What do you think is truly necessary for a child to graduate?

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  • Mellymomma

    Our state does not keep track of us or make us report anything.

    For a student who may be college bound, what do you think is truly necessary for her concerning writing, literature studies, and grammar? I guess keeping in mind SAT/ACT. There is also the option for her to do an online dual credit grammar class or a local community college class.

    I am just trying to figure out how much focus we need to put on taking a literature course, or what grammar skills, and writing skills she should have. She will be 10th grade this fall.

    At this point, she had grammar in elementary until about 6th grade using Christian Light. She has not done much grammar, literature, or writing. I am trying to plan for this fall and am confused!

    I want to do a frugal as possible choice. 🙂

    Rachel White

    If you know which schools your child is looking into, I suggest checking their requirements. I think the credit minimum is 24. For some colleges it’s more. I recommend you research.

    Otherwise, what follows is my opinion;  based on a lot of reading, my state’s minimal, but decent requirements, and a belief in the power of a strong liberal arts education, even for a STEM kid (studies show the value in this).

    History-3-4 credits:

    Geography: human, political, and cultural

    American, British, and World, with a focus on Western Civilization, but adding in some basics of Asian, S. American, and African. Taking two years is, IMO, ideal. Also, you can cover these chromologically through all four years, such as is done by Ambleside Online.

    OR, over 4 years:

    Ancients – until 5 cen. AD/CE

    Medieval – 5th cen. to 15th c.

    Modern – 16th c. to 20thc.

    20th cen.and beyond

    Be able to read and interpret primary sources.

    Since she’s in 10th and I don’t know what history/Geography she did last year, then:

    American, British, and World; and integrate geography.

    Grammar/Mechanics (included in lit. credit):

    I think 2 years in high school, and high expectations when speaking and writing, is necessary. There are such poor grammar skills exhibited in the spoken and written word within our culture, that it desperately needs reinforcing.

    Foreign Language (2 credit minimum): 2 years, at minimum. More is preferred.

    Lit (including plays, poetry, short stories, autobiographies, biographies)- 3-4 credits:

    Broken up by Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and 20th c. and beyond.

    American; British (could feasibly do 2 years of British); World


    American; British; World; Poetry and Short stories studies (covering all three catagories)


    American, British, & World for the 3 years you have left.

    Be able to identify: conflict(s), exposition, rising action, climax, denouement, conclusion (recommend Teaching the Classics for this and the socratic questions). Teach them how to skim and read closely with annotations.

    Composition: (part of lit. credit): 

    Basic intro paragraph structure; 5-paragraph essay; lit analysis essay forms; research paper; summaries; write in the 4 main essay forms (narrative, expository, descriptive, persuasive). Timed w/prompt (for SAT). If your child likes writing, you should include creative and poetry.

    Vocabulary/Spelling:(part of lit.):

    If your child is a natural speller and voracious and close reader, dictation is probably sufficient. Require a vocabulary notebook with their lit readings, where you require a minimum amount of new words that your child writes/defines words they are unfamiliar with from each chapter. Including part of speech, whether its use is singular or plural, have them confirm the pronunciation, and definitions. Maybe include synonyms and antonyms, too.

    If not a natural speller, even if a good reader, I don’t think dictation is enough. So, you’ll want to find something appropriate for high school spelling: reviewing phonics, rules,  etc. Require the vocabulary notebook mentioned above.

    Math: usually 3-4 credits

    Alg 1 & 2; Geometry; pre-calc/trig. or consumer math, personal finance.

    Science: 3-4 credits, 3 w/labs

    Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Physical Science; Anatomy & Physiology; many to choose from.

    Electives (2-4?cr.) and extracurriculars which showcase your child unique interests and bent. I  personally think Logic study is very important. Obviously,  part of a traditional liberal arts education. There’s traditional, linguistic logic and modern symbolic. The latter is used by those in engineering and computer careers. I think the former is necessary for all, with a blend of both for STEM kids.

    Other subjects important to colleges (and life):

    Economics(1/2 cr.); American Government (1/2 cr.) current events; fine arts (1-2 cr.); health/nutritional studies(1/2 cr.) Unless you’re going to maintain a portfolio (assuming the college accepts it), you’ll want to create course descriptions and a transcript, ordered by subject and/or year and/or semester, with credit hours for these subjects.

    HSLDA has an informative section for high school. Also, AO is very helpful.

    Check https://www.homehighschoolhelp.com

    I personally use online classes for math and composition. Co-op for science. That’s not absolutely necessary and everything else can be done frugally by using kindles (I think you can annotate on a Kindle); library for bioks not annotating, otherwise you can find books inexpensively used on Amazon, Alibris, Homeschoolclassifieds; curricula can be found inexpensively at Homeschoolclassifieds and well trained mind classifieds.

    Free online classes:


    I may have something which was given to me which I could pass to you,  if needed. Saxpn math; Teaching Textbooks Alg 1; an Apologia Biology textbook.



    I agree that you should look at the requirements for incoming freshmen at a college she would be interested in attending.

    This is a very basic outline I shared with my son, based on the requirements of our state university:

    English – four credits
    Science (with a lab) – three credits
    Math – three credits
    Foreign Language – three credits
    Social Sciences (history, geography, etc.) – three credits
    Other Electives – four+ credits


    This is what my state requires:

    ” all high school graduates to have a minimum of 21 credits, including 4 credits in English, 3 credits in math, 3 credits in science, and 3 credits in social studies.”

