with online options. And these days there are quite a few of those options! Below are a few of the most highly recommended for kiddos struggling with writing.

Write Shop has curriculum grouped for all age levels. Complete curriculum runs up to $130, but they offer bulk discounts and have sales and better rates on individual books. There’s also a placement test so you know where to start.

With Outschool you can sign up for free and classes start for as low as $10. These are live, online classes that meet at scheduled times, multiple days a week. They offer standard writing courses per grade level, as well as short classes based on fun interests, like the Percy Jackson and Wings of Fire series. There are so many classes to choose from here, you can really take your pick!

Essentials In Writing has a writing curriculum available for purchase, as well as online classes. The online classes include college prep and a special course for struggling writers! They also offer a literature curriculum made to go hand in hand with the writing portion. Each is available individually to stream or as a DVD package. You can also bundle them for a better price.

IEW or Institute for Excellence in Writing is a higher cost than the options above, but the comprehensive curriculum is rich and immersive. This is an excellent tool for your homeschool arsenal.

Copy work is another great option for struggling writers. You can read all about the benefits and uses of copy work here!

For even more great options, check out these other fabulous, free writing and grammar resources, as well as this collection of free writing printables, and creative writing ideas and prompts.

 

 

 

Amazing Phonics Resources for Struggling Readers

We know reading is key for learning. But sometimes, for many reasons, reading is a struggle. Luckily, there are a wealth of resources available for all types of readers, whether they are struggling, or showing early aptitude. Below are a handful of those places to start looking for support, most of which are not specialized, meaning the programs or resources are for readers at any stage.

Books

Explode the Code Series is a workbook based phonics program, covering letter sounds and most phonograms. This series starts by laying a strong foundation and building from it, including “1/2” books that provide practice for the skills learned in the whole-level books.

Phonological Awareness and Primary Phonics  – Thomas Gunning. This book is a brief, practical guide for teachers who want or have to teach phonics. Ideal for teaching struggling readers, this book details Dr. Gunning’s system to build on what students know and teach them to analyze words independently.

Teach Your Kid to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner. The methods in this book are specifically for early reading skills and is not recommended for struggling readers

Reading Apps

Endless Reader is available for free in the App Store and in the Play Store. This app introduces sight words and the most commonly used words through interactive play with cute little Endless monsters.

Homer Learn and Grow is a subscription-based site with games that “deliver playful learning across subjects.”  You can choose the plan that best suits your needs, and they offer a 30-day free trial. There is also a free app available in the App Store and Google Play.

Additional Resources

All about reading has an app that teaches phonics and offers a free readiness checklist, reading assessments, as well as pre-reader resources. Kits are available for different reading levels and there are options to purchase an entire kit or individual items.

Reading Eggs subscription-based with a free trial and apps available, Reading Eggs is a great place to start. A monthly membership is $9.99 and an annual one will run you $69.99.

Communityreading.org is a collection of free resources with tools, tips, information, and support for struggling readers. This is a fantastic resource for dyslexic readers as well!

Progressivephonics.com is another site with completely free resources for new and struggling readers.

The Free Reading Program boasts an extensive library of resources for each grade level, all for free. Just create a free account and get started!

Red Apple Reading is specifically geared for Pre-K through Third grade, whether the readers are new or struggling. Your first month is free, and after that a subscription is $7.50 a month for the first child, and #2.5 for each additional child.

Children Learning Reading offers standard and deluxe packages to help beginner readers of all ages. They also offer a free trial and a 60-day satisfaction guarantee.

The Orton Gillingham Approach “is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals.” The website has a search function to locate a tutor, parent resources, and detailed information about the program.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

The Benefits Of Copy Work And How To Make It Work For You!

Copywork is a much-loved aspect of the Charlotte Mason education. This understated and simple learning tool packs quite a punch when it comes to what it is capable of accomplishing for a child’s education.

For brand new writers, copywork starts with learning the letters and numbers. Once the basics are learned, children can move right into copying words, then on to short sentences, scripture, and poetry.

Copywork hones the mechanical skills of writing, without the pressure to produce original content.

Oral narration and reading are also used in the early years to develop compositional skills that will later be married with these mechanical skills, therefore, producing great writers.

It teaches grammar in a gentler format

Children assimilate a lot by copying great writing. Even college professors will assign lengthy pieces of copywork, so students might grasp the syntax of composition. Likewise, children learn the natural flow of language by copying literature’s masterpieces.

