Backwards Planning for Graduation

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Backwards planning is exactly what is sounds like; you plan your child’s high school education by starting at the end!

In other words, take a peek at your state’s graduation requirements and the entry requirements of any colleges or career fields your child is interested in. Divide those requirements up by four years and viola, you have a rough plan of how the high school years will look.


This method works so well because it’s so simple. It works great for parents, but it’s also a good tool for visual kids, kids who are goal-oriented, kids who prefer to chart their own path, and even kids who need a little extra motivation.

If you’re making the switch to homeschooling in the middle of the high school years, fret not! The backwards planning method works especially well for children who leave traditional school not long before graduation.

homeschooling high school

Step 1: Look at your state’s graduation requirements. Each state has requirements published online. I advise you to look directly at your state’s Department of Education and not through a third party. For the United States you can find the link to each Department of Education HERE.

Step 2: If your child is interested in a specific college or university check out their admission requirements. Each school has their own set of required credits, test scores, and the like.

Here are two examples that show the minimum graduation requirements in my state* and the minimum requirements that must be met to be considered for admission into the largest university in my state. Click on each picture to zoom in.

homeschooling high schoolhomeschooling high school

*My state offers 4 different types of diplomas. I based the above info on the most common type, the 24 credit diploma.

Note: Even if your child has no plans to attend college it doesn’t hurt to look at the requirements anyhow, just in case. It’s better to be safe than take double credits in the year before college!

Step 3: Start planning. If you know your child needs 4 math credits, for instance, you can plan one math per year. If your child needs 4 maths and is already partially through high school without any math credits, then you know that you may have to double up on year or work a little extra during the summer.

It really is that easy! Questions? Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. If I don’t know the answer I’ll have someone else answer 🙂

(And don’t worry, I’ll talk about what is and isn’t a credit in another post!)

See more great articles about homeschooling high school here!

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