From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


3/1/2012 11:32:48 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Homeschooling High School: Courses to Whet Your Teens' Appetites--Is It Possible

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter
March 2012:--Courses to Whet Your Teens' Appetites--Is It Possible?


---[ Unique Education Builds Meaningful Careers ]---------------------

North Bennet Street School in Boston offers accredited, full-time
programs in bookbinding, cabinet and furniture making, carpentry,
jewelry making and repair, locksmithing and security technology, piano
technology, preservation carpentry and violin making and repair,
helping students to achieve meaningful lives and livelihoods.


Dear Friends,

About this time of year, your teens may be wondering if school is ever
going to end. Maybe they can't wait to finish up that uninteresting
course they don't perceive to be useful in "real" life. Or, you are
busy looking ahead to next year in order to take advantage of upcoming
homeschool conferences and book fairs. In either case, let's talk
about including courses that will enliven your program and stimulate
your teens' interests. We're talking ... electives!

What are Electives?

To refresh your memory, there are two basic kinds of courses in a high
school plan, core courses and electives. The core courses fall into
the English, history, math, science, and foreign language categories
and are usually taken to graduate high school or for college
admissions. Electives, on the other hand, are courses of interest or
choice that your teen wishes to take (or you wish him to take). They
come in all shapes and sizes and provide an excellent way to involve
your teens in course selection.

Some electives are skill based; others are academic in nature. For
example, home maintenance and repair is a course that teaches your
teen skills useful in owning a home, or for saving money, or in
starting a business. Geography is also useful especially if your teen
does a lot of traveling, but it is an academic-based elective falling
under the history umbrella.

How Many Electives to Choose?

You will find that it is quite easy to add electives to your program.
Without being aware of it, you can end up majoring in electives rather
than in the core courses. However, we recommend letting the core
courses form the nucleus of your high school program while using a
couple of electives each year to round out your teen's transcript.
Electives will allow those reading the transcript to learn more about
your teen, her interests, her talents, and maybe her quirks.

Where Do I Find Electives?

The HSLDA High School website is a good place to begin looking for
these courses. To get started, you can access a list of possible
electives, . Then visit our individual
curriculum page to find courses and resources for teaching or guiding
your teen in her interest, . We also have a section of
free educational resources,
where you'll find many interesting and innovative choices. In
addition, stay tuned to our blog, , for information that comes
across our desks that is not necessarily listed on the website. But
don't limit your search here.

For example, if your daughter is working on a novel for publication,
she may wish to learn computer desktop publishing. She can access some
of this knowledge on the internet, often for free. Other sources could
include computer stores, community colleges, recreational centers,
libraries, adult education programs, homeschool alumni, and more.

For a teen interested in sculpture check out museums and local artists
for instruction and mentorship. Courses in health such as CPR or first
aid may be given by local hospitals, recreational centers, or the

Maybe your son is interested in landscape design and horticulture.
Nurseries, garden shops, or local extension cooperatives may be places
to find resources for building a course to include on his high school

The main objective of electives is to provide opportunities for your
teens to discover and hone their interests and talents. Don't let the
lack of a formal curriculum keep you from designing a course to teach
the necessary skills.

How Do I Title and Describe an Elective?

Now that you have courses selected, the next step will be to give them
titles and descriptions. The titles for many electives will be
self-evident, such as Computer Skills or Entrepreneurship. Others, not
so easy. Maybe your daughter is studying nutrition, learning cooking
and sewing skills, caring for younger siblings, practicing how to
organize a home, and preparing a budget. The question becomes, "What
do I call all of these things?" You want to choose a title that's not
too creative, but one that will give the reader of the transcript a
clear idea of what your teen learned in the course; so you could name
the course Home Management.

It is important to keep a description of these courses in your
records. They do not need to be lengthy. If you use a prepared
curriculum, the publisher likely summarized it in the catalog or
online for you; save yourself time and use it. A textbook-based course
can be described by simply copying the table of contents. Otherwise,
concisely list the major components of a course, including course
objectives and method of instruction (book-based, hands-on projects,
apprenticing, etc.) and include the year or grade the course was
taken, the grade received, and the credit earned.

