Tag Archives: electives

Using Electives as Your Children Grow

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Right now I am in the thick of planning our next year of homeschooling, and I am finding myself dealing with so many changes! Next year I will go from teaching an elementary student and a middle school student, to one in middle school and one in high school.

While we have always used electives in our homeschooling, how we use them-and choose them-is evolving.

According to our state, our homeschool core classes need to include language, math, social studies, science, and health. As a Christian homeschool, I consider Bible to be “core” as well. Any classes outside of those I consider “electives.”  When our children were small, I used electives for exposure. While I did take into account their interests and abilities, I wanted my kids exposed to lots of different possibilities. Though I didn’t see that we had a Rembrandt or Mozart on our hands, small children don’t necessarily demonstrate the abilities they may grow into later on. So, we had art, music, cooking, various sports, crafts, poetry, creative writing, keyboarding, and more.

As we are moving into creating a high school curriculum, our use of electives is becoming much more structured.

Our choices are no longer exposure driven. For one thing, we will be listing some of them on my children’s transcripts for high school credit. For another, we need to think about what courses they will need to have in order to be accepted into college, should they choose to go. And as they are beginning to stretch their wings toward independence, we are allowing our children much more choice in the matter.

My daughter has shown talent in music, both in singing and piano playing, so one of her electives will be a half-credit course I am calling “Music Performance.” I plan to include her practice and lesson time, as well as performances and church music team participation in this course. After looking through a list of possibilities, she also chose a keyboarding/word processing class as well. And we added Spanish 1, since foreign language is likely to be a requirement at any of the colleges she might attend. My son, on the other hand, is more interested in things like home repair and construction, mechanics, and baseball.

Are you stuck when thinking of electives that will work for your student, or what to call them?

Below you can find the list of possibilities that I showed my daughter. You’re sure to find an interesting idea among them:

  • Accounting
  • Astronomy
  • Auto Mechanics
  • Art
  • Botany and Gardening
  • Business
  • Computer Programming
  • Consumer Math
  • Cooking and Baking
  • Church History
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • First Aid
  • Foreign Language
  • Home Economics
  • Home Repair
  • Journalism
  • Keyboarding
  • Logic
  • Music Appreciation
  • Music Performance
  • Photography
  • Shakespeare
  • Speech
  • Study Skills
  • Weightlifting
  • Word Processing
  • Worldview

What electives would you add to this list? Share your ideas with me!

Originally published at Hedua.com.

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5 Questions to Ask About Electives and Your Middle Schooler

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How To Choose Homeschool Electives for Middle School

While core subjects by necessity make up a majority of our day, electives are a very important part of our homeschool curriculum as well. Electives offer students a chance to explore different interests. In our homeschool, we also use them as a way to offer our middle schooler choices. Depending on where you live, you might find yourself overwhelmed with the number of possibilities. Today’s homeschoolers can take advantage of everything from cooking classes to choir to homeschool sports teams. So, how do you choose electives? First, I strongly advise you give your middle school child input, if not complete choice, in his activities. Here are a few other things to consider when choosing elective classes and activities for your middle school student:

1. What types of activities does your child show an interest in or aptitude for? I have one child who has to work hard at reading and another who intensely dislikes math. That is enough struggle for me; I don’t choose outside activities or classes that will need the same level of parent involvement.

2. On the other hand, is there an area where your child really should be stretched? While my daughter doesn’t love public speaking, I felt she needed to be challenged a bit in this area, so we signed her up for a short-term speech class. Rather than a long-term commitment, this short class taught her some important skills without frustrating her.

3. Speaking of skills, which ones do you want your child to learn before leaving home? Do you want her to know basic auto or house repair? Cooking? Sewing and mending?

4. Which classes can you teach or have your child complete at home? Which ones will need an outside class? I am able to teach sewing or cooking to my children, but singing and music need outside help!

5. Do you want to limit the number of outside classes and activities? Even in more rural areas the opportunities for classes, field trips, and other activities can be astounding. If I’m not careful, I can easily overschedule my family. When the possibility for a special class or activity comes along, I carefully evaluate it before I sign up my middle schooler!

Where can you find elective classes?

Now that you’ve thought through these questions, where can you find some great elective classes and activities for your child? Here are some ideas that we, or our friends, have used:

  • First, we utilize our co-op. Each spring we have a planning meeting where families can suggest classes for the following year. I add our wishes to this list, and often I find that others are interested in these classes as well.
  • If it doesn’t work out with our large co-op group (and before one was available in our area), I sometimes team up with one or two other families. We trade off whatever we are skilled in. Because my daughter is able to sing and I am not musical at all, I trade grammar classes for singing lessons.
  • We sign our children up for classes at our local YMCA and take advantage of the summer sports our town offers.
  • Our art center offers a variety of art experiences, including drama opportunities.
  • For classes like auto shop, home repair, and foreign languages, we look to family, church family, or friends. My dad teaches my son mechanical skills, while my mother-in-law showed my daughter how to crochet.

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers. As you consider what electives your middle school student could pursue, enjoy the wealth of possibilities that flexibility allows!

Originally published at Hedua.com.