There is more to homeschool than traditional academic subjects like history and math. Everyday skills like cooking and yard work are important, too. So are healthy eating and exercise. Learning to do laundry and simple car repairs, too.
As a normal part of life, many skills just come with the territory — sometimes not needing to be formally taught at all, and sometimes actually requiring sophisticated training, resources, and materials.
Parents may award credit for life skills their children pick up during the homeschool years. Whether students learn independently or these things are taught using books and lessons, skills like these are fundamental, useful and exceedingly worthwhile. If credit is earned for history and math, why not award occasional credit for life skills, too?
Families may handle life skills as they wish. A common way is to include a course to teach specific life skills in the homeschool line-up, and award credit for successful course completion at the end of the year. Another way is to observe students throughout the year, and award credit based on a list of practical skills they picked up — and mastered – on their own.
Keep in mind, this is not about ordinary chores that many children already do. This is about doing more than what is generally required, for an extended period of time, and is legitimately worthy of school credit. I maintain there is a huge difference between learning valuable life skills that might not be learned any other way, and awarding credit as an “easy grade”. (This is my philosophy about P.E. as well — i.e., walking the dog doesn’t merit school credit.)
With that said, families using transcripts should select a name for the course and list it on the transcript just like all of the other courses. Grades can be awarded and figured into the GPA, as well. Plus, the course can be taught multiple times, each time with a different, legitimate emphasis, if desired.
Examples of names for courses like these include:
- Life Skills
- Home Economics
- Practical Arts
- Interpersonal Relationships
- Green Living
- Mind, Body and Spirit
- Household Maintenance
- Skills for Everyday Life
- College Prep
- Workplace Readiness
- Animal Care
- Money Management
Though families should arrive at a name that best describes what the course is. (Sometimes browsing course titles on high school and college web sites can inspire ideas.)
Life skills courses may be a composite of many things, too. Sometimes a general name like Family Life is best for courses which include many different things — like infant and child care, , taking a babysitting course, receiving a CPR or first aid certificate, long-range meal planning, housekeeping, and more. Workplace Skills might be used to describe a life skills course requiring keyboarding, learning to use a spreadsheet, studying office manners and protocols, dressing for the workplace, banking, and more. Being creative with the name is part of the fun.
As for the number of credits on the transcript, this again depends on the specific experience and the family philosophy about life skills. Parents can use the course description, the list of completed activities, or number of hours logged to gauge if the experience is worthy of a 1/2 credit, a full credit, or possibly even more. Use THIS as a guide if you’ve never thought about how to award credits before.
Don’t be afraid to list life skills among the many things your homeschoolers have learned along the journey to a full, educated, and well-prepared life. Achieving the perfect combination of courses, skills and experiences for every child is the trademark of homeschooling. Use it to your advantage and award the credit your child really deserves.