Another way to gently grow their knowledge of grammar is to point out a simple rule before they begin. For example, you might point out that the first letter of a sentence is always capitalized. As they do their daily copywork they will build their knowledge of grammar rules and will learn to apply it to their skill of writing.

Copywork builds a vibrant vocabulary

Charlotte Mason encouraged the use of good literature for copywork. By giving your students quality sentences, quotes, and poetry that contain rich vocabulary they will be continually enriched and challenged to broaden their use of various words.

It will grow spelling skills

Every time your student writes a word correctly, they are becoming better at spelling. Copywork is also a great foundation for transcribing, which teaches a child to see a word, close their eyes, picture the word in their mind, then spell the word aloud.

Exposure to Literary Geniuses and Gems

Copywork is a bridge that connects your child to great works of literature and the authors who created them.  It familiarizes them with great names, deep ideas, and the beauty of written words.

Builds the Habit of Attention

Short and concise assignments that are attainable build confidence in a subject. When kids can focus their whole attention on a simple task and then accomplish it, they get those all-important feelings of accomplishment and gratification. More than likely, those feelings will be catalysts for future interest in writing. Copywork is a simple task that can be done within 10-15 minutes and yields high results in the areas of handwriting, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and literacy.

You can find incredible copywork material just about anywhere!

  • Scripture
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Hymns and songs
  • Works of poetry
  • Classic literature
  • History books
  • Science books
  • Quotes from founders, leaders, scientists, and philosophers

The possibilities are endless! Here are some additional resources to get you started!

Scripture memorization

A little bit of everything: scripture, songs, poems, literature

Teachers Pay Teachers is a great, low-cost resources for copywork

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Unit Studies Round-Up for Elementary

We love unit studies! I’ve found that they enable us to deep dive into individual interests, while also bringing the whole family together for discussion and sharing discoveries.

So, what is a unit study?

A Unit Study is normally focused on a specific topic and it pulls all the subjects (except math) from the topic. One topic normally doesn’t last the whole year and can be changed monthly, weekly, or daily. You can stay focused on the topic until you feel you’ve covered everything. The workload varies based on your children’s grade level and ability so it’s a natural way to keep the whole family learning together. And there’s much more than just reading and writing! You can make recipes, projects, or even go on field trips that pertain to your topic.

Check out our library of unit studies for elementary-aged kids!

Science and nature

Autumn Unit Study

Gardening Unit Study – great for younger ones

Weather Unit Study

Insect Unit Study

Winter Unit Study

 

History

Potato Famine Unit Study – upper elementary to middle school

Medevil History

Davy Crockett

 

Civics and Geography

US States

World Geography

Elections Unit Study

 

Literature

Chronicles of Narnia

Boxcar Children

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

5 Winter Unit Studies For Elementary

It may be cold and dreary outside but that doesn’t mean that your nature unit studies have to wait for Spring! There are some beautiful learning opportunities to be gleaned from these winter unit studies!

1. This winter nature unit study covers a little bit of everything, from wildlife to plant life, and suggests books, crafts, and documentaries to enrich your learning!

2. For the animal lovers in your house, this Arctic animal unit study for kids is a fantastic option! Learn about all kinds of different cold-climate animals, and all the inventive ways they brave their harsh environment.

3. Follow your arctic animal study with this hibernation unit study, deep-diving into why some animals hibernate and exploring the ones that do!

4. Here’s one all about snowflakes, where they come from, how they’re formed, why each is different. Included are book and craft ideas, fun for elementary ages.

5. This study on the Arctic and the Inuit is a beautiful exploration of Arctic wildlife,  Inuit history and culture, and is great for upper elementary ages or middle schoolers!

Looking for more great unit studies? Check out the full unit study library at How To Homeschool For Free for more great ideas.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

How To Teach Kids About The Stock Market!

It wasn’t until my first college finance class that I started to learn a little bit about investing and how the stock market works. Then it wasn’t until my 30s that I implemented some of that knowledge, and added to it, to create a strategy for investing our resources into different companies and ventures.

Now, as parents, we want to give our kids a leg up on where we were at their age and give them the tools that they need to have a basic (and preferably an intermediate) level of knowledge about how different types of investments work. And specifically, how investing in the stock market works.

Here are some resources that you can use for FREE to help your kids have a working knowledge of how the stock market works (click on each title to go directly to the website):

Wealthbase

Join a game and get $100,000 in virtual cash to invest. Pick stocks, ETFs, and cryptos to create your virtual portfolio. Track your performance on the leaderboard! Wealthbase also have a learning center to learn about investing and financial planning strategies to help you build and preserve wealth.

