Remember taking electives in high school? Things like band, drama, the yearbook, mechanical drawing, home ec., etc.?  

But now that you’re putting together your own high schooler’s educational plan, maybe you’re wondering, “What exactly are these courses and how do we do them in homeschooling?”

Electives are officially a type of academic coursework. They enrich your teen’s high school experience and strengthens their education. But because these courses fall outside a high school program’s required subject areas, your student gets to select them instead of being required to take them.

And, despite their name and optional nature, electives are quite necessary to your teen’s high school program.

Colleges, trade schools, military recruiters, employers,  and other entities expect to see electives on your student’s transcript as evidence of a well-rounded education and an indicator of who they are as a person.

Electives can also help your teen investigate their interests, learn or hone skills, and clarify career goals. In fact, elective courses can be great motivators for students!

A great way to begin is to ask your teen to propose elective courses he or she might enjoy. Then, consider enlisting your student in the development of the course material and objectives. Teens are more likely to be invested in courses they’ve had a hand in developing. In turn, elective courses can cultivate your teen’s appetite for learning and study.

Course Options: The Sky’s the Limit!

Elective courses require less work from your student than core academic courses. While some electives fit within the core academic subjects of English/language arts, math, social studies/history, science, and foreign language (speech, geography, business math, logic, creative writing . . .), others are not in core subjects at all—for example, band, physical education, photography, first aid, or woodshop.

When it comes to electives, your imagination is all that limits possible courses!

Generally, one to three elective courses in each year of high school is typical. Too many electives can overshadow the core academic courses.

You’ll be able to find existing curricula for many of the elective courses your teen might want to take. However, you can also easily design these courses yourself. Read the next post in this series for tips on designing your own elective courses.

If you need inspiration, check out this list of over 80 different elective course possibilities—but we’ve only scratched the surface here!

Business

Accounting
Advertising
Business law
Business management
Business math
Entrepreneurial skills
Financial management
Intro to economics
Marketing
Office skills

Communication

Creative writing
Communication skills
Debate
Journalism
Public speaking
Research skills/writing
Speech
Study skills

Computer

Computer applications
Desktop publishing
Graphic design
Keyboarding/word processing
Programming/languages
Web design

Fine Arts

Visual arts:

Architectural design
Art appreciation/history
Ceramics
Drawing
Filmmaking
Jewelry making
Painting
Photography
Sculpture


Performing arts:

Band
Choir
Dance
Drama/theatre
Instrument performance
Music appreciation/history
Orchestra
Voice performance

Health

CPR training
First aid
Nutrition

Life Skills

Auto mechanics
Driver’s ed
Electricity
Financial management
Home economics and management
Industrial arts
Interior design
Plumbing

Physical Education

Aerobics
Individual sports
Gymnastics
Team sports
Weightlifting

Religion

Church history
Comparative religion
Mythology
Old/New Testament survey
Studies of individual books of the Bible
Topical Bible studies
Worldview studies

Science

Botany
Geology
Intro to astronomy
Meteorology
Oceanography

Social Studies and History

Archeology
Anthropology
Critical thinking
Logic
Philosophy
Psychology
Sociology
U.S. or world politics
World cultures

Other

Career development
Current events
Gardening
Horticulture
Landscaping
Sign language


Documenting Elective Courses

Because elective courses are part of a student’s academic studies, they’re included on the high school course description as backup documentation for each elective on the transcript.


Now, ready to learn how to develop your own elective course or look at extracurriculars in depth? Read on!