Exploring Possible Elective Courses for High School
Last month I wrote a post pertaining to the anxiety surrounding the act of Homeschooling High School. I spoke of my anxiety level being unusually low, due in part to my due diligence in completing research on the subject. One of the topics I spent time researching is the possible elective courses for high school.
Here is the New York State Homeschool Law pertaining to the High School years:
“For grades nine through twelve: English (four units); social studies (four units) which includes one unit of American history, one-half unit in participation in government, and one-half unit economics; mathematics (two units); science (two units); art and/or music (one unit); health education (one-half unit); physical education (two units); and three units of electives. The units required herein are cumulative requirements for grades nine through twelve.”
(Note: a unit = 6,480 minutes which is = 108 hours; you would typically consider 1 unit to equal 1 year)
My focus recently has been on the “three units of electives.” What is considered an elective for high school? High school electives go beyond the core classes of English, math, science, and history. Electives supplement the educational years with classes that interest your child and prepare them for adult life. Here is a list that HSLDA has compiled of possible electives for high school.
High school is a time where your teenager should be exploring their interests in an effort to find a career path that is right for them; Anything from photography to auto repair, and computer programming to nursing. Electives do not require as much time or work as your teenager’s core coursework, but should include educational content.
For job related subjects like veterinarian, auto mechanic, or nurse you can include volunteer hours for your teenager to see and experience first hand what that job would entail. You can also use such resources as on-line videos, community classes or workshops,and neighbors willing to share a bit of their skills.
High school is also a time where your teenager needs to learn to be ready for adult life. Therefore teaching life skills as high school electives is a good idea. We all need to be able to take care of ourselves. You can include classes in health and physical education, covering such things as nutrition and disease, and encouraging them to fix their own nutritional meals and to be responsible for their own exercise. Teenagers also need to learn to take care of their own banking and finances. No matter if your teenager plans to go to college or not they will need some instruction in finances. They will need to learn how to balance a checkbook, budget their finances, and have a working knowledge of credit and loans. Things like meal planning and shopping for deals are real life skills that will serve them well in their adulthood.
There are other life skills like gardening or sewing, home repair/maintenance and farming that may be important skills to pass on as well. The only subjects in high school with a 4 year requirement are English and Social Studies (at least in NYS), so if your child wants to do a 3rd/4th year of Math, Science, Phys. Ed. (which are all required for only 2 years) then those can be called electives as well.
It turns out that there are lots of ways to make electives work. High school is a time for your teenager to choose something they want to do, hopefully have fun with it, and expand their world while doing it.
List of Possible Topics/Courses for Electives:
Accounting, Business Management, Business Math, Personal Finance
Agriculture, Botany, Floral Design, Horticulture
Anthropology, Astronomy, Architecture
Art History, Art Studio, Drawing, Jewelry Design, Drafting, Ceramics, Painting, Print Making, Sculpture
Audio Production, Cinematography
Auto Body Repair, Autoshop, Auto Mechanics
Calligraphy, Carpentry, Woodworking
Computer Applications, Graphic Design, Networking, Programming, Technology, Keyboarding/Wordprocessing, Graphic Communications
Concert Band, Choir, Music Appreciation, Music Theory, Drama, Vocal Music
Creative Writing, Fiction Writing, Poetry, Etymology, Journalism
Dance (general, beginning, advanced)
Debate, Ethics, Logic
Equine Science, Equestrian Training
Foreign Language, Sign Language, Speech
Geography, Government, Civics, Current Events, Political Science
Home Economics, Interior Design
Medieval History, Mythology
P.E., Pilates/Yoga, Aerobics, Nutrition Science
Photography, Photoshop, Webpage/Website Design
Physiology, Psychology, Sociology
Religious Studies, Theology
World Literature, World Religions
Get Help Planning Your Elective Courses for High School:
The Big Book of Homeschooling
To get tons of great advice, and move beyond the basics of academics, pick up a copy of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas. Some topics included are things like active learning, learning with video games, helping teens/tween become independent learners (one of my chapters), teaching on the road, learning with movies, high school literature (one of my chapters), and gardening.
This book can carry you through all your years of homeschooling, covering the stages your children will mature through: preschoolers, elementary grades, middle school, and high school. As your life situation changes, you will find new chapters that apply to you. You can view the full table of contents to see all 103 topics!
If you would like to purchase a PRINT Copy that option is now available via Amazon!! The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas – Print Copy
Moms Mustard Seeds
January 7, 2013 @ 6:43 am
Stock Piling this – trying to plan now….few years ahead but I know I need to make some great choices for High school
January 7, 2013 @ 9:21 am
Rebecca, it is so strange how high school just springs itself on you! I am spending lots of time researching and planning. My next post pertaining to high school planning is on what we “think” we have chosen for electives and what resources I have found to help us with that. It is great that you are looking a “few years” ahead!
