Assigning High School Credits in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Many times when you choose a Charlotte Mason approach to your homeschool, you are swimming along pretty well until you wake up one day and realize that your child will be in ninth grade next year. Uh oh. Now what do I do? Must I give up our days of living books, narrations, and multiple history streams for a prescribed course of science and history classes along with official literature and writing courses to make sure that my child earns the appropriate amount of credits to graduate and/or be accepted into a university? The short answer is no.

CM High School Credits

This past summer, with ninth grade looming on the horizon, I was at a crossroads when it came to Grace’s education. I had discovered a Charlotte Mason curriculum I loved, and the kids were doing well with it, but I was afraid that I was going to be forced to give it up because of high school. I knew how Charlotte Mason worked subjects in the high school grades, as a similar continuation of the lower grades, but dear Charlotte never had to deal with United States graduation requirements and college admissions. Would Charlotte’s way of rotating through history and the sciences fulfill those? I decided to put pencil to paper and compare Charlotte’s class lists with modern American high school education and college preparedness. Disclaimer: Be sure and check your state’s homeschool laws. Some states require homeschoolers to meet certain requirements for graduation. Also, if your child wants to pursue a higher education, check the entrance requirements for that university since they all require different courses.

The Sciences

Usually in an American high school (and you’ll find this is true for all of the subjects I mention in this post), we separate out disciplines into their own category. So for science, you would study physical science, biology, chemistry, and physics all in separate years. However, in a CM education, and throughout most of Europe today, the sciences are integrated as one subject where you study all of the sciences each year, while going more in-depth each time. Looking ahead to Grace’s high school science, I wanted to see if this approach of covering biology one term, chemistry one term, and physics one term would be the equivalent of spending a year on each.

The numbers below are based on doing science four days a week (three days of reading and one day of lab) along with a natural history or science biography reading for thirty minutes one day a week as well.

One term (12 weeks) of biology each year for 3 years: 48 hours per term= 144 hours total

One term (12 weeks) of chemistry each year for 3 years: 48 hours per term= 144 hours total

One term (12 weeks) of physics each year for 3 years: 48 hours per term = 144 hours total

One year (36 weeks) of natural history/science biography for 3 years: 18 hours per year = 54 hours total

As you can see, even with spreading these classes out over three years, it’s easy to hit enough hours to earn a high school credit. Plus, it leaves the senior year for dual enrollment or student choice. Since my oldest is not a STEM kid, and if she does go to college it will be in the arts or humanities, I’m subbing out physics for environmental science in our three year rotation after she finishes physical science this year.

The Social Sciences

Another area where Charlotte Mason integrated subjects was in the social sciences by having various history streams (American, world, and ancient) running concurrently, while incorporating geography, economics, and government.

The numbers below are based upon doing history four days a week (30 minutes each day), geography two days a week (30 minutes each day), and government or economics one day a week. These calculations are a little more complicated due to the various history streams that you would be studying each year, but hopefully you can follow it all.

One year (36 weeks) of American history twice a week for four years = 144 hours total

One year (36 weeks) of British/World history once a week for four years = 72 hours total

One year (36 weeks) of ancient history once a week for four years = 72 hours total

In the breakdown above, you can see an American history credit is easily achieved over four years, but what about a world history credit? If you combine your British, world, and ancient history studies together, you again reach 144 total hours of work, a full credit.

Now let’s look at geography (a combination of living geography books and mapwork), government, and economics.

One year (36 weeks) of geography twice a week for four years = 144 total hours

Two years (72 weeks) of government twice a week for two years = 72 total

Two years (72 weeks) of economics twice a week for two years = 72 total

The way I planned my daughter’s high school path was to focus on government in the years when we study the founding of our country and modern times, and then focus on economics in the alternating years, which would be colonial times and the 1800’s. No matter how you choose to divide it up, over the course of four years, a full credit is achieved in geography and a half credit in both government and economics.

Hopefully by breaking down these subjects over the years, you can see how the requirements for college entrance are achieved despite the odd (to Americans anyway!) rotation that Charlotte Mason used. I know it helped me see that the education I was planning for high school would in no way hinder whatever path my children choose. So go forth in confidence, Charlotte Mason homeschooler! High school is no hurdle at all.