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The Basics of High School Electives for Homeschoolers

Electives are subjects your children do on their own and they aren't always something you assign. You'll learn how to put high school electives on your transcript. And, we'll go in depth on some frequently used electives so you can get some ideas and encouragement for electives in your own homeschool.

Electives are subjects your children do on their own, not something you assign. If your child is taking care of horses, you can call the class "Animal Husbandry." Designing draperies can be part of an interior design class. Let your teenagers decide on electives as much as possible.

There's no limit on the topics your children can study as homeschool classes. You can create fancy or plain class titles — whatever you prefer. And you can include delight directed learning (see Chapter 3 and 4) on your child's high school transcript as electives.

I'm sure that somewhere across the United States you will find brick-and-mortar public or private schools that offer the same elective classes you teach at home. Many high schools offer crazy-sounding electives that happen to be what the teachers are interested in. But in your homeschool, choices are not limited by what the teachers are interested in, only by what the child wants to learn independently. 

What are high school electives? 

Electives are like dessert. They are the non-core classes or credits that don't fit under the core categories. Every high school offers elective classes.

When I was in high school, one of my electives was a class called "Polynesian History." My teacher offered it so he could go to Hawaii every year and write it off as a business expense. My brother-in-law was a public school high school teacher and taught one elective called "Sports Communication" and another elective called "The History of Baseball." He taught these two classes because he loved baseball and it allowed him to listen to the games during class time. If you go rockhounding regularly, then you can teach an elective in geology.

In addition to electives that are required by homeschool law, you can choose electives that are important to you or fun for your student. Electives you want to cover aren't the same ones all homeschool families want to include. They don't even need to be the same for each of your children.

Sometimes the most valuable electives are life skill electives such as driver's education or keyboarding, logic, and computer skills — the kinds of skills adults use every day. Either adults have these skills or wish they did. You can make sure your student learns the skills you did not in high school.

And you can give them personal time to pursue their passions. A little-known secret is that passion is an elective. When I was homeschooling, one of my boys loved chess and studied chess hours upon hours each year. One year we called those hours "Critical Thinking." The next year he began teaching chess classes and we called it "Public Speaking." The following year he got multiple chess jobs and worked for a chess company; we called those experiences "Occupational Education."

I know students who specialized in ornithology (the study of birds), mycology (the study of fungus), economics, and musicology. Specialization is one of the benefits of homeschool freedom. I encourage you to seize this opportunity so your children enjoy homeschooling. 

How many electives are required?

On your child's transcript, add as many electives as are earned. High school graduation requirements generally include 24 credits, including english, math, social studies, and science plus as many electives as it takes to earn 24 or more credits. When your child plays their piano or guitar, plays basketball each day, or plays on the church worship team, then it's okay to include these activities as electives each year they participate in them. 

What high school electives can you include? 

Homeschoolers can tackle electives differently. You might want to include a crochet class, as I know so many homeschool girls that take crochet or knitting with them wherever they go. If your child does, that's great, include it on their transcript. School districts across the country include these kinds of classes and you can, too.

Wallingford Public School in Connecticut offers a class that includes crochet. They call it "Contemporary Crafts" and kids work on any yarn projects they want.

Northland Pines School District in Wisconsin offers a similar class called "Textiles, Arts and Crafts." Another school, Westwood School District in Michigan, includes a crochet class called "Creative Stitchery." Homeschoolers are simply doing what public schools already do. You can create your own classes and class titles.

 This post is a chapter from my Coffee Break Book, Essential Electives for Homeschooling High School. The regular price is $4.49 on Kindle. Grab your copy here and read my featured book of the month!

Learn how electives make teens, parents, and colleges happy and how they are the secret sauce for college admission and scholarships!

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