    It seems as if your main question is regarding English credits.  I think that having strong English skills is important for success in other areas.  This would include reading comprehension, vocabulary and writing.  In my opinion, grammar is important to the extent that students know how to use it in their writing.

    For high school, I try to focus on those things.  If they can read something at or above their grade level and then answer questions about it, their comprehension is probably ok. Some of my middle schoolers aren’t that great at that, so we’re using Wordly Wise to improve that and their vocabulary as well.  You can also check on that with their science or history reading.

    Few kids are naturally good at writing. Some are good at creative writing, but lack the skills to build a good essay, opinion paper or persuasive essay. We’ve enjoyed using “The Power in Your Hands” for non-fiction and fiction writing. It helps me to have a program that is written to the student, but also gives me a grading guideline.  The author breaks the process down into manageable chunks so that it’s never overwhelming.

    We’ve also used that curriculum for literature, and even though I don’t feel as if that is as critical as learning how to write well, we’ve found it to be useful.  For one thing, it encourages kids to look for themes in literature and also pushes them out of their comfort zone to read books that they probably would never pick up otherwise.


    My dd17 has just finished her senior year, a year early.  That was unintentional on our part, but in January we realized she had more than enough credits to graduate without another year.  She has been dual enrolled in college this year and is transitioning to a full time college student summer term (next week).

    Florida doesn’t impose requirements on homeschoolers, but public school students need 24 credits so we used that as a minimum standard.

    DD took several online classes over the years in a variety of subjects.  Grammar and Writing skills are extremely important for college courses, IMO, as a great number of courses will require papers. We utilized English Grammar Revolution materials in 9th, I think. She’s also used The Power in your Hands, Center for Literature courses, Classes by Beth Essay Styles class.

    This dd has opted to go to state college before transferring to FSU Panama City negating the requirement to take the SAT/ACT so we didn’t prep for that.


    I conquer on all said above … colleges want to see rigorous work and well rounded personal lives in their applicants.  My impression has been that they are looking for GRIT and PERSEVERANCE in applicants, as well as solid academics.  Communication skills are essential – written, spoken, all. I think kids really benefit from public speaking or at least consistent practice in speaking to others.  Sounds sort of ridiculous but maintaining eye contact, manners, proper conversation etiquette – all go a LONG way in an interview for college admissions.  They will mark your application!  I’ve seen it.  🙂

    Taking college readiness tests might help you all see where there are gaps at this point.  Usually your local junior college will offer those type of assessments.

    Literature!  It really is important to offer high school students a wide variety of good literature.  I don’t think this has to be expensive or cumbersome.  Simply creating a reading list and then asking for something like “reader response” pages or short essays or even longer papers will round it out nicely.  The prompts for such writing is all online for free when you search the title of the book read.  If grading is an issue, reach out to local colleges for help.  Some offer graduate students who need the money and will grade things for you and others offer services on their campuses that they may have never thought of as something a homeschool family would utilize.

    Literature offers something far, far more important than college admission – it builds perspective on the complexities of life; it helps us to see other’s perspectives; it exposes us to vast new worlds; there is nothing better to build vocabulary, grammar and spelling and so so so much more.

    You can easily search for reading lists from high schools across the country if you are worried about choosing a list yourself.  There are really more literature lists than you can imagine!

    As far as the ACT and SAT …. I think kids really benefit from a bit of training to take these types of tests.  It’s hard to summarize here but the format is something to get used to and the questioning has a structure that I never find exactly straight forward (some people do, but even they suggest preparing).  But again, all this is free online – Khan Academy, the specific web sites for these two tests.



    Thank you all 🙂

    Jean, thank you for the writing course recommendation.


    Agreeing with the previous posts.

    My DD will be starting 9th next year.  I looked up admission requirements for 3 of the colleges that I think my DD might look at.  They are all similar in what they want.  We will be working towards having the requirements for the one that requires the most.

    You can look at what the high school graduation requirements are for your state.  I had pulled that up but when comparing that to college requirements, the colleges required more.

    For Grammar we are going to use Get Smart Grammar.  I think that the kids need to have an understanding of grammar and that will show in their writing and oral presentations.

    Composition, we will finish Jump In and then use Power In Your Hands.  I think that the kids need to be able to write a well presented essay and research paper.  Not everyone has a talent for writing but everyone can learn to present a good paper.  I love how Jump In is breaking everything into small doable chunks to get the bigger project completed.  Power In Your Hands will do the same thing.

    Literature, I am still working on this one.  I am not a huge proponent of certain books having to be read.  I think that there is a lot of good literature with good moral and character lessons in them that are not on the high school literature lists.  I am choosing books that we want my daughter to read and grow from and not sticking with a list.  I have looked at some peoples lists for reference.  We will do a variety of things.  I plan to use some of 7Sisters lit guides, we will do some book reports, some essays, some oral discussion, and some we will just enjoy reading.  My DD struggles with dyslexia and we won’t get through this without audio books or me reading them to her so that is going to put a whole different twist on things.  I am not a big on literature classes but I am big on being rounded, learning, enjoying and stretching our minds with books.  When I took a literature class I didn’t do very well.  I always got something different out of it than the teacher and I think that is okay.  Not everyone comes away from anything with the exact same opinions and ideas.

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