Wednesday, June 10, 2015

High School Planning for Chronically Ill Children - Defining Credit Hours

Planning to homeschool high school can be a daunting task for anyone and everyone has circumstances that make their family and child unique. As Amber neared the end of 7th grade, I began to research in earnest for high school. I found that a majority of the resources assumed I would be homeschooling a unique, yet healthy, child with reasonably equal capabilities each day.

Honestly, how could I expect generic resources to know my child's ability when it fluctuates so wildly that we don't even always know what it will be from hour to hour. Even though I felt like I was without guidance, it actually left me free to be creative and forge our own high school path.

Unexpected Homeschool: High School Planning for Chronically Ill Children - Defining Credit Hours

My philosophy is that we can adapt almost any educational experience to fit with Amber's physical / medical needs if we simply understand the end goal and requirements. That's where the initial problem came in. Until recently, we didn't have an end goal or know all the necessary information.  I made the choice to start my planning at the beginning by exploring the foundation of high school - credit hours.

Early in my research I realized some experienced people in our homeschool group had unfortunately misunderstood a state law and then published within the group, as fact, that our state defines a high school academic credit as 100 hours. This is actually not true. It defines a statutory credit as 100 hours, not an academic credit. The statutory credits are used to determine when compulsory education has been fulfilled. There is even documentation stating that the 100 hour statutory credits should not be used toward graduation or on transcripts.  Thankfully, I'm a "get it from the source" type of person.  While seasoned homeschoolers are a wealth of information and support, sometimes you need to do the leg work yourself.

So what really is an academic credit? I did a weeks of reading to finally decide we would use 150 hours for all classes excepting laboratory science, and those we will target 180 hours.  These numbers are significantly higher than a Carnegie credit, which is 120 hours of face time with the teacher. Our state quantifies, for the public schools, that a credit is granted for a course that meets for 130.5 hours (7830 minutes).  None of these definitions address the concept of homework or assignments outside of the classroom, which are expected to be part of the course.

In my research, I found that many homeschoolers, and even HSLDA, recommend a range of 120 to 180 hours of work to equal a credit.  Clearly our state recommendations are on the lower end of this.  My final decision was based on the idea that it is better to do more than not enough.  Striving for 150 hours per credit gives us leeway if Amber has difficulty and we can drop back to the 130 hours per credit used in our public schools. Though, I would definitely feel more secure using the 150 hours.  I believe it gives Amber the best possible chance at any university she would like to attend.

Unexpected Homeschool: High School Planning for Chronically Ill Children - Defining Credit Hours

After making the decision on how to define a credit hour, I did the calculations for all the needed credits. Despite Amber being able to successfully complete the state required 600 core subject hours each previous year, I had significant concerns with the hours needed for high school. Looking back at the division of Amber's core hours for 7th grade, it's a bit scary. 210 hours language arts, 190 hours history, 90 hours math, 80 hours science. 50 hours foreign language. Oops.  This is a bit skewed.

While I'm hopeful we can get more math and science in per year, if motivated, it's going to be hard to achieve 150 hours or even 130 hours with Amber's current frequency of symptomatic days. There are frankly times she can't process the meaning of written words.  It's like her brain just doesn't know what to do. We use videos for a few subjects on those days to help keep learning going.  However I'm not sure how much actually gets through and math rarely is successful on her "sick" days.

The next post in this series will talk about which credits we discovered are needed and how we plan to ensure all the requirements are met, even with Amber's numerous less-than-healthy days.


  1. I think your thoughts are excellent. Our oldest son was not college bound so we did the minimum hours required. However, my next set will be doing more hours because they are capable and want to go to college. This is how we did it with a high end special needs son.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. This is a really helpful post. In England we don't have to do any amount of hours (there is almost complete freedom) but I always won't to veer in the too much rather than too little direction and those hours you have shared will help me to do that.
    You are both doing such a wonderful job under tricky circumstances.xx

  3. For us it's 120 hours or a complete textbook. What good textbook only takes 120 hours to complete? Cati will be in 84th next year. I was going to do half 84th and half 94th, but decided to give her another full year of middle school. No rush. A lot to think about for high school. Will you post about keeping records?

  4. I might post about the record keeping, but I use software that tracks it all for me.