These records will be primarily for your use unless they are requested
by admission counselors of the schools to which your teen is applying.
However, they are valuable in other ways. The course descriptions will
provide a summary to re-familiarize your teens with their high school
classes before they go to job or college interviews. They will be
prepared to give informative answers to questions (often out of
interest) about their courses. Reviewing with your teens all the
course work accomplished during high school will also give them a
sense of accomplishment to press on.

How Do I Evaluate Electives for Credits and Grades?

Because electives can be non-traditional, non-book-learning courses,
evaluating them for credits and grades will often be different. If you
are using a curriculum from a publisher, they have likely evaluated
the course for credit. If not, logging hours of the time your teen
spent completing the course requirements will be the best way to
calculate credit. A standard scale to use is 120 hours for one year of
credit and 60 hours for 1/2 year of credit. Our website, , has a more detailed
explanation of logging hours.

Electives may also present a challenge when it comes to grading. You
always have the option of using pass/fail grades. Even though this is
an easy grading method, be aware that courses graded pass/fail will
not be included when calculating your teen's grade point average (GPA)
so we suggest keeping them to a minimum. Since your teen is
undoubtedly enthusiastic about such courses and most likely will do
well in them, a good letter grade will positively impact the GPA. In
this case, it may be worthwhile to come up with a method for grading.
A letter grade could be based on completing projects, reaching certain
goals, and/or learning a set of skills rather than through tests and

Why Should I Include Electives?

Reasons for including electives in your high school program were
sprinkled throughout this newsletter. We hope you caught some of them:
interesting, fun, innovative, career-orienting, challenging. In
addition, college admission requirements may include a certain number
of elective credits. Also, these courses give others a window into
what type of person your teen is, what he's interested in, what
talents he exhibits, and more. We hope you will take the time to
review your high school program and add electives that will inspire
and kindle enthusiasm in your teens. Electives can be the sugar that
helps the medicine (core courses) go down!

Come back next month as we discuss reading lists for parents. No time
to read? You might be surprised!

Joyously electing to serve you,

Becky Cooke & Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants

Teacher Training Sessions are back!!

Becky and Diane invite you to join them at one or more HSLDA High
School Teacher Training Sessions in 2012. Two sessions (High School
at Home: The Basics and High School at Home: The Next Step) are
designed to give you confidence and equip you for the high school
years. Registration is now open - seats are limited. If you've
enjoyed their newsletters, Becky and Diane are even more fun in

Expert Advice

HSLDA member? Call Becky or Diane with your questions. They are here
to help!
Not yet an HSLDA member? Join today and take advantage of Becky and
Diane's expertise in teaching high school at home.

Send a Subscription

Do you have a friend who could benefit from receiving the HSLDA
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Becky and Diane's 2012 Speaking Calendar

March 3, 2012 - Living Waters Home Educators, NJ (Diane)
March 23, 2012 - HSLDA Teacher Training Seminar, Purcellville, VA
March 24, 2012 - Eastern Panhandle Home School Conference, WV (Diane)
April 12-14, 2012 - MACHE, St. Paul, MN (Diane and Becky)
April 20, 2012 - HSLDA Teacher Training Seminar, Purcellville, VA
(Becky) May 11-12, 2012 - CHAP,
Harrisburg, PA (Becky)
October 12, 2012 - HSLDA Teacher Training, Purcellville, VA (Becky)
November 2, 2012 - HSLDA Teacher Training, Purcellville, VA (Diane)

-> Can you look at the clouds and tell the direction of the wind?

An interesting phenomenon of wind is that it can blow in multiple
directions at the same time, at different heights from the ground.
But usually there is a prevailing wind. HSLDA watches the gusts
and monitors the prevailing trends of change in the legal climate
of home education. So no matter which way the wind is blowing,
we're there to protect your family.

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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