My oldest child is about to enter into the world of homeschooling HIGH SCHOOL, officially! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to review a digital, PDF copy of the book Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork by Janice Campbell. She sells a print copy of the book, so if you’d prefer it that way, it is available as well.
I was lucky enough to hear Ms. Campbell speak at a recent homeschooling conference and was blown away by her insight and perspective. When I talked with her at her Everyday Education vendor booth later, I was sure to tell her how excited I was to review this book for her in the following weeks. She was so kind and offered excellent information to answer every question I had.
As I began reading through this high school transcripts book, I just knew that her wealth of knowledge would spill onto the pages and I was NOT disappointed! Just a quick look at the table of contents of this 138 page digital resource made me sigh with some relief. I really think I’ll be able to do a DIY homeschool high school transcript with ease.
Transcripts Made Easy
There are six sections to the book:
- You’ll read about what a transcript is and who needs one, who will see it and what parts are needed to create it, an overview of the transcript process, and how to get started using the book as a resource. I liked that she had quick tips and advice for people who are just doing some research, folks with junior high/middle school students, kids in the first couple of years or high school, juniors and seniors, and then individuals needing a transcript ASAP. No matter when or why you need a transcript, it is made so much simpler by following the guidance in this book.
- Next there is a rather lengthy section talking about starting with the end in mind. For example, pinning down what high school credits you (or your state, overseeing body, etc) will require for graduation, how to schedule courses, considering standardized testing, and skills helpful to cultivate in high school. The part of this section I found most interesting was when she discussed these different ways of scheduling coursework: Sabbath scheduling, year-round, sequential, one-subject plan, college style, and clustering. Additionally, she talks about many alternatives to a college pathway for students, discussing apprenticeships, various skilled trades, going into the military, and more. When you know where your kid might be headed, it’s easier to set them up for success!
- Janice Campbell talks about keeping simple records. She discusses a creating a high school binder, how to select sample work to keep, how to name classes for the transcript, as well as some information on special need students and creating their transcript. I like her thoughts on a class profile sheet for each course the student takes. It is for writing down significant things about the class and could be used to “back up” a credit given to a student in case it comes into question. This will be really helpful for us for the courses that I plan on piecing together. It suggests writing down how grades are determined, what major assignments were completed, and what readings were assigned, along with a course name, date completed, description, and any other comments about it. I need to start this now with the 4 high school level classes my daughter has begun over the past couple of months to get a head start on high school!
- Of course no transcript guidebook would be complete without a section on GPAs, grades, and credits. This part talks about grading ethically and fairly, coming up with a grading scale, granting credit for various types of classes such as honors or AP, and calculating a proper GPA. I like that she includes a resource with writing samples based on grade level to help us to try and understand what we should really be looking for when grading our own children. I do struggle with that, sometimes, and am glad to have another “judge” for aptitude now.
She even includes a section on grading for unschooling families or very relaxed homeschoolers.
- Now what everyone was waiting for – actually creating the transcript for your high schooler! Ms. Campbell discusses how to properly issue a transcript, gives examples of several different formats, shows samples of various ways to organize the transcript (such as by semester or subject), and even details issuing a diploma, including professional-sounding wording for the document itself! I love that she even discusses what font to use, how many pages it should ideally end up being, and whether to orient it horizontally or vertically.
It had never occurred to me that there were so many ways to go about this, so I am immensely grateful for the samples that she has included so that I can properly format transcripts for my kids in the way that fits our information the best.
- Finally, there is a references and glossary section with blank sample forms, reproducible pages, and more resources. I love the reproducible forms, because it is going to be a cinch to just print off what I need to place in my student’s high school binder and fill it in as we go along. I’ll save the process of typing it up nicely for sometime later down the road, but this will get me started and will help us to visually see what we are doing, where we are going, and where we have been. I am a very tactile and visual person, so it’s important for me to get my hands on it and to create some documents with my own handwriting! For those who would prefer to just type it up from the get-go, she does provide VERY detailed instructions on how to do so.
How I Will Use This Resource
Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High-School Paperwork, by Janice Campbell, is a timely book for us because my oldest is in 8th grade and has already begun a few high school level courses toward the end of this school year. I was really needing some guidance on how to document her coursework for an eventual transcript and wasn’t sure where to even begin.
After reading the book, I’m not as concerned about this formal paperwork that we’ll have to complete. By starting now, I can do everything in smaller, bite-sized chunks. Even if I had just picked this book up at the end of her senior year, however, I feel like the information inside would more than prepare me for this big step!
I really like this resource and know that I’m going to be referring to it a lot over the next decade or so as I go through the high school years with each of my 5 kids. I am JUST now getting started with my oldest child and am confident that it’ll be so much easier just by using the massive amount of information, samples and blank forms, and advice in this book. It is the fourth edition of the book (newest copyright date 2018), so I appreciate that there have been updates to reflect current information and some fresh ideas that Ms. Campbell has come across!
I recommend this to other homeschooling families trying to figure out the whole transcript process. Rest easy and simplify things by just following her easy steps, samples, and advice.
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