/ / 5 Ways to Turn Your Child’s Interests Into High School Electives

5 Ways to Turn Your Child’s Interests Into High School Electives

One of my concerns as my children headed into their high school years was the whole concept of high school electives. In my state and through our legal homeschooling organization, kids have to earn seven electives throughout their high school years to complete requirements for graduation. This requirement loomed large for me. It was easy to find a curriculum I loved for history and for science and for language arts. But where was I going to find high school electives?

how to use interest-led high school electives in your homeschool

I thought about the electives I took in high school — courses like chorus, home-ec, art. I was concerned that we wouldn’t have access to great choices for electives without spending lots of money. But as I began to do some research and talk to friends who had been through the high school years, I realized that this didn’t have to be so difficult. In fact, electives can be really fun for kids when we use their interests and create electives from them. You don’t have to use a formal curriculum to do this. It’s really simple.

Interest-Led High School Electives

If you want to create high school electives from your child’s interests, here are some things you can do to get started.

Make a list of your child’s top ten interests, including hobbies and career choices.

Sit down with your children and make a list of at least ten interests. You can include hobbies — do they enjoy playing an instrument? Drawing? Singing? And you can include career interests — do you have a child who wants to teach? Who wants to be an artist? Who wants to do graphic design? Put down any interests — even if you initially think there’s no way to make an elective from it. Trust me, it’s possible to capitalize on almost any interest!

Search for already created materials that you can use.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Once you know what your child has an interest in, search to see if there is already curricula out there to meet your need. You’ll be surprised what you can find. My son wanted to go directly into a career from high school and didn’t want to attend college. I knew that he would need some important life skills to do this. I actually found a course that had him simulate buying a car, renting an apartment, choosing insurance, and applying for a credit card. This was an excellent elective for him, and I didn’t have to stress. It was already created.

how to use interest-led high school electives in your homeschool

Create a course by writing a thorough description of what your child will complete throughout the year.

But what if you can’t find an already created course that matches the interests of your child? It’s simple to create your own course. Decide what your child wants to do and write a complete, thorough description that explains what your child will be working on and what you’ll use to show completion or progress throughout the course.

When my oldest daughter was in high school, she loved working with preschoolers at our church. I asked the high school organizer from our homeschooling legal organization if I could turn this interest into an Early Childhood Education elective. She told me to write out exactly what my daughter would be doing in this course and how I would measure progress. I signed us up to teach our church’s preschool choir. I made my daughter responsible for planning and teaching the curriculum for the year. She kept a binder that showed all of her lesson plans. We also tracked the amount of time she spent (more on that below). You could really do this with almost any interest your child has.

  • Learning a musical instrument
  • Working with a veterinarian
  • Cooking
  • Sewing
  • Gardening

As long as you can describe what your child will be learning and doing, you can turn that interest into an elective course.

Track progress and hours spent on the course.

One of my concerns when I first began doing this was how I would “prove” that the elective we were creating was really worth a high school credit. The answer? Track the time spent on the course. If you are homeschooling in the US, the HSLDA site has a great explanation of the value of credit hours when it comes to a high school course. So if you aren’t using a traditional textbook for a course, you can log hours that your child spends on the course and come up with the equivalent of a high school course.

Make sure that they track every hour spent. In our Early Childhood Education course, my daughter tracked all the time she spent researching and planning each week, as well as the actual hours she was teaching the preschoolers. All of this easily added up to the equivalence of a full high school credit.

As well as tracking hours, it’s a good idea to track progress with some courses. If your child is independently learning a musical instrument from YouTube or from a teach-yourself book, have them track the songs and concepts they are learning as well as the hours they are working. If they are using cooking as an elective, have them keep track of cooking skills and recipes completed. Having this record of progress is a form of documentation that indicates that this is an official course, and it also keeps your child accountable.

music appreciation high school elective for homeschool

Keep a high school elective portfolio.

All of this documentation of hours and record of progress can be part of a high school elective portfolio. It’s great to keep a portfolio of those high school classes that correspond with a career route or a college major choice because the student might be able to use information from that portfolio in a job application or interview or a college application. When you aren’t using a prepared curriculum or textbook for an elective, this portfolio is a way that you can show your child’s effort, progress, and completion of the elective courses you’ve created.


Don’t let the idea of high school electives frighten you. Electives really are a way for kids to take some fun classes and learn more about their own interests and career possibilities. The sky really is the limit when it comes to creating an elective course.

~Leah

 

 

 

 

Leah
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