If you homeschool a high school student, then the maze of required courses versus courses of interest has probably already confused you. Every student must meet specific state standards for graduation. These standards vary from state to state, but in every case, a certain number of core subjects are required, and then students must complete elective courses to fill out the remaining credits for graduation. That’s where many homeschoolers begin to struggle.
One of the reasons that this can be challenging for the homeschool family is that creating these elective courses is difficult because traditional elective courses are often group classes, requiring many students interested in the same subject, such as choir or debate. These group classes can be quite expensive to the homeschooler or require a great deal of driving around town, and they can become cumbersome for the average homeschooling family.
Instead of driving all over town, though, you can create these courses from home if you consider a couple of things. First, elective courses typically consume about 36-45 hours of study or learning per semester. Depending on the number of elective credits your homeschooled child needs, you will want to consider year-long courses or areas of particular interest that broaden your child’s skills, critical thinking abilities, or experiences, but from the perspective of the college admissions officer. They will specifically be looking for class work from your homeschool student that shows a wide-ranging approach to education, and one of the easiest ways to do this is in the electives that you choose. Many options can be found online, which makes it very easy on the homeschooler, and quite affordable, too.
Another approach to electives is to do additional studies in some of the core subject areas. For instance, students gifted in math, science, foreign language, or literature can do extra courses of study in these areas. Instead of three years of science, for example, a student can complete four. Instead of two years of foreign language, students can complete three or four years. This type of added core subject work is another excellent way to increase your student’s knowledge base, and it may also lend itself towards CLEP testing which would earn college credits for your child while still in high school. This is an excellent side-benefit of this option.
We often think just in terms of the basics when we begin to homeschool, but by the time your child is in high school, you have to add depth to your homeschool program or your child will not be adequately prepared for college. Elective credits are not as daunting as they seem, but they do require a little planning in advance. Meeting the state minimums for core subjects and graduation standards is critical, but having a plan for those electives is part of the process.