Every school offers high school electives. What crazy electives were available at your high school? I took Polynesian History, which was offered by my teacher so he could go to Hawaii every summer and write it off as a business expense. My brother-in-law taught Sports Communication and History of Baseball at his public high school because he loved baseball, and could listen to games during class time.
Homeschoolers are not limited by the whims of teachers, or the preferences of principals or the school district. Instead, we can choose high school electives that are legally required, important to us, and fun for our students. There are three critical elective types to cover in high school, but the individual electives aren’t the same for all homeschool families. In fact, they don’t even have to be the same for each child in your family!
Each state has different homeschool laws concerning core courses and high school electives. Usually the requirements involve subjects parents would teach their children anyway, such as reading, writing, math, science, and foreign language. That’s why increased state regulation doesn’t tend to affect our homeschool performance. Truth be told, parents often have tougher requirements than state laws. However, look at your homeschool state law to see what is required, and find out if any of those requirements are high school electives for homeschoolers. For example, Washington State requires that parents teach “Occupational Education.” Other states might require “Technology” or “Computer Applications.” Add these required classes to your high school class list.
Don’t look up your state “graduation requirements.” Those are requirements specifically for your local public high school, and not for private schools or homeschools. Public school requirements change frequently, and may not reflect what is important or significant. Trying to meet public school requirements can lead to frustration, and feelings of inadequacy. These requirements often stem from societal problems that are not meaningful in your homeschool. Look for electives required by state homeschool law instead.
There are some high school elective classes you believe should be required in high school, but aren’t required by the state. That’s one reason looking at public school requirements can be so frustrating – their inflexible guidelines can seem nonsensical in the context of your own child in your own home. Instead, look carefully at the subjects you believe are critical. Subjects that parents require for high school vary significantly. One parent might require Bible classes and another require a high school art curriculum or home economics. Your best friend might require logic, or critical thinking, or debate. All homeschool parents have subjects they deem critical for high school. Add yours to the high school class list.
Set reasonable expectations for the number of electives. The list of high school electives we would love to teach our children, but we certainly can’t make our children learn in four years what has taken us a lifetime to learn. Each one credit class indicates about one hour of study per day. If your child takes more than eight classes each year, you are expecting your child to sit still and study for more than 8 hours a day. Is that reasonable? Keep your learning goals balanced, and don’t expect your child to work longer than an adult works at a full time job.
Learning for fun can take almost any form; it’s not limited by the interests of the teacher, the school, or the purchase of a special curriculum. Any learning your child does for fun can be included on the high school transcript as homeschool elective classes. To be quite honest, sometimes parents don’t see these subjects as delight directed learning. Often, parents will see this learning as just an annoying interruption. What is your child doing when they should be “doing school”? Could that behavior translate into some high school credits? If they are constantly playing the banjo, riding horses, drawing Anime, or mapping the moons of Jupiter, it can indicate some high school level learning.
Don’t turn delight into a total drag. When your child is learning for fun, and you want to put that information on the transcript, the temptation is to force that subject into the public school mold. Don’t do it! You don’t want to beat the love of learning out of your child, or make them hate their most-beloved pastime. Don’t make delight directed learning a boring school subject. You don’t need to purchase textbooks (although your child may request some for further study). You don’t need to create tests. Instead, watch closely, listen, and learn from your children. They are capable of learning without any intervention. Your job isn’t to make them learn, your job is to collect what they have already learned.
There can be impediments to learning for fun. If it seems like your child doesn’t take joy in any delight directed learning, look for stumbling blocks that are getting in their way. Sometimes the problem is simply a lack of maturity. Young students may need to explore more of the world before they catch fire for a subject. Sometimes the problem is time, and a schedule crammed full to the gills. If they are so busy doing “school” each day, and don’t have any free time, they may not have the necessary hours to learn how to enjoy other topics just for fun. Sometimes the problem is technology, if your children spend all their free hours glued to a screen, playing games or using social media. This kind of technology use can decrease creativity and enjoyment in other areas. Try limiting technology, and freeing up more time to see if your child can start learning for fun.
Your job is to educate your children, and colleges want to see rigorous college preparation in high school. By including electives, you can exceed expectations in many categories. Look at the college admission requirements for colleges you are considering. Compare their requirements to the education you are giving your child. Is there anything missing? Can you exceed expectations with your electives? Include all of your academic but natural learning, whether it was intentional or mandated by the state, or even during the summer, when other subjects were on hiatus. We homeschoolers might be crazy enough to school year-round. We might even require or allow our children to learn something during the summer. Summer school counts, too!
Exceed expectations and put homeschool electives on your high school transcript!
Learn how to identify and avoid the big blunders repeated by countless homeschool parents!
The First Mistake may cripple your plans if your child ever changes their mind (and what teenager doesn't!) The Second Mistake may leave your child unprepared for college! The Third Mistake may result in the loss of thousands of dollars in financial aid! The Fourth Mistake may cause your child to be lost in the crowd during college admission. The Fifth Mistake may render your kid unable to gain admission to the college of their dreams!
Chart your child’s course to success. Be confident you're covering the essential high school classes.
Experienced hikers know to never begin a demanding journey without a good map and a strong plan. For homeschooling parents, it’s even more important to establish a solid plan toward high school graduation. This book highlights all the subjects required for college preparation, so your child will be fully prepared for competitive admission and scholarships. You’ll learn strategies for choosing curriculum as well as tips for grouch-free grading.
If you are a beginner at homeschooling high school, consider the High School Solution, which provides detailed training on homeschooling, from middle school through senior year. The resources included give specific help for all stages, from getting started and planning high school courses, to understanding high school testing and college admission and scholarships.
Get complete instruction for choosing curriculum, encouraging delight directed learning, and teaching advanced subjects through training classes for parents, all with handouts or workbooks plus articles and templates.