January 11, 2013 @ 8:25 am
My DD started high school this year. I have been learning so much at various sites. My fave site is Let’s Home School High School.
My DD has some learning challenges which makes it difficult to go after the transcript. We are contemplating it, or the GED. There are just some subjects required for the transcript that she simply can’t master.
We are mainly focusing on life skills at this point. She is a bright kid, but things like CAPD, dyslexia, ADHD, and panic make some things really tough for her.
I like your list of electives…gives me some great ideas for her.
January 11, 2013 @ 9:09 am
Thanks for sharing your favorite site. I too have found many useful articles at Let’s Homeschool High School. I believe that learning challenges or not life skills are very important. Algebra is algebra but learning to cook, do laundry, manage money, etc will be far more important in the long run. I am happy my list of electives has sparked some ideas for you. I know that doing the research has been a real help for me to narrow down a direction that we want to go. In my next post about high school I am sharing what we have chosen for our electives and the resources we are considering. Good luck along your high school journey!
January 11, 2013 @ 11:01 am
Thank you for your encouragement!
January 16, 2013 @ 1:20 pm
How very different requirements are from state to state! I have an 8th grader and am in the agonizing process of getting geared up for 9th grade this fall. He must do 4 English credits, 4 Math credits (algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2 are required), 3 Social Studies credits, 1/2 P.E. credit, 1/2 Health credit, 3 Science credits (biology, chemistry OR physics, and one equally as rigorous are required – 2 must be with a Lab), 1 Fine Arts credit, and 8 Elective credits. One of the most helpful things I’ve done in determining his Electives is to look at college websites to see their current entry requirements. In doing so, I have a tentative current plan to do the following as Electives … world geography (saw it listed on every college site), psychology 1 (again, saw it listed on many college sites), voluntary public service, music appreciation, introduction to the Bible 1, semantics and logic, speech, 2 years of the same foreign language (expected by colleges), and an extra science because he intends to be a science major in college (so biology, chemistry, physics, and anatomy & physiology most likely for him in high school). I had thought of doing a semester of mythology (because I recall that being one of my favorite courses in high school and my son loves it as well), but we will incorporate it into the literature portion of his English studies instead.
January 16, 2013 @ 1:23 pm
My apologies … I neglected to list 3 History credits as a requirement above. Within that, 1 credit of U.S. history, 1 credit of World History, 1/2 credit each of U.S Govt. and Economics are required.
January 16, 2013 @ 3:27 pm
Yes state to state is so very different. I like your idea of checking college websites to see what their entry requirements are. Despite things like science and math only being required for 2 credits here in NY, we are planning on a full 4 years of each. Math will include Algebra II, Geometry/Trig, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus. Science will include Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and then and advanced science of our daughter’s choice her senior year. I have another post that I wrote http://www.startsateight.com/?p=13969 with a more in-depth look at what electives we are planning on. They include digital photography, photo editing, Psychology, and Latin. Even though a foreign language is not required for homeschoolers here, I think Latin will serve well on her high school transcript and since she is considering something in the medical field it could be useful in the future.
Thaleia Maher (@Something2Offer)
January 19, 2013 @ 9:13 pm
I am starting a series next week called Homeschooled Through Highschool: Is it possible? with a dozen guest posts from grads as well as some really cool giveaways and experts sharing tips and advice. If anyone has questions or a curriculum they would like to learn more about please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
January 26, 2013 @ 4:56 am
Been interesting to see your transition into Homeschooling Highschool, I too will be doing this in another 3 years. Thanks for linking up to the NOBH
High school curriculum
June 21, 2013 @ 7:11 am
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting.
August 7, 2013 @ 4:43 pm
Also, another great way to stay up with your state’s requirements is through the HSLDA site & in my town, I just went to the public school & asked for their graduation requirements page that they hand out to their own graduates. This has been helpful for me in determining how many credits ea subject requires!
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August 11, 2013 @ 9:44 pm
[…] Exploring Possible Elective Courses for High School | StartsAtEight […]
Michalene Elliott Kinsler
August 7, 2014 @ 7:45 am
Very helpful list. I wonder, do you plan to let your teen choose their electives or will you choose for him/her? Should it be a topic of interest for them or should it be more of a way to broaden and deepen their knowledge of a particular subject?
August 7, 2014 @ 7:55 am
Michalene, I think that electives can be either or both a topic of interest to your teen and to broaden and deepen their knowledge in a particular subject. We had ongoing conversations throughout 8th grade about what electives Chloe wanted to undertake. Some were 100% her choice and some I sort of steered her into! We dropped the final semester of computer programming because it just wasn’t her thing and added Sociology which she seems to enjoy. Plus we will CLEP Sociology to earn her college credit.
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