Homeschool students have a unique opportunity to tailor their curricula around their personal interests, hobbies, and future career goals. An elective is basically any course the student “elects” to take that is not required. For high schoolers, just be sure to check the admissions requirements of preferred colleges to see if they require any specific or additional coursework (such as a foreign language) that you haven’t already covered. Other than that, homeschoolers are free to choose (or create) their own electives without being limited to a pre-approved list of available courses. Click here for ideas.
Any extra class can be an elective. Although electives tend to go beyond the core classes of English, math, science, and history, they can also include specific topics within those subjects. For example, electives enable students to partake in a more in-depth study of art history or creative writing, so they can better expand their education in a favorite subject such as history or English. Also don’t forget Bible study, as theology is the “Queen of the Sciences” and everyone should study the Bible anyway so that’s an easy elective to add.
While elective courses can relate to a student’s major focus, they can also be in a completely different field to give students a break from their usual studies. Such classes contribute to the “whole person” approach to learning and help develop a “well-rounded” student, bringing balance between both sides of the brain. For example, someone with strong math and analytical skills might be encouraged to try dabbling in art and music on the side. Or a creative person with strong artistic ability might want to take a logic class to strengthen their thinking skills.
Passions like graphic design, archery, and music are perfect fits for electives. In addition, practical life skills such as nutrition, fitness, money management, gardening, sewing, woodworking, auto repair/maintenance, driver’s education, and typing are good options for electives. Career exploration is another excellent use of electives. A student who is thinking of becoming an architect could take a blueprint reading class; an aspiring engineer could take a robotics class; or a future entrepreneur could learn how to develop a business plan and call it entrepreneurial studies.
Volunteer work and other jobs can even be counted as elective credits. A student who has a weekly babysitting job could consider it an “Introduction to Child Development.” A student who volunteers at a veterinarian’s office could count it as veterinary science. Does your teen volunteer at the library reading books to children? That could be classified as “Children’s Literature,” “Early Childhood Literacy Practicum,” or “The Art of Storytelling.” The choice is yours!
As the “principal” of your homeschool, you have the ability to create your own course as well as assign your own credit values. Depending on the elective, you may not be able to find specific guidance on what exactly should be included or how it should be structured. But a basic rule of thumb is that a half credit (typical for electives) is earned by 75 hours of study. This translates to about three hours per week for half a year (25 weeks), 25 hours a month for three months, or two weeks of full time volunteer work of 40-hour weeks.
In general, electives tend to be more entertaining and allow for more freedom than other courses, letting students have fun while learning. Electives enable students to learn something that they find interesting, run with it in any direction they want to go, and expand their world while doing so. If you need more ideas, HomeschoolingTeen.com offers a list of elective courses – click here. But whatever you do is up to you!