The Stock Market Game

An online simulation of the global capital markets that engages students grades 4-12 in the world of economics, investing and personal finance and that has prepared nearly 20 million students for financially independent futures.

Parents will need to register with the website to create a profile.

Investopedia Stock Market Game

Start with $100,000 in virtual cash and put your trading skills to the test! Compete with thousands of Investopedia traders and trade your way to the top. Join or create challenges with your friends and other investors. Compete to see who has the best investment results daily.

How The Market Works

HowTheMarketWorks is a FREE stock market game that allows users to create their own custom stock game and create educational lessons for their players. It is used by over 400,000 individuals and students each year. Users register for free and receive a virtual $100,000 and access to our Education Center. Users can then create their own custom stock market contest and invite their classmates, friends, family or co-workers to a friendly competition.

Market Watch

If you already have a basic knowledge of how the stock market works and want to put your skills to the test, check out Market Watch! Build your portfolio and react to the markets in real time. Compete against your friends or coworkers to earn your spot at the top of the leaderboards. Market Watch allows you to do virtual advanced trading (like limit and stop loss orders, partial shares, short selling, margin trading, and more!)

Finance and Capital Markets course on Khan Academy

We love lots of the Khan Academy courses! They are completely free and on the topic of stocks and investments they have videos on all the following:

Introduction to stocks
Shorting stock
Understanding company statements and capital structure
Corporate metrics and valuation
Life of a company–from birth to death
Dilution
Mergers and acquisitions
Leveraged buy-outs
Bonds
Corporate bankruptcy
Mutual Funds and ETFs
Retirement Accounts
Hedge funds
and more!

Youtube Playlist on How The Stock Market Works

There are several great video options at the link above for a variety of ages and learning styles.

BusyKid App

It’s not free, but there’s an app called BusyKid App that costs $19.99 per year and allows you to give your kids their allowance through the app. They can spend their money through a (provided) pre-paid debit card and they have the option to use part of their allowance to invest in the stock market and watch their money potentially grow if they invest well.

There are also several books to either check out from your local library or purchase!

Go! Stock! Go!

Go! Stock! Go! employs a cartoon-like “Dr. Seuss” style as it becomes the first truly user friendly book on stock and finance.

A storybook follows the Johnson family as they learn the fundamentals of stocks and bonds, the mechanics of investing, and important lessons on risk and reward. The humorous illustrated story is simple enough for children and teenagers yet is also directed towards adults and kids of all ages.

The book offers an advanced section “Let’s Talk Stock” that provides an added level of knowledge for older readers. While designed with children in mind, this book is sure to become an adult favorite.

The Motley Food Investment Guide for Teens

Budding tycoons and those with more worldly concerns will appreciate The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of by David and Tom Gardner with Selena Maranjian. The editors of the Motley Fool Web site offer sound advice on everything from finding a job, investing in the stock market and avoiding financial pitfalls. “Take It from Me” and “Keep in Mind” sidebars offer brief advice from peers and the authors, respectively. Ages 12-up.

How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest!

What are Stocks? Understanding The Stock Market – Finance Book for Kids

5 Easy Ways To Keep Kids Engaged

 

Give them breaks

Younger kids need time to “get their wiggles out.” 15-30 minutes of instruction time should be followed by some time to burn energy. Elementary kids really benefit from this too! Let them play outside, go for a quick walk with you, play an indoor game of hide-and-seek, or turn on some music and have a 15-minute dance party. Anything that gets them up and moving, can really help them focus when it’s time to get back to their lessons.

Work in some activities that they love

If it’s cold or rainy and playing outdoors isn’t an option, take some time instead to explore something your little one is interested in. If your 5-year-old is really into using scissors right now, or your 9-year-old loves legos, allow some semi-structured time for that in their day. This is especially helpful when immediately following a particularly taxing lesson or activity. It gives them a bit of a breather, as well as a quick confidence boost if the prior lesson was a struggle.

Reward systems

In the same vein as above, reward systems can be a homeschooler’s best friend. If you have a kiddo that would rather read all day than do math, double her reading time one day, or take her to the library on Fridays as a reward for a week’s worth of long division. If you’ve got a hands-on learner who has trouble sitting still, working towards a park day or children’s museum trip might be more helpful.

Visual learners might enjoy a rewards chart that allows them to easily keep track of their individual progress toward the goal of their choice. Grab a whiteboard and make a quick bar graph with their name, and let them color a block each day, or use stickers to track progress.

Check out this great hack for cleaning whiteboards, without the yucky chemicals!

Choose the right time of day

No one operates well when they are tired or hungry. Try to do the harder stuff when your child is well-rested and not hungry.

Also, tackle the activity when you can have minimal distractions. If you have more than one child, either have activities for the younger ones planned or work through the tougher stuff when the little ones are sleeping or doing something like independent playtime.

Choose appropriate activities

As with all things, this is all about balance! If the activity is too hard, they might get frustrated and not want to do it again. If it’s too easy, they can get bored and either balk at doing it at all or be done in 60 seconds. Sometimes you don’t know for sure what is appropriate for your child, which is why it’s always a good idea to have some back-up plans. Keep a stash of puzzles, books, and board games close by. They make great back-ups when your child finishes planned activities too quickly.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Get the GUNK off! How to clean your dry erase board, without harsh chemicals!


We use our dry erase board ALL the time. When they are new, everything just wipes right off like a dream. Once they’ve seen a few semesters, they tend to get a little grimy. We’ve also had that phenomenon where a weird, un-erasable residue is left behind just after being cleaned with the smelly (definitely non-clean) cleaner.

But, there’s a solution! Literally! And it’s made with non-toxic ingredients that work like a charm!

DIY Dry Erase Board Cleaner Recipe 

What you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Pour the alcohol into the spray bottle
  2. Add a capful of thieves cleaner
  3. Add 10-12 drops of orange essential oil
  4. Place lid on the bottle and shake well

How To Use:

  1. Shake well before using
  2. Spray the whiteboard. Let it sit and work its magic for about 5 minutes
  3. Wipe away with the microfiber cloth

I LOVE orange essential oil! It’s one of the most versatile oils, and I use it everywhere in my house, from the bathroom to my medicine cabinet. Curious about essential oils? You can read all about them here

Bonus Tip! 

You can use a fabric softener sheet to erase your whiteboard! We lose our erasers ALL the time, so this hack has come in handy plenty. I just send a kid to fetch a fabric softener sheet out of the dryer and, presto! They work way better than a tissue or paper towel.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement in your homeschooling journey!***

Free Online Government/Elections Resources

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Through my husband’s work in local elections, my children gained educational experience in government.  However, I think they need a little refresher and the free resources listed are perfect.  If you are seeking resources to help teach your child about government than look no further.

Ben’s Guide To Government For Kids

Ben’s Guide to Government for Kids provides information and activities designed for educators, parents, and students in K-12 to help teach about our government and how it works. It is an educational site put on by the Government Printing Office, named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. You can also download a free activity book for lessons and fun activities.

Election Lapbook

Get everything you need from Homeschool Share for making an informative lapbook about Elections. You wil find printables of the Electoral College map, information on how to register, etc… very nice!

The Constitution For Kids

The Constitution for Kids gives a brief explanation of how the Constitution is the framing document of our country. There are 3 different levels of information and activities: ages K-3, ages 4-7, and ages 8-12. While this website is lacking in bells and whistles, it to has links for a student studying the Constitution and why it matters to each and every American.

Kids In The House

Kids in the House is designed to give children an idea of what the Legislative Branch of government is all about. There is also a section of teaching resources for your lessons. It’s not quite as entertaining as School House Rock, but you could always add that on a rainy day!

Congress For Kids

Congress for Kids has info on all parts of the Federal Government. “Congress for Kids gives you access to interactive, fun-filled experiences designed to help you learn about the foundation of our federal government and how its actions affect you.” For my family, this site could easily be a semester’s worth (or more!) of lessons just by itself.

The Oklahoma Homeschool Website

The Oklahoma Homeschool website has several unit study plans available to homeschool families. One of them is a 12-week study of American Government. The President & Elections lesson plan lists the current president as George Bush, so you will want to change that part of the lesson plan to make it accurate and current. There are  many ideas you can use from the lesson pages as independent lessons if you don’t want to make a unit study of this topic.

National Mock Election

Visit National Mock Election and see the vast collection of information on the voting process, why it matters to the future of our country, and how to get involved. A mock election is held and you are one of the candidates. It’s a great, hands on way to get involved in the process.

The CIA

If your kids are like my kids, they will LOVE the kids pages by the CIA. What better way to get kids to practice analytical skills and memory/concentration than with a game! I have to admit that I really like these kind of games. Break the Code is really fun, even for me! I have been known to leave my kids notes in a secret code, just for a little excitement. Try it!

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