When your kids reach the high school years in homeschool, you’re ready to start thinking about electives. Let’s deep dive into everything you ever wanted to know about high school elective ideas for homeschool – what are they, how to craft your own, and how to count them on the transcript. Plus, you’ll find lots of ideas for homeschool high school electives.
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What are electives in homeschooling?
First, let’s define what an elective is and what it isn’t. Sometimes the category of extracurricular activity gets confused with the category of electives.
Extracurricular activities are those done outside of coursework. This would include things like hobbies, community service, and volunteer work. You don’t get a grade on the transcript for your extracurricular involvement.
An elective is a class that you get to choose. That is, electives are classes outside the required curriculum. Most public schools, private schools, and homeschools have basic core courses, usually English, math, history, and science. Any courses you can choose to take in addition to those core courses are electives. And yes, electives do count on the transcript.
Electives are basically courses that are not part of the core requirements. They might fit broader categories like art, business, shop, entrepreneurship, child development, or music.
Why are electives important?
Electives provide a unique opportunity for your teen to discover their passions and enrich the educational experience. It also helps to make them more well-rounded as they try new things and learn new skills. Finally, taking electives can help your teens get an idea of what they’d like to pursue in the future as far as higher education and eventual profession.
Electives can also provide an excellent way for your teen to stand out from their peers on the transcript. Which electives can they take that will give them a unique edge and customize their educational experience?
What are good electives to take in high school?
There are always a few keys to keep in mind when asking any questions regarding homeschooling high school.
First, what are your local laws governing homeschooling? Are there certain requirements for graduation?
Next, what are the plans of your child? Is higher education in their future? Will they be joining the military? Entering the job market?
Finally, which areas do they want to grow in? Are there natural talents and abilities in certain fields that you can grow through an elective? Do they want to try some new field by taking a class in it? Are they looking for a challenge?
Based on these questions, you can start to figure out which electives are the best choices for your student.
For example, some states don’t have any foreign language credit requirement for graduation. But if your teen expects to go to college and the universities they apply to expect to see at least two years of foreign language electives on the transcript, then you know what to do.
Let’s be realistic here. Some families need to beef up the high school transcript with credits and are just looking for the easiest electives to include. Or maybe your high schooler is working lots of hours on the side while also completing their high school years. It all depends on your expectations, your goals, and the future needs of your child. But once in a while, it’s not a problem to look for an easy elective to take in high school.
What are the best electives for high school?
This question is best answered by the questions above about which electives are good choices in high school. It really does involve your teen’s future goals and ambitions. The best electives are those that will help their future needs. But it’s also great to show that you can learn new skills and have interesting courses that allow your high school years to stand above the crowd.
If you want your high school transcript to stand out based on your elective choices, then consider taking unique electives. Scroll down for a full list of elective ideas to help you figure out what might be a good fit.
Again, some people wonder what are some fun electives in high school? It’s not a problem to take an elective class that is just out of enjoyment or trying a new skill or topic. For example, you might not plan on going into the arts, but maybe you can take a pottery class as an elective. It might be a lot of fun, expand your horizons, give you a new hobby, and still count as credit on the transcript.
What are the most popular electives in high school?
The most popular electives are probably foreign language courses. In addition to this, many high schoolers take music classes like band, orchestra, or chorus. Finally, hands-on life skill classes like home economics, sewing, and woodworking are popular as well.
Homeschooling high school provides unparalleled flexibility to customize the educational experiences of our kids. You can focus in on developing their talents and passions, while also including interesting areas of study that they wouldn’t necessarily pick for themselves.
One of the best aspects of homeschooling the older years is including electives on the transcript that speak to the unique interests of our teens.
Do you have kids going into business? Then find courses and experiences that will show marketable skills on the transcript.
Have an artsy kid who will pursue graphic design? Then you should show off their talents with a hands-on creative elective.
How Do You Create a Customized Elective?
The best part of electives in high school is that you can create a unique, customized education for your teen. But sometimes the hardest part is not coming up with the elective idea, but rather it is figuring out how to assign a grade on the transcript.
It’s much easier to craft your own electives for your high schoolers if you keep the big picture in mind. Here’s how to count it fairly on the transcript with an objective final grade.
For an elective, you need to know:
- How many credits will be awarded
- What the final project will be that will demonstrate satisfactory understanding and ability to use the content
A credit is simply a unit of measurement that describes the amount of time required to complete the class. Most high school courses (worth 1 credit) show 120-180 hours of work, or approximately 45 minutes to one hour per day for 180 days of school.
So, if your teen completes an elective in one semester, that would be ½ credit.
After deciding how many credits will be awarded for the elective, you’ll want to decide on the final project of the course. You can work together with your high schooler to decide on the best way to showcase their learning.
In other words, what is the goal of the course? What should your teen be able to produce at the end to show competence and knowledge of the topic? Electives don’t have to require tests and quizzes to assess competency.
For example, if your teen wants to learn how to sew period dresses and costumes, then you can craft an elective in which the final project is to sew a dress from the Victorian Era.
If your teen wants to learn podcasting, then figure out how he will learn this new skill and decide on the final project, which could be a fully launched podcast with ten episodes!
Maybe your teen would like to take a photography elective. She could complete the required online lessons and practical experience necessary for a credit. The final project might be an art show of her photography or maybe completing a family photo shoot for a friend.
Do you see how it’s completely possible to customize your teen’s high school years so that they are able to devote time to their strengths, passions, interests, and future goals?
Showing Electives on the Transcript
Homeschoolers will want to keep good records of electives, especially if they are custom electives that you create.
The first step is to keep records of:
- Time spent to qualify for a credit
- Books, resources, online courses used for learning
- Final project detailed and included
Check out this Elective Tracking Sheet to help you document your teen’s electives.
So for a student learning business skills while they open a handmade shop on Etsy, they would keep track of their hours, showing somewhere between 120-180 for one credit. They would list the courses, books, videos, or other instruction they used. They could also list the activities they were involved in, like taking photos of their products, writing listing descriptions, working with customers, and so on.
Their final project might be having an Etsy shop with twenty product listings. This might sound simple, but there is a lot of background work that goes into that shop – and your student will be working in areas such as their specific craft, business finances, graphic design, photography, copywriting, social media, and more.
If your teen is able to successfully meet the final project goal, then they will have earned an A on the transcript.
Keeping a portfolio during high school is a great way to document these custom elective courses. Take advantage of homeschooling high school and the opportunity to craft electives that are as unique as your teenager!
How do you find curriculum for electives?
There are many ready-made electives for homeschool families. Here are several companies and resources that you can look into for your high schooler.
Some of these options might require the parent to do some instruction. But some do look like fun electives to teach!
Curriculum Companies with Multiple Elective Courses
HSLDA Online Academy offers dozens of courses for your homeschooled students, including electives like:
- Music Appreciation and History
- Dale Carnegie’s Communication and Interpersonal Skills for Success
- Logic and Critical Thinking
- Personal Finance
- Computer Skills
- Foreign Language
Memoria Press also offers many online courses that can count toward elective credit, like Logic & Rhetoric, Foreign Language, Music Appreciation, and Art.
With a family membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you’ll have access to ALL the courses you’ll ever need for the entire year, including many unique electives! Look at some of these courses:
- Computer and Technology
- Foreign Language
- Health and Fitness
- Accounting 101
- Business Plan Creation
- Hands-on Architecture
- High School Home Economics
- Introduction to Architecture
- Leadership 101
- Intro to Leadership
- Starting a MicroBusiness for Teens
Study.com offers many online course options for homeschool students. You can find electives there too including courses for foreign language, psychology, the humanities, health, computer science, business, art, and more. New members who sign up using the code AbbyBanks will receive 30% off for three months.
We’ve used Compass Classroom’s Visual Latin for one high schooler in our homeschool and it comes highly recommended by us! But Compass Classroom has more elective options for you as well. These include filmmaking, logic, economics, and more.
Learn graphic design and how to sell your printables online with the Selling Printables on Teachers Pay Teachers Masterclass
Intro to Photography is a semester long class that will teach kids in grades 7-12 the fundamentals of photography.
The online Adobe Photoshop Course for homeschoolers will teach your teens the fundamental techniques for image manipulation in Photoshop. This would make a great graphic design elective and be very practical for future employment!
If you’re looking for an excellent resource to use for your foreign language elective, then definitely check out TalkBox.Mom. You can save $20 off your first box and phrasebook with the code homeschoolwithmoxie20 and save $5 off the phrasebook only with the code homeschoolwithmoxie5
If you’re a Christian homeschooling family, you may naturally be including Bible classes in your child’s homeschool experience. But did you realize that Bible courses can count as electives? Since they’re not part of the core required by the state, you can add them in on the transcript. Now, one of my pet peeves for a long time has been the shallowness of some curriculum companies when it comes to Bible courses. Our teens are ready to move on into reading the Bible and interpreting it! They need more than fact memorization.
If this is your family goal as well with discipleship and Scripture study, then I invite you to check out our Inductive Bible Study Courses for teens. You can use the code INDUCTIVE20 to save 20%. We have Self Study Workbooks for independent learning, or your teens can access Video Lessons if they are visual and auditory learners who could use a bit more structure.
Finally, check out our Online Gospel of John Course for Grades 7-12. You have family access with your purchase and you can take this course at your own pace. All of our teen resources include quizzes, projects, and rubrics to help you with grading the elective and counting it on the transcript.
What are examples of high school electives for your homeschool?
If you are still looking for more ideas to consider, then here’s several more dozen examples of electives for you! Now, you might have to search out your own resources here, but just refer to the section about crafting your own electives above and grab the Electives Planning Pack to help with the paperwork.
- Kitchen science
- Life skills
- Car maintenance
- CPR, child development (babysitting)
- Study skills/time management/notetaking
- Foreign language
- Musical instrument
- Creative writing
- Art/photography